six.byseven

KluBMiX!33

I don’t really know what people thought of this album when it came out apart from what I was told at the time. The press girl I worked with refused to work it saying: “It’s nothing like the album before!!” I played it to some friends and they said it was great but too different. Yeah, I knew all that. It took some balls to put it out but I had to do something. At the time I started to write it, two people had just walked out of the band on the same day and given me no reason why and the band collapsed overnight. At the time, because of this, I was suddenly financially in the shit again shall we say. I’d manufactured all these records and put everything into promoting Love And Peace And Sympathy with the idea of having a live working band and all of a sudden, after a really great gig in Poland with Public Image LTD,  the band was no more. I’m not bothered about that now and I received an apology from at least one ‘traitor’! It’s all crap under the bridge but it is the background to that album.

I was so distraught that I locked myself away and one good thing to happen was that I formed the MuZiK KluB. That was the idea that I should record demo’s and sell them to keep me going while I’m making the next record. I think that is why I love this record and it’s my favourite album because it was made with all the love and help of the fanbase and in return, everyone who helped me got a credit as executive producer! The names on the back of that record are etched in there forever.

I’d been collecting old synths for years and when I sat down in the studio to write I felt that each synth had it’s own charm and character, one would be good at noises and the other quite rhythmic, just like a band member. The great thing was that none of them would ever be late or send me an email saying: “Had enough, see ya!” Boy, I needed a bit of that. What I love about this record is the space. I was right down on my luck and yet I seemed to turn towards my voice more than ever before, not hiding it or burying it in a sea of guitars. The song Give It Time has the best opening line ever:

“Nectar card slice cocaine on glossy cracked porcelain.”

The record was also a statement of intent in that I was so pissed off with the band breaking up all the time that I just wanted to change it so drastically that only real fans would be left behind and I didn’t care how many.

I was shocked at how many emails I got from people saying they loved it. Or was I? I think I spent more time on that record than any other before and I can still listen to it now without once thinking: “Shit, I wish I hadn’t done that.”
I only pressed up 300 and now there are about 10 left. Someone has put it up on YouTube now so I’m making it available as download, now that all the vinyl is almost gone. Back then when I put it out, I didn’t want anyone to hear it before buying it. Remember those days?

At the moment I’m working on a follow up to the groovy Kickstarter only CD I did a while back, the Krautrock inspired six by seven: EX. Actually, this is another record I’ve spent months and months working on (probably years if you count saving up for and finding the equipment) and I’ve done it in a very specific way. I’ve only used instruments from the 70’s, mainly Korg MS20 and MS10 and also a Korg KR55 drum machine which I had to wait  4 months for after buying as it had to be shipped from Japan as they are very rare. It’s the same drum box that Daniel Miller had in the late 70’s and it was used extensively by early Mute artists Depeche Mode and Fad Gadget on their early albums. So, six by seven EX II is very intense and building and groovy with real drums and the songs are very long. It’s not finished yet but I’m settled now on the tracks I’m going to use. It’s going to have 5 songs on it…3 on each side..but how?!! You’ll have to wait and see.

I shall start a Kickstarter Campaign to make it on vinyl really soon.

The six by seven : EX album was on CD only and I’ve had lots of emails from people asking me to re-release it on vinyl. I’ve looked into doing a double vinyl with both the new and the old together with different coloured vinyl but it will be super expensive to make. I’d have to charge £40 a copy and wouldn’t be able to sell it in the shops. I might do a questionnaire to see how many of you would be into that. It could be great to make it really special but the trouble is that it costs exactly twice the amount to manufacture a double album as it does a single and you can’t sell a double album for more than £22 in the shops. If I make it double I’d have to charge £40 for it on Kickstarter to make it work but then I couldn’t sell it in the shops because you can’t charge people £40 and then sell it for £22 a couple of months later.

This time around I’ll make it available on CD too as well as vinyl. It’s going to be a unique record, much like KluBmiX!33 was, unique in spirit, but it won’t sound anything like that record. It’s exiting for me to be making music this way. I went to a Robert Rauschenberg retrospective at the Tate Modern last weekend and I was fascinated by the way he made his art, in projects with the materials that he had at hand. Sometimes he too was broke and would make art out of things he found lying around, but he always kept going. It was inspirational. I think that is why I love KluBMiX!33, it was done out of desperation, on my own, on 8 track but I did it to the best of my ability and what came out was completely different yet now it stands the test of time (with me) and is all but sold out. (Took a while but will now become legendary. Incidentally, the six by seven Hollywood Splatter vinyl has done much better than I expected and also down to the last 8 or so copies.)

