SIXES is another cool US band that I got to hear recently. Read this interview and then continue to show them your support. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
When the band came into creation what was the main purpose for it?
Stephen: To say we came into this with a plan, or focused goal would be a misstatement. I believe, as with any artistic medium, that a person does this out of necessity. There’s something inside you that has to do this. A deep seeded need to purge your agony, wretchedness, and misery. Call it a medium to get those emotions out so that they don’t build into something more dangerous, something that if not vented could harm someone else, or lead to your own destruction.
How hard is it to come up with a sound that is all yours? What bits’n’pieces do you pick up from other stuff to make it your sound?
Stephen: We don’t spend a lot of time trying to make something “our sound” it’s not a conversation that comes up. With the gear we use, and our own unique influences it all just meshes together. We have a very organic approach to writing. If we feel it, we write it. Whether or not people can identify with that, or it creates something unique isn’t of much concern to us. Don’t get me wrong, its great when that happens, but its not something intentionally done. We don’t circumvent the artistic process in order to be unique is what I am trying to say.
I have no idea what kind of creative process you guys go through but how hard is it to record and release new songs?
Stephen: We record a lot in the studio. How much of that actually makes it on to an album is a different story. I’d say we have more material than time. We’d put out an album every six months, or more if we could. It’s not necessarily hard to put out new music, more time consuming than anything. There’s the artwork, packaging, and labels to deal with. We strive to give our fans something worthwhile to invest in. it’s cliche but as the saying goes, quality over quantity.
Today technology allows you to record at home and release your music digitally. But in doing so is there a risk that you release only single songs because that is what is demanded to stay atop and therefore you end up killing the album for example?
Stephen: Interesting you ask this, because it is something we have discussed. We mulled over the idea of releasing a six song album, and releasing a track every two months. The problem with that is none of us really enjoy “singles” we are very album centric people. A full length album is an experience, its a ride you take. A journey to go on. Singles are fun, but unless that single is twenty minutes long I think people can be left feeling wanting, and to release only singles to “stay on top” is commercializing your music in this context. It’s no longer about the art, its about staying popular, or keeping your fan base engaged, that’s a perilous path to wander. Where does that eventually lead to, and what other compromises do you leave yourself open to? Thats what we have to ask ourselves as musicians.
I for one feel that the change in how people listen to music today, by downloading it and expecting to get it for free, will kill music as we know it. What kind of future is there for music?
Stephen: That seems to be the question on everyones mind. It’s a rough time to be a musician these days. Everyone wants a piece, and no one wants to pay. Not that any of us got into this for the money, if we did, depressing, angry, miserable music isn’t what we’d be playing. I’m not sure of the numbers in regard to illegal downloading vs streaming services. It would seem more people are using streaming services now simply for the ease of use, but I could be wrong. As far as illegally downloading music, I don’t see what can be done. If people prefer lower quality audio, without artwork, without a tangible physical medium, that’s on them. I prefer to hold the artwork, read the lyric sheet. Call me crazy but I enjoy music. It seems with streaming, and downloading, music has become a background noise in people lives, rather than something that used to be at the forefront, just another commercial in the background. The flip side to that coin is it’s harder for the “majors” to have a monopoly on the music industry any more. You don’t have to worry about signing a record deal, and having your album shelved because you fucked the record execs girlfriend at that one party, or because you didn’t want to compromise your supposed artistic integrity. Anyone can record an album and put it online these days, its easy as you want to make it. The problem with that is the over saturation of poor quality music. With streaming, that falls more on the bands side, if your not getting the royalties you think you should be, thats because you worked out a bad deal. At the end of the day the music belongs to you, and you can always say no. Will this kill music? No, I don’t think so. As long as there are people out there who feel deep love, abysmal heart break, torment, woe, and unsurmountable anger, there will always be good music. Will you make a living off of it, probably not, but if you’re that passionate you probably don’t want to live anyway.
