Six By Seven
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Critically acclaimed, harrowing, sometimes full-on, sometimes ethereal, bullish, partially post-rock emotional - so close - but still no cigar. This is Nottingham's Six By Seven.


Picture of Six By Seven cover

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 angry."

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 hype?
"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© 2001


2-4-7-MUSIC.COM 2006

STILL refusing to dumb it down.

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