About Six Feet
This was our last 'official' bio...
In the midst of the guitar-driven music world of the 1990s, it's a brave band that shuns the conventional acoustically-driven instrument collection and instead craft their songs via a loving relationship with technology. Indeed, most bands who have attempted this have done so within the confines of the dance music genre. About Six Feet's approach, though, is the polar opposite of the sequencers-or-die attitude of the BPM gang. This band write pop songs - big, euphoric pop songs that stay in your head for days, pop songs that mean something, pop songs that are about something. And they perform them with the kind of canny pop sensibility that has become virtually a whole new genre of its own accord - but without a drummer, without a guitarist, and without the ubiquitous bass. This should matter, and it does - the employment of electronic instruments gives the band a vast canvas upon which to weave their pop thrills. Unconstrained by the defined sounds of conventional instruments, About Six Feet can - and do - turn each song into a short film of its own time and place. The sound is dictated by the needs of the song, which is, of course, the way it should be.
About Six Feet formed in late 1992 when keyboardist and composer Tony Stott, who had been writing songs for some years, ran into John Richards by chance at a Melbourne nightclub. Tony, who had been searching unsuccessfully for some time for a songwriting and performing partner to help bring his songs to the public's waiting ears, soon discovered that John had a gift for lyricism and a voice to go with it. Virtually right then and there, About Six Feet ceased being an idea and became a band.
After a series of live gigs in Melbourne throughout 1993 and a quick demo tape around the same time, the band entered Melbourne's Toyland Studio in 1994 to record their debut EP. Titled Plunge, the five-song CD gave those who heard it a good idea of both the diversity of the band and the intrinsic sense of melodic invention with which each and every song was infused. From opening track Miasma's dark, swirling soundscape to the groove-based pop of Beast, each track took a different view of a huge, expansive world of pop. Released independently, the critically lauded EP was a statement beyond doubt that Melbourne had fresh inventiveness in its midst. The EP was also graced by guest appearances from Real Life's David Sterry and - in her first released performance - acclaimed Melbourne singer/songwriter Wendy Rule.
The following year, Tony and John's songwriting had begun to take them into musical realms that even the diversity of About Six Feet couldn't quite contain. A pure pop song that was heavily inspired by the classic girl groups of the 60s didn't sound quite right as an About Six Feet song. Undaunted, Tony tracked down Frente's Angie Hart and asked her if she'd record the song with him. She agreed, and the result was Tingly, released by White Records in October 1995 under the band name "POP!". The single was instantly added to Triple J's hit list, scored high-rotation airplay on dozens of commercial stations including most of the Triple M network, went on to sell over 6,000 copies, and has been heavily featured in television's Neighbours and Home And Away from its release right up to the present day.
With all this chaos going on around them, About Six Feet returned to the studio for a series of new demos, with plans for a debut album well under way. The band have also shot two video clips, entirely self-financed and produced, for Zoo and Beast. Both clips have been shown on the ABC's national music video program Rage, the latter clip proving a favourite with the show's programmers.
Diversity in music is always a welcome thing; diversity paired with a love and talent for pure pop music, addictive yet intelligent, is more welcome still. About Six Feet are a unique example of this diversity - a band in which, for once, the human mind triumphs over the technology that serves as its tool.
“I always wanted to be a pop star, and I was too nervous!” says Tony, and John, “And yeah, I just did it cause he asked me, really!” So say John Richards and Tony Stott on their electro-pop creation, About Six Feet, speaking to HAYDEN YOUNG on the eve of the launch of their EP, Plunge.
Shooming along Punt Road in the car with Tony Stott, we're talking about all sorts of musical types, from the Beloved to New Order, heading down to Brunswick St to meet his music partner John Richards, and Tony is a pretty nice guy, very friendly, funny, and breezy! Park in Brunswick St, into the Black Cat, and there's John. He's a really nice guy too! Quite solid and tall, they both are, with one of those groovy shaved hair and sideburns type arrangements, with strong, dark features, woo!
John and Tony are About Six Feet, an electro-pop duo who have a new CD out, a six track EP, Plunge, full of swizzly low-down electro-grooves and melodies, compared to every bloody UK electronic group in history, but resemblant of none, as they both enthuse, and it's true. OK, so let's talk!
How did you guys meet?
Tony: “3 Faces, actually. I was there with my girlfriend for the Karaoke night, I'd been invited along.”
