Hannah Fleming gets Six60 to pause and reflect on a frenetic year.
Kiwi band Six60 have barely had five minutes to sit down and bask in the glory of their recent success.
It has been a non-stop ride for the five-piece, who have played to sold-out crowds around the world, and scooped six gongs at the recent New Zealand Music Awards.
Guitarist Ji Fraser says that, all in all, it has made for a fairly mind-blowing year.
"We haven't really had a chance to sit back and look at it all. But yeah, we've picked up some awards, been all over the United States, all over the UK, so it's all been pretty crazy."
For someone who was unfamiliar with the northern hemisphere, Gisborne-born Fraser says the overseas excursion has been as much of an experience for him as it has for the rest of the band members.
"I'm travelling the way I always wanted to travel, which is with the band, so I'm pretty happy.
"We went up the top of the Eiffel Tower, went to Niagara Falls, so I've seen some stuff now which is good."
Selling out a show in London, as well as five of the eight they played in the United States, has definitely been a highlight.
"That was pretty incredible for a band going over there for the first time, especially from New Zealand. I mean, they weren't huge venues, but there was a time when we couldn't even do that in New Zealand."
Following their return from overseas, and the New Zealand Music Awards, the madness hasn't stopped.
A recent album anniversary show featured the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom Six60 recently collaborated on the single Lost.
Fraser says it was a different experience to play alongside an orchestra, but one he made the most of before he had to slot back into the laidback vibe of their upcoming summer tour.
The band - which was formed in a Dunedin student flat in 2008 - will descend on the Riwaka Hotel on December 30, with guest David Dallas.
Fraser says after the success of last year's tour, the band can't wait to get back on the summer circuit.
"We had the honour of doing the biggest summer tour on record last summer . . . I had the time of my life last year and I can't wait to do it all again."
And there will be a few surprises in store for even their most dedicated fans, he says.
"We're writing a new album as we speak, so we're looking at popping a few surprises in there for everyone.
"We start road-testing our new songs around this time, so there'll definitely be some new and some old in there with these shows."
Dubbed as a band who blend soul, rock, dub-step and drum and bass, Fraser says he finds it hard to pinpoint the exact style they aim for.
"We're not really into writing to a particular style; we never have been.
"That's sort of a question that we really enjoy not being able to answer. We are all different, so we're all going to write different stuff all the time."
The "we" he speaks of are fellow band members Matiu Walters (vocals, guitar), Marlon Gerbes (synths, samples), Eli Paewai (drums), and Chris Mac (bass).
Having been together for about four years now, Fraser says he has definitely become more tolerant of his bandmates when on tour.
"You're living about 2 centimetres away from each other for about two months and it becomes a bit testing.
"The dynamic's always good though.
"We always have a few laughs."
Despite their recent award haul which included Vodafone Single of the Year, Best Group, People's Choice Award, Highest Selling New Zealand Single, Highest Selling New Zealand Album and New Zealand On Air Radio Airplay of the Year, Fraser says the achievements still came as a surprise.
"We set our goals high, but it is still a surprise when they come to fruition," he says.
"We'll definitely continue to do what we do and keep working," he says.
FIVE MINUTES WITH JI
Can you give me a rundown of who plays which role in the band? Matiu's the hero. If somebody doesn't want to do something he'll always step in and say "Well, I'll do it then". Chris is the cheap ass, and Eli's the quiet one who doesn't say a word. I'm more of the leader type, and Marlon's just the weirdo.
If Six60 held a dinner party, what three guests would you invite and what would be on the menu? Um, Jimi Hendrix, Kanye West – we might have to have him – and a third person . . . It can't be a musician . . . Danny DeVito. We'd probably cook spag bol with no flavouring, just chopped up tomatoes like we used to have in the flat. Dessert would probably be a toasted sandwich. It's a "that's all we've got in the fridge" dessert. It's more about the conversation than the food.
If you could have a super power what would it be and why? I know Chris would love to have the ability to spend his own money. I wouldn't mind being able to fly. That's a pretty boring answer though, sorry.
If you weren't a part of Six60, what would you be doing? I feel like I would be a gourmet chef or something like that. (Judging from his dinner menu above, that could be hard to believe.)
If you had to pick one musician who inspires you the most, who would it be? Eric Clapton. I just love his music, love his playing, love his songwriting.
- Six60, December 30, Riwaka Hotel. R18; tickets $60 from six60.co.nz, Ticketmaster and venue.
- © Fairfax NZ News