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The business of making music has become a
strange one in recent years. There was once a time
when playing in a band was a great way to not only
satisfy your creative urges, but to avoid the 9–to–5
working world. The list of bands
that, when pressed, will sheepishly
admit to starting a band in order to
‘stay out of the factory’ isn’t short
(names include The Gits, The
Replacements, Butthole Surfers and
Black Sabbath, along with a whole
galaxy of others) but as time has
worn on, the business of being in a
band has become legitimized to the point that it
may now be totally reasonable to confidently tell
your high school guidance counselor that your
future plan is to become an international pop icon
upon the receipt of your diploma. In recent years,
the ‘business’ portion of the term ‘music business’
has started to carry a whole lot more weight. The
preponderance of such a professional mindset is precisely
what makes bands like Mississauga’s Keepin’ 6
so refreshing; as competent professionalism begins
to grip rock bands earlier and earlier in their careers,
guitarist Jason Wilford is firm when he says that
Keepin’ 6 is interested in savouring what they’ve got
and isn’t particularly thrilled at the notion of ‘taking
it to the next level’ and joining the major label
machine. “It’s been about a year since Uncensored
came out and, so far, it’s been received really well,�
says the guitarist with more than a hint of satisfaction.
“It has actually been received to the point
where we wanted to be. It hasn’t gone anywhere
that we didn’t want it to go, so we’re still keeping it
underground, still pulling this following that you
can’t necessarily see everywhere and that’s really
what we wanted to keep it as.
“Basically we want to continue in the vein of
the bands that we grew up listening to,� continues
Wilford, laying out the band’s plan. “The punk
rock bands we really like never really crossed completely
into the mainstream – they had a few hits
here and there and we want to be like that; we
don’t want to be one of those bands that is just
out there to make money. We’re making music
because we like making music; we don’t do it for
the money – we don’t make any money from it
really anyway. We do it because we like to do it so
we’re glad it hasn’t reached the point where we’ve
all gotten sick of it and started to go about it joylessly.
We’re trying to take it slow instead of jumping
miles and bounds right away.�
It would be the height of cynicism to say that
Keepin’ 6 doesn’t work for the money and headway
that they’ve made thus far. The secret that
they discovered a year ago on their Stereo
Dynamite debut Uncensored is that, rather than
combine their ska with some easy listening, purist
reggae, if done right it is possible to inject a whole
lot more energy and fun into the genre. Like
Fishbone before them, the band injects a healthy
amount of speedy street punk insanity as well as a
set of manic proclivities for good measure and the
results are a mad dash through 11 fantastic
ska–punk bruisers that don’t ignore the rule book
so much as feed it amphetamines to the point that
songs including “LT�, “Look @ Whatcha Got�
and “Step Back� threaten to collapse from
exhaustion just before they tear through the next
one and do it again. The only moment on the
record that lags is the comparatively subdued
“TFY 634� that, within the context of the rest of
the record is cringe–worthy; while singer Bryan
Hotchkiss has his ‘screaming reggae spit’ style
locked in everywhere else on the record and the
band never misses a step, the slower tempo on
that one song derails it. That track is also, however,
proof by negative example of just how phenomenal
the rest is; this is a band that should
never slow down. Ever. Because that’s what works
for them and they had it nailed the first time out.
One would think that such a favourable
reception would spur Keepin’ 6 to rush into the
studio again and attempt to capitalize
on the success but, according
to Wilford, while some new
songs have been written and are
ready to go for when they do
decide to record, plans for that are
only barely on the horizon right
now and the band has made the
decision to keep a lid on the new songs for the
moment and not give them the road treatment
just yet. “Because we’re still working the first
album, while we’ve got about half an album’s
worth of new material done, we’re opting to not
play it yet,� explains the guitarist. “With those,
you’ll hear the songs when the next one comes
out. We might eventually throw a few of them
into the sets, but right now we’re holding off. We
don’t want to start playing the new ones and have
people really like them but not be able to buy
“This summer we’ll be doing a lot of festivals
in Ontario. It’s sort of the hot place in Canada for
festivals in my opinion and probably some in
Quebec too because it’s so close. In the Fall, we’re
planning on heading out East – we’re talking
about doing the Pop Explosion but nothing has
been confirmed yet – and we’re working on a
video this month; it’ll be our first music video and
it’s our own idea so that should be cool. We’re trying
to keep that ethic in place – using our own
ideas instead of outsourcing it to other people –
and stay self–reliant for as long as possible.� P


