Bangers from Down Under: Six60

New Zealand’s Biggest Band?

On the 17th of April, many famous Kiwi musicians came together to perform a charity concert in Christchurch called ‘You Are Us – Aroha Nui,’ a Maori phrase which roughly translates to ‘much love.’ The concert was held in response to the recent attack on the 15th of March and included some of the biggest names in New Zealand music. One of these artists was Six60, the band I’d like to talk about in this week’s post.

Six60 is a 5-man pop-rock band and they are MASSIVE in New Zealand. As I’ve been travelling, I’ve been noticing them played everywhere – cafés, supermarkets, blasting from peoples’ cars. The band formed in Dunedin in 2008 whilst the members attended the University of Otago – this was a very important time to the band as they named themselves after the address of their student house (confusingly called a flat here) – 660 Castle Street. The band consists of Matiu Walters (vocals, rhythm guitar), Ji Fraser (lead guitar), Chris Mac (bass), Eli Paewai (drums) and Marlon Gerbes (synths).

I found it particularly hard to label Six60 as ‘pop-rock’ in the paragraph before. Their music style shifts from song to song, taking in widely different influences to create vastly different songs, even if they are on the same EP or album and I’ll prove this to you. Take their latest release – the EP ‘Six60’ from 2017 (they also have two albums named ‘Six60,’ so this may get confusing) – beginning with the undeniably pop-py ‘Don’t Give It Up.’ The following track, ‘Rivers,’ is much softer and soul-like, with harmonies and a strong focus on Matiu’s vocals. This again contrasts with the third song on the EP, ‘Closer’ (one of my favourite Six60 songs), which seems to combine pop, reggae, rock and even a bit of funk to form an extremely catchy tune. The final song of the EP, ‘Up There’ is also different, a mix of electronic, soul and rock music to create a soft indie-rock style song.

Two of my favourite tracks by the band are ‘Rolling Stone’ and ‘Green Bottles.’ ‘Rolling Stone’ is a smooth and catchy track (you’ll find yourself singing along with the ah-ah-ah-ah-ah’s, I guarantee it) that is really stripped down – for the most part just focusing on drums, bass and vocals. ‘Green Bottles’ (from their first album ‘Six60’) is an acoustic song which really shows the strength of Matiu’s voice. One of their most popular songs is ‘Don’t Forget Your Roots,’ a reggae-inspired song with a clear message, which has a particularly catchy groove that you’ll find yourself moving along to. Finally, if you prefer EDM and drum and bass over pop and rock, I’d recommend the songs ‘Rise Up 2.0’ and ‘Run For It’ (the latter of which was used in adverts for ITV thriller ‘Prey’).

Six60 are a lot of fun. Their music is catchy and danceable but also soulful and soothing. However, they aren’t for everyone. As with most popular things, some people will describe them as the best Kiwi band and others will say their music is watered down reggae mixed with drum and bass. I’ll let you decide.

You can watch ‘You Are Us – Aroha Nui’ here.

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