Are the lot of you all deaf, dumb AND blind!!? A thought
that no doubt ricochets through Six By Seven's
collective mind on countless instances, bringing their
defined fusion of creeping internal torment, amplified
loose ends and distorted frustrations right up over
boiling point. Alright, apart from perhaps the blind
bit - aesthetically they certainly ain't Nottingham's answer to The Strokes.
But two albums of critically acclaimed, harrowing, sometimes
full-on, sometimes ethereal, bullish, partially post-rock
emotional testament down the line and the fact that
they've hardly been jostling for chart positions with
Robbie Williams, or even much of the UK's indie glitterati
at that, is quite frankly baffling.
But if you can't beat them, you come back and do it
a bit harder next time, right? So back out on tour through
October and November, partly to prove yet again that
they're the last band you want to go forgetting and
partly in support of the expectantly gargantuan single
'So Close', there was more than enough evidence that
despite enforced line-up contractions (they're now down
to a four piece following an unsuccessful attempt to
fill departed baby-faced guitar wizz-kid Sam Hempton's
boots) there are still few that can do volcanic mood-rock
emotion better than Six By Seven.
The single for a start, with it's draining, doomy piano
and beleaguered, hoarse angelic monologue, churned up
as ever with skuzzy guitars that could knock a tooth
or two out of Kevin Shields, sounds like Alice In Chains
doing Phantom Of The Opera. But in a good way you understand.
And other new aural spasms sound invariably like The
Cure being head-butted into the abyss by The Pixies.
And surging reminders of the albums 'The Closer You
Get' ('New Year', 'Slab Square' and the stunningly gloomy
'Ten Places To Die') and 'The Things We Make' ('Oh Dear',
'Candlelight' and '88-92-96') make it quite clear that
won't be a doddle. But tonight you don't doubt for a
minute that they're up to the task.
Prior to the final date on their UK tour, at Camden's
Electric Ballroom, we caught up with Nottingham keys man
James Flower in a drafty backstage thoroughfare
to find out whether it'll be third time lucky with the
forthcoming 'The Way I Feel Today' album - due
out March 2002.
Crud: Well, from the word go you've been an angry
band, that's manifested itself differently on both your
albums. We guess you're still angry then?
"Yeah! I think we are still angry, yeah. In our natures
we are. But I think we're actually very frustrated because
we have the potential and the songs and the ability
to be this big band. Yet we're always on the outside
of the music scene. For some reason a lot of people
haven't heard of us. I think a lot of people would like
us if they'd actually heard us. The new album is a lot
more song based I think, rather than a sound-scape,
as previous things have been. There's a few different
things on there, the Pixies type punky stuff, the slower
stuff, and the spaced out stuff. But yeah, it is still
Crud: You have had the critical acclaim, the small
dedicated fanbase. Why has success continually eluded
you or refused to fall into place then?
"This is a really good question. It's the fundamental
point that we're all thinking about at the moment. I
think our band is a very individual band and I think
that people don't understand the language of the band,
but then again I think it's an easy language to understand.
Major record labels are just running this day and age
and preventing bands like ours from reaching a wider
audience simply because they think that… just let me
think of someone to slag off! No, I won't. Just because
they think that such and such a band, their band, has
to make it, they close all doors to everybody else."
Crud: Are you encouraged by the way things have gone
in the last year then, with guitars grabbing back the
"That's good, yeah totally. Really like The Strokes,
really like The White Stripes and even bands like The
Dandy Warhols who we've toured with. But while we do
make music with guitars I think it's easy to say we're
an indie band, in the indie ghetto. But I think there's
a bigger picture for us. In a lot of ways, the way we
write music, the way it's layered, the way things kick
in, drop out, it's a lot like dance music in a way.
And it's great to see people pick up on The Strokes,
but they're taking the piss as well aren't they. They're
a bit of a joke."
Crud: Sam leaving the band must have been a pretty
big thing. The usual 'musical differences' were quoted
at the time. Was that really the case?
"It was more of a personality, argument thing. It was
a real shame. We've all been doing this for so long
now, it's been a long haul, people just reach breaking
point. And Sam just… there was an argument, he'd had
enough. It was the straw that broke the camel's back.
And the thing is we're all still mates, it wasn't that
horrible. Sam's doing his own stuff now and I think
he's very happy."
Crud: And then you got Tina in to replace him?
"Well Tina joined, but she's not with us anymore, she's
left now. All I can say is that I don't think the chemistry
was right. We took a bit of a gamble asking her to come
along and she was great. We're not doubting her ability
of anything like that, it just didn't work out. So there's
just the four of us now."
Crud: And has the dynamic changed drastically?
"Initially it was a big worry. We spent a whole year,
the four of us, writing before we brought the album
together. But it's worked pretty well actually as a
four piece. It is different, Sam definitely had his
own style and his own thing, but I think we've come
out the other side okay.
Crud: Enough to take it up another level this time?
Third time lucky?
"I mean, all the time we are frustrated about the level
of success, it is demoralising. I guess it's Radio 1
these days, you have to get played to reach that wider
audience, it's the only real way to do it. I mean, Jo
Whiley doesn't like us. Sara Cox wouldn't dream of playing
us, Mark & Lard have supported us in the past but not
on this single, Peel's always there for us and Lamacq
gives us support of sorts, but I don't think he likes
us very much."
Crud: Alright then, what if you could wipe a couple
of bands off the planet and take their success… and
their place on the Radio 1 playlist?
"God, I don't know. Who do we really hate? Well, apart
from the obvious pop. Goldfrapp annoy me a bit, because
they just came from nowhere and suddenly they're massive!
Why!!? And to a certain extent The Strokes, because
even though we like them, really like them, it's just
like where have they come from, where are they going!?
All this stuff that people say. And all that nu-metal
stuff is just fucking… I mean, Fred Durst and Limp Bizkit!!?
And Feeder! Absolutely fucking hate them!!"
Which is as good a place to finish as any.
Interview by James Berry for Crud Magazine©