Lucky Numbers

17 April 2012 | 11:12 am | Michael Smith

You haven’t heard them on radio,yet they can boast two platinum singles back home, meet New Zealand five-piece Six60.

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Check out the clip for the latest single, Forever, from kiwi rockers Six60 and you'll see some 15,000 fans going ballistic at a festival called Homegrown in Wellington that, like our Homebake, exclusively celebrates local acts. While you might assume it's been staged, it turns out the band just decided to get some live footage to better represent their performance rather than come up with some storyboard job, so those kids singing along genuinely know all the words. Considering they've had no airplay and no label backing, it's testament to the power of social media that Six60 hit the NZ commercial singles charts with two double platinum-selling singles, Rise Up 2.0 and Don't Forget Your Roots, one platinum-selling single, Only To Be, plus a triple-platinum #1 self-titled debut album.

Not bad for a band that had met as students at University in Dunedin in 2008 and hadn't actually thought to record in the first place. “We're five completely different people,” Six60's singer and guitarist Matiu Walters admits, “with different upbringings and tastes in music, so it's a miracle that we met each other and that all our influences turned into songs and it didn't sound crap [laughs] – you know what I mean? When we first set off, we were pretty much a cover band to be honest and it moved from small gigs in our room, into the living room [laughs], into flat parties, twenty-firsts and later into the smaller bars around Dunedin. And we pretty much played for a beer contra or something like that.

“The songwriting probably came like a year after we got together, when we decided we really wanted to put a memento together for the time we had at university, with no intention of going anywhere. But we made a Facebook page because everyone was doing that at the time and word got around and the word got around enough that it encouraged us that this was something we wanted to do. It's pretty crazy the way things have gone the last couple of years.”

As the online buzz built, so did the size of the stages Six60 were invited to play, moving from local bars to festival stages not only across New Zealand but also here, playing the Big Day Out. “It's incredible how important timing is in your career. I wouldn't call it luck, but we happened to be in the right time and play a good show while the right people were there, so we were very fortunate in that respect.”

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The debut album, which, in physical form, is a beautifully crafted gatefold black-lined gold card artefact with no information about what's on the two discs inside – “I had the privilege of working with a local new Zealand artist,” Walters explains, “to create something different since this generation, no one's buying CDs so we wanted to make something pretty special and entice people into buying the physical” – is a pretty diverse collection of tunes. It's a reflection, again, of the diverse musical tastes within the band.

“By no means was it an intention of ours to make something so diverse. It would seem to be just a natural progression for us. But in saying that, when I listen to my iPod, or when anyone listens to their iPod or their music, they don't really listen to one genre in particular. Or maybe they do, but they're probably really boring people [laughs]. As much as people told us that we should have, we didn't want to be a band that just wrote the same shit over and over again and perform the same stuff – and for some reason it seemed to work for us.”