Sixer is the type of band that proudly revels in their rural working class heritage while openly embracing the vicious, anti-social punk rock snarl of such raucously influential bands as The Clash, Social Distortion, and Rancid. Sixer’s rambunctious and insolent sound is borne out of anger, boredom, frustration, and exuberant, lawless energy. Their songs vividly reveal a high-spirited, undying devotion to the hard-drinking, hard-working, hard-living blue collar ethos. With gravelly, whiskey-gargling vocals, catchy chant-along choruses, swaggering distortion-heavy guitars, rumbling freight train bass unruliness, and murderous skull-throttling drum expulsions, Sixer cuts loose with the ultimate in ball-bruising, teeth-gnashing punk rock rowdiness. In the entirety of my colorful, beer-laden thirty-six years here on this godforsaken chunk of planetary mineral mass, I have yet to hear such thunderous, bone-fracturing sonic bombast as Sixer’s debut disc, Saving Grace, released by TKO in 2000. Although I haven’t yet heard their latest, Beautiful Trash on BYO, I’d be willing to bet that it’s the most energetically passionate piece of plastic to be released all year. Sixer is punk rock personified at its most devastating, awe-inspiring, and brutally honest. I’m unabashedly unashamed to admit that I’m moved to liver-quivering fits of slobbery-lipped fanaticism by the amplified chaos-fuelled cacophony that they enthusiastically create. So it is with the highest of inebriated and esteemed pleasure that I now present Sixer in all of theirdown-to-earth, eardrum-puncturing glory.
Roger: A helluva wop-boppin’, hootin’-and-hollerin’ howdy, boys! Please ever so kindly introduce yourselves, and let it be known what musical instruments you mischievously mangle, mutilate, and manhandle.
Leer: Well, how do! My name is Leer Baker, and I can turn a wrench, swing a mean hammer, and also sing and play guitar in this here rock group. Then there is Chris Rupp who can burn your face off with Photoshop and drink beer with women twice his size; he plays lead guitar. That leads us to Casey Martin and Dan Duggins. Now that boy Casey is a genius. He can fix anything electrical with a chewing gum wrapper and a roll of tape, does recording engineer work with people so big that we ain’t never even heard of ’em, and plays one nasty bass guitar. Then we come to Dan, otherwise known as the Doctor. You don’t get the name drum doctor for nothin’. This fool teaches drums, is writing a book about drums, and is always fucking late… that’s why he is the Doctor.
Roger: How about regaling the rootin’-tootin’ Razorcake readership with an informative and descriptive account of Sixer’s formation and all other historically relevant points to date?
Leer: I’m gonna go ahead and start by sayin’ this… this is a long-winded answer to a pretty short and direct question, so get your favorite blanket and a hot cup of milk and read on. In 1984 I was asked by a couple of older friends to go see a punk rock show (which happened to be The Circle Jerks). At this point, I had no idea what punk was. I was into skateboarding and breakdancing – I was ten, damnit – anyways. The best I recollect, I was standing in the middle of the dance floor and got knocked down by, what I believe it was called then, the circle pit. I completely loved it! I was taken to the side to one of the tables and cared for by a couple of older punk rock girls (I always liked the girls!). The band played on, and it was loud and furious. As I sat there, I remember thinking this is what I want to do. I want a guitar to play for people like me…by like me, I meant lower to middle class kids with not much going on. Ya know the type; working class parents that were at work all the time, so all you do is blare the radio and steal the car when they’re away. So about a year later, my best friend (and current lead guitar player) had a moped. Christmas was coming up, and all I wanted was a moped, too, but, unfortunately, I was too young to have one, so my parents asked me what I’d like to have instead. I thought about it for the afternoon and finally decided… an electric guitar!!! So sure enough, my parents went out and found the best deal on a guitar and amp (and one free lesson to boot). The cool thing about that Christmas, I remember, is that a lot of the other kids in Farmington (that’s the neighborhood where we grew up) got guitars and drums and shit, so with nothing better to do, we started a band. We were called KYniption Fit. We tried out for the middle school talent show and got in, but the cool thing about this night was the principal wouldn’t let us sit with the rest of the crowd because of our mohawks and dyed black hair (it probably would have been a different color if they made manic panic back then). So my mom was livid! She stormed through the locker room where we were being held captive and started going off on the vice-principal on how they were treating us at our own talent show and that we had the same right to be there as anyone else… blah blah blah… ya know the wrath of a mother. So we went on the stage, and everyone knew what had been going on, and they rushed the stage. It was pure, unbridled chaos!!! To sum it up, they have not had a talent show since then in Henrico County Public School.