I know how many of you want us to carry on in the original line-up and believe me I’m working on it. I need to survive first and foremost and I need to work out a way for us all to get back in a studio and record together again. It’s very difficult as people have jobs now and other commitments and it’s hard for everyone to find the time all at the same time to do it. We don’t have a record deal and we would need about £10.000 or more to fund it. That’s probably too much to ask for at the moment. That won’t stop me trying to think of a way to make it happen. It has to be worth it though, it has to pay for 5 peoples time and it has to sound right.

Anyway, I’ve enjoyed the last hour this morning sitting here writing this and listening to KluBmiX!33 again…and it’s looks like Spring is coming at me through the window next to me. I’m gonna walk to Sainsbury’s and buy a fat free yogurt.

Six By Seven T-Shirt…

IMG_1310London Garage ‘I Was There’
SIX.BY SEVEN t-shirt

Ok, I messed up and because of this we couldn’t get the T-Shirts in time for the gig in London. So, to make up for this, and so many of you asking for T-shirts, that for one week only you can buy one in any colour and any size and I will post it to you anywhere in the world for FREE….so it’s just like you bought it at the gig.

The T-shirts have a six by seven logo across the front and the date of the gig and venue as well as the band members names across the back.

CLICK HERE to buy

Thanks to everyone who came to the shows. London was immense….and YES, all five of us in the band have decided we all want to do some more gigs, we are just trying to work out how we can do this so it’s worthwhile for everyone…more news to follow on this.

Peace Love And Dada..CHRIS

The Dream Is Sweeter Than The Taste…

There is a documentary coming out in two weeks time about six by seven. It’s still being made so we can’t say too much about it yet. It’s got some notable people in it and they filmed me for 3 days around Nottingham six by seven haunts and in my studio and the old Square Centre Studios where we recorded quite a bit of stuff including The Closer You Get.

Dunno about you but I can’t wait to see it. Hopefully there will be a premiere in Nottingham or London.

Soundblab 10/10 review…

Everyone has a band that has fallen and you’ve ruffled your worried brow in disbelief that more people didn’t sit up and take notice.  For me one of those bands was Six By Seven.

Sat between a caustic merge of noise, harsh guitar parts and Chris Olley’s dark lyrics they seemed a given to make a success in the business.  Their debut ‘The Things We Make’ came out in 1998 and although it didn’t dent the charts it did lay the groundwork for this, their second album ‘The Closer You Get’ which was initially released in 2000 and is now a re-release in 2017 possibly due to two gigs in March with the original line-up that made the album.

Whilst the band’s debut had a connection, this second album saw the band in a much more buoyant place personified by the opening bars of ‘Eat Junk, Become Junk’ which ended up being worn by Kele from Bloc Party on a t shirt, to such a degree people thought it was from his band. However let’s not take away the awesome power and clean arrangements on ‘Eat Junk…’.  The vibrant guitars bounce off each other perfectly whilst Olley tells us that if you “Eat Junk, you become junk, I never broke no law no”. The pace doesn’t let up when ‘Sawn Off Metallic T-Shirt’ hits the lugholes.  A song of just over 2 minutes, packed with a breakneck pace and Olley screaming “I’ve got a pretty bad fucking haircut, I’ve got a backseat for a bed”.

There’s a great deal of twitchy band tension on this album and the tightly wound members put this across in their music with the quite brilliant ‘Ten Places To Die’.  A slow burner of a track that lights up halfway through and descends into a malaise of cathartic power. ‘New Year’ is of similar intensity but it swoops and soars instead and with Olley’s mainline chorus: I wanna reach out, and I wanna stay, how can I lose, if I refuse to fail”.

The mainframe of Six By Seven’s framework is their ability to create a wall of sound that is so monolithic you haven’t a fucking prayer of climbing over it.  Yes it is malevolent at times but it’s also soothingly uplifting and effortlessly cool.

‘My Life Is An Accident’ is more sedate in arrangement but still maintains their trademark menacing aurora.  Packed out with layers of alien guitar that brood and brood until they can’t keep a lid on it any further it’s like letting a pack of bulldogs off the leash when the bludgeoning six strings take the centre stage and beat the living shit out of us. In some ways it seems possessed by the atonal noise parts of Sonic Youth’s ‘Diamond Sea’.

