This appeared on the 7 Seconds Wiki page for about a month. I call it...
7 Seconds is an American hardcore punk band from Reno, Nevada. Formed on January 17, 1980 by brothers Kevin Seconds (guitar, vocals) and Steve Youth (bass, vocals), along with the Borghino brothers Tom Munist (drums) and Dim Menace (vocals). Dim Menace's fist-brandishing scowl on the cover of the Skins, Brains, & Guts EP is one of the most iconic images in punk rock.
Reno resident Cliff Varnell has made various claims over the years that he recruited and managed the original band members but, according to Kevin Seconds, "Cliff was kind enough to let us practice in his basement and gave us rides in the early days but that's about it. He has a vivid imagination and has told a number of people that he put the band together, like he was some Malcolm McClaren type figure in our history but that just complete bullshit. He was around from day one and he helped us out but he didn't recruit anybody for anything".
Cliff Varnell responds:
"My account of the formation of 7 Seconds, which follows, first appeared in the inner sleeve of the 'Wartime' EP, put out in 1993 as an insert with my book CAN OF WORMS (as 'N. Sylene'). 7 Seconds sold dozens of copies of this on their 1994 tour, and not once did Kevin Seconds voice objection to my account of the formation of 7 Seconds:
On the night of Thursday, January 17, 1980, four of us were hanging out in my basement bedroom: Tom Borghino, myself, Kevin and Steve Marvelli. I'd only known Kevin and Steve a couple of weeks. Tom and I had been friends since the previous summer, and we were trying to start a punk rock scene in Reno by spinning disks at local night clubs. What we really wanted to see was a local political punk band like The Dils, D.O.A., or Dead Kennedys. Tom met the Marvelli brothers at the end of December, 1979. Kevin and Steve also had a band concept and a couple of original songs, but no drummer. The four of us lamented the fact that Reno was so behind the times that finding a drummer seemed next to impossible. I thought of Tommy Ramone, who was a non-musician when he joined The Ramones. 'I'll be the drummer!' I blurted out. 'I'll drum for you guys!' After a round of 'all right!' from everyone I turned to Tom and asked: 'If I'm the drummer, what are you going to do?' 'I'll be the manager,' he said. In that instant I saw myself as the manager and Tom as the drummer. 'Tell you what,' I said, 'let's go ahead and get a drum kit and the guy who can drum will be the drummer, and the other guy will be the manager.' The next day Tom rented a drum kit, brought it over to my basement, set it up, sat down, and ripped. I wasn't anywhere near his ability. 'You're the drummer, I'm the manager,' I said, but Tom already knew that the night before.
"I remained the manager of 7 Seconds until February of 1981, co-funding the band along with Norma (Noni) Borghino, Tom and Dim's mother. I also put 7 Seconds on bills I promoted, bringing into Reno such bands as The Zeros, D.O.A., Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, T.S.O.L., Circle Jerks, The Lewd, the Subhumans (Canadian), Social Unrest, Impatient Youth, and the Young Canadians. That, and I gave Kevin and Steve rides and lots of Pepsi. Other than that, Kev's right, not much."
Kevin Seconds responds: (man, this is starting to feel like an Internet message board, isn't it?)
"In actuality, Steve and I met Tom in a Sparks, Nevada record shop one day in early January 1980. Tom was wearing a parka with a bunch of band buttons and we were trying to slyly get close enough to him to see which band's buttons he was wearing. When we realized that the buttons were for punk bands like Black Flag, D.O.A. and The Avengers, we went up and introduced ourselves and started talking about the punk scene in Reno, or a lack thereof. Steve and I told Tom that we had a punk band called X-Banned but had recently lost our drummer (Bob Seeds) to the Navy and he claimed that he played drums and invited us to meet his friend Cliff. Besides Tom, Cliff had the biggest punk rock/new wave record collection we'd ever seen and we were in heaven. We hung out at Cliff's basement for hours listening to his great records and we started talking about the idea of a band. I do remember Cliff and Tom discussing who between them could be our new drummer but I assumed Tom was more interested because he mentioned it earlier at the record store. There were references made to us needing a manager but I never took it that seriously because, at that early stage, there really wasn't anything for anybody to manage. Tom got a drum kit (i don't know that I knew it was rented) shortly after our first hangout and we started working on the X-Banned tunes I had written and we'd been playing. It all began to click fairly quickly and at the time, I wasn't set on wanting to be the singer in the band and was more interested in playing guitar so Tom suggested that his brother Dim try out on vocals and that worked out well. For awhile, anyway." "I have never disputed the fact that Cliff Varnell was around from day one and was incredibly helpful and supportive of 7Seconds and yes, I suppose he was our first "manager". He did get us our first few shows and made sure we got to and from gigs and band practice. We were always grateful to him for his support in the early days of 7Seconds." "However, Cliff did NOT recruit anybody to be in the band. Steve and I had planned on continuing on with our band X-Banned and when we met Tom and he expressed interest in the drum position, we were very excited because we were having no luck finding drummers who played punk rock musician up until that point, especially ones who could play the faster style that we were wanting to play. Cliff made no decisions regarding who was in or who did what in the band. Cliff also had no hand in the songwriting aspects of 7Seconds. Despite my political naivete, he and I discussed politics on a regular basis and that certainly had some influence on how I would come to shape songs lyrically but long before we met Cliff, X-Banned fancied itself as a political punk band. We idolized bands like The Clash, The Dils and D.O.A. and patterned ourselves after them. Again, I was very naive politically but, like them or not, my thoughts and messages were my own."'