Keepin 6
By Ty Trumbull

Keepin 6's Uncensored is as strong a debut as any. The band play the tried and true punk/ska combination and execute it well, throwing in some heavier elements and sing-along choruses to mix things up a little. Singer Bryan Hotchkiss sings in a style strikingly similar to Billy Talent's front-man and, surprisingly, it works. The group write vocal hooks that will be stuck in your head for days, most notably on "LT (Stop Tellin' Me Lies)," which boasts a chorus that many more seasoned bands can't even begin to pull off. Guitarist Jason Wilford does some pretty interesting things with the traditionally simple ska song structures, especially on "Look @ Whatcha Got," while Matt Wilkinson (drums) and Dan Renwick (bass) push the songs forward with their tight, hard-hitting rhythms. For a relatively young band, Keepin 6 have a lot going for them and it should be interesting to see where they take it in the future. (Stereo Dynamite) - EXCLAIM MAGAZINE


Let us all raise our cups high to bands like Keepin' 6, breaths of fresh air in scenes that everyone has long thought to be stalled, or even worse, dead. The sound on Uncensored is a mix 90's punk, modern sensibilities, ska, and a little metal, all stopping by a Tim Burton movie set for a little odd twang. This album would even be an impressive release for veterans, but as an independent debut album, a release of this high quality is something to stand in awe of indeed.

The band can't be said to be treading new territory exactly, as the typical anti-government, socially conscious, anti-censorship, fuck (insert word here) punk themes are all here in droves, but the band's attack is focused and keeps these ideas from sounding tired; hell, the vocal screams and fast paced riffing even make them sound a little fresh. All the musicians here know their punk, can play simple yet catchy riffs with the best of them, and the vocals are varied, frantic, and filled with just enough vitriol to give them the credibility they need. All you really have to know about these guys though is that they manage to make ska-styled guitar riffs sound fresh again, something bands have been trying and mainly failing to do at for about a decade now.

Songs like "Illusion", "LT (Stop Tellin' Me Lies), and "Look @ Whatcha Got" are definite highlights, featuring creepy spook-show influenced staccato reggae/ska riffs, guitar and bass lines that are far too catchy to fit so seamlessly into a punk song, and some damn nice lyrics and tone. The only song here that is actually a loser is "TFY 634", which just doesn't fit in the CD's otherwise enjoyable direction and vision. Sure, it is nice to see the band show the diversity to completely switch sounds vocally and musically and it isn't like the song is poorly written, but why on an energetic and original album the band suddenly decided to change their sound to a pop-punk/Fallout Boy style for one track is inexplicable. This track makes the anger of the album seem a little sappy and forced and doesn't really fit with the feel of Uncensored at all: an unfortunate low which shows all the minor issues that occasionally pop up on other tracks all in one disappointing moment, therefore worsening them and making them appear more frequent than they are.

Still, these guys know what they are doing and add a fresh sound to punk and ska, using their clear love of the genres and passion for music to make themselves enter the scene with a debut that will leave most of their competitors green with envy. There is a little bit here that can be improved, but not enough to keep the album from shining extremely brightly. If the band keeps going in this direction they may just be the most exciting fresh face in, if not the next saviors of, the modern punk genre.


Wes Robertson -


CD: Uncensored Artist: Keepin' 6
Label: Stereo Dynamite Recordings Rating: 4/5
Best Song: Handle It Author: Bobby Gorman

I've said it before and I'll say it again: sometimes the best CDs are the least expected ones. My first introduction to Keepin' 6 was when I had their CD in my hands, and even then I didn't know what I'd be getting into. While yes, the artwork did spark my interest from the start, it was only once I finally threw the CD in that I was really blown away.

Straight from the start, Uncensored jumps out at you. The opening drum roll pumps you up before they drop into the ska breakdown to pull you in and soon after the raspy vocals explode with intensity, an intensity that never wavers until the final song comes to an end twenty eight minutes later. The eleven songs are built around a ska punk foundation, with a crusty street punk sound layered alongside ska beats and reggae tones. It's like the Flatliners only more controlled and with more decipherable vocals; and it is in those vocals that Keepin' 6 really shines. They are harsh and worn, very nasally and delivered in a lightning fast spit of fury. With a serious similarity to Pezz-era Ben Kowalewicz, they are intense and energizing, able to cough out the lyrics instantly or drag them out in a more melodic manner without ever wavering. Other times they sound like Chris Cresswell of The Flatliners while TYF 634's beginning sounds as if they Deryck Whibley stepped in to kick it off creating a diverse sound while continually maintaining the same general tone.

Of course, a vocalist is nothing without a backing band, and Keepin' 6's trio of musicians never disappoint. Switching from IllScarlett ska tones to three chord punk rock ala Fat Wreck Chords, Uncensored is fun throughout and it's plainly evident that the band spent a lot of time working on the songs to get them where they are. Once you're finally able to get pass the initial shock of "my God, this is great" you start to get the itch to see them live - because while the CD is awesome it is also painfully obvious that it is their live show that would really blow your mind.

