Vegas band following arena dreams

The engine isn’t even on, but the car still rumbles like it’s positioned upon some angry fault line.

The calm is being interrupted by several sources: the anthemic, cinder-block heavy hard rock that blares through the speakers and the two dudes in the back seat playing air guitar — and air bass and air drums — so heatedly, that the car rocks back and forth like it’s speeding down some bumpy, unpaved road.

It’s a bit past five o’clock on a recent Tuesday afternoon, and the Guitar Center parking lot is being flooded with some brash, ballsy new tunes from Vegas rockers 7th Son.

Having recently inked a substantial deal with midmajor Roadrunner Records, home to such heavyweights as Slipknot and Nickelback, the band is days away from heading to Virginia to record their full-length debut with producer Michael "Elvis" Baskette, who has worked with such notables as Chevelle, Incubus and fellow Vegas heavies Escape the Fate.

It’s easy to hear why this bunch has raised eyebrows: Their tunes are a radio-ready mix of knuckle-busting metal shredding and hook-heavy classic rock showmanship.

"Eddie Money meets Iron Maiden, that’s what we’re looking at," beams singer/guitarist/long-haired thunderbolt Chris Babbit over a late lunch at the Yardhouse minutes earlier.

The band’s tunes are posited upon monstrous, layered melodies that recall vintage Def Leppard, blazing guitar interplay and awesomely over-the-top lyrics ("I’m a renegade razor blade," Babbit howls on one tune).

"It’s something that has a very vintage vibe in a modern perspective, with big, big songs," says Babbit, a talkative, energized presence. "You hear songs on the radio that are uber catchy, but they’re lacking that intensity, that edge. We’re keeping that on the guitars."

As such, the young band members, who aren’t that far removed from high school, possess a sound beyond their years, rooted in the slick, singalong rock of the ’80s. They’ve been pursued by smaller indie labels before, turning down $10,000 deals for something more substantial.

"We got 10 times that from Roadrunner," Babbit notes, flanked by his band mates, guitarist Mikey Cross, drummer Alan Doucette and bassist Andrew Cushing.

"They’re giving us a pretty good budget to buy a van and a trailer," Cross adds. "They want to put a lot into it."

Not that this bunch is rolling in the dough all of a sudden. Far from it. They still have day jobs, and they spent a good deal of their advance from Roadrunner to pay for Baskette.

Still, their dreams remain big, even if their bank accounts don’t.

"(Roadrunner) said, ‘We hear arena rock from you.’ And we were going, ‘That’s funny,’ because we think about arenas a lot," Babbit says with a chuckle. "Every time we’re packing up after Jillian’s, we’re thinking about arenas."

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.

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