The last time Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers rolled through Milwaukee was back in April, when they opened a show for Hanson at The Rave on the same night that The Hold Steady held court at Turner Ballroom.
The Sixers are back in town Saturday night, when they bring their "Celebrating Five Years" tour to Shank Hall, 1434 N. Farwell Ave. Serena Ryder opens the $15 show, which begins at 8 p.m.
We caught up with drummer Brian "Boots" Factor earlier this week to ask about the band's five-year celebration, the show at Shank and the meaning of the song "Milwaukee."
OnMilwaukee.com: Congratulations on getting "Hearts In Pain" on the show "One Tree Hill." What TV show do you hope to conquer next?
Boots Factor: Thank you! Well, its always been my dream to perform on "Saturday Night Live" or "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," but I'm sure we'd even settle for being the Muzak in an elevator for a scene in the new "Beverly Hills 90210."... What I'm trying to say is that at this point in our careers, we don't discriminate.
OMC: Five years is a milestone worth celebrating for a band. How has the band changed over the past five years? How have the audiences changed?
BF: As for the audiences, we're so thankful that they've grown larger. That and I think they're more in tune with what we are as a band; what to expect from a live show and to understand our humor. Sometimes I feel like the show is an inside joke and everyone is in on it...
As for the band, we've grown as people inasmuch as how to deal with the lifestyle we lead, how to deal with each other and constantly make this band a positive experience. I also think we're a tighter band than we were five years ago, although occasionally there is a song we play that makes me wrong about that one.
OMC: The Sixers play a heavy road schedule and have been billed for quite some time as "a band about to hit it big." Which movie better captures the spirit of the band -- "Spinal Tap" or "Almost Famous." Or is it something else, like "The Muppets Take Manhattan?"
BF: I think "Almost Famous," with less groupies, but maybe just one muppet.
OMC: Was "Glassjaw Boxer" really recorded in just nine days? Was that intentional or out of necessity? Some bands find the studio to be liberating and inspiring. Others feel intimidated a bit paralyzed by the quest for perfection. How are the Sixers in the studio? How is the forthcoming "American Standard," going to segue from "Glassjaw Boxer."
BF: Great question. "Glassjaw Boxer" was done in nine days, which to us was too little time. We had a time constraint because of our budget, so there were only nine days to do basic tracking (minus the time allowed for overdubbing the album). So, nine days was done out of necessity.
For us, and I'm sure for many bands, it would have been a more liberating experience if we had more time. I think we were just starting to get our bearings at the end of those nine days and not to say that the playing on the album doesn't sound good, but maybe it would have reached the dizzying heights of "liberating." Also, Stephen fell down stairs and severely sprained his ankle I think on the second to last day of the Glassjaw sessions, so if you throw that into the equation, it was like 8 1/2 days...
This time around we're going to have a lot more time. We're going to be in a great studio in Brooklyn for about 10 days and then another three weeks at an even better one in Connecticut. We're all very much looking forward to being able to explore the songs and maybe even experiment a little. I think those are the benefits of having more time in the studio.
OMC: What was it like touring with Hanson? What do you learn about Isaac, Taylor and Zac that America may not know?
BF: Touring with Hanson was great and when we tell people "great," their first reaction is always "Really?" or "Yeah?" But, it was because they are truly good people and amazing musicians. Amazing. Each brother is literally a virtuoso at their instrument. And they're great singers. The three blend together so well because -- well, they're brothers.
For me personally, and I'm sure for everyone else, seeing them in person for the first time was a hoot because at the height of their success, they were everywhere. But, meeting them for the first time, there they were and you just recognized them right off the bat and you get a little star struck. Then, after the third or fourth show, you kind of get used to them because they're just all very down to earth guys.
I learned Taylor is kind of the head honcho who seems to know everything about everything about every instrument, Isaac is the sweetest, and Zach is the most fun to hang out with. Zach likes guns and video games, which is right up my inner-child alley.
BF: They all enter the van. The person in shotgun is usually the DJ of the iPod. Stephen and Kit love books on tape, but I just can't get into them because of my attention span, but we all love to read. With the upcoming election, we're always talking about politics. I'm a huge baseball fan and Kit is an even bigger football fan, so you can always hear sports murmuring in the back of the van.
OMC: Stock question: Do you guys have any strange items on your tour rider?
BF: More unique than strange. We ask for postcards so we can write our families and a book to read. Some promoters find this very fun to go out and get. Some ignore them and just get us our deli tray. Needless to say, deli trays don't find a way to our hearts...
OMC: How hard is it to find a kazoo / tuba tech on the road?
BF: Well, Kit (Karlson, the bass player) can nearly fix anything. I saw him take apart his keytar completely and glue it back together. The tuba is a very self-sustainable instrument and would take a nuclear bomb to break the thing. As for the kazoo, they have a lifespan of about three days. Then Stephen sends out (tour manager) Jessica (Kellogg) to the local music store trying to find some more. I personally love watching Jess ask the guy behind the counter, "Umm, this is extremely important, but I'm going to need a kazoo with a larger diameter..."
OMC: And finally, given where we are, what's the real story of the song "Milwaukee" and what kind of show can fans expect at Shank Hall?
BF: I think the real story is in there. "Milwaukee" is a very real and honest song. It was written backstage at a show in Milwaukee, where it obviously got its title. I feel like every word of that song rings true and if you ever see us really get into the song on stage or find us showing emotions on our sleeves during that song, it's all real and it's all true. That song is about us.
You're going to have a f***ing blast at Shank Hall. I think whatever stress or problems you're having in your life are going to disappear during the time you're in the venue. That's what we're here for. There are a lot of negative things going on in this country right now, and we're here to take you to the land of escapism.
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.