Sixpence None The Richer – Interview [1999]

Sixpence None The Richer

Why sign with an obscure label like Squint when major labels like Arista were courting you?

We have been doing this for six years and over the years we have had several major labels interested. We’ve pursued them and they’ve pursued us. Eventually, for whatever reason, it didn’t work out. We heard horrible stories of what has happened to other bands. It is really difficult to get a good shot because they try to sign tons of bands in hopes of getting that one band that will be really great and make them a lot of money. That is just a lot of pressure and more than what we wanted to take on. So, we always liked the indie thing better.

Squint was a dream deal for us because Steve Taylor (owner of Squint Entertainment) is a really great man and someone who we have been a fan of for a really long time. We are very like-minded artistically. It was a really good match up.

Were you nervous about hooking up with another small label after what had happened with your last label?

I guess we were. It was just that one thing outweighed the other. We were more afraid of signing to a major label and getting dropped and then having a record die because it just didn’t have a chance.

Do you think it is passe to be called alternative?

I think so. I don’t know what to call stuff anymore. It seemed to identify a certain type of music a couple of years ago and now it covers such a broad area that I don’t know what it is.

Have the band influences changed?

Yeah. Matt (Slocum, guitarist/songwriter) is inspired by a lot of strings now and is getting into his cello playing. That wasn’t the case for This Beautiful Mess and the albums before. This Beautiful Mess was very guitar driven. The last album (Sixpence None The Richer) has a lot of strings. It has changed a lot from record to record.

What about the Christian rock tag? Does it hinder you?

I think it does. It is going to and it has, but we are not ashamed about what we believe in. We’re all Christians in the band, but it is really scary to just come out and say we’re a Christian band because you are lumped in with all of the other Christian bands, which we are not exactly proud of being lumped in with. Sometimes because their music isn’t very good or they don’t represent themselves the way we want to represent ourselves. It doesn’t mean they are wrong, I just think music needs to be lumped into the same pile so everyone can hear it. That is what music is for and we want to be heard by everyone.

Do you find that the grass roots approach taken by your label makes the success of your chart climbing single, “Kiss Me”, just a little bit sweeter?

It is nice. It feels like a natural progression. I’m very aware that next month it all could dissipate and then we’ll just start over with a new record. We’ve been doing it for a long time, so it’s nice. We’ve worked really hard and these are the results. We learned a lot on the way.

How conscious is Matt about writing lyrics for you?

He just writes. I don’t think he has ever said, ‘I’m going to sit down and write about this or that.’ He is inspired by a book or by something that happens.

How would you describe your vocal style?

I just sing (laughs).

It seems that everyone uses the same word to describe your vocal style

Yeah, ethereal. Are you gonna come up with a new word?

We were hoping you would have a new word.

No, I’m sorry (laughs). I don’t know.

I heard you had some fun in France filming the grave scene for your video to the single “Kiss Me”.

Yeah, it was really interesting. I wish we had all that on tape. That would have made for a great video by itself.

I’m a really paranoid person when it comes to messing with the law.

Especially in another country?

Yeah, and the fear of never getting back [to the U.S.]. It was really weird. Steve Taylor is like a seven foot tall, crazy looking man and we were walking around this graveyard together. I was dressed up for the video and he looked relatively normal, but it was probably a strange sight when you have this really young, red headed girl and this huge, tall fellow walking around the graveyard. We had to get flowers twice and bring a potted plant to put on a grave, then go back out again. The guards must have thought it was weird that we had so many people to pay respect to.

What is the funniest memory you have of the band?

There are so many things. It is always a blast. Oh, wait, here it is. We had a talent show on our bus and we were on tour with this girl, Sarah Masen. Her sister was also traveling with us. So, we all had different talents. My husband did this dance for Matt (Slocum), you know, like this personal sort of dance. (snickers). It was just a brilliant night of fun. I wish we had that on tape, too.

What can someone expect when they see you live?

We’ve worked out the songs differently than they appear on the record so it’s not the same old thing. Obviously we can’t bring strings, so we fill that with a lot of guitars.

We don’t jump around a whole lot. A couple of the guys do move around a bit, but I tend to just not (laughing).

So you’re not exactly the Beastie Boys on stage?

No (breaks out in laughter) I wish I had the moves. And I’m not going to pretend that I do!

If you could sit in with any band, who would it be?

Radiohead.

What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?

I don’t know. I have other dreams and the biggest is to have a ranch in Texas where kids can come that are disabled or are not getting along at home. They could just send them to me.

Unfortunately, the call came down and it was time for Leigh to part for her show, so we weren’t able to ask what the band was planning for the future. We’ll just have to wait and see.At least we got it all on tape.

+ charlie craine