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Members include Casey Daniel, bass; Giti Khalsa, drums; Thomas Juliano (joined group, 1999), guitar; Jason Pollock (left group, 1999), guitar; Jason Ross, vocals, guitar. Addresses: Record company--Mammoth Records, 101 B Street, Carrboro, NC 27510. Website--Seven Mary Three Official Website: http://www.7m3.com.

Right out of the gate, Seven Mary Three faced constant comparisons--first to groups like Pearl Jam, later to R.E.M. Seven Mary Three, or 7M3 as they are sometimes known, had a streak of luck at the beginning of their career. First, an Orlando, Florida, radio station began playing one of their songs, leading to a record contract just a few weeks after the members graduated from college. Then, that same song, "Cumbersome," and their major-label debut album, American Standard, launched Seven Mary Three into platinum-selling success. Their follow-up releases have not matched the popularity of their debut, but that hasn't stop them from following their own artistic inspiration and direction.

Seven Mary Three began in 1992 with Jason Ross (vocals/guitar) and Jason Pollock (guitar). Ross, who hailed from Orlando, and Pollock, who was from Charlottesville, Virginia, met while attending the College of William & Mary in Virginia. Ross and Pollock began writing songs together and formed an acoustic duo. The following year, they invited fellow student and Washington, D.C., native Giti Khalsa to join on drums, and Casey Daniel, Ross's high school friend, to fill the bass guitar slot.

With the lineup in place, Seven Mary Three were ready to embark on their journey to rock 'n' roll success, but first they needed a name. They tossed around several different ideas, eventually receiving inspiration from the 1970s television show CHiPs. "It's Jon Baker's handle: Seven Mary Three," Pollock told Shawn Cox in The Cavalier Daily. "There's no great significance or anything. We were just tired of trying to think of a cool name."

In 1994 the members pooled their money together and borrowed additional cash to fund the recording of their first CD, entitled Churn. The group completely sold out of the 5,000 copies they had pressed. One of the CDs ended up in the hands of a deejay for Orlando radio station WJRR, and that deejay began playing the track "Cumbersome." Due to listener demand, the song was added to the station's regular rotation within weeks. Seven Mary Three responded to the growing attention in Florida by traveling to the state once a month to play shows.

Soon after this early success, in May of 1995, Ross, Pollock, and Khalsa graduated from William & Mary. Ross earned a degree in English, Pollock in history, and Khalsa in psychology. Immediately after graduation, the band moved to Florida, and they signed a recording contract with Mammoth/Atlantic Records less than a month later. They returned to the studio with producer Tom Morris to rerecord the nine tracks from Churn and to add two more. Their debut, American Standard, was released the same year and included the hits "Cumbersome" and "Water's Edge." The CD ended up selling more than one million copies.

"I think there's a basic theme through the whole work," Ross said in the band's biography on the official Seven Mary Three website. "Everything that's depicted is a human relationship, but it's all about forgiveness. There is definitely a hint of guilt in many of the songs. Many of our families have gone through divorce, and fidelity is a big issue for this band."

Although American Standard was a definite commercial success, some criticized the band's musical immaturity and lack of a distinct sound, frequently comparing them to Pearl Jam and other alternative groups. For Seven Mary Three, respect did not come easily as time progressed. Following American Standard, the group contributed "Shelf Life" to The Crow: City of Angels soundtrack and toured through 1996. In 1997 they returned to the studio to record their follow-up. During that time, their labels, Mammoth and Atlantic, had decided to split. The album was delayed as the band's fate was decided. In the end, they signed with Atlantic Records and released Rock Crown. A departure from American Standard, the sophomore effort features softer-sounding arrangements and includes the tracks "Lucky," "This Evening's Great Excuse," and "Rock Crown." "To me, the new songs represent a broadening of our horizons, the way they're based more on folk rock and the singer/songwriter tradition than on crunching electric guitars," Ross said to Bradley Bambarger in Billboard. "Acoustic music just feels more real to me right now. It reminds me that I have something to offer beyond the rock 'n' roll circus."

Listeners did not respond well to the change in direction, and the sales of Rock Crown didn't even come close to their previous platinum heights. Seven Mary Three still earned comparisons to Pearl Jam and the like, but their changing sound added references to R.E.M. as well. Many expected Rock Crown to be an extension of American Standard. "People are going to connect the dots however they want, but we are not 'Cumbersome,'" Ross explained to Doug Reece in Billboard. "Style is a formative dark cloud hanging over the artist, and it needs to be destroyed. I'm only 24 years old, and I haven't developed any kind of memorable style. In this business, people just pigeonhole you from your last hit song until your next."

Seven Mary Three didn't let the slump deter their ambition. As Giti Khalsa told Blair Fischer at RollingStone.com, "We said we would like to be a band that puts out records every year to year-and-a-half." The band released their third CD, Orange Ave., in 1998; it includes the track "Over Your Shoulder."

"We made American Standard when we were fresh out of college, and it represented that time," Khalsa told Richard Skanse in Rolling Stone. "With Rock Crown, it was very much a response to going from playing bars and fraternities to getting a record deal to selling a million records in a year. And Orange Ave. is a response to the last few years and us being a little further away than at the beginning and being able to look back and go, 'Okay, I get it now.'"

In 1999 guitarist Jason Pollock left Seven Mary Three and was replaced by Thomas Juliano, from Boston, Massachusetts. The band members took more time before they returned with another CD. They reunited with Mammoth Records and producer Tom Morris and headed back into the studio. "There's only a handful of employees at Mammoth, and that's how it was when we were first there with American Standard, before we switched to Atlantic, Mammoth's old parent company," Ross said in the band's biography. "I think Mammoth functions like our band; they look at the big picture, which is developing a career."

Their next album, The Economy of Sound, arrived in stores on June 5, 2001. It included the tracks "Wait," "Sleepwalking," and "Breakdown." Nearly a decade after the seedlings of the band began to grow, Seven Mary Three have started to define their own style. Ross explained to Jason M. Burns at the Green Room magazine website, "We've always tried to make records where the next song didn't sound like the one before it and the next album didn't some like the album before it.... I think this is really the first record that puts its foot down as far as a Seven Mary Three sound."

by Sonya Shelton

Seven Mary Three's Career

Group formed originally as acoustic duo with Pollock and Ross, 1992; added Khalsa and Daniel, 1993; released independent CD Churn, 1994; signed recording contract with Mammoth/Atlantic Records, released American Standard, 1995; signed with Atlantic Records, released Rock Crown, 1997; released Orange Ave., 1998; resigned with Mammoth Records, released The Economy of Sound, 2001.

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