"It was probably like a sieve," Nash says from her home in Nashville. "A lot of people loved the song 'Kiss Me,' and then you send them through this pot with holes in it, and some stick and some fall through because that's the only thing they're going to like. It was definitely a good vehicle to get the song out there, and there's a lot more interest in what we're going to do next than there ever would have been before."
What's next for Sixpence None the Richer is a new album, tentatively scheduled for release in late August or early September. The group has already recorded 15 tracks with producer Paul Fox and is entering the next stage of the process, which involves adding vocals and overdubs and whittling a few songs from the current list. After touring for years in support of songs written in 1997 and 1998, Nash is eager to begin playing fresh material. In fact, the mere discussion of the topic inspires her to go into adverb overload: She admits to being "really, really proud," "really happy," and "really, really excited"; says the prospect of an impending tour is "really nice"; and attributes the quality of the new songs to her band of "really, really great players."
Sixpence None the Richer, or at least its core of Slocum and Nash, has been together for nearly a decade, producing two albums prior to its late-blooming breakthrough release and making frequent visits to Kansas City's New Earth Coffeehouse ("really, really nice people," Nash says). However, the best time to hear selections from these solid records, such as the Nash-penned "Easy to Ignore" and the touching "Sister, Mother," most likely has passed.
"We'll probably just play all the new songs and make everybody mad," Nash says with an endearing half-sigh, half-giggle. "Actually, we'll still do 'Kiss Me' and 'There She Goes' (a standalone La's cover that became a hit and was added to later printings of the album), but after all of this time playing the same songs, doing any other old ones would be torture."
The group has given the all-new setlist a test run in front of a tough, bronco-busting crowd, and Nash says Sixpence was able to rope in the fans. "We played a rodeo in Austin about a month ago," she explains. "It was a weeklong event, and we were the only rock band that played. We played all the new songs, and the people really loved them, which was encouraging."
Although it might seem surprising that the twang-free Sixpence could wrangle such support from a country-loving mob, it might help that Nash grew up singing along to Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette songs. Recently, she recorded a duet with Emmylou Harris, an experience she describes as "the greatest thing that's ever happened to me in my life."
Probably a close runner-up on that "greatest thing" list would be her marriage to producer Mark Nash. Sixpence None the Richer is the rare quintet to feature all married members, which she says results in a loving environment as well as exorbitant phone bills.
"I got married about four years ago, and I think everybody in the band just noticed, 'Wow, that's a really nice thing that they have,'" she says. "It kind of changes the climate around you when you're close to someone and that person gets married. But Matt and Dale (Baker, the group's Branson, Mo.-born drummer) found great, great partners, and then Justin (Cary, bassist) was already married when he joined the band. Sean (Kelly, guitarist) was a dating a sweet little girl, and we pressured him into marrying her, so we got everybody married off really quick."
During the rare weeks away from touring and recording, Nash keeps an easygoing schedule. "I try to relax, keep the house clean, and be home for my husband when he gets back from work. I've got a dog, and I just try to keep him from chewing on the broom constantly." Moments later, her pet indulges in this very behavior, prompting a "No!" that, from Nash's golden voice, still seems more sweet than stern.
Though life at home remains blissfully predictable, life on the road has changed for Nash and her bandmates. After years of making cross-country treks in ill-suited vans, the group can now rely on the relative reliability of buses and planes. Sixpence still isn't touring with the cast of violin, viola, accordion, and mellotron players that give its albums such a lush feel, although it did experiment with a three-person string section during a club outing with Better Than Ezra. The absence of orchestral influence during concerts gives the band's performances a harder, guitar-fueled sound, though it's still unlikely that anyone will mistake this melodic crew for Hole or even break out into mild moshing.
"That happened when we were touring in '95 and '96," Nash recalls. "I found that at a lot of the festivals and even church youth groups that we would play, there would be people moshing right in front of our little podium. That was really weird, but I don't ever encounter that anymore."
Thanks to her group's newfound mainstream success, Nash also doesn't have to encounter disinterested glances from jaded disc jockeys, whom she and her band had to sell on Sixpence's songs with conference-room concerts. "We had a great team behind us at the record label (Squint) working that angle so we could just concentrate on our craft," she says. "We were really just along for the ride. If radio stations weren't immediately keen on the idea, we'd just go to the ones who would have us, and eventually that other station would have us come in as well, because they'd hear that this is a really nice band that actually plays its instruments well."
Now this "nice band" has become a well-known entity, thanks to both its undeniable talent and a push from She's All That, a film Nash admits she secretly enjoys. If only all low-brow teen-oriented films could be responsible for the public unveiling of an obscure but deserving band, Hollywood could be responsible for a rare win-win scenario that rewards both art aficionados and bottom-feeding plebeians. In the meantime, Nash remains cautiously optimistic that the success of her band's upcoming project won't rely on the tastes of the short-attention-span crowd introduced to the group solely by teen-friendly showcases.
"We're not trying to have a false sense of security, like 'this is going to be huge,'" Nash says, throwing in some false bombast toward the end of the sentence for effect. "That would be pretty ridiculous. We're just ready to work really, really hard and try to set the songs out there, but our expectations are not sky-high. We're not down in the dumps about it, either. We just really like these songs, and we hope that people will like them too."
Contact Andrew Miller at 816-218-6781 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sixpence None the Richer
with Audio Adrenaline and The Katinas
Friday, April 28at Kemper Arena