Okay, Okay, I’ll bring you up to speed now. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, I was in a band called Inquisition with members of current bands such as Strike Anywhere and River City High. We played together for a couple of years, and then I quit. I wanted to do my own thing. I wanted to do something not so politically laced and more about having fun and being young. The band I started then was called Cloud 13. We were somewhat of what is now called a pop punk band, stemming from early Green Day and Crimpshrine. This was before Green Day were huge (even though I still love them to this day). We didn’t last long due to members dabbling in drugs and not showing up for practice, etc. So that brings us to Ann Beretta. Robbie from AB took my place in Inquisition when I left, and he did, I believe, a two-year stint with them and then broke the band up. He came to me and asked if I wanted to do a band. Since my current band at the time wasn’t really doing much, I said sure. We formed Ann Beretta. We toured constantly and basically got on each other’s nerves (we just came from two different places), but we did two records together. Then I was done with it. I just didn’t want to do it anymore. Chris played bass for Ann Beretta, as well, and when I left, he left (I guess that’s what best friends do). We were doing construction on a local bar and decided we wanted to do a rock’n’roll band. It was the middle of the summer, and we worked all the time, and we wanted to be loud again. So we formed, and now you have Sixer!!!
Roger: The proverbial life-defining question forever seems to be, “What’s in a name?” Well, fellas, what indeed?! Is the Sixer moniker a thinly veiled reference to a six-pack of foamy frothy brew, a six-shootin’ revolver, or the highly prophesied sign of Satan himself (666)? Or do you each have a six-inch long tallywhacker that you’re unabashedly proud to possess? We all eagerly await your brutally honest answer with the utmost of bated breath.
Leer: Well, Roger, I’ll tell ya, that same summer I was talking about in the last question, we were working all the time and wanted to be loud again. We decided to take a break from our mundane, dreary lives and were invited to join Mark of River City High and Thomas of Strike Anywhere at the beach for 4th of July. Late one night, while sitting on the beach playing acoustic guitars, someone asked to be passed one from the cold sixer, and, at that point, I was working on a song for my new band and thought it was an appropriate name for an appropriate time. I hope it was exciting as you thought it would be.
Roger: How and why did punk rock become your particular sonic calling? What’s your personal perspective regarding punk, both musically and philosophically?
Leer: Punk rock to me has always been an outlet for pleasure and pain; God as my witness, I have seen my share of both. I personally wanted to make music that everyone could relate to and not just pigeonhole one audience (with that, I mean the kids with seven-digit parental incomes and the adults with four-digit incomes). I want them all to see there is light at the end of the tunnel and the struggle is 80% of the fun. It’s life, you get one go at it, and you always have a choice in which road you take. Just pack your bags and have fun.
Roger: Past and present, who has had the most profound influence on your music, as well as on the way you’ve chosen to live your life? Also, when it comes right down to the barest basics, what one person do you most admire in this human garbage receptacle of a world, and why?
Leer: Roger, I’m gonna tell ya, you ask some pretty tough questions, so I’ll go ahead and give it a whirl. The influences of my past are surely going to differ from my present influences. The past influences are certainly going to have to be bands like The Exploited, The Clash, Sex Pistols, Minor Threat. Not that I don’t refer back to those bands now, it’s just that it was a different time and a different place where I could apply “Maggie is a Cunt” with being in school with a teacher named Ms. Maggie, or “Anarchy in the UK” with when I wanted the world to implode and have a disastrous outcome with mass hysteria. I can’t really say that those things apply to me at this very second. The present influences obviously are going to be a great deal larger due to life experience and time spent working for a living, or should I say, dying for a living. I don’t necessarily get into everything that influences me; I just try to take it as another person’s outlook or upbringing. I try to listen to lyrical content. I’m looking for substance that I feel pertains to me, whether it is a country song, punk song, rock song, or whatever. I like the truth in music… “Honesty and integrity.” Dave Gillanders and I can’t give you one person other than myself that I believe in as much as me.
Roger: Having been born, bred, and brewed in the racially unstable and culturally intolerant South, I could literally conjure an epic novel’s worth of my numerous confrontational run-ins with inbred, tobacco-chawin’ rednecks named Bubba, fascistic trigger-happy backwoods cops, and ultra right-wing bible-thumpin’ religious zealots. Damn, it must be a virtual, virulent breeding ground for such “Southern pride” fanaticism there in Virginia! Please do tell all.
