All rights reserved.
Sixpence None the Richer are just one of a
long, storied tradition in music-- the overnight sensation that had been toiling away in
obscurity on the sidelines for years. Sixpence -- which is made up of singer Leigh
Nash, guitarist/songwriter Matt Slocum and drummer Dale Baker, -- had recorded three
albums (The Fatherless & The Widow, This Beautiful Mess and Tickets
For A Prayer Wheel) that had been popular in the Christian rock community, but had
not crossed over to a secular audience. That all changed in early 1999, when almost
two years after the single "Kiss Me" was released, it was tapped as the theme of
the comedy She's All That and became the catchiest single to inundate the summer
airwaves. The follow-up single, a remake of the La's 1991 pop classic "There
She Goes," and the band's self-titled album have also stormed the charts.
Lead singer Leigh Nash sat down with us to
talk about the whirlwind ride that she's been on lately.
How did you first decide you wanted to
become a singer?
Well, I was listening to old country music. I was inspired
by singers like Tammy Wynette and Patsy Kline and Crystal Gayle.
How did you hook up with Sixpence?
Matt and I grew up in the same town. We have been together
for about eight years. Matt had just written his first song and he heard me sing
either in church or school or something. He liked my voice and hed written a song,
so we started a band.
I dont usually ask about band names, but Sixpence
None The Richer is a really unusual one. I heard that it was from C.S. Lewis, but Im
not familiar with the reference. What is it from?
Its from a book called Mere Christianity and
theres a story where a child asks his father for a sixpence to buy his father a
gift. The father gives the son the money and is happy with the gift that he gets. But he
realizes that hes not any richer, because he gave the child the money in the first
place. So C.S. Lewis is comparing that to his belief that God gave us the gift that we
have. And thats to serve in the way that we should. We should be humble about it and
know where the gifts came from.
Your album built kind of slowly and then exploded. Did it
surprise you that "Kiss Me" became a hit a year after it was released?
Yeah, it was released in 97, so it has taken a really
long time for it to go anywhere, but we have just been working really, really hard.
Sometimes it just takes things a while to catch on.
I love "Kiss Me," but Im not sure its
totally representative of the bands sound. Do you find people hear the one song and
then are expecting different things from the band?
Yeah, they do. But theres not really any one song on
the album that would have crossed all that territory. So, yeah, it doesnt represent
the bands sound, but hopefully in a career theyre the singles that will
represent the sound.
I saw that Matt said the album was not so much a collection
of songs but one long story. What do feel the story youre trying to tell is?
Well, it was just
we went from being on a small
independent label out of Nashville and ran into some legal difficulties and werent
able to record for a couple of years. So this album is just dealing with those emotions
and things we went through in that time where we werent able to record. So,
its just sort of that story.
One of the cool things about your album is you see the need
for a melody. A lot of bands feel like it is a sell-out to have a tune. Why do you think
that pop songcraft is making such a big comeback?
I dont know why that is. But I think that its
very important -- the lyric and melody are just the essence of the song. I love a really
nice melody. Yes, Im not sure why that is. Probably people just get sick of
monotony. Its nice to have things broken up.
Another good thing about the album is that while you are
not afraid to discuss spiritual matters, like on "We Have Forgotten" or
"The Lines of My Earth" or "Love," you do not hit people over the head
with it. Its kind of nice because a lot of bands are singing about how miserable the
world is. How do you find people react to your message?
Yeah. Some people know where it comes from. Were all
Christians in the band. So if you already know that, it makes a little more sense about
why our perspective is such. But the people who arent aware of that or dont
agree with our faith sometimes are still just as refreshed, and think its just as
nice. A change. Because its positive. Or, theres kind of a ray of light at the
end of the tunnel. So, people are generally really encouraged and enlightened by the
music. Its a good thing. Were happy about that.
Another good song I thought was "Puedo Escribir"
where you took a poem by Pablo Neruda and put music to it. How did you come up with that
Matt is a really big fan of this movie, Il Postino,
about Pablo Nerudas life. He kind of became intrigued by Pablo Neruda and got a
couple of his poetry books and found that particular poem, Puedo Escribir and
put it to music.
