Once upon a time … nah, don’t worry. This isn’t one of those stories. This isn’t a fairy tale and it isn’t going to be written as one. You can interpret tragedy in a number of different ways. You can see lessons and morals and realize everything could be one or the other. But Purple Number Seven is a new chapter in whatever story you call this.
Take control for yourself for once.
Me? I’m not a pilot here. Like you, I’m a passenger. I’m a passenger of the story. Like many, when I heard of The Pernicious Knifs’ demise, shortly after the release of the CD debut, Almond Extract, I was naive and thought that was only the start. Only up from there, I thought. But as I know now, that was only the end.
But it’s not the ending that most would expect. It was just the end of the beginning. The story continues …
In an effort to take the Knifs’ experience to its next level, Seth Bender (guitar and vocals) essentially took what was remaining from Pernicious Knifs and reformed the idea of what the band had shown on Almond Extract. Then he recruited two new members for a new chapter of the story.
He didn’t look far. Krista Gregory (drums) was already familiar to the material and was in the last incarnation of The Knifs. Being active in Cincinnati bands for a number of years, Gregory brought a steady metronomic rhythm to the mix. A heartbeat for a band to live again. Rounding out a stripped-down version of what the Knifs had become at their height, Bender only looked as far as the nearest shadow, where he found the third and remaining piece of the puzzle. Mark Dunbar was there.
Smoking a cigarette in a bar where you aren’t allowed to smoke anymore. Drinking a mixed drink with a name and color that sounds and looks fictional. Talking about truths that no one else is brave enough to admit.
Say what you want about Dunbar, but don’t leave out talented. Dunbar (aka Mark Zero) has made a legendary name for himself as a guitarist, but in Bender’s latest project, he plays bass.
As for a name designation, Bender, Gregory and Dunbar ended up with the cryptic Purple No. 7, in reference to a cult-favorite, late-night horror movie host in Cleveland named Ghoulardi. It was part of one of his famous sayings. A “Purple Knif” is a form of lowlife, heathen or monster. “Knif’ is “Fink” backwards. So Purple fits in an obscure way linking the band to its beginnings as The Pernicious Knifs.
As for the No. 7 part, where it comes from is up for debate. Maybe it is a reference to their psychedelic leanings. Maybe it’s a further nod toward Ghoulardi somehow. It might even be in reference to the late Lux Interior of The Cramps. In maybe the most awkward suggestion yet, Purple No. 7 could be a random number after a random color.
It’s all either that simple or cryptic.
Yeah, it gets confusing. The story has twists and turns and is complicated. But Bender has his new band at last.
Linked by theory, delivery or whatever you want to call it, recent Purple No. 7 shows have been quite an ordeal. With a set list of all-new, all-purple ragers, as well as survivors from the Knifs days that still sound fresh and exciting, the new lineup brings to mind a revved-up modern version of Velvet Underground, Television or even The Clean. The band is making quite a name for itself, turning heads and making others readdress what The Knifs sound meant to them and how Purple No. 7 can fit into a story that is just beginning.
During the short time I spend with them in their moldy practice space in a Cincinnati neighborhood that is always under construction and in a constant state of decay, I feel optimistic. I feel good. The band talks in length about recording dates and putting those recordings on vinyl and release dates for that vinyl and handcrafted packaging for that release. They mention upcoming shows and out-of-town outings in-between all of it. They talk of going to dinner after their rehearsal and pass lit cigarettes and fresh refreshments from one to another.
I’m not seeing a new band doing something old. I’m seeing an old band that found each other after all this time. This story is far from over.
Turn the page.
(Not) The end.
PURPLE NO. 7 plays The Comet at midnight Saturday. Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.