New Zealand band Six60 started out back in 2008, when five Dunedin college students turned their infamous flat at 660 Castle Street into a rehearsal room with attached live stage.
Friends Matiu Walters, Eli Paewai, Ji Fraser, Marlon Gerbes, and Chris Mac used a bedroom for a jamming session, the living room acted as a club, and before long the lads became known for their impromptu gigs across the neighbourhood.
We caught up with lead vocalist Matiu ahead of Six60’s show at The Academy this Friday to chat about songwriting, live performances, the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone and being “really effing good”.
“We met in University and made a make-shift studio in my bedroom and turned the flat into a nightclub most weekends. Then we went from pub to pub and would play gigs.
“We were just bunch of mates that loved music and we got together under a common failure actually, we all got denied from music school, so we decided to start a band to prove them wrong”, Matiu jokes.
Six60 songs begin with Matiu and synth player, Marlon, sitting down to combine their genius, however nothing is complete until every member of the group “get down and works it out as a band”.
“At the end of the day songwriting in any band is a collaborative effort. Ideas are sprout individually and then when they can’t be taken any further we put them to the band and that is when they really become Six60 songs”.
“We never ever had any intentions to be a band or write music,” Matiu continued.
“When we met about five years ago now and that was literally the first lot of songs that I had ever written. We were so green and had no experience; I think that was also the beauty of how everything worked out. Everything has just been so honest and natural, there is no pretence, we’re just doing what we love and we just like to have fun with it and that is what really comes through in our music and in our shows”.
This is ‘Forever’, our favourite track from the Six60 guys.
With their untamed sound that can only be described as the perfect blend of soul, rock, dubstep, and drum and bass, many fans use the band’s track ‘Don’t’ Forget Your Roots’ to sum them up as a whole, which is something Matiu agrees with.
“Conceptually as an idea that does sum us up quite well. Our music is all about being together. It is all about family and friends, and it is all about honesty”.
In 2011 Six60 released a self-titled album that spread around their home country and Australia, rewarding the band with a burgeoning fan base.
The album, which went to triple platinum, stayed in New Zealand Top 40 charts for a phenomenal 84 weeks and secured the lads with a string of accolades at the country’s 2012 Music Awards that include, ‘Best Band’, ‘Single of the Year’, and ‘People’s Choice’ award.
Despite the enormous success at home and in Australia, Six60 aren’t prepared to stay put.
“When you have that success in New Zealand and Australia it is easy to get comfortable, but we don’t want to do the same thing twice. It leaves us in a pretty unique situation because we are quite successful over there and relatively unknown to the rest of the world. We lived for most of the year last year in Berlin and it was just great to get out of New Zealand and experience new things and really get our comfort zone”.
The five-piece have used these last few years from their debut release to really discover the direction they wanted to go and Matiu revealed that new Six60 music is just a few months away.
“We’re just in a really good place now for this album, we’re ready to make it happen and that is why we’re going to hit the studio when we finish this tour”.
“All the hard work is paying off as you can really hear it in the quality of our sound and the production. We’re just really excited to get this thing done and to get it out and show people, not necessarily a new side of the band, but very much an elevation of the stuff we’ve already done”.
Other things to know about Six60…
What was the first song ever wrote and performed as a band?
“I can’t even remember, something really rubbish that we probably don’t ever need to talk about!”
Favourite song you’ve ever penned?
“Our song ‘Lost’, more conceptually as a whole, is the best work we’ve done”.
How have you progressed as a band in the last five years?
“We’re just better. Better at our craft, better at writing music, better at melodies, better at writing lyrics”.
Standout moment to date?
“I just love the fact we’re playing a lot and we’re getting better every time. Every show is better than the last and that is what we strive for. We’re shooting for the top”.
Sum up the band in three words?
“Really effing good!”
Tickets for The Academy on Friday May 16th are on sale for €15 and can be purchased from Ticketmaster.ie.
The lads will be joined by fellow New Zealander hip-hop artist, David Dallas.
Six60’s debut album can be purchased here on iTunes.
Before we go we’ll leave you with one more track, a beautiful acoustic rendition of ‘Rest of You’.