Each one of us has been on our own musical journeys. They are often fraught with varying emotions and thought. I recently caught up with Glen Krause who was the bassist for one of Albuquerque NM’s premier rock bands Seventh Sign. Glen has since moved on and continued his musical journey in California. Let’s catch up with Glen:
I always find it interesting to hear what first brought people in the music world. Glen what began your musical journey?
Glen: My parents both were very much the eclectic music lovers, There was always music playing in my house growing up. Classical, country (old school outlaw country), folk, some rock. I just always had theme music in the background of every early experience. I hear a lot of people around my age say that when they were children and they first heard The Beatles the light went on, for me it was when my Father brought Home Electric Light Orchestra’s “OUT OF THE BLUE”! That”s when I first realized I could put on headphones and in the period of less than an hour, go through every emotion possible. I began to devour music like a starving animal!
Once you caught the bug what was it that inspired you to pick up an instrument and learn how to play?
Glen: It’s funny, we always had a guitar in the house and I never picked it up. When My Grandmother passed away we inherited her piano and that kind of interested me. In grade school I took cello and clarinet class for about two weeks each. I just wanted an excuse to leave regular class for an hour a week. really no interest. Until I heard RUSH. My god! Geddy Lee blew me away! I re-listened to everything I had, just to hear the bass lines, I asked my mom to buy me a bass, I had just dropped out of high school and she said “Glen, If you study real hard make an appointment and pass the G.E.D. I will buy you a bass”. The next day she went out to the book store to buy me G.E.D. study guides and I went to go sign up. turns out they were giving the test THAT DAY! She came home with a bag of books, I came home with a G.E.D. and off to the music store we went! (she was thrilled and surprised and a little put out because she thought she would have plenty of time to save up! Sorry Mom, turns out I’m smart and motivated only when necessary! HaHa) Then I went about teaching myself how to play every RUSH song one at a time, album by album.
Ok, you’ve gotten your bass, and you’ve started playing, now which bass players lit your fire and inspired you?
Glen: Well Obviously RUSH but also Pink Floyd, Yes, Led Zeppelin… That was early on. then heavier stuff Sabbath, Maiden, Priest. Now as a song writer as opposed to just a bass player in a band, I go back to melodic, simple emotive music. Beatles, ELO, Elton John 70’s and 80’s pop. I think My influences change as my intentions change. Constantly evolving and De-evolving.
Alright, you’ve been inspired to play, gotten your instrument, learned enough to venture out and perform with a band, what were your first band experiences like?
Glen: There were several “situations” i would call them before there were bands. My first REAL band was a blues band Called the Blues Bears We played one gig. after that I was in a band called Suite G with Tim Griffiths Garcia which over time evolved into The Shouting Scouts. Playing the Cover circuit in Abq. Man that was rough, 4 one hour long sets a night, 6 nights a week for a few years. Paying the dues and the bar tabs and getting LOTS of experience.
All of this was leading up to SEVENTH SIGN. What were the circumstances for you joining them?
Glen: Yeah, In 1990 My mother passed away and I decided it was my time to experience life outside of Albuquerque, My Aunt told me to go to San Francisco because of the creative community and the beauty of that great City, so I did. And I loved it there. I wasn’t really playing much music though. My Good friend Paul Lavelle came out to visit one time and told me about a band that was really good in Abq was looking for a bass player. I was SO NOT interested until he told me the names of the guys in the band. SHWING!!!! I knew Gregg a little but was VERY aware of his vocal talent, I knew Dan pretty well and knew OF Richard, heard him but never met him. I flew Back to Abq that week to meet up with them, flew back to S.F., packed my stuff, grabbed my cat and less than a month later we were working on the first EP “Blue Print”.
SEVENTH SIGN always stood out among the other bands what was the secret for rising above the norm?
Glen: Well, for one, we focused on originals. We learned three covers so we would have something to play while we wrote. But our intention from the beginning was to be an original band. During that time in Abq. that was NOT the thing to do. It was a cover band town (with the exception of, and mas respect for, Femme Fatal and Flake-Later known as the Shins). So we pretty much locked ourselves into what ever jam room we could find (Wild Wilber’s was our birth place) and just worried about writing great songs and playing them with perfection. We did not even consider the idea of playing a gig for the first 6 months to a year. There was nowhere to play originals anyway. We thought about the big picture from the start. We didn’t want to work our way up in public, we wanted to come out of the box on top! We utilized every opportunity we could, Dan knew a guy who loved doing video stuff, BOOM there you go! Dave Stabley would do live and sequenced video projected behind us while we played. NO ONE was doing that! We had a friend who was a electronics genius who was developing his own robotic lights (James Avilla, R.I.P.) Because WE were working so hard to reach perfection he decided to allow us to showcase his lights, first band in town to have Live video and Robotic lights! And to blast it all out there was the amazing James Wood! Part of the project from day one! Owned his own sound company. Most of the local clubs had his stuff in them anyway but when we finally decided to break it all out and do a live show he pulled it all for that night. A lot of people had been hearing word of mouth about this really good band with this Killer singer so when we played, they went. Skeptically I’m sure and the crowds were small the first few times out. But what they got was a show like they had never seen before in a club from a local bunch of guys. Carefully crafted and well rehearsed music played through the best possible sound system run by the best possible sound man, and amazing, choreographed robotic light show and live video projected larger than life behind us. Go figure It went over pretty well to say the least! By the time we released our demo EP “Blue Print” we sold out Senior Buckets two nights in a row with a line around the building. We will always hold the attendance record for that place, (including national acts)!
