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The Trio of 7UPPERCUTS Exist for the Love of Punk and One Another

Founded in 2017, 7UPPPERCUTS signifies a new generation of musicians who are teeming with youthful and creative energy. 7UP’s music, filled with the rebellious spirit of punk rock, not only delivers happy-go-lucky lyrics, bouncy tunes, and vivacious concerts, but also ushers in a promising era for punk in Vietnam.

The birth of 7UPPERCUTS scratches the itch for punk rock

The trio of 7UP all once belonged to different rock groups: A Dính on guitar and vocals, Aki on bass and vocals, and Callum “Lâm” Rollo on drums. From the realm of hardcore/heavy metal, 7UP took the plunge into pop punk, blasting quick-tempo bangers and dynamic beats that are reminiscent of anime soundtracks. “Rock, to us, is the easiest way to voice our thoughts, and punk is the easiest vehicle to drive. Whatever we play, we never fail to u-turn to punk,” A Dính shares.

When the band began, every member was “dying” to play music, so its formation was like scratching a desperate itch. They had no income, so 7UP sold skateboards and amplifiers to sustain the group. Back then, being able to get on stage and play as much music as they could brought true joy to the band. They pulled resources to start making an album — “dead or alive, it must be made,” 7UP says. Less than a year later, their debut record, “Summer Jam,” was released with nine tracks chosen from almost 100 compositions.

“Summer Jam,” introduced listeners to 7UPPERCUTS via slices of high school memories, and the aspirations, sentiments, and romance of adolescence. Through its lively, summery riffs, the album embodies an impetuous spirit, a drive to live authentically, and a feverish affection for life.

After “Summer Jam,” 7UP followed up with the single ‘Yêu’ and “Chái Mái” EP in 2020. During the Christmas period, their single ‘No Internet,’ in collaboration with Seachains, was released. Alas, the band didn’t continue that momentum, and later that year they announced a hiatus after Aki was diagnosed with a serious illness. HỘI NGẦM was the band’s farewell stage in July, seemingly the last time fans could relish 7UP’s music in the flesh.

There are things that we need to lose to know we need them.

“Those two years [on hiatus] was a time for the three of us to sit down to contemplate about ourselves and about 7UP. Lâm returned to his home country to lift weights and seek some solitude, Dính went solo to be a pop star (and even succeeded with the song ‘Bồ Em’), and I focused on treatment. I also prepared mentally to never be able to have fun again. No more music, no more roaming on stage, no more 7UP,” Aki says of the band’s two-year break.

“When I recovered, we met again and realized that we all couldn’t live without 7UP and the other two.”

It’s fun to just hang out, but let’s say goodbye to financial struggles

Two years of “halftime” gave the trio some much-needed space to ruminate on their relationship with rock, and how the band operates. As one of Vietnam’s few bands focused on punk rock, 7UP recognizes that they have many opportunities to grow and develop punk music, and create a viable revenue stream to sustain the band members’ livelihood.

A Dính tells me that 7UPPERCUTS has always considered finding a label to help handle the band’s finance and management. From the very first days, it was formed with one single purpose — to play music. They didn’t place much emphasis on getting any certain number of views, listens, or album sales. They didn’t think much of the concept of success. To 7UP, dipping their toes into business matters too early might not keep them going for long.

Regarding labels, they are also aware that it’s less fun when money is involved, but without money, it’s tough to sustain the fun. After a long time and a few encounters with incompatible music labels, Aki, A Dính and their contemporaries decided to turn this hurdle into an opportunity by establishing Tụp Tắc Records — a new recording label specifically for Vietnam’s punk rock groups.

“In reality, we see Tụp Tắc as a lever to push everything up one level and, by default, we view hardships as something to tackle on our own instead of waiting for somebody else to solve them for us. These are still familiar faces, but now we have a new motivation to develop and grow.”

“At the moment, 7UPPERCUTS is very aware of our role and influence. As one of the pioneer bands in punk, we feel very fortunate, but ‘đời cha ăn mặn đời con khát nước’ [lit: if one generation eats too much salt, the next generation will feel thirsty]. We also want to help other brothers, and lend a hand in finding a deserving place for punk rock in the Vietnamese music scene,” Aki, who went from hating numbers to an entrepreneur, shares.

Tụp Tắc officially started operating this March and is now also the home for Đá Số Tới and Jaigon Orchestra, both very promising pop punk collectives.

Punk: Music is one thing, but mindset is another

Tụp Tắc Records was also born of a conscious effort to nurture and develop punk culture. For 7UPPERCUTS, punk is not just a genre, it’s also an ideology, an attitude, and a personality. One can play jazz, hip-hop, or folk, but if one plays it with a punk spirit in mind, they’re still playing punk. Punk, to 7UP, is a genre that’s easy to write for, to play, and doesn’t require a lot of musicality, but it’s the demeanor of the musician that projects the vibrancy of punk. If one is just merely listening, it could come across as clamorous, but once it’s appreciated with the attitude in mind, punk can become a “current” flowing across our body, forcing you to move along with the music.

Thus, 7UPPERCUTS was formed based on that mutual approach. The three members came together simply just because they enjoy it, they want to play, they want to have fun. Everything began with a simple question: “Why not?”

Form a band? Why not? Make an album? Why not? Sell our amplifier to fly to Hanoi to perform? Why the heck not?

The spirit of 7UP embodies that fiery, ambitious drive of youth, when doing is more important than mulling, and pursuing what one thinks is right is of utmost importance. Their career milestones and following success, after that, came naturally. The existence of Tụp Tắc represents the torch relay to future generations. To 7UP, plunging into punk means not giving too much thought to whether one will succeed or not. First thing first, get yourself a “punk” mindset.

What's next? Em Đ*o Biết Nữa Anh Ơi!

At a glance, 7UPPERCUTS might seem like carefree and reckless lads, but behind those cheeky and irreverent lyrics are very serious initiatives to prepare for a future where they can “have fun and earn” at the same time. Punk is still a rising wave, and it takes a lot of united efforts from other groups to turn it into an indispensable part of Vietnam’s music landscape.

7UPPERCUTS is in their prime, and they’re doing a kickass job at riding that wave. They know when to give back, and how to sustain what they created. When asked when he thinks this golden era might end, Aki has his own estimation, but to the trio, it’s the unpredictability that makes the future interesting.

“We have only been around for five years and already we have changed so much. Dính’s and my inspirations to compose are also different now. 7UP is changing and will always do, but our mindset and spirit will always remain. But Em Đéo Biết Nữa Anh Ơi, wherever the current takes us, we’ll go with it! We’ll come back soon, more Chái Mái than ever, so stay tuned!”

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