Whilst their debut was a masterclass in long songs ‘The Closer You Get’ has its fair share of shorter numbers reflected in the mid to latter part of the album with the high energy ‘Don’t Wanna Stop’ and ‘Slab Square’ both of which clock in at less than three minutes apiece but still ably equipped with enough of a draw to have you fully mesmerised by their output.  Olley puts warts and all into his shredding vocal: “I’ll meet you there down in slab square, we’ll make a pair, I wanna shake the sky, C’mon and shake the sky”

It’s lighters ahoy on the mellifluous melancholy of ‘England & A Broken Radio’.  Olley’s lyrics are kept lo-fi, seemingly sung through a redundant cassette microphone and accompanied by a metronomic beat and jagged guitar compliments perfectly.

‘Another Love Song’ takes another twist.  A plethora of mellow electronic beats are quickly joined up by the soaring keyboard and crashing drums which have the intensity of a man drumming for food.  The layers jump up again when the guitars crash in and all in all we have a fucking party.  This is the least love song you could ever have.  It has no frills, no jolliness, just sheer belligerent parcels of blackness. ‘Overnight Success’ is so similar ilk and maintains a rich high-water mark of output.

The mellowest moment is saved for closer ‘100 And Something Foxhall Road’.  The guitars are retired, well almost and replaced by all things percussion and one note keyboard.  Olley tells us: “The Dream Is Sweeter Than The Taste”.  Maybe he’s right but when he looks back on the back catalogue of Six By Seven he might just scream out this was our best album.  ‘The Closer You Get’ is a lost classic and hugely understated.  I dare you not to wallow in its simple brilliance.

Pennyblack Interview…

Some bands just don’t get the critical acclaim they deserve. It can be for a myriad of reasons; wrong place wrong time, mistreatment by the record company or just plain bad luck. Six By Seven certainly haven’t drawn the plaudits their seven studio albums and explosive live shows so richly deserve. Hailing from the lace town of Nottingham, when they first emerged in 1996 there was nothing delicate about their dark, raging guitars. Fronted by the Nottingham-based musician and photographer Chris Olley, he has remained the band’s main creative focus throughout the band’s life-span. Their twelve year stint saw them explore indie rock, shoe-gaze and neo-psychedelia. In that time they squeezed out six albums including the John Leckie-produced ‘The Closer You Get'(2000), which is being re-released on vinyl in mid-February, and the classic ‘The Way I Feel Today’ (2002). They called it a day in 2008, only to return four years later in 2012 and release ‘Love and Peace and Sympathy’ a year later.

Now Chris Olley has put together the band’s classic line-up – the one that recorded the aforementioned ‘The Closer You Get’ (Olley – vocals, guitar, Sam Hempton – guitar, Paul Douglas – bass, Chris Davis – drums and James Flower – keyboards) for two special shows in March. The first is an already sold-out gig at in their home city of Nottingham at The Maze, and then the band will make a trip down to the big smoke a week later to play Highbury’s The Garage. Pennyblackmusic caught up with Chris Olley for a chat ahead of the band’s two landmark shows.

PB: Was it difficult getting the original line-up that recorded ‘The Closer You Get’ back together for the two special shows?

CO: Not really, everyone apart from one person was really up for it but that person just needed reminding that being in a band is not such a bad thing after all.

PB: Do you consider it to be the band’s strongest LP?

CO: No, because I think ‘Love and Peace and Sympathy’ and ‘Six by Seven EX’ are strong too and also ‘Six by Seven:04’. An album is like a chapter in my life and has certain memories attached to it and anyway, I like to keep moving forward. I think ‘The Closer You Get’ is a special album though, because we were in a great studio with great producers and a record label was also involved. It’s that collective that I remember and we were also a pretty good band at the time.

PB: The reason I ask is that many, myself included, would consider your third LP ‘The Way I Feel Today’ to be your classic LP, given its less aggressive, poppier feel.

CO: Yes, it also sold a lot more than ‘The Closer You Get’ but generally if I meet a fan they always say that ‘The Closer You Get’ is the classic.

PB: What were the biggest influences on you at the time of writing and recording the LP, both from a lyrical and sonic perspective?

CO: Just what was going on around us. Tony Blair’s Britain, the bullshit and the lies, the latest “biggest thing” band being on a front cover, the emperor’s new clothes, the hype, seeing the music industry for what it was, waking up, feeling down, a bit of hope, a lot of despair, financial difficulties, possible financial ruin and the break-up of the band because of publishing deals fucked up by lawyers. In the end, all we had was our voice and the music.

PB: That’s quite a heady mix of things. What’s your favourite track off the album and why?

CO: I don’t have one. I wouldn’t know which track to play to someone first, maybe ‘My Life Is An Accident’?

PB: Listening back to all three of the band’s first LPs, they still all sound very contemporary. They haven’t dated at all have they?