Really, the album can be summed it fairly simply: punk rock speed with ska beats and venomous vocals coming together for thirty minutes of polished ska-punk rioting. Fans of Pezz (the Billy Talent band not the Fueled By Ramen band) and The Flatliners will eat it up. After all, the worst thing about the record is that the track order is messed up and when it comes down to it, the track order really makes no difference in any album.


This album can be summed up as follows: Best Local Album of 2007. Uncensored is a really, really, really, really, really polished album. I don't mean a overworked studio album, but an album that you can tell had a lot of work put into it.

The only thing that I could really criticize before about Keepin' 6 is that their albums have been way too short, and at times it was hard to hear what Bryan was singing. Their sound hasn't been bad on previous albums, but you can definitely see an improvement on Uncensored. The sound is so good, that even the vocal sing-a-long parts/harmonies are some of the best sounding I have heard on any album. Also, Bryan's vocals are crystal clear. The prime example of their improvement can been seen from End Zone. The difference is night and day compared to the version found on their debut EP, 6-Pack.

Last year there was a period where I hadn't seen Keepin' 6 in awhile, and after seeing them again, I didn't recognize about half of their set. Their sound had changed a bit, and I could tell they wanted to head in a slightly different direction. Uncensored cements that path they are heading down...even if it isn't as "ska" as they use to be.

Standout Tracks: Illusion, Scapegoat, End Zone, Forget It, Handle It, Look @ Whatcha Got, 1086

The real nice thing about this album is that there are versions to songs that you probably won't ever hear live, which is a nice bonus in my books. My three favourite songs (Forget It, Handle It, and End Zone) are ones that don't have your typical Keepin' 6 sound. It is about time that you are able to hear a recorded version of the songs they have been playing for almost a full year now. It has been a pleasure to watch the band get progressively better and better. I can't see how much better they could get after this release.

If you can't tell by now, I absolutely love Uncensored. Go buy this album (in stores June 12th); I guarantee it will get a lot of spins in your cd player.

(Posted 2007-06-02)








Anyone familiar with the Canadian rock scene can tell you that there hasn't been a lot of noise coming from the small suburban Mississauga community of Applewood, Ontario. (Hell, most people have never even heard of Applewood.) But now that ska-punk band KEEPIN' 6 are exploding out of Applewood and the Southern Ontario punk scene, that's all about to change!

Formed in 2003 by 4 lifelong friends; drummer Matt "Phatty" Wilkinson, guitarist Jason Wilford, bassist Dan Renwick and vocalist Bryan Hotchkiss, KEEPIN' 6 is a band who's high energy, and hook-heavy songs blend the best of influences ranging from The Police and Rancid / Operation Ivy to the Foo Fighters. And truth be told, if there's a band that can sonically bridge the gap between Billy Talent and Rancid, well that band is definitely KEEPIN' 6.

Having spent the past few years playing hundreds of shows in rec centers, church basements and community halls with their friends in bands like illScarlett, The Flatliners, The Creepshow and The Johnstones (with whom the band released a 2005 indie split CD with; "The Johnstones VS. Keepin'6"), KEEPIN' 6 have already amassed a huge local following that many "more established" artists would kill for. And that huge local following has been waiting a very long time for a full-length album from KEEPIN' 6!

Produced by Steve Rizun (illScarlett, The Creepshow, Hostage Life) the band's debut album UNCENSORED is a collection of non-stop, call-to-arms ska-punk anthems guaranteed to have fans screaming along and dancing 'til they drop.

� Look @ Whatcha Got

From the one-two opening punches of "Illusion" and "Scapegoat" on through the reflective sentiments of "Look @ Whatcha Got" and the mellow(er) vibes of "EndZone v.II" and "1086", the album's powerful combination of modern rock hooks and punk energy never let up. And with underlying socio-political themes UNCENSORED sees KEEPIN' 6 give their fans something to chew on beyond the usual "us VS them" punk rhetoric.

With fantastic grooves that will keep the circle pits skankin', and song-after-song of infectious sing-a-long choruses, UNCENSORED is a modern punk album with the potential to reach mainstream audiences without sacrificing either integrity or intent.

The band will be on tour constantly promoting the album, and with a little luck on their side, 2007 just may be the year that KEEEPIN' 6 finds legions of new fans world-wide. �Far beyond the winding suburban streets of Applewood, Ontario.

For more information, please contact:
Jeremy Shum | Stereo Dynamite Recordings
647.477.6384 | 174 Spadina Avenue, Ste.#514
Toronto, ON Canada M5T 2C2 |