Sixpence None The Richer
‘Tales from Nash-Ville, Tennessee’
Named after a passage in C.S. Lewis' ‘Mere Christianity,’ Sixpence None the Richer - fronted by the 22-year old vocalist, Leigh (Bingham) Nash - once soared through the Billboard charts and was even given a Grammy nod for their self-titled album.
The obvious core of Sixpence None the Richer are the two founders, Leigh Nash and Matt Slocum. They formed in 1989 when Matt was only 16 and Leigh, 13. With the combination of Leigh's ethereal voice singing the words of Matt Slocum's pensive lyrics you can't help but fall into a deep trance.
Sixpence None the Richer's debut album, The Fatherless And The Widow received much attention from critics and even landed on the Billboards Critic's Top Ten Albums of the Year. Once a trio the band began to grow before the release of their next album, the sophomore follow-up, This Beautiful Mess. The album went gold and continued to sell over 60,000 units creating a loyal fan base; along the way winning a Dove Award for Best Alternative/Modern Rock Album. As aforementioned, their third and self-titled album was released under a new label, Squint Entertainment and earned them a 1999 Grammy nomination for Best Rock Gospel - eventually becoming certified Gold and then Platinum.
But it was when the band exploded on the pop charts with their first single, ’Kiss Me,’ which was featured in the hit teenage movie, "She's All That" and even the "Dawson's Creek" soundtrack that things suddenly took off ! It was on constant radio play and it also became one of the Top 5 most played songs in the country and was eventually certified Gold. This beautiful song was so widely known that even England’s Prince Edward personally requested it to be played during his wedding. The song was also nominated for a second Grammy in 2000 for “Best Pop Rock Performance with A Vocal.” To rub off the "one hit wonder" status, Sixpence None The Richer then released another hit single, ’There She Goes,’ which was originally recorded by the La's.
Singer and co/founder Leigh Nash, who can also be heard helping out Delerium on their dance hit ’Innocente (Falling In Love)’ and within the band contributing the track ’Good Night Children’ to the soon-to-be-released For The Kids compilation, gave me a call recently to not only chat about the bands upcoming album, but also about all the happening things in ‘Nash-ville’ !
Formed 11 years ago. How’s it kept from falling apart over the years ? ”I guess it’s just the love of what we do together. Matt Slocum and I started the band together that long ago that I guess it’s just devotion to what we do together. We really are proud of it.”
Each album seems to harbor quite personal emotions for you. So, what was going through your heads as Divine Discontent was being created ? ”Well, all kinds of things I think it’s just a reflection of, basically, or a snapshot of how everybody was feeling … or at least Matt. He’s the main songwriter and wrote most of those songs. Pretty much though, the whole record deals with what he had going on internally at that time. So, I think the record kinda deals a lot with wanting to change yourself and wanting to be a different person. I think there’s a lot of things like that in it.”
Did you write any of the songs on the new album ? ”Yeah, I wrote a couple of songs on the record. I wrote ‘Eyes Wide Open’ and ‘Down and Out of Time’ so those two are definitely the most personal, but I love all of them.”
Sum up your feelings behind those two songs:
’Eyes Wide Open’ - ”This one is just a made up, fictional story that I wrote on an airplane. I’m really terrified to fly so I’m always feeling quite nervous and anxious on planes so I just wrote this really sad song. It’s not really all that personal though,” she quietly admits.
'Down And Out Of Time’ - ”This is kinda about me terrorizing my loved ones in that I could definitely be a better friend to them.”
You mentioned planes, but do you have any other phobias ? ”That’s the biggest one. That’s where all of my biggest fears are channeled. It’s very irrational, but I think it’s better put into one thing than spread out all over the place.”
Do you have any recurring dreams or nightmares ? ”I have a recurring dream about the singer for Stone Temple Pilots, Scott Weiland ! I have this dream, which I’ve had at least five or six times, where we are put into a situation where we have to get married. And I don’t have a crush on the guy at all. I’m married and happily so, but I always dream that I’m in a phone booth calling my husband saying, ’I’m so sorry but I have to marry Scott Weiland.’ So, I don’t know, but I kinda like that dream though !”
Yes, but isn’t it technically more of a ‘nightmare’ than a dream ?! ”Well,” she laughs loudly, ”he’s nice in the dream, he’s just really got issues.”
Yes, and now he’s got a divorce as well ! ”Oh well, maybe we’re heading for something now then.”
Where did the album title originate ? ”Once again that’s Matt’s idea and I don’t really know how he came to that, but I connected with it instantly. Because I think it’s just basically the problems that you may encounter in life and the pain can be a beautiful thing and can come about to bring positive change.”
