State of the Union
As the Northern Hemisphere beckons for the platinum-selling Six60, the band returns to where it all began in Dunedin for a sold-out show this week. GAVIN BERTRAM reports
Otago University's Union Hall has been a significant location in the rise to prominence of ex-Dunedin band Six60.
It was at a show at the venue that several of the members first discussed forming a band in 2005.
Then in 2009, the quintet played support slots for the Black Seeds and Kora there, which proved pivotal experiences for Six60.
On Saturday they will play a sold-out show at the Union Hall - one of eight they've sold out on their current New Zealand tour.
''It's been a long time coming - I can't wait,'' keyboardist Marlon Gerbes says of the Dunedin show.
''(The Union Hall) is kind of where we kicked it off with the big guns. I remember those 2009 shows vividly.''
When he joined Six60 in 2008, Gerbes was working as a mechanical engineer at Fisher and Paykel's Dunedin facility.
He was already playing in the hobby outfit Midnight Mojo with Six60 drummer Eli Paewai but when he saw Six60 for the first time he immediately wanted to join.
''We thought it would do well in Dunedin among our mates,'' Gerbes says.
''But then we started getting some outside interest. Being at university helps because everybody there goes back to their hometown and shares it with their mates.''
It was a rapid rise for Six60 from 2009, as they gained slots at summer festivals in New Zealand and released their first EP.
Since then the band has had a number one single and album and they won six categories at the New Zealand Music Awards in 2012.
A year ago this week Gerbes packed in his job in Dunedin and moved to Auckland to concentrate on Six60 fulltime.
''I put as much effort into both until music got to a level where I could do it full-time,'' he says.
''It's been more intense doing the band than doing both. It's a whole different mindset. You're your own boss which changes everything. It's a fortunate position and at the same time it's demanding, which I like.''
In March the band performed nine times at the SXSW music industry extravaganza in Austin, Texas and played other shows around North America.
Their next foray is to Berlin, as their 2011 self-titled album is about to be released in Europe by the Columbia Four Music label. Among their other commitments, Six60 will be playing at June's huge Glastonbury Festival in England.
''We're going to take full advantage of that,'' Gerbes says.
''Festivals are good for capturing a wider audience. We hope to get those big festivals and have our own shows on the side. I can't wait - it's going to be awesome.''
The Southland Times