EXPLORING THE STILL INFINITE POSSIBILITIES OF ROCK, ORANGE COUNTY, CA BASED SIXSTEP DELIVERS A STYLISTICALLY ECLECTIC, INCISIVE SOCIAL COMMENTARY ON THEIR PROVOCATIVE NEW ALBUM THAT EXPOSES OUR SOCIETY AS A “HOUSE OF CARDS”
For the past four years, Orange County, California comprehensive rockers” SIXSTEP have headlined the Classic Rock Halloween Show at their favorite San Clemente dive bar Knuckleheads, paying tribute to the great rock albums of the past. As lead singer Al Rahn—who joined the band in 2007, three years after guitarist Elliot Koenig launched the original lineup—explains it, they pick an album and play the whole thing in its entirety, from cover to cover. While they play original material everywhere else (OC, L.A., San Francisco, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, The Playground Festival and the Hottest 100 Festival)
and have opened for Powerman 5000, Circa (featuring members of Yes) and The Young Dubliners, there’s something magical about this Halloween show—where they’ve done their takes on Abbey Road, Morrison Hotel, Pocket Full of Kryptonite (Spin Doctors) and Aqualung.
Playing the music of the rock gods has no doubt influenced SIXSTEP’s eclectic genre-transcendent hybrid rock style, which as one critic pointed out, interbreeds “the soundscapes of 70s classic rock, funk, jazz and blues,” creating a “separation from other sound-alikes, carbon copies and poseurs that claim to want to bring back the glory days. These guys move forward and create a new sound all their own.” Sharing these classic albums has also inspired the band—whose members include Jason Glen Peed (bass), Mike Cleveland (saxophones) and Ruben Puebla (drums)—to create a true concept album of their
own that is best listened to like a vintage vinyl record – from beginning to end, experienced as a whole in all its spirited, incisive and socially conscious eccentricity. A blistering take on the unstable politics and economics of the world we live in, House of Cards is a dynamic and prophetic vision presented unapologetically with unbridled Orwellian bravado.
From the “Intro” and theatrical pop-rock opener “Ministry” through the dramatic soul-rock anthem “Enjoy The Free Fall,” House of Cards features songs that offer hard-hitting vignettes of different aspects of the modern world, bringing a satirical lens to modern music, relationships, technology, world affairs and the human experience via contemporary and timeless musical and lyrical themes. Every track
explores a building block of the society we live in and, as SIXSTEP points out in a myriad of clever ways, it is teetering on the brink of collapse. The hard-driving guitar/sax pop-rocker “Get In Line” takes a cynical view of history and the ideal of revolution. Easing from a gentle acoustic start to a fiery and pointed rock explosion, the expansive, vocal harmony-laden “Iron Tongue” challenges the all-powerful movers and shakers of the world who choose secrecy over honesty; ultimately a knock on that air of superiority. Another key track is the cleverly titled “Apocalyptic Breakfast,” which paints a grim portrait of a bleak dystopian future, first over a haunting piano/vocal section before building into a soaring choir’s call to “Please bring back yesterday.”
Personifying these dynamics are two DJ characters, representing two opposite ends of the music spectrum. The obnoxious “Skip Carson” is the dark force that sees music simply as a commodity, while underground DJ “Cozmic Joe” plays meaningful music, reminding us that no matter how bad the world gets (or how corporatized music becomes), everything will somehow be all right. These concepts on
House of Cards extend to the illustrations on the CD insert by artist Tom Crew, which include a Tarot card matching every song; the limited collector’s edition vinyl release of House of Cards will include a free standing Tarot card.
SIXSTEP’s chemistry is fueled by the band’s wide diversity of musical tastes—and when this causes disagreements, the common denominator is trust in one another. Rahn makes note of the members’ cultural and spiritual differences as well: “We have a couple of Christian guys, a kosher Jew, a Buddhist and a conspiracy nut. We don’t see eye-to-eye all the time, but it’s those differences that make our sound what it is. Everybody brings something different to the table, to the rehearsal space, and as we mesh our
views, our personalities, and our tastes together, it creates something completely new and organic. It's always difficult to describe what the vibe or the genre of our music is, but we think of ourselves as a rock ensemble, as trained musicians writing and performing within the rock format, where just about anything goes as long as it feels good.
“We don't see ourselves as the next Zeppelin or the next anything,” Rahn adds. “We all just recognize good music, and it has sort of become a moral obligation for us to remind people that it’s still out there. Seriously, I meet kids out there who have never heard of Steely Dan! So we kind of take that on our shoulders to a degree. If you had to sum up our mission statement it would be to expand people’s
awareness to the unlimited possibilities of rock music, and remind them that rock and roll isn't dead. It's just been advertised and marketed into a coma.”
