Evan Sula-Goff - vocals, guitar
Seth Watson - guitars
Adam Powell - drums
Alex Viveros - bass
Aaron Johnson - guitar
At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the convergence of music and technology appears to be at an all-time high. However, there are certain things that just can't be replaced or altered by machines. "I know for a fact that sitting there playing guitar and feeling that buzz underneath your fingers can't be replaced by playing electric guitar riffs on a keyboard." So says Evan Sula-Goff, the singer/guitarist of 8STOPS7, a Ventura Country, California-based quintet whose Reprise Records debut, In Moderation, is filled with real songs, about real subjects played on real instruments.
With such devotion to purity and passion, it comes as no surprise that the band's first song was written by Evan in an attempt to come to terms with a friend's suicide.
After his first four bands were torn apart by his cohorts' appetite for drugs, Evan had all but given up music, until one night at 4 a.m. he felt the need to write about the death of his close friend. "I tried writing a song about it, and used certain aspects of it in other songs, but I never completely exorcised the demons until that night. I walked into my parents' room and played it for them and they knew what it was about. We all sat there and cried.
Playing music was the only thing that kept me sane." Buoyed by a newfound confidence, but still gun-shy of putting another band together, Evan began performing solo acoustic gigs on the local coffee house circuit. After a while, Evan reluctantly agreed to jam with Seth Watson, who worked with Evan at a coffee shop in a Ventura mall. "I knew he was a good guitarist, but I was so disappointed and worked over by all those other bands that I almost let him slip through my fingers." However, Seth's persistence paid off big-time as the pair wrote three songs during their first musical meeting.
Soon the pair enlisted drummer Adam Powell and bassist Alex Viveros, an already active rhythm section that had played together since their meeting at Santa Paula High School in 1994. Powell, ironically, is the younger brother of the guitarist in Evan's very first band. "I remember Adam getting his first drumset," Evan recalls.
With the lineup set, 8STOPS7 played its first gig on February 21, 1997, Evan's twenty-first birthday, and had no trouble attracting a following. "At that first show, about 250 people showed up to this place that should sit 40," Evan recalls. "People wanted to see what I was up to…everyone I had met in my entire life showed up."
With the help of Birth Of A Cynic, the band's self-produced debut CD (independently released in the summer 1998), the buzz on 8STOPS7 soon spread down south to Los Angeles where the band found itself pursued by a number of major labels. They ultimately opted for Reprise.
Produced by Toby Wright (Alice In Chains, Korn, Sevendust), In Moderation spawned the active rock hit "My Would-Be Savior" in the winter of 1999. Fueled by the track's success, the band embarked on its first full-fledged tour. Aaron Johnson, a Ventura scenester, was brought in as a second guitarist for the trek, which ranged from mismatched club dates to support spots with Days Of The New, Staind and Sevendust.
"There was one show in Albuquerque where we played with four death metal bands and a beer can was tossed at Adam," Evan recalls. However, the hostility and indifference gave way to euphoria when the band pulled into Chattanooga, Tennessee a few weeks later in support of Days Of The New at an 8,000-seat venue. "We had no idea how big the show was going to be until we got there," Evan recalls. "That was by far the most amazing thing I have ever done in my life. The entire crowd was completely into it. Seeing that many people going off and loving what you do is just totally unbelievable."
With songs such as the blistering "Regression," which eerily addresses school shootings through the shooter's point of view, as well as the hard-rocking throb of "Satisfied," which Evan describes as a "shout out against over-indulgence," it won't be long until 8STOPS7 will be packing them in across the country. The line forms here.