"Me, I was not naive politically. I have been politically active from the age of 17, starting with the George McGovern Prez campaign in Lee County Fl. in 1972. I regard my dj/band-management/promoter work in Reno from 1979 to 1982 as political activism. I also met Tom Borghino in a record store, and we hung out listening to records. Tom owned a bass and a practice amp, and one time he picked the bass up and started plunking on it. I asked him why he didn't start a band and he said he didn't want to be in a band. I recruited him on 1/17/80. How could Tom have been a drummer if the first kit he got was from Maytan on 1/18?
"And yes, Kevin absolutely was the master of the thoughts and messages in the music of 7 Seconds, much like Johnny Rotten vs. Malcolm McLaren with the Sex Pistols. I'm most proud of the fact that I never tried to directly influence Kevin's writing. I found the two X-Banned songs to be more influenced by Sid Vicious than Joe Shithead, politically incorrect, but I kept this to myself and never commented to Kevin on my reservations and just went with my gut instinct that the kid would figure it out.
"Look, Kev, no hard feelings. 30 years is a long time. But think about it -- if Tom was a drummer and X-Banned needed a drummer, why didn't you guys get together on the spot when you met in Sparks? The band formed 2-3 weeks later when I offered to be the drummer. The only potential drummer you brought up was a "bald guy who said he wanted to jam." Bix Bigler, the drummer who eventually played on Skins, Brains, & Guts. But "jam" sounded lame to you. So I said I'd do it. I decided who was in the band because I didn't even make a real attempt to win the job. I think we all knew the night of the 17th that Tom would be the drummer. We still held the audition, which you acknowledge. I wanted to be the manager, not the drummer. And I'm glad to see you admit that I was. (smiley)
"Kev, you wrote above: 'Despite my political naivete, [Cliff] and I discussed politics on a regular basis and that certainly had some influence on how I would come to shape songs lyrically but long before we met Cliff, X-Banned fancied itself as a political punk band. We idolized bands like The Clash, The Dils and D.O.A. and patterned ourselves after them. Again, I was very naive politically but, like them or not, my thoughts and messages were my own.' I appreciate this acknowledgement very much, my friend. I can dine out on it the rest of my life!
"One point of correction, however. I did NOT book the first 7 Seconds show, at the Townhouse, on March 2, 1980. The 13 year old Steve Youth booked that show. I promoted about a dozen shows with out-of-town bands; 7 Seconds was on every bill. A major credit for spurring the underground Reno scene also goes to Sean Greaves of the Thrusting Squirters, and Jim Diederichsen (RIP, Jim) of Belvue."
Both Tom and Dim quit 7 Seconds by 1981 to form Section 8 with Jim Diederichsen and Lou Chavez of the Thrusting Squirters (Section 8 founder/manager/co-songwriter: Cliff Varnell). Kevin and Steve continued with 7 Seconds and quickly adapted to a series of personnel changes (including the return of Tom Munist for most of 1981).
In 1982 7 Seconds recruited friend and South Lake Tahoe drummer Troy Mowat, who has been with the band ever since, with the exception of a few months in 1985, when band friend Belvy K from Syracuse, New York filled in on drums.
Current guitarist Bobby Adams joined the band in 1986.
7 Seconds played their first show on March 2, 1980. While not the first band to describe themselves as "hardcore punk" (that credit goes to D.O.A.), 7 Seconds is arguably the first band to self-label themselves as primarily "hardcore." Within a couple of days of their first show, Kevin Seconds and Cliff Varnell put out a newsletter titled "NWIN/SPUNK #1" in which both Seconds and Varnell described 7 Seconds as "hardcore new wave." Says Varnell: "We were the last guys in punk rock to find out that the term 'New Wave' was considered un-cool in urban punk circles. We read about Joey Shithead referring to D.O.A. as 'hardcore punk' in CREEP (San Francisco fanzine). To us, the words 'new wave' and 'punk' were interchangeable -- the word we grabbed onto with gusto was 'hardcore'."