If you remember the 90’s, you perhaps weren’t there, but if you were, you may remember Six by Seven. A Nottingham Indie/Rock/Post Post band with a German flavour, Six by Seven seem to have nine lives. Over the last 20 years or so they have died and come back to life more times than Jesus. What with all the band members coming and going, it’s impossible to do the math(s).
They are famous for not being famous. They were dubbed as the next big thing, getting rave reviews from journalists from ‘NME’, ‘The Times’ and ‘Q Magazine’. The buzz around them grew and then sort of…..buzzed off.
They were a band who wanted their own way and were given it to a large extent by the record company, Beggars Banquet. This led to conflict between what the mainstream wanted and what they wanted, and invariably they made videos that could not be played on MTV. They brought out three albums; ‘The Things We Make’, 1998, ‘The Closer You Get’, 2000 and ‘The Way I Feel Today’, 2002 produced by John Leckie, (who also worked with The Stone Roses and Radiohead to name but a few), before being dropped from the label.
They did however create a very loyal fan-base and recently, BBC Radio Six Music were instrumental in starting a campaign to try to get their music to number 1 in the UK Charts. Off the back of that they were resurrected to play some sold-out gigs.
While teaching in a small language school in an obscure district of Tokyo, a Japanese receptionist asked me what music I would like to put on. Whilst searching through her stash of CDs, I was shocked and surprised to see a Six by Seven album. She happened to be in London at the time when there was a buzz around them and they were definitely on ‘the scene’.
The documentary by Alex Mannion-Jones ‘The Dream is Sweeter than the Taste’ describes what happened around that time as well as providing some great shots of Nottingham. In the documentary, they describe how the band were giving an ‘angry’ and ‘everything is shit’ vibe that nobody else was doing at that time. That would make sense as everybody else was popping happy pills and hugging it out in fields as dance music took off (see Jojo Mayer and Nerve post).
‘Not fitting in’ is a theme that would certainly fit lead singer and founder Chris Olley’s early life as a ‘military brat’ being moved around a lot as a child. This seemed to have stayed with him and the band, and they were certainly louder than most. Chris Davis, the drummer, blames their failure to sell records on the fact that they got rave reviews from the press. He surmised that bands like Stereophonics and Led Zeppelin always got terrible reviews and this affected their record sales. So here is a shit review from a gig I never saw:
Six by Seven is the age the band wish they still were. Or it could amount to the number of pints they had before coming on stage. One reviewer noted that lead singer Chris Olley took himself too seriously. He seemed to have gone so far down the serious route that he started to look silly. He was a lanky, frowning monk-like figure hunched over his guitar. Between them, they produced a cacophony of noise that sounded like a fox trying to mate a badger, or judging by the volume, a number of foxes trying to mate a set of badgers. As I had my hands over my ears, I could not cover my eyes to protect them from the spectacle of them loping in an ungainly manner across the stage. By the end of the gig, I wished that my ears had been filled with manure as this would have been much better than the state of them after listening to the endless set of mindless dirge.
There. Now perhaps the band can finally get the recognition that they deserve.