Leer: I’m gonna start the answer of this question with this: my Uncle Sheldon is a chaw-chewin’, coal-minin’ redneck from West Virginia where my mother was born, and they are bible-beatin’ people. With that said, they are good, hard working people with not a complaint in the world and definitely not out to get anybody; that’s for certain. They have cars to work on. They ain’t worried about what you do. The racially and intolerant South is a thing of the past, at least here it is. I live in a 92% black neighborhood and don’t have any problems at all. It seems to me that everywhere else in the country, they try to blame the South for racially charged violence or profiling when really it happens everywhere. In California, the Hispanics are profiled, and why? I’ll tell ya. The government or the police probably look at the last four crimes that happened. Let’s say the crimes were committed by four black males in a late model Cadillac, and when they see four black males in a Lexus with tinted glass, they automatically assume that they are up to no good. I’m not saying this is right, but I’m also saying they’re looking at statistics that might lead them to believe that there might be a problem. But I also think that it happens on the other end of the spectrum on college campuses with rich, white honkies in white baseball hats cruising around beating up unsuspecting skaters or drunk driving. There is a profiling there also. Sometimes it can be a good thing. Their job is to protect and serve, and as long as they are doing their job in a correct, respectful way, so be it.
(A spur-of-the-moment side-note from Roger: Although I somewhat agree with Leer’s well-intended assertion that the South gets a bad rap regarding racial intolerance, it’s certainly not “a thing of the past” here in Texas and most other southern states that I’ve visited (especially Louisiana). During the past few years here in Texas, there have been two incidents of extreme, prejudice-related violence that gained national media attention: 1.) The “dragging” death of a black man in Jasper whereby he was chained by his feet to the back of a pick-up truck and dragged for several miles throughout the countryside by a group of inbred white extremists and 2.) The “dragging” death of an Amarillo punk rocker by a mentally deficient jock who hit the helpless punk rocker with his car and then proceeded to drag him to death through the parking lot. In my wilder punk days, I encountered blatant hostility and occasional violent outbursts at the hands of wild-eyed, tobacco-chawin’ good ol’ boys and intolerant, testosterone-fuelled jocks just because they didn’t like the way I looked and the music I chose to listen to. Even today, sporadic acts of racially motivated ignorance are commonplace here in East Texas. Churches with predominantly black congregations are routinely vandalized (spray-painted with swastikas and various racial slurs), and more often than not, those churches are burned to the ground. Hmmm, I wonder who could be responsible for such despicable and cowardly acts here in the 21st Century… perhaps a certain group of yellow-bellied, limp-dicked white-trash fascists hiding behind a uniform of white sheets with dildo-like cones on their heads. Although I’m unabashedly proud of my Southern upbringing and downright proud to be Texan, I know what side of the Confederate flag I wipe my ass on! Anyway, I just wanted to set the record straight that racial intolerance is still prevalent in this region of the South. And, yes, I am certainly aware that racism and bigotry run both ways. Now back to our regularly scheduled interview, kiddies.)
Roger: Media-generated mass hysteria and extreme self-serving political dysfunction seem to fit perfectly together hand-in-hand these days. So here’s a semi-relevant question to deeply ponder while sittin’ on the toilet or absentmindedly scratchin’ your testicles: which corporate-empowered presidential administration do you honestly think has wreaked the most havoc upon the U.S. economy, as well as social reform issues and the nation’s domestic stability during the past fifty years? Personally, I gotta give it to the semi-comatose, self-aggrandizing Reagan regime and the current mentally deficient, court-appointed Bush dictatorship. Hell to the chief, indeed!
Leer: I agree!
Roger: In your humble inebriated opinion, which original inspirational punk “scene” was the most innovative and influential? New York, London, or Los Angeles? And how come you conclude thusly? I gotta toss-in my three-beers’ worth, and go with London due to the brazen sonic insolence of the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks… and the Clash’s self-titled debut album alone. Plus, the London scene was so much more politically inspired, visually graphic, and outrageously attitude-driven (that’s just my rather drunkenly inelegant opinion, folks, so please send all redundant hatemail to your local state representative. He or she truly cares, I promise!).
Leer: I think they all deserve their place in history. I don’t really look at where it was happening. I think it is important that it was happening. Next question, please.
Roger: Women, wine, and good songs (or the latter day equivalent: sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll); which do you rate most highly, and why? My personal disheveled outlook on it all: women are the sensuously addictive essence of life, beer is a cozy constant companion, and rock’n’roll is the raucous personification of eternal youth. Amen, and yes sir!
Leer: I dare say that they all go hand in hand; one wouldn’t be as good without the other. But a nice, fine-ass woman and a case of Budweiser has never done me wrong. Long live rock’n’roll!
Roger: Give yourselves a hearty, congratulatory slap on the back, fellas! You just survived the long-winded, interrogative roguery of Roger. The final word is yours and all yours alone.
Leer: Thank you, Roger. This has been by far one of the most interesting interviews I’ve ever done.