I know Matt writes most of the songs, but you did
"Easy To Ignore." I remember when I was in college one of my professors told me
that when you feel inspiration, you should lie down and wait for it to go away. I
always thought that was a horrible attitude. What are your feelings on inspiration?
Does it drive your songwriting and performing?
Yeah, it is. Oh, definitely. Absolutely. I dont write
near as much as Matt does, but I think inspiration is a wonderful thing. To be
And theres so many things to be inspired by. Shutting yourself off
youd be living a sterile existence.
The new single is a remake of the Las "There She
Goes." Why did you decide to do that song?
We were fans of the Las. And we liked the song
"There She Goes" a lot. Weve been playing it live for about a year and a
half. The label encouraged us after a while to go ahead and record it. It was just
striking a chord with a lot of people in our live performances. So we went in and recorded
it, and it came out really well, so we decided it would be our second single.
Im also a huge ABBA fan and I saw you recorded
"Dancing Queen" for the soundtrack of the movie Dick. Do you
find it easier to record other peoples songs?
Right. Easier. As a singer, its definitely easier.
"Kiss Me" got some great exposure in
"Shes All That" and "Dawsons Creek." How did the song
become part of those projects?
We did a showcase in Los Angeles. A man named John Kalodner
from Columbia came and heard the showcase and liked that song a lot. He knew it was the
single and I imagine had heard it before, but he thought it would be perfect for a summer
movie. Actually, it wasnt a summer movie, it came out in the end of January, I
think. But, he was right. It definitely was a hit with the young folks.
I also read that you had recorded a video for "Kiss
Me" in Paris, but the only one Ive seen is the one of the band sitting on the
bench. What happened to the Paris clip?
Well, I guess VH1 and MTV didnt quite take to it,
before the movie came out with the song in it. And, of course, Columbia wanted a video
that promoted both the song and the movie. So, thats why we went in and did the
You were on Lilith Fair last year when you were fairly
unknown, and this year after you became big. What was it like and how did it change the
second time around?
Well, it was really nice to be on the tour again. We had a
really good time. It was just nice. Im a really big fan of a lot of women that were
on the bill this year. It was just nice to be near them and be able to see their shows as
often as I wanted to. It was a pretty great experience.
Radio playlists are so regimented these days. You
used to be able to hear pop, rock, country and R&B on the same station, and that just
doesn't happen anymore. Do you think that can make things harder for a group?
Oh, yeah, definitely. Theres a lot of great bands
that are just sort of somewhere in the middle. That have a hard time finding the right
audience because the radio is so particular about what they play. If you fall somewhere in
between, you will not be able to be on the radio as much. So, yeah, I think it does
inhibit a lot of bands.
Who are some of the musicians who inspired you?
The first ones were Patsy Kline and Tammy Wynette. Singers
like that for me. Then, Matts influences in the beginning when we started Sixpence
were the Sundays. Thats why he wanted to have a band with a female vocalist. And
10,000 Maniacs, and bands like that.
Who are some of the other bands youve been
listening to lately?
Rufus Wainwright and Ron Sexsmith and I
love Leonard Cohen a lot. Ive really been getting into his music lately.
I love Emmylou Harris. Those are just a few.
How would you ideally like people to see the band's
I guess just as music that is made by people who really love
to make music. Rock/Pop to me is the best category, because there is always going to
be some variation of those. Other than that, I guess it's up to everybody. But
obviously I want people to get something out of it and really enjoy it and make a
connection with it.
Are there any misconceptions about the band or your
music you would like to clear up?
The only one ... and it's hard to correct, but the only one
is that a lot of people think that we have just gotten together and it's sort of an
overnight success. But, there's no way they can know about our past unless we tell
them. That's really the most common misconception.
Okay, one last, real vague question. What do you
know for sure?
The one thing I know for sure today is that there is a God
and that he loves me.
CLICK HERE TO SEE WHAT LEIGH NASH HAD TO SAY TO US IN
2002 ABOUT LIFE WITH
SIXPENCE NONE THE RICHER!
All rights reserved.
Let us know what you think.
Return to the features page