For good while there (26 weeks to be precise), Adele sat majestically atop the worldwide charts. Her big hair and Marlboro voice seemingly an unstoppable juggernaut. Then along came Six60 and unceremoniously booted her ballads from the top spot on the New Zealand album leaderboard. This is impressive enough but then remember the ballad-booting album in question was their self titled debut. Tone Deaf were lucky enough to squeeze in a chat with lead singer Matiu Walters ahead of the Australian release of their album and their sold out Australian tour.
“It’s been a real whirlwind experience,” says the singer. “I mean we are still relatively new on the scene and I think New Zealand has really taken a liking to us. The fact that we released an album and started breaking records is pretty weird. I know that Adele is still lurking around there somewhere… she can bloody get lost. We all get it now, ay?”
What is even more surprising is that Six60 managed to hit the top spot without a huge marketing campaign, even so the ever humble Walters is quick to point that the times they are a-changing when it comes to promotion. “I feel weird commenting on that industry because we are so new and I don’t know a lot about it. Maybe it is just the way that things are turning out now with a new generation of people and the internet social media where you don’t need to have huge marketing campaigns if you have a massive following on free advertising like Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and that. Things seem to travel faster through those mediums then they would through a poster campaign or a TV ad. I guess it is just the way different demographics and generations source their information now,” he says before adding quickly, “We have performed well at the right time in front of the right people.”
Performing at the right place and time was one thing, performing in a studio environment was quite another. Having played in local bars and recording at home mostly, the move to the studio proved to be a daunting one. Six60 called in the wisdom of fellow New Zealanders and legends Fat Freddy’s Drop to help with production. “It was cool working with them, and any producer in fact, because we had never been in a studio environment before… We are so used to writing songs on the fly and recording in a makeshift studio in our old flat rooms and having a really composed, professional environment kind of allowed us to flex a different muscle, more of a production muscle. You can focus on more of the intricacies of music that we didn’t even know before then.”
Listening to the album, it is clear that Six60 bounce all over the musical map, something Walters attributes to the different personalities that make up the band. “All of us come from different backgrounds and we play music the way we listen to music. I really don’t want to sit down and play the same the same shit over and over again,” Matiu laughs. “I like that we mix it up.”
Having last toured Australia late last year the guys are still excited to be heading back though with a few less butterflies. “We were really nervous. We were confident with what worked and what people were into in our home country but we had no idea how things operate offshore. One thing we found was that people were just into honest music. It was really daunting and frightening but we got through it,” admits the singer. “If I have to put my finger on one that I’m really excited about it would probably have to be the Sydney show at the Metro because it is such a cool venue. “
The phenomenal attention the band has received is often jaw dropping, especially now that fans are fronting up with tattooed lyrics. “It is pretty cool but at the same time it is pretty weird. When it first happened I was like, what are they doing that for? and then it seems to be happening a lot now. We were walking down the road the other day and I saw a car with a six60 licence plate which was really weird. We are getting used to it now because it is happening more and more, it’s not like we’re getting stopped on the street or anything but things like that are quite hard to get used to.”
Ever the diligent workers, once they finish the sold out Australian dates Six60 are heading straight on to exhaustive US and European tours. “When we are overseas we are going to just keep writing music. Some of the boys have never been outside New Zealand or Australia before so that is going to be a bit of a shock. I don’t think we are ever going to be bored, we are definitely going to be tired and we will probably get sick of each other but there is definitely a lot to see and do. I think the issue will be trying to relax and not do as much. I mean, how can we not go out and drink when we’re in London? And how can we not go to a café in Amsterdam?” chuckles Walters.
“We’re there to work though!”