What do the members of Sixpence None the Richer, Dan Marino, and Barrack Obama all have it common? Besides zero trouble finding a Friday night date, of course, you goons. Each experienced wild success much earlier in the game than is usually expected. And each has to grapple with that success to craft a future career trajectory equally as bright. (Inflammatory political statement retracted.) Let's not get into politics, though -- this is a music site, people! And we're here to talk about pop group Sixpence None the Richer, comprised of Leigh Nash and Matt Slocum, whose 1998 love song "Kiss Me" is nearly unparalleled in defining teen romance for every single female Millenial, according to massive extrapolation from my informal friend survey.
Jokes aside, Leigh and Matt's music has been featured in major feature films, popular television shows, and, most notably, our own Top 10 Songs That Encapsulate High School. And they're back with their next installment in the SPNTR discography, Lost In Transition, to be released on August 7th. Leigh took a few minutes to chat with us about this musical match made in heaven, teen romance, and her gutsy thirteen-year-old wanna-be country star.
After the purgatory of negotiating a release date for this latest album, the duo are gearing up for the long-awaited release -- Leigh explains, "It's been a long time since we've had a full length album out and hopefully people will react positively to it." Like fine wine, the duo has only become better at collaborating -- Leigh describes this recording session as "the best time that we've ever had making a record."
And after just over two decades of a musical partnership, Leigh explains, "We have been together for so long that making music together is a part of us." Despite the "frustrating times" that accompany the "business aspect of how things go," Leigh could not sound more grateful for her successes in a partnership that began when she was just fifteen. She recalls their rocket-ship-quick launch: "We recorded our first little demo, and within a year we had distributed that demo to family and friends and within a year and a half we had a plan to make a record. It all happened really fast."
And you can't talk about those earlier days without referencing their smash hit, "Kiss Me." The genesis story of the song is humble, Leigh recalls, "It's pretty crazy, Matt wrote that song overseas. At the time he was reading some Dylan Thomas poetry, and I think he just started writing that song, and the words were a little different, the song was a little bit darker, but it was basically the same song, and we performed it the very night he wrote it." When asked how it feels to be the voice behind the song that launched a million high-school dance party moonlight kisses, Leigh's modest: "To be known for that song is fantastic, that success we had with that record is why we're able to continue on the level we've been able to, to find some new common ground between the listener and the band.. it really was a once in a lifetime thing." (Once in a million lifetimes, we dared to counter.) This new record is "more stripped down, emotionally and instrumentally, Leigh explains. "We wanted the record to be about the songs and about my voice," rather than "the flowery language and instrumentation" of their youthful decadence.
When you name yourself after a passage from a C.S. Lewis book (namely, Mere Christianity), you step into an ideological no-mans land between the Christian and secular music worlds. "We've had a lot of flack from the Christian community for not being Christian enough," and, naturally, opposite similar commentary from the other side. Leigh brushes both accusations off, explaining "We're not really trying to do either...Matt does a beautiful job of just writing from his heart and if it comes off a certain way to a certain group, that's great."
Leigh wasn't always the bold crooner asking cute boys for a kiss. She recalls, "I was extremely shy, I couldn't say two words to a strange without my face turning bright red but I had this burning desire to get on stage and I wanted to be a country singer." She cites Patsy Cline as an influence, and remembers her first performance, which she scheduled without the help of a publicist, or even a parent. It was at "a little dance hall, called Higdolberg hall -- it might not be there anymore -- but there was a local band playing there and they would have an all age night and I called on my own and asked if I could do a couple of songs with them." The rest, of course, is history.
Even after all the success, Leigh says "it still feels the same, like I'm hanging out with Matt, but we've progressed so much as people and musicians. I listen to the same music from '91 to '92, and I feel like we've only strengthened as we've gotten older." Well, Leigh's definitely not in Higdolberg Hall, anymore, that's for sure. Check out the group's new album in August. In the meantime, LIVE the nostalgia with their famous cover of Lee Maver's "There She Goes."