You seem to enjoy cover songs as we have yet another one here with Crowded Houses’ ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over.’ ”Well, Crowded House is one of our favorite bands and we all love Neil Finn so much, but it actually wasn’t our idea. We were approached by some folks at the record label and he just thought that it would be a good cover song for us to do. And it was really nice of them to think of us and so we did it and I think it turned very well. So, we’re excited about it.”
The multitude of genres that you’ve been labeled is really head-spinning, but are you more resigned now to just being labeled ‘Christian Rock’ ? ”Yes, it’s hard to break out of. I think I’m just starting to give up on trying to fight it though. And the problem is not with people knowing we’re Christian’s, that’s not an issue at all, but when you start to label the music I think you turn a lot of people away instantaneously. They think they already know what the music sounds like, or it turns them off and it’s just music and I don’t think it should be labeled. And, you know, Christian Rock sounds like that it’s music for a certain group of people and that's not what our goals are. So, that’s unfortunate, but people are gonna say what they want. There’s no point in fighting that,” she gently laughs.
Do you think you will always be known as the ‘Kiss Me’ band ? ”Possibly. It’s quite possible, and I think that that’s another thing that we can’t do a whole lot about, but we’re gonna keep making other music and we’ll just see what happens. We’re still proud of ‘Kiss Me’ and what we were able to do with that song and proud of that success. So, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.”
You recently recorded a track for a For The Kids compilation CD, but when does it come out ? ”I’ve no idea, but I think it comes out really soon. We recorded that about four or five months ago so it’s been a while. We recorded this really super-old song from the 1930’s called ‘Goodnight Children Everywhere.’ It’s really creepy but it’s nice,” she again softly giggles.
Anything else ? ”Yeah, I did another song with a band called Los Straitjackets. They’re an instrumental surf rock band and they wear Mexican wrestling masks which is kinda their thing. They did a record called Singalong With Los Straitjackets and I got to be a part of that. I did a Skeeter Davis’ song, ‘End of the World,’ and I really enjoyed that a lot, but that was two years ago.”
What’s the highlight of you career to date ? ”I think just that it is the time that the band has spent together touring. We’re really great friends and I love those guys more than anything. So, just doing all this great stuff with them has been the highlight. Flying to all these amazing places and all around the world together is wonderful.”
Which country has enthralled you the most and why ? ”I love all of Europe, but I think my favorite spot over there that I always enjoy is Spain, but I love spending time, in specifically London (England). I really feel very connected to London and we love Japan, but there are very few places that we didn’t like.”
What’s one of the downsides to working in this business ? ”There’s so many,” she laughs again. ”I think I always hate to see, well, I just think that there are some things – the way that the music business is set up - that hurt artists and that’s a shame. And we’ve got caught up twice now in record label problems and it’s cost us a lot of time, but I’m not sure that it hasn’t been for the best. So, there’s no sense in complaining about something that keeps happening when it might be happening for the benefit of the band. I’ve know idea why it keeps happening to us, but it’s very irritating.”
What does your faith mean to you in relation to the music business ? ”Wow, well, I think it’s hard because business is business, you know, and I think that’s kinda what we’ve had to learn. We’ve made a lot of things personal and try to keep things really sweet and bring all of our faces to the table and I think you can, but business is business and the quicker you realize that the better off you are. But, as far as our faith goes, Christianity to me is just a relationship with God and it’s invaluable. It’s something that I rely on everyday and I consider it to be the reason that I am who I am and where I am. Wherever that is ! I’m struggling to make it through just like everybody else, but I just feel like I have a really good resource to get me though. And he’s come through time and time again.”
How many times did you go to confessional last month ? ”Oh, I don’t do that. I’ve never done that. It wasn’t part of my upbringing. I grew up in a Baptist church and so we confess our sins directly to the Lord. We cut the middle man out,” she laughs again. ”But, I don’t know. Maybe I need to do that, because the closest I come to confessional is with my mother. I tell her everything.”
Describe yourself in three words ”Sweet, funny and intelligent ! At the end of the day when all is said and done I come up with some pretty interesting crap,” she laughs.
What’s the most interesting thing to know about the band ? ”Well, we love a good game of Badminton. We’re obsessed with it and basically just because we get to say ‘shuttlecock’s,’” she laughs again. ”We are really a big sporting band. We love competition and are really obsessed with Badminton in the Springtime.”
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
To win a copy of Divine Discontent just send an e:mail to me at with the subject title 'Sixpence' and the answer to this question in the text to:
Which organization did Matt Slocum help form ?
Check out www.sixpence-ntr.com for the answer !
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