Five Minutes of Sixpence
Matt Slocum, Sixpence None the Richer
January 30, 1999
Interview by Linda T. Stonehocker
Pictures by Shari K. Lloyd
"Sixpence None the Richer--isn't that a line from an old Jethro Tull song?" Conan O'Brien quipped during opening remarks on his February 9, 1999 show. After almost an hour of chats on such spiritually diverse topics as Steven King's creative process and the spiritual benefits of yoga, the band actually named after a passage from C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity got four minutes to play their hit, "Kiss Me." No matter that the poorly prepared host shook hands with everyone in the band except its creative force, Matt Slocum, Sixpence None the Richer had just climbed another rung on the fame machine.
"Kiss Me" is a featured song in the movie "She's All That," the number one box office draw of its opening weekend. This is just one of many strategic placements their label, Squint, has accomplished in recent months. The song has been featured on several TV shows, a made-for-TV-movie, and will be included in the Dawson's Creek compilation due out anytime. A re-recorded single just hit the streets, and the music video is seen regularly on popular music channels like MTV, VH1, M2, and The Box. All the placements are beginning to pay off: the week of February 15, 1999 "Kiss Me" debuted at #40 on the Billboard Top 40 Chart. The week before their O'Brien appearance, the band performed in Wheaton, Illinois, where The Phantom Tollbooth got an update from Matt Slocum, founder, song writer, lead guitarist, and cello player of Christian music's first crossover hope of 1999.
Slocum downplays the band's sudden fame: "It's like something substantial happens every day, but we're not really doing it. All the stuff that's happened this month, we haven't done anything. It's just all the momentum from all the work last year. That's pretty cool because we worked really hard last year, so it's kind of nice to just sit at home and kind of watch things happen. It's weird to feel famous, because we're the same way we were."
"Kiss Me" was not originally scheduled for their self-titled debut on Squint Records: "I didn't even really want to include it on the record, but Steve (Taylor, label president) wanted to put it on there, and I'm really glad that he did. It's just kind of a silly little song. I like it--it hasn't worn on us--we're not blowing our brains out having to play it all the time. It's still retaining some freshness."
The lyrics have so little spiritual content that the song was disqualified for the Gospel Music Association's Dove awards, although it has been nominated for a Grammy. "I think you have to take the record as a whole. The rest of the record has spiritual content. That's your little light breath of fresh air."
In between guest appearances on TV, the Nashville Music Awards and the Grammys, the band is looking ahead to their new album. "We're planning on the fall of this year for the new record. But actually, next week, we're going into the studio to do demos. We're going to roll tape, so if we capture something, we'll have it. We'll probably have three or four sessions like that spread out over the rest of the year, so when we get to the fall, we can see what we've got."
Although there are no offers yet for major tours, a show with Shawn "Rock-A-Bye" Mullins is booked for late February, and April dates with Barenaked Ladies are being planned. The results of their success? "We definitely want to keep our feet on the ground. I think it always should just be viewed as something that's going to help you out a wider open door the next time you do your art as opposed to an excuse to party down."
For Slocum, doing his art
means exploring serious composition. "I wrote a string quartet that was
played up in Michigan last January. I'm kind of excited about that. It's
called "The Great Divorce," from the C. S. Lewis book, The Great Divorce.
It was cool. They had a faith in arts event up in Michigan, Michigan at
Hope College based on the life of C. S. Lewis. It's my first piece." After
conquering popular music, breaking in to the classics should be a snap.