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School of Seven Bells' Benjamin Curtis dies at 35

Benjamin Curtis of the New York-based indie pop duo School of Seven Bells’ died Sunday night after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 35. Formerly of New-York-via-Texas space-rockers Secret Machines, who toured with the likes of Foo Fighters and Kings of Leon. he went on to form the dreamier School of Seven Bells with twins Alley and Claudia Deheza in 2007; they released three well-received albums, supported acts including Blonde Redhead and Bat for Lashes on the road, and played numerous festivals.

When Curtis was first diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma in February 2013, a rare form of cancer that attacks the immune system, friends including members of the Strokes and Interpol played a benefit concert in New York City, and his Seven Bells bandmate Alley Deheza launched Support Benjamin Curtis, a website that aimed to raise donations to help pay for Curtis’ treatment.  (Like many indie musicians, he did not have health insurance.)

“We can’t thank all of you who supported him and his music through the years enough,” the band wrote in a statement on its Facebook page. “You made it possible for all of us, and for him, to see how truly loved he was and how many lives he had touched through his music by your gestures. We will all miss this incredibly talented and rare person every day, but we are fortunate enough that he shared with us his music, and that is something that we can keep forever.”

Musicians without health care: Ailing members of School of Seven Bells and the Replacements shine a spotlight on needy artists

About a month ago, Benjamin Curtis (above)—half of acclaimed New York indie-pop duo School of Seven Bells and formerly of Texas rockers Secret Machines—was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer that attacks the immune system.

The silver lining is that Curtis’ particular affliction is treatable. However, like many cancer treatments, it’s prohibitively expensive, especially for an indie musician without health insurance. That’s why his School of Seven Bells bandmate Alley Deheza has launched Support Benjamin Curtis, a website that will take donations to help pay for Curtis’ treatment.

“These next few months will be tough, but [Curtis] is the toughest person I know (even while here, he was trying to figure out a way to sample the MRI),” Deheza wrote on the site. “I wanted to share this with you all, because you guys are such a huge and important part of our lives. Send all of the light and love that you can his way. Every bit will count towards a strong and fast recovery.”

Health care is a burden for everybody, and it hits musicians particularly hard. READ FULL STORY

School of Seven Bells bring block-rocking beats to SXSW

Schoolof7bells_l"Can you hear everything?" School of Seven Bells‘ Alejandra Deheza asked the crowd at Austin, Tex.’s Buffalo Billiards shortly after midnight last night. Getting more specific, she added, "The beats?" She needn’t have worried. Drum machines are present in the mix throughout SVIIB’s recent debut, Alpinisms, but they played an even more prominent role at the band’s set for KCRW‘s SXSW showcase, pounding unstoppably away behind them as they "Connjur"-ed shoegazey walls of guitar feedback and high vocal harmonies. It was a sound that could just as easily put you in a reflective trance or make you dance for your life.

The trio has an intriguingly tangled backstory: Alejandra Deheza (pictured, left) and her twin sister Claudia used to be in an experimental act called On!Air!Library!, while guitarist Benjamin Curtis was in Secret Machines with his brother, Brandon. The two sibling-led bands played very different kinds of music for the most part, but they toured together in 2004, and before long Curtis had defected (his word!) to form SVIIB with the Deheza twins. Seeing the new act live made it easy to understand how that happened. The three of them were jet-lagged after flying across the Atlantic earlier that day, but they were having a great time on stage, whispering jokes to one another and taking various technical sound glitches in stride. Musical chemistry like that is just too rare to disregard. It all added up to the best show I saw on my first day in Austin this year — save for the partial set I caught by St. Vincent, on whom I’ll have much more to say this weekend.

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