By JR Valrey, The Minister of Information
From Chubby Checker to James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Sly, Jasper Isley, Prince, Fishbone, Me’shell Ndegeocello to Gary Clark Jr, rock originated as a Black art form in the United States and is still very prevalent in our current musical DNA, although it is seldom discussed outside of music nerd circles. Although Hip Hip is dominating airwaves around the planet, rock is one of its predecessors, and still has its place in the pantheon of great music created from the African experience of being held captive in the U.S..
Energy does not die, it is only transformed; so the guitar and bass licks, as well as techniques of the rockers of the past are making their way into the modern world, through the music of the very talented, Stockton based rock group 723. I met the group at the Compound in East Oakland, a few months ago, and they made me a fan although I am not an avid follower of modern rock. I love the soul and passion that I can feel in between their funky bass lines, distorted electric guitar licks, hypnotic drum patterns, and the unique voice of Roots, the group’s frontman and vocalist. In today’s times where beat machines have replaced musicianship, there is something special about live music that is played by musicians, without any form of automation. Check out Roots as he gives us some history on 723…
JR Valrey: Where did 723 get its name from? And how did y’all meet?
Roots of 723: We chose 723, as it is an angel number. Seven represents mystical awakening and spiritual growth. Two represents balance, harmony, trust and love. Three represents communication, self-discovery, and optimism. 723 is a message that your mind-set, intentions and efforts will reap many long-term benefits and rewards, in your life. We believe that we each reflect this in our own lives. We started off with me, Roots (singer), continuously asking Marty (guitarist) to start up a band. Marty had gone into retirement from playing in bands, at that time. So, the thought of starting a new one was not on his mind. I continued to pursue him. Marty gave in, picked up his guitar, and told me to sing. And that was it. Our drummer and one of the bassist, Paris and Stef, were brought into the band by me, Roots. Our other bassist, August, was introduced by Marty.
JR Valrey: Were all the members in the group into rock before 723 formed?
Roots of 723: Yes. Some more than others. But nonetheless, we do like to rock out.
JR Valrey: What is 723’s creative process like? What is the process like when y’all write songs?
Roots of 723: At the first part of each practice, we start jamming. One person starts and everyone will just fall in, with their creative vibes. If it’s something we like, we would put that on our song list to develop. And of course, it is all recorded.
JR Valrey: How would y’all describe your sound?
Roots of 723: Our sound is like GUMBO. Everything mixed in from Rock to Blues, Funk and R&B.
JR Valrey: What kind of subjects do you sing about?
Roots of 723: We sing about love, sex, daily living, and about the love of our city, Stockton.
JR Valrey: How were the musicians in the group trained in music?
Roots of 723: Being a part of the choir or band at the church, was the start for us. We are all self-taught musicians. We come from a very diverse musical background, one of our talents is to be able to listen and be able to add to what we already have learned. We learn from each other and are influenced by the people that we listen to, to make that original sound that you hear.
JR Valrey: With y’all being born in the HipHop era, what made y’all want to do rock? How has the response been?
Roots of 723: Everybody’s wants to be a rapper and live like a rock star, but this where we came from. Our lead guitarist came with the vibe, and we went from there. A HipHop Soul vibe came from Roots and Marty ran from there. The response that we get when we hit the stage is between what just happened, and this is amazing. The vibe is strong. It’s been great for people to love what we do and understand it, so it’s blessing.
JR Valrey: Who are some of the musicians that inspire y’all?
Roots of 723: Nirvana, Michael Jackson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Tony! Toni! Toné!, Anderson.Paak, Andre 3000, OutKast, The Rolling Stones, Living Color, The Isley Brothers, Earth, Wind and Fire, D’Angelo, Wyclef Jean, Biggie Smalls.