House of Cards was produced by Freddy Scott and mixed by Bjorn Thorsrud.
Buy "House Of Cards" now on iTunes:
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Michael Cleveland - Saxophone
Ruben Puebla - Drums
Al Rahn - Vocals
Elliot Koenig - guitars
Jason Glen Peed - Bass
House Of Cards -- DIGITAL RELEASE APRIL 2012
produced by Freddy Scott
mixed by Bjorn Thorsrud (Smashing Pumpkins)
Middle Ground [SINGLE] -- RELEASED OCTOBER 2010
A Dangerous World -- RELEASED APRIL 2009
Par 5 [EP] -- RELEASED MARCH 2008
A Long Walk Home -- RELEASED AUGUST 2004
SIXSTEP, House Of Cards
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SIXSTEP is proud to announce their first studio album, “House of Cards”. I’m proud to say I was able...SIXSTEP is proud to announce their first studio album, “House of Cards”. I’m proud to say I was able to review it. These guys rock! They are bringing positive vibes with a groovy sense of humor.
This CD is entertainment at its finest. It comes at you full force, hitting you with a psychedelic mix of jazzy funk and rock, blended into a cool package. My favorite track is “Iron Tongue”. This song speaks to me on numerous levels, not only musically--it is a force of nature with a solid strength about it. This CD takes me back to the days of “Tommy” by The Who. SIXSTEP have poured their hearts into every song, and they spill into your ears and leave a taste of candy in your mouth.
From beginning to end you feel like you have been invited directly into their musically diverse minds. It is a party that does not relent until the very last note. There is a feeling of angst, power and foreboding that pulses to the rhythm and races through your veins. The singer draws you in and leaves you hypnotized. I like the world they have created and I’m happy to relive it over and over.
SIXSTEP is a revolutionary band and their debut CD “House of Cards” is sparking a movement of creativity in rock music. There are highs and lows that feed your every emotion and leave you breathless. As soon as you regain composure you have no choice but to experience it again and again.
Musical Artists on the Rise
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Sixstep – Because five steps simply are not enough and seven would just be gaudy, Sixstep bring the ...Sixstep – Because five steps simply are not enough and seven would just be gaudy, Sixstep bring the best groove in the county to all who hear them. Founded here in Orange County, these five energetic musicians (yes, they are trained musicians) sprawl from one side of the musical spectrum to another. They are heated gaseous atoms bouncing around the Orange bubble, restlessly trying to pop their container before any hope of dignity is erased from the chalkboard.
Interbreeding the soundscapes of 70’s classic rock, funk, jazz, and blues, Sixstep announce their separation from other sound-alikes, carbon copies, and poseurs that claim to want to bring back the glory days. These guys move forward (not like Toyotas) and make a new sound all on their own, proudly called “Polyethnicpseudocajunslamgrass” (that’s what it was last time it was checked).
Curious? You should be. They’re curiously strong on tracks like “Round Me Down”, “Iron Curtain”, “Waiting for a Call”, and “Maximum Strength Placebo”. If you haven’t yet listened to them, do yourself an enormous favor and tear down your iron curtain. Furthermore, the experience simply would not be complete without seeing them live (on several occasions they play for free, if money is an issue); Sixstep haunt venues like Cook’s Corner and Friend’s Sports Tavern in Trabuco Canyon, The Olde Ship in Santa Ana, and Daily’s Sports Grill in RSM. Check out the website, you’re bound to leave with an exit wound.
Review by Andres Carey-Zuniga
Vents Interviews: SIXSTEP
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SIXSTEP What's the meaning behind the band's name? This name came from a superstition guitarist an...SIXSTEP
What's the meaning behind the band's name?
This name came from a superstition guitarist and founder Elliot Koenig had while growing up. He would always jump over the sixth step when running up the staircase of his childhood home (sort of like 'don't step on the cracks in the sidewalk' kinda thing). Getting to the 'six step' before anyone knew he was home was, for Elliot, a sign of good things to come.
How did you guys get started with all this??
Elliot formed SIXSTEP with friend and vocalist Chris Young (aka Moby) in 2004. They reheared at the local music store in Mission Viejo, CA, where Elliot worked as a guitar instructor. The music store was, until recently, the band's home base and where all current members of the band first started.
What's the message you guys want to transmit with your music??
SIXSTEP takes a satirical lens to modern music, relationships, world affairs, and politics in their songs. We seek to wake people up to how they're being led by a leash most of their lives, they only like what they're told to like, and they seem to be content not exploring themselves and the world around them, especially in this country.
