Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers are happy, poppy

Christine Beaderstadt

Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers can be summed up in one word: simple. The band often receives mediocre reviews and their music generally falls between extremely good and extremely bad.
However, the band members and their lifestyles as musicians are unique. view their musical career differently than most contemporary rock groups.
After five years on the road, the Sixers have learned how to lead a “normal” life as rock stars by prioritizing and reassessing their musical and personal goals.
Having produced five albums since 2000, the Sixers center themselves by blending their musical and everyday lives.
“We want to join our lives and what feels good in life with what we’re doing,” Kellogg said. “When you realize [success] is not going to happen overnight, that it’s a process, then you can enjoy your [everyday life].”
The first two years were hard, Kellogg reflected. The Sixers have been described as “the hardest-working band” – they played at more than 300 venues in two years.
Such a lifestyle encouraged the band to bask in all aspects of making music, including a life without a permanent address. The band agreed that music – both the business and creative aspects – is not separate from life on the road.
Perhaps what is most striking about the Sixers are these conscious non-musical decisions made to improve their musical abilities.
So what does this mean for the band as a whole – and how do their personal choices affect their music? In general, the Stephen Kellogg sound is upbeat, fun and jovial. Their extreme live performances only enhance these qualities.
The bandmates seem to have a reflective nature, and often question their goals and roles as musicians. This makes the group, in contrast to many popular artists, more aware and perceptive of where they are in life and where they are going. They are not idly drifting or necessarily riding a wave of sudden success, but rather, simply making music.
Kellogg, the writer of many of the Sixers’ songs, “writes from the heart,” but admittedly has allowed the bigwig musical industry to push the band into making decisions with which they are not entirely comfortable.
But the band has learned to strike a balance between accepting constructive criticism while keeping an open mind to new ideas and influences, and maintaining their own musical integrity. As Kellogg stated, “[Over the years,] we became less competitive, less petty.”
The Sixers’ music is not explosive or groundbreaking by any means. In fact, although catchy, it is fairly mainstream and geared toward a general audience, and therefore perfect for radio play.
Their accessible music makes it hard to believe they are not more popular. The reason they give is that the band is not necessarily looking for what many musicians strive for- the combination of both fame and musical success.
For the Sixers, musical success is not in the positive reviews or the number of records sold. Rather, it is based on their personal ability to make music that is fulfilling to them, and that can simultaneously be enjoyed by others.
“We’re just trying to enjoy life. That’s it. The most important thing is to be happy,” said Kellogg.
Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers are not into trying to create an “original” sound. They maintain that everything that could be done musically has been, and that musicians, by drawing from those influences, create something of their own that becomes original and distinctive.
Whether the Sixers’ have got it right or not is another topic for discussion, but the point is that they lack the normal musician’s drive to be incredibly innovative and different.
This is not to say that they lack ambition. For them, just creating their own music is authentic enough, and they are flattered when listeners can hear their favorite musical idols in their own work.
Kellogg said, “People try so hard to be original, but the truth is, they already are.” However cheesy this sounds, in many ways, he is right. This easy-going attitude pervades throughout their music and overflows more on stage than in the studio.
A mixture of standard musical performance, somersaults and round-offs, stuffed animal throwing, and meditations on life mid-song, is how the Sixers separate themselves from other bands.
The band’s tiresome and seemingly endless tour schedule has increased their prominence in contemporary music, but stardom and fame is a long way away. But as for Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, they believe they’ve “made it” in the musical world.
While they have not been and may never be on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine, made a music video, or become a household name, the group feels secure in their relative success because they are happy with their current lifestyle.
Bassist Keith “Kit” Karlson comments, “We are our own bosses – we are responsible for what happens to us.” For Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, life is good.

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