Life and our relationships are full of lessons, what did you learn in your time with SEVENTH SIGN?
Glen: The benefits of work ethic and integrity. About how a group of people (not just the guys in the band) with a shared desire to excel could pull together and help one another. We never looked at it as people trying to squeeze in on our game, we looked at it as people who could help us, WANTED to help us! and by including them we helped them! On any and every opportunity we would round up the troops and help James load a truck of sub cabinets and power amps across town and back. Help Jimmy Avilla install his newly released lights into a dance club. If other bands needed a back line and we were off, we would not only lend it to them we would deliver it to them and set it up! Our hard work and dedication attracted like minded people and we all found ways to help each other. In no time at all, every venue in town loved us every band in town respected us and it was because we shared whatever we could, they all did too. I guess in summary, we all learned in Seventhsign that the best music “scene” is really a music community. It shouldn’t be about what can MY BAND get out of this town, It should be about what can my band do to make this town a fun place to play, where people go to each others shows and fill venues and give the new guys a leg up. A town full of good bands doing well equals a good music scene. A town with a bunch of struggling bands playing to their family through a cheap rented PA while another band with good equipment sits at home that night with their gear in the garage makes for a very bad music scene.
As a people we are continually growing and changing, in your own personal growth you chose to leave SEVENTH SIGN.
Glen: Yes I did, right after we finished our second record, Perpetual Destiny. We had just gotten our first deal, A distribution deal in Japan on Alpha Records. I was blessed to learn that I was going to be a father. It was a hard decision in some ways. I had spent my whole life building up to the moment that was right in front of us. I tried to figure every way possible to stay with the band and continue the work that needed to be done. but ultimately it was impossible. When I realized that I would have to quit my job and tour for road float (food and with luck, a room once in a while no pay other than merchandise) basically it was a no brainer. I wanted to be a father more than I wanted to be a “Rockstar” and I was not about to leave my family behind with no support. It was hard on me but it was hard on the band as well. we were also a family at that point. They did fine getting the position filled. And I was madly in love with my new family. Life happens and it’s the most beautiful thing. I don’t regret making the decision I made at all and never will. But it was difficult.
After all of that are you still playing music?
Glen: Yes, Mostly composing and writing now. i’m working with several different vocalists on new material, trying to break into the score and sound track game, and writing my own stuff just for therapeutic reasons. Mostly by using music as a way to help others.
I understand that one of the ways you are helping others is with some charity work. Can you elaborate on this?
Glen: A few actually. I took on the task of re-releasing the Seventhsign catalog through iTunes and other channels with proceeds benefiting Futures For Children, A New Mexico based charity that provides educational resources and mentorships to at-risk Native American Children and young adults, That is still an on going project. I’m also involved with the SING ME A STORY foundation as a contributing composer and performer. A great charity that collects stories written by orphaned children around the world and has musicians compose, arrange and record a song based on that story. Then they send a copy of the CD to that child along with equipment to play the cd if necessary. Such an awesome Idea. Imagine losing your parents at a young age in a war or massacre or natural disaster, never having the opportunity to really experience or even hear professionally recorded music and suddenly there is a song about YOU that YOU helped write! That could be life changing to a hopeless child. To be able to give that gift with a few days or even just hours work feels so much better than playing “La Grange” to six drunk guys in a smelly bar on a Tuesday night! Anyone can do it to, check out their website, and if you cant record a song send them a few bucks.
The music scene and industry has changed so much since you entered it, what are your thoughts on what’s happening now?
Glen: That is such a hard question to answer. In my opinion, The “industry” is a thing of the past for the most part. Record companies are merely P.R. companies that farm talent. Disney owns so much of the companies that used to be the industry and they groom kids to be pop stars. Reality T.V. shows like American Idol and The Voice and so on have changed the way popular music is chosen for us (which, I believe, it always was). It used to be competing record companies with a constantly rotating A&R department that decided who and what was going to be signed, recorded and marketed. Now it is YOUR vote via text message. That’s Pop. For the Indie scene, social media has changed that so much, actually not so much changed it but let it grow out of control. There are tens of thousands of great and not so great artists out there and they all are on a level playing field. They can relatively easily record their own material, invent their own “label”, sell it via digital download and market it via social networks. Its the wild west out there now in my opinion. Who knows how, when and if it will ever be simple again.
But two simple facts remain, and always will.For the artist, First and foremost always remember that a “Music Scene is, like any other art “scene”, a COMMUNITY not a COMPETITION. If you work VERY hard, sacrifice and suffer for your art, create a good product and provide good customer service (quality shows, being accessible, flexible and interactive within the community of music) you have a chance to make it. You can still dream big and work your dreams into reality.
For the listener, you have an immensely larger buffet these days. Find what you like and enjoy it. (personally love Pandora radio because it helps me cut through the massive amount of offerings and discovers through similarities, music that I enjoy).
There is one thing I would like to add to the last answer and that is the element of what YOU GUYS are doing! You guys are a “community developer” in many senses. You HELP bands and artists and venues do all of those things I spoke of! I will revise that answer to include that because it was a glaring oversight on my part. Its like, there are Agregators like Reverb Nation, CD baby and tune core that help distribute digital music. You Guys, with Music/rock u-night and Mysteria and Polyram that do a similar service but on a much more human and hands on way. helping bands put all of those basic elements I speak of together. A wonderful asset and resource to the “community”.
Thanks for the kind words Glen.
There you have it, a personal journey from and outstanding musician, and an outstanding person.
Here are links to the charities Glen works with:
and here is a link to one of my favorite SEVENTH SIGN songs: