1) Write honest, accessible, and melodic music.
2) Play it live with authentic energy and love.
3) Work really, really hard to get in front of people.
I’ve admired this band for these and many other reasons over the last few years. They are one of the most “real” bands I’ve ever met – working hard to make sure fans know how much they are appreciated instead of working hard to create some kind of mystique. The Sixers are never shy about sharing their joy in playing together and how excited they are to play for you.
It was a pleasure to sit down backstage with Stephen and talk about my favorite themes – beginnings, transitions, and community around music – before the Sixers’ big show at Seattle’s Triple Door a few weeks ago. As per usual, here are a couple of my favorite text excerpts followed by the interview in short mp3 clips. Plus, the Sixers powers-that-be said I could post an exclusive track from their new 1000th show double live record, so check out Mid By Northwest Pop-Up Radio Player for a great new version of “Pedal Steel.” Enjoy!
“If you want to be part of a music community you need to participate in it – you need to go out and meet people and go watch people’s shows. When you’re ‘networking’ you need to actually watch people play and listen as much as you [talk] – everybody’s eager to show each other their thing [and ask] ‘Who can help me.’ But when you really get community is when you start thinking how you can help people. If you hear an artist in your community that you really dig . . . then you go beat the drum for that artist.” – Stephen Kellogg
“I don’t think you can put too much stock in a music community. It’s not the responsibility of the community to make you an important artist or a star . . . this whole thing of ‘Well, ya know, the Scene here wasn’t right and that’s why I’m not doing what I want to do.’ It’s not the community’s job to do that. The community’s job is just to be there, and what you make of that is up to you. You don’t want to just be a Scene-ster that’s always hanging out and just talking. You’ve got to go out and take chances and see people . . . You can’t expect anybody else to make your thing happen but you.” – Stephen Kellogg
…and the full interview:
MH: “What is the origin story for Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers?”
MH: “Were you ever a Northhampton, MA local band, or was it about being on the road very quickly?”
On the realities of music communities, especially local ones:
MH: “How has your understanding of community around music changed over time with the band’s success?”
MH: “What are some inhibitors that you have seen to true music community?”
MH: “What advice would you give to an absolutely hypothetical person who just moved to a brand new city and wants to do music?”
Thanks so much to Stephen, Kit, Boots, Sam, and Jessica for being so friendly and generous with their time. It’s only been a few years, but between a drum set in Milwaukee and a place to crash in Northhampton it already feels like we go way back. Hell, it felt like we went way back soon after meeting them. This is one of the special things about both this band’s music and its members.
Stephen said to beat the drum for artists in your community that you really like – and that’s a lot of what I do here on this blog! For those SK6ers fans who find yourself here, I highly recommend you take a few minutes with this post: Seattle Bands About Whom I am Geeking, and feel free to drop a comment with a band that SK6ers fans would also really like!