What kind of responses do you get to your music? What has been the thing that has gotten the most attention?
Stephen: The response to the album has been quite enthusiastic, which was unexpected. We get fan mail everyday. We really didn’t expect Methistopheles to do as well as it has. We thought we’d release the album, and it would go unnoticed. To our surprise people really identified with many aspects of the album. Whether it be the crushing heaviness of songs like Acid God, the riffs of Fogbreather, or the intrinsic depressive, and narcotic nature of Voidkiller it seems like there is something in there for everyone to grab on to. I think the response that impacted us the most came from a person who’s son was in the hospital due to his chid’s pancreas not producing enough insulin, and issues with an autoimmune disease. He had been practically living in the hospital with his son during this ordeal. He told us that the album was helping him persevere through this ordeal. To receive a message like that floors you, breaks your heart, and humbles you in a manner in which I’ve not felt before. It stops being about the music, and it’s now a personal connection, it’s very real. What do you say to that? I’m just a guy who made an album, and here he is with his son going through this extremely arduous endeavor. That kind of thing completely changes your perspective.
We live in a world where there are no real distances between people communicating anymore. What has been the most surprising contact so far?
Stephen: The most surprising was when Jon Davis (Conan / Black Bow Records) reached out to us to put out the album. We are all fans of Conan so it was pretty surreal to have him message us with an offer. Definitely not expected. We are constantly being surprised by the people who reach out to us. Getting the message to be invited to Austin Terror Fest was another one. We’ve all spent time in other bands years ago where you practically beg to be on these festivals, and now here we are getting offers. Chicago Doomed & Stoned Festival was also humbling, there is so much terrific music that comes out of Chicago, to be invited to something like that, in a place like that, it’s very exciting.
Does playing in a band make you feel like you are a part of a greater community? What has music brought with it that you would have otherwise missed out on?
Stephen: Absolutely it does. We’ve met some really awesome people playing shows with Usnea, Un, and Mortar just to name a few. Those guys really know how to party, and have a good time. We are excited to get up to Seattle to touch base with those guys again. That’s just the bands, the fans really make it all worth it. So many great people at every show, it truly is a community of people who get it. People who understand the struggles we all go through to hack it out every day. We all converge upon a venue to find some sort of relief I believe. Coming together in a community that accepts us for who we are with no judgment sentenced. I think that the music “scene” brings with it an unspoken sense of understanding, and individuality. It’s quite different than a lot of things people endeavor to do as a group. For example there are a lot of intramural, for lack of a better term, activities that people take part in which come with a lot of structure, and hierarchy. Music isn’t like that. There are no team captains, no leaders, or commanders, we all just show up and enjoy the show. Of course when organizing an event this is somewhat different. I’m only speaking for the phenomenon that some people show up to a place to make some noises, and others gather to absorb these vibrations, and somehow we all walk away with a shared understanding.
What is the live scene like for you? Do you feel that playing live helps building a bigger following?
Stephen: We love playing live. It’s a big part of why we do this. It’s a catharsis. Sharing all of that raw emotion, and energy with a crowd of people, and have them throw it right back at you is an unexplainable feeling. It’s like I don’t exist as a person anymore. I feel like we all lose ourselves, and become something else. What that is I do not know. It’s not tangible, it’s not something i’ve ever felt outside of a bed in the throws of passion. Truly a wonderful experience. As far as it building a bigger following I suppose it does, people want to see their favorite bands play live, and it’s alway great to play a show, and have someone who’s never heard your music come to you afterward picking up what your feeling, and feeling it too.
What plans do you have for the future?
Stephen: Well right now we are getting ready to head out for our ‘Worship Amps Not Gods’ North America tour. We are currently working on a couple of albums, not sure how that happened, but we put ourselves in a position where we are working on two separate alums at the same time. We’ll have to see how that pans out. We are working on getting another North American tour together for 2019, and we’d like to get a European tour going in 2019 as well.