CO: Thanks. We didn’t stick reverb all over the snare drum and they were all recorded onto tape, live, without correcting every little thing with a computer. That’s probably why.

PB: Do you think Six By Seven have got the recognition they deserved given the quality of the band’s back-catalogue?

CO: Oh man, the million dollar question. Simple answer is probably no. I’m asked this all the time, now and back then. Every YouTube clip has comments under it saying “Why weren’t this band any bigger”?

PB: Why do you think it was?

CO: After all these years I have pretty much worked it out but it would take me forever to explain it. It’s a bit like when a plane crashes, it’s a number of things that lead to it going down. Like the German Wings sicko (Andreas Lubitz) who took all those people down with him, it wasn’t just him, it was also the fact that he wasn’t monitored or the system was in place on the actual plane for him to be able to do it. It’s sometimes the less obvious things, the smaller details that led to the crash. In a nutshell, with us, I think it was just bad timing. Great band, wrong time.

PB: It’s vindication of its longevity that Beggars Banquet(record label) are willing to reissue the LP in February along with your ‘best of’ in this age of digital downloads isn’t it?

CO: I don’t know, downloads suck don’t they? and people want real records again?. Beggars are cool for doing it like this, it’s what that label is about, releasing the good music, the music you might not “get” now but hopefully will understand in the future.

PB: You continue to be incredibly prolific in terms of releasing new material both as Six By Seven and your associated side-projects. What drives you to create when so many of your contemporaries tour on the back of past glories?

CO: Simple, I can’t do anything else. I’m terrible at working behind a bar or cleaning cars, I get bored. I swing the Brian Eno way of believing that human beings naturally have the need to express themselves. Everyone should ‘play’ more or turn more of what they do into ‘playtime’. Bertrand Russell also said that since the Industrial Revolution we work too hard and it’s not natural for us, it’s not what we are meant to do. We are now given holidays to simply recharge our batteries so we can continue to slave away. That is not the ‘playtime’ or leisure time that Eno talks about. I work very hard but I work at what I consider to be a leisure activity; creating music and art. I am prolific so I can live off it. I don’t get bored by writing songs, it’s different every time I do it, even if you use the same process.

I break the process down into different individual systems and then I swing between them to keep it moving forward. There is never any repetition within this constant repetition. How fun is that? I’m not really that prolific, I’m just doing what I do and trying not to be constrained by what a commercial organisation would do to my art.

For years people told me to only release an album every two years but I looked back at the bands I loved when I was a teenager and they used to release three albums every two years and at the time I actually wanted more and so did my friends. The evidence is that the real fans just want to hear everything you do and the more there is the better. That’s what I’m like too. I wish my favourite bands and artists would just keep putting stuff out, including demos and live recordings. I don’t sit around listening to ‘Aladdin Sane’ or ‘Rust Never Sleeps’. I want to hear new stuff.

PB: You have tapped into crowd-funding for recent releases and also the Nottingham gig. Do you think it has effectively plugged the gap left by record companies now being reticent to physically release the LPs by smaller bands?

CO: Crowd funding has saved my ass. It’s brilliant and people seem to relate to it and enjoy the process. Record companies are more relevant than ever before. We need the labels to bring us interesting new music and often it has to go through them to get out there because of the system that’s been created. Crowd funding has changed that system but the record labels will always be important because they are tastemakers and trend setters and they sort out the wheat from the chaff. As far as I can see, record labels are happy to be releasing LP’s by smaller bands, isn’t that what we are doing here right now?

PB: Do you consider Six By Seven to be in their element in a packed-out and sweaty 200-person capacity venue such as The Maze in Nottingham?

CO: It’s a great way to see the band but I think we should be headlining Glastonbury. I think that would be much more beneficial for all concerned, both artistically and financially.

PB: What plans have you got for Six By Seven beyond the shows in London and Nottingham?

CO: First and foremost I plan to stay alive.

PB: That’s a very sensible strategy!

CO: After that, just to survive really, as an artist. I am always making music either under the name Six By Seven or some variation of it and will continue until I can’t sell enough to keep a roof over my head. There are no more live shows planned beyond the one in Nottingham (which is sold out) and the one in London. There are still tickets available for the London show so grab ’em quick because one thing I can say is that Six By Seven were an amazing live experience. We tended to pulverise people with sound, energy and great melodies. Sure, we have Sigur Ros and The Arcade Fire now but we were doing that 20 years ago.

PB: Chris Olley, thank you very much for your time and all the best with the two shows in March.

Six By Seven’s ‘The Closer You Get’ will be released on vinyl and their ‘Greatest Hits’ on CD on the 17th February.