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Dial-7 Makes a Clear Connection

When Life hands the O.C. band static, it makes electricity.

October 23, 1998|MIKE BOEHM | TIMES STAFF WRITER

There's a mystique about the number seven. The seventh day of Genesis. The seventh seal of Revelation. The seventh son of blues-song mythology.

"It's the number, the all-powerful number," said Michael Lord, singer of Dial-7, the rock-and-rap band whose name alludes to that numerological aura.

If Dial-7 rolls a seven with "Never Enough Time," its just-released debut album for Warner Bros., success would bring a deserved jackpot for the most distinctive and thematically worthwhile band to come out of the local rock scene since Sublime.

While Orange County ska heroes such as Save Ferris, Home Grown and Reel Big Fish spam the nation with their lyrics' inconsequence, and Sugar Ray and Kottonmouth Kings vie for the dubious title of world's most knuckleheaded band, Dial-7 grapples with racism, grief and the struggle to stay mentally alert and spiritually afloat in times of tribulation.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday November 3, 1998 Orange County Edition Calendar Part F Page 2 Entertainment Desk 2 inches; 43 words Type of Material: Correction
Band Backers--An Oct. 23 story on Orange County rock band Dial-7 gave an incomplete list of financial backers for the group's debut album, ". . .Yesterday Was Allday." In addition to George Catsouras, who was credited in the article, the backers were J.C. Thom, Jeff Houston, Jared Merrell and David Gronowski.

It often takes harsh experience to achieve that kind of creative depth, and this band knows very well what it means to sit at life's gaming table and have the dice come up snake-eyes.

In 1996, the band was coalescing while its six members lived in a tiny communal space in a warehouse in Laguna Canyon. (Dial-7's lyrics also invest 133, the route number of Laguna Canyon Road, with magical-mystical powers.)

Then rapper Steven "Kid Bone" Lord--younger brother of Michael and protege of Dial-7's other rapper, Shaun "Shauny B." Baxstrum, 20--was killed, along with two other passengers, in a car driven by a 17-year-old girl who had been drinking.

The band can sing convincingly about difficult trials leading to a clearer vision because it lived through it with Kid Bone's death.

"A major change happened," bassist Barrett said. "Everybody had a purpose and a goal, instead of jamming just for fun."

"It became a mission of letting our insides out," said Michael Lord, 25. "We have this time, we have this life. Let's make sure we don't let these things go by. The [emotions] I feel every day, I can't let that not be heard. The point was to carry on; I couldn't, being his brother, let [his death] be in vain."

Life has given Lord and Shauny B., the band's lyricists, plenty to write about. Both came out of a tough, tense neighborhood in Ontario in San Bernardino County.

As African Americans living in Orange County, they say they have encountered other sorts of pressure--Shauny B. says the Irvine police used to routinely pull him over when he drove through the city in his low-rider van; the song "MacFly," more bewildered than angry, was written after Lord was bloodied by a skinhead after a Dial-7 show in Newport Beach.

Faith and Promise

Now Lord's older sister, Sharon--the ex-girlfriend of Shauny B. and the mother of his 9-year-old son--is battling brain cancer.

"I believe in God," Lord said when asked how he manages not to be deflated by so much family heartache. "You can't have testimony without your test."

During an interview, the Dial-7 members lounged around a cramped recreational vehicle parked outside their rehearsal studio in Fountain Valley. The camper has been their home since mid-September, when they embarked on the first national tour of their career.

The band's three instrumentalists are bassist Barrett (who goes by his last name, eschewing his first, Russell), drummer Mikey Clamz (whose unused surname is Hernandez) and guitarist Chris Robosan, who joined a year ago after playing in the hoary O.C. punk band D.I.

Lord and Shauny B. did most of the talking during the interview; in conversation, as on stage, they contrast with and complement each other.

Shauny B. is small and wiry and speaks at nothing less than a fevered pitch of attention-grabbing theatricality. In performance, he sprints the stage and hurls himself into the crowd. Lord, a large, well-muscled man, has a powerful singing voice but is a soft-spoken, philosophical talker who projects uncommon conviction and seriousness.

George Catsouras, owner of the White House club in Laguna Beach, regularly booked Dial-7 as it emerged on the local scene. He became a friend and supporter of the band, advancing it the money for its first CD, the independently released ". . . Yesterday Was Allday."

"Michael Lord is the real spiritual Jedi type, and Shauny B. is just a firecracker," Catsouras said. "He walks into a room anywhere and he just brings the whole place to life. Mike's really laid back. They're each other's yin and yang."

About eight years ago, Shauny B.'s streetwise ways prompted the Lord family's move to Irvine, hoping to break off his romance with Sharon.

But Shauny B. persisted and eventually won the relationship a belated parental blessing. He says the relationship fizzled partly because he was more alluring to Sharon when he was forbidden fruit.

Roads Not Taken

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