In one of our latest as-of-yet-unreleased works, we have created a character/voice called “The Ministry Of Music”, an Orwellian overlord type thing that controls all the music that gets heard on the radio (which in America is not far from the truth). Through these tongue-in-cheek allegories, we get to insert our little digs at the establishment, and hopefully fans look beneath the surface of our music and words to find something deeper for themselves. And of course, have a laugh in the process. You got to laugh.
What's your method at the time of writing a song??
As a group we always try to push the boundaries of creativity. We don't have a singular way of writing a song. Usually though, Elliot or Al (vocalist) will come in with a melody and some lyrics and the song is constructed around that basic idea in our studio. Everyone gets first stab at writing their own part for any song, and when things aren't working we'll change it around to make it click better.
Bassist Jason Peed takes a different approach, and usually has entire songs tracked out with lead sheets for everyone to play along with. Though a lot changes in our studio, Jason always offers a blueprint for us to work from. Currently we're playing several songs that started our this way, “Ascent Of Apollo” from our Dangerous World album, “Waiting For a Call” from our first EP, Par 5, and “Ministry”, the new tune previously mentioned.
For SIXSTEP, writing a song is an ongoing process. Even after we record and release a song, we'll still tweak it, make it better. To us a recording of a song is sort of like a snapshot in time of how we were playing that song at that time. There's always different places you can take a tune. Nothing is set in stone.
Who are your music influences??
We could probably list hundreds of influences; we like all kinds of music and bits of everything. In fact, when we write a song, we very often say, “Play this part like so-and-so,” or “Do a this person kind of riff”. Our biggest influences would probably be Incubus, Elliott Smith, Frank Zappa, John Coltrane, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Morphine.
We do a lot of covers too, and whenever we cover an artist it affects our own music-writing, always for the better. We've covered The Beatles and The Doors extensively, and recently the 90s funk-rock band Spin Doctors. There's also a King Crimson cover making an appearance on our latest single release, so check that out.
What plans do you guys have for the future??
SIXSTEP has been almost entirely a Southern California affair, so we're really looking forward to touring other places in the country and the world and feeling a different energy. L.A. and Orange County are tough places to build fan bases since there's so much music and so many bands, and a lot of people are jaded and just don't care. We recently got a residency at The Key Club on Sunset Strip so we're hoping that will be a place to build a bigger crowd and become an underground phenomenon.
We've also just booked our first San Francisco gig, opening up for The Memorials, the new band from former Mars Volta drummer Thomas Pridgen. So that will be cool!
What has been the funniest prank you guys have been or took part while on tour or after a show??
Nothing insanely elaborate comes to mind, but we like to leave things in each other's equipment cases when the other guys aren't looking, like stacks of old set lists... I believe a tampon recently made it's way into every band member's gear over about a month (don't ask where it came from).
If you guys were stranded in the middle of nowhere after a show or while on tour. The help is 65 miles away from where you guys are, ¿Who would you guys send to look for help? And if while the rest wait, there's no food and the only way to feed yourself is by eating each other, ¿Who would you eat first?
We discussed this in great detail. But we decided we'd have to send Jason the bass player because he's a loose cannon, and could probably take all four of the rest of us if we tried to eat him. By process of elimination we decided we can't eat Ricky (saxophone) because he's too scrawny, Ruben (drums) is Mexican and he'd be too spicy, so between Al & Elliot we decided on Elliot because he's Jewish and we don't think cannnibalism is kosher.
What country you guys would love to play?
Anywhere! We've had friends go live in China and they say rock music thrives over there, so we're looking into that. Also just met a band from Norway who are a lot of fun, so we're thinking a European tour may not be too far off.
With what bands you guys would love to share stage??
It would be really awesome to play with some of our biggest influences, unfortunately most of them are dead. Oops.
We'd really like to play with Porcupine Tree, RX Bandits, Gov't Mule, Primus, My Morning Jacket... they're all really cool not-so-mainstream bands that really do their own thing, and do it amazingly well. And maybe someday we could be so lucky to share the stage with Zappa Plays Zappa, Dweezil Zappa's tribute band for his father. That would be a trip.
Are you guys OK, with the direction the band is going actually?
I think the real question is... are YOU okay with it? We hope you are.
GET IN LINE
WAITING FOR A CALL
IN THE RAIN
MAXIMUM STRENGTH PLACEBO
21ST CENTURY SCHIZOID MAN (KING CRIMSON COVER)
MORE TROUBLE EVERY DAY (FRANK ZAPPA COVER)
LOVE REARS ITS UGLY HEAD (LIVING COLOUR COVER)
HOT'LANTA/WHIPPING POST (ALLMAN BROS. BAND COVER)
There are no upcoming dates at this time.