Five (Seven) Quick Questions for Sevenstar: by Laura Hamlett

Maybe you’ve come across Sevenstar unexpectedly, like I did. If so, chances are you were amazed that a band this young, this new, this—well, unsigned, unhuge, and altogether deserving to be both—could be this good. (Oh, and did I mention they’re local?) We sat down with the four members of Sevenstar—Grant Essig (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, and harmonica), Dustin Keller (acoustic guitar), Jaclyn Mayer (bass guitar), and Jeremiah Miller (drums, percussion, and backing vocals)—after a recent gig to learn more about them: their beginnings, their future, and Grant’s appearance on the WB’s “Elimidate.”

1. You guys seem to have come out of nowhere.

Grant: We’ve actually been together for two years, playing out for about a year and a half.

How did Sevenstar form?

Grant: It’s such a dumb story; let’s lie.

Jaclyn: It was high technology that brought us together. Dustin and I went to school together, and we met Jeremiah online, because he’s a big computer nerd. We were looking for a drummer, and then he was like, ‘My roommate’s a guitarist and singer,’ so then he brought Grant.

Grant: And then I invaded the band and eventually took over.

Dustin: We had another singer—

Grant: He walked out, and I was like, “Well, I have songs, and I can kinda sing, and I can kinda play guitar…” So I started writing songs—actually, at first I just brought songs I already had—but really, I tried to write for the band. We’re a very energetic group, and some songs I brought were not working, not our style.

Jeremiah: [snoring]

2. What’s this WB thing Grant was involved in?

Jaclyn: We were sitting in the University City Loop and the WB 11 comes up to us, says they’re doing a show in St. Louis and they need people by tomorrow, but you have to be over 21. Well, Dustin and I aren’t 21, Jeremiah has a girlfriend, so Grant was the only one that’s single. Mind you, that day he had cut his hair, so we were pretty sure he wasn’t going to get picked—

Grant: I had cut it myself; that’s the key thing. I had like pieces missing, bald spots—

Jaclyn: But he got picked, and he ended up being one of the guys in St. Louis who was on with four girls.

Dustin: Because they found the ratings were higher with four girls fighting over one guy.

Grant: Here’s the best thing: I just found out, and I haven’t even told them yet. My show was one of the highest-rated “Elimidates.” I talked to one of the producers this week, and he said they’re probably going to invite me back for an all-star episode.

3. Tell us about the album you’re currently recording.

Grant: We started bugging Jason McIntyre, saying, “You make awesome recordings, we want you to record us.” So we had a meeting with him and he said, “OK, I can see a lot of things we can do with your band.” Every band I’ve heard him record is just phenomenal, but he’s really taken on a level of producing us, working with us outside of the studio, going to all ends. Last night he called us back—

Jaclyn: Yeah, he called me and said, “I’ve been up since 5:00 a.m. doing the recording, and I had to be at work at 9:00 so I didn’t get much sleep, but I’m really excited about [working with] you guys.

Grant: So far we’re through two songs, haven’t mixed anything yet, but it’s just amazing. I mean, I can’t express how excited I am; I know we all are. We’re sitting in the studio and we’re just grinning at each other. Onstage, with two acoustics, it’s a pretty raw sound. But in the studio and we just went nuts.

Dustin: We actually recorded our first CD in Grant’s bedroom; Grant produced the whole thing.

Jaclyn: We don’t tell anybody that.

4. When do you think that the new album will be out?

Grant: That’s a good question. We haven’t actually made a decision, but we’re thinking about releasing half an album at a time, just doing five or six songs and then, a little bit later down the road, we’ll do five or six more. Honestly, we’re dying to have it out there, and I think it’s a matter of— I feel like we’re going in and doing our best songs and then, in a few months, hopefully we’ll have brought in some new material.

5. Do you feel that you can stay in St. Louis and realize success as a band?

Grant: I don’t think so.

Jeremiah: I kind of doubt it. I mean, we get good response in St. Louis, but it’s never the response that you really dream of having.

Jaclyn: St. Louis is so saturated with rock bands that it’s hard to break out. I took this quote from Dustin; he should say it.

Dustin: We’ve had a good response; we’ve headlined at Mississippi Nights, which was great, but you can’t play there every single weekend. It would be nice to go to every town and play every night for the same type of crowd.

Grant: We’re very happy to be here, and if we make something of ourselves here, I think that’s something for St. Louis.

6. How does Sevenstar define success?

Dustin: I think when we can play every night of the week to a decent crowd that came out and enjoys music—

Grant: I’ve heard this quote before. I want to do the music thing, I want to be able to play; we’re not in this to make big bucks—

Jaclyn: I am.

Grant: Although the big bucks would be nice. It’s probably just as hard as any job you’ll do, it’s just that there’s a lot of fun that comes from the job once you get to the point you want to be at. That’s when you’ve succeeded: when you can walk up on a stage and you can play to a crowd and they love you. To some extent, we’ve succeeded; we just want to succeed on a wider range.

Dustin: Oh, that’s good. When they know all the words to your songs, in every city.

Grant: That’s asking a lot. It kind of freaks me out, when somebody sings a song back to me. I’m like, “Oh my God, I wrote that.”

7. Were all of you in bands before?

Grant: Yeah, I’ve been in a few bands, actually. We’re from Central Illinois, me and this guy right here, Mr. Quiet.

Jeremiah: We’re from Peoria, Illinois, lots of corn. We didn’t do very good there. Coming to St. Louis has really helped us because, in Peoria, nothing is there. Who’s the big band that came from there?

Jaclyn: Mudvayne.

Grant: So really it’s not our kind of music town.

Jeremiah: So that’s where St. Louis is good, because it’s a big city. It’s very musical, but I think it’s more like blues and rock.

Grant: But blues rock is a good thing. Actually, this is interesting: I don’t think any of us meant to make this band. This band was really an accident: we were originally jamming out, just a rock band like everybody does; we played an acoustic show and were just like, “Hey, that’s kind of cool.”

Dustin: We all came from very different backgrounds—

Jeremiah: Metalheads.

Catch Sevenstar next on January 2 when they play The River Homegrown “Best of” show at Llewelyn’s Pub; for more information.