Staying Alive

The Red 7s are cancer-killers

The Red 7's are no strangers to fear and anxiety. Take this line from "Dream Girl," one of their more unsettling songs, all about a psychotic stalker with a penchant for creepy sexual urges: "I like the way it tastes/The mess it makes/The things I do to you."

Gross, yeah, but purely fictional. Something far more personal and real persuaded vocalist Gina Ulness to organize this Saturday's girl-band-themed "All I Want for Christmas Is a Bunch of Chicks!" Breast Cancer Awareness Benefit show at the Gypsy Lounge.

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Ulness lost her sister-in-law, Cindy, to the disease in June 1999. Family members are still coping with her untimely death—she was an otherwise healthy 33-year-old. And when drummer Dave Stewart lost his sister to breast cancer not long after, Ulness felt compelled to do all she could to promote awareness and help in finding a cure.

"For both of us to go through the same thing and lose loved ones like that . . . it really scared me," says Ulness. "I was naive. I always believed you had to be older or maybe a certain type of person to get breast cancer. My hope is that women will come to realize there are misconceptions out there and that early testing can save a life."

One of the numbers the Red 7's plan to play Saturday is "Bryson's Song," a just-penned tribute to Cindy's six-year-old son. It's a fragile offering meant to raise everyone's spirits, a tune that looks at death more as a transition than as simply THE END. To Ulness, Cindy is still here, at least spiritually: "When years go by/Your dreams come true/You will feel her smilin'/Inside of you."

"I just want Bryson to know how much we cared about his mother and what she was like. . . . He was only two-and-a-half when she passed away," says Ulness, who lives in Brea and works by day as a massage therapist. "It's such an emotional song—this could be the first and last time we play it."

You can probably tag the style of the Red 7's as "art-rock," thanks to the diverse aural tastes of its members. Front woman Hilde Sevens admires Belgian ambient pop and avant-grunge acts such as dEUS, Hooverphonic and Studio Brussel. Guitarist Philip Charlton is a big fan of Sydney art-rockers Clouds. Ulness likes everything from Oingo Boingo and Boxing Gandhis to Bob Mould and Ani diFranco.

This musical and cultural cross-breeding makes for an odd mélange of alterna-folk/rock/blues, experimental freakiness and electronic-edged pop. A song like "Anyways" would fit nicely on an early Pretenders album, while the multilayered soundscapes of "Perfect Company" owe a generous debt to techno geeks such as Moby.

(Saturday's bill also features local singer/songwriting goddess Kerry Getz, former Kindred Spirits leader Jamie Suzanne, blues-rockers Kelly's Lot and pop/punk/reggae trio Dirty Laundry.)

There's no mistaking the serious, at times somber makeup of the band, one that might be interpreted as intense and humorless: Songs about horny nutball slashers and dead people's kids? Must be fun! Yet Ulness points to the band's name as proof of their playfulness: Sevens coined "Red 7's" by squashing her hair color together with her last name. And they're optimists at heart, she says.

"We try to send a positive message," says Ulness. "We feel that people should embrace the moment. Life is a gift to celebrate—nothing should be taken for granted."

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS A BUNCH OF CHICKS! FEATURES SETS FROM THE RED 7'S, KERRY GETZ, JAMIE SUZANNE, KELLY'S LOT AND DIRTY LAUNDRY AT THE GYPSY LOUNGE, 23600 ROCKFIELD BLVD., STE. 3A, LAKE FOREST, (949) 206-9990; WWW.THEGYPSYLOUNGE.COM. SAT., 8 P.M. $8. 21+.

 
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