John: “His girlfriend was the sister of one of my best friends and we were all there. (“Ha, Ha, Ha” laughs Tony, “It's such a daggy story!”) And I did Close To You very badly, by The Carpenters - and it was like (the group) 1927 all over again, he said, “That's the man I want for my band!”
So About Six Feet have been going for about two years?
John: “Well, that's how long we've been "officially" formed, but the first gig we ever did was in May '93.”
Tony: “And we didn't really get our shit together for about a year or so, properly, and then we started doing gigs full-on, like we ended up - we've done over 20 gigs now, which isn't too bad.”
And so why and/or when did you decide to form a band?
Tony: “I've just always been into music and stuff, I bought a keyboard years ago, and it just sat there dormant for ages, and I just decided I was going to get serious about it, so I went out and bought a decent one. And I just had all these songs for years before, and I was just sort of vaguely looking for a vocalist, and it just came along, and I finally got my shit together!”
John: “And I just did it cause he asked me, really. It's good. It's a collaboration, like that.”
So how did you come up with that name, About Six Feet?
Tony: (laughs) “I was waiting for that! I won't tell you the real reason, but the good one is, there's a Nancy Sinatra song which, uh - there's a line in it, so that'll do.”
John: “Originally little Anna Paquin was going to be the lead singer, but she was too short, so we dumped her.”
Tony: “Yeah, that's why she went and did The Piano, wasn't it?!”
And what are About Six Feet's musical allegiances?
John: “We each have slightly different tastes. Pet Shop Boys is one of the common ones.”
Tony: “I just like good pop music, from The Beatles to the Sex Pistols, to most of the British indie stuff, like Pulp and Blur, and all that sort of thing. All the keyboard stuff, St. Etienne, Single Gun Theory, One Dove…”
John: “ We like the same fields of music, I think we just like different bands within that. I'm more for the groove kind of stuff!”
Tony: “And I'm more for the melody - so when you put it together, it works quite well.”
Do you have the problem that `you dance to disco, and you don't like rock'?
Tony: “There's a guitar hero in me screaming to get out, but I don't think it's ever going to make it!”
John: “Actually, I like Nirvana. I've been getting into Nirvana, ever since Kurt Cobain died, you know? They got better then.”
What is music?
Tony: (in Professor mode) “Sounds arranged into some sort of organised melodic format.”
John: “There's two sections in the brain, right, that register - one registers noise, and one registers sound. It's apparently upbringing and stuff, so we'll hear a truck go past and it registers in part of the brain as noise, as opposed to music. But the Japanese - like birds' song, in Western culture we register that as noise, like running water and stuff, while the Japanese register that as music, and that pops up in the music side of their brains.”
How do you feel about gigging?
Tony: “I never wanted to do it! John talked me into it, and I actually quite enjoy it now.”
John: “And I don't like it at all! (Tony: “D'oh!”) It's funny, yeah. I do it because it's the only way to get the music - out to the masses! Occasionally it's good, but generally it seems - a very lumpy way of getting your music across.” (Lumpy?)
Tony: “It's been good for my confidence, too, like when I first started gigging live, I was standing there, thinking, `I want to get out of here!' and now I kind of enjoy it.”
And who would be the best dinner-date: Kylie, Toni Pearen, Tina Arena, Molly or Peter Andre?
Tony: “We should say Toni Pearen, `cause she said we were great! Then again, the cue card probably said that, so I suppose she had to! I wanna have dinner with Kylie!”
John: “ Uh, Toni Pearen - Toni's OK, but not convinced. Tina Arena - I like the first half of Chains until she goes for the big explosive wailing bit at the end.”
Tony: “I'd definitely say Kylie, because she's got that ace fake accent now, and I'm a sucker for that.”
John: “I suppose I'd have to go for Kylie, because it'd impress my friends. I could walk out on her, that'd be cool!”
Beat magazine, Wednesday 23rd November, 1994
The last time something happened here was on April 09, 2001.
John is now involved with his band International Jewel Thieves, as well as another project called Chopper Squad. who do a sort of cool cabaret kind of thang. They've also been known to 'cover' Beast live. You can visit either of their web sites by clicking on their names above.
About Six Feet are pretty much on permanent hiatus as it just never really happened (no "musical differences" here, folks! :)
We would like to send a big "Cheers!" to everybody who came along to our gigs, bought our CDs and t-shirts or said or wrote nice things about us - we had a lot of fun. Oh, and a big "D'oh!" to Volition for going bust just when it finally looked like somebody actually wished to sign us!