Hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana, Healing Sixes are undoubtedly one of today's top US-based blues-rock bands. Consisting of band members Doug Henthorn (vocals, guitar), Eric Saylors (guitar), Wade Parish (drums), and Jeff Stone (bass), the group just released their fourth full-length release, 'Blue Jay' - one of the group's more organic yet still rocking releases to date.
Healing Sixes have been busy in the past few years, with the release of the deluxe maxi-single "Fine Time" featuring blues virtuoso Joe Bonamassa on guitar [which is also featured on the aforementioned 'Blue Jay'].
The band has also been touring steadily - playing headlining shows of their own, as well as shows with such renowned acts as Ted Nugent, Bret Michaels, Eddie Money, The Steepwater Band, Todd Rundgren, Night Ranger, Blue Oyster Cult, Hoobastank, and many more.
Doug Henthorn recently sat down with Exclusive Magazine to chat about the band, their music, and, of course, ... Penguins!.
Being that your bio suggests that you are out to prove that blues rock is healthy and vibrant as ever, I was wondering just how you were going to accomplish this? "Firstly, by sticking to what we do. I think that there is a void for most true music fans given the climate today.
Most people don't know what sampling, auto-tune, and pitch correction really are but I think they recognize a difference in how todays 'popular' music sounds compared to what was going on in the 60's and 70's."
"Blues based rock is really about a vibe and finding beauty in ugly dirty sounds. We are about as ugly as you can imagine...in every way!"
Hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana, what was it like for a blues rock band finding their feet there back then? "We struggled in the beginning with finding our own identity. You want people to listen and draw their own parallels with current bands and I think we innocently did that with our first couple of albums."
"I learned quickly that trying to please people is self defeating. On the last two albums we gave in to what we really always were, and that is a classic rock band. That's an odd term given that you can't
be 'classic' if you haven't been around and popular from back in the day, but that's where we come from - Free, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, etc. Indianapolis is tough. It's a sports driven town and
doesn't really have much of a music scene. Somehow that indifference helped me to play for me and give in to what we are - blues driven rock."
Your last album was 2007's 'One Less Friend to Ignore,' so why has it taken you four years to bring us a new one? "We struggled with some line up changes- mainly bass players, and that tends to slow the machine down considerably. Once we got Jeff involved we got the band running smoothly again and then we dove right in to 'Bluejay'."
Indeed, with regard to this new album, how easy or hard is it to create a new, vibrant, wanted-by-the-public sound that both builds on and surpasses the musical wonderments and accomplishments that preceded it within the industry? "It's easier now than it was in the past for me. Like I said, we're all disciples of the 'golden age' of rock music, but that's not to say we don't listen to legitimate current music and get inspiration there as well."
"When I write or the band gets together and writes, we draw from everywhere- there's always that 70's thing, but you might hear a little influence from Jeff Buckley, or Ben Harper, or U2- bands that
we really respect or have been big fans of. At the end of the day it's all an amalgamation of our entire album collection with our own spin and spit thrown in."
Do you have a favorite track from this album? One that means more to you than the others you're creating, for some reason? "'Bluejay on the Wrenhouse' is my personal favorite on this record. Lyrics are something I usually procrastinate upon as much as possible but these just spilled out. It's a song about how life throws you curve balls and sometimes it even takes your face off with a fast ball now and again but you still have to move forward and not live in the past. It's not healthy and at the end of the day, we all deal with great disappointment and pain but when you give up you lose. 'That's Alright' is very much about the same thing and I love that tune as well."
You've played shows alongside some greats, such as Ted Nugent, Bret Michaels, Todd Rundgren, etc., but can you recall one show, somewhere along the line, that is your true stand-out touring memory thus far? "It depends on what day you ask me! I'd have to say our show at The House of Blues in Chicago with 'The Steepwater Band' is my current favorite show. It wasn't glorious with thousands of people
or anything, but the room was packed with real music fans and everyone was there to listen. That may sound lame, but you can tell when people are listening and when you got a room full of real music fans hanging on every breath it really opens your eyes."
You welcomed drummer Jason Bonham into your band for several years - how did that come about and why did he leave? "Our old manager Rick Hudnall introduced us to Jason years ago and we opened for his old band on some club dates. He started showing up early and checking the band out, and he became a fan of the
band as well as a good friend. He called me and said he'd love to be involved with the project and he was in. We did "Enormosound" with producer Kevin Shirley and went about trying to get out and play."
"Jason lived in England at the time and it became counterproductive for us to get out and do shows without a drummer stateside. We (and Jason) struggled with it for a couple of years and finally agreed that
in the best interest of the band we should get Wade back so we can get out and do our thing. Jason was getting busier and busier so he and I discussed it and we went ahead with that. It was really no big
deal - he understood we needed to be as mobile as possible and he had some big opportunities to take advantage of as well. We're all still really good friends- I go and hang with him in Florida (where he lives now)from time to time and write material with him."
If asked to record one for charity, what '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today...and why? "That's a tough one! I think 'Love My Way,' by the Psychedelic Furs might be in contention. I always liked that dudes voice.. But it would suck because I don't have a cool English accent!"
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine loves Penguins...do you? "I love all penguins. Too bad Emperors get all the love - they're so smug!"
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
So, if you would like to win a copy of their new CD, and you think you know all there is to know about the band, just answer this easy question:
The group has also released a DVD in 2008, which captured the band in an intimate, acoustic setting - but what was it called?!
Send us your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these wonderful new CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before December 15th with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: HEALING SIXES CDs to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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