Circuit Sweet Interview, Feature, Reviews

Six Gallery – FEATURE

March 18, 2011

 Six Gallery; Once you’ve listened to this immense melodic machine you will be wearing it like a badge of honour. Throughout each release the band provide a powerful blend of glistening infusion of guitars, expansive riffs, ardent finger taps, supple yet demanding beats, sweeping chords, present on the latest record melodic resilient vocals and altogether creating a large scale of awe inspiring wall of vibrant oscillating sound . 

 This erupting explosive post-rock/prog/math rock/math pop/post-whatever the hell you want to be band hailing from Athens, ohio formed in 2005 as an instrumental 4 piece. Consisting of Will Vokac, Ben Schreiber, Alex Weinhart and Ben Miller. The Band innocently flirting between genres and directions within 2 years released 2 EPs before relocating to Columbus, Ohio, replacing a drummer and playing way over 100 shows across the Midwest and northeast . In the autumn of 2008 the band recruited vocalist Daniel Francis and pushed themselves into new territories to conquer. This change of direction showed the band had the ability to shift from a purely instrumental act to allowing even more emotion to captivate their work with the aid of vocals.
 This newly formed line up then went onto create a masterpiece. Originally released in June 2009 the band’s first full length debut LP “Breakthroughs in Modern Art” landed to reflect their musical ability and dazzle all. After signing a worldwide deal with Superball Music, the album was re-released and re-launched in March of last year with new artwork and a whole new buzz. It was this re-launch that really provided Six Gallery with domination. The critically acclaimed album bought the band an un-expecting adventure, with global success and a fan base stretching all around the world.

 A band that have inspired my own inspirational icons, it came with regret that in September of last year following news of the vocalists departure the band had to sadly announce a hiatus. Without dwelling on old news and knowing what journeys a band go through individually and collectively, after being sorely missed for adoring enthusiasts, Six Gallery have moved on and this year following these roadblocks, plan to return to what they work incredibly hard for. They’ll in turn, be returning to their scene, their music and their future. The success they deserve.

In the first of several features’ of this band, we were lucky enough to share some time with Guitarist and Noise Shredder Ben Schreiber to find out more about how he started out, the ups and downs, sharing stages with legends, gear talk and future plans…

This is by far a personal and incredibly meaning interview.
  •    As always asked to featured musicians we want to know more on how you personally came about to become a musician, what was it that inspired you to be where you are now person/icon/fate?
    We all listen to different stuff (extremely different) but I’d have to say; I’d love to be Dave Grohl, play like Victor Villarreal, and have as many guns and plots of land as Ted Nugent.  I actually started playing music when I heard Nirvana in the 7th grade.  I covered Lithium in my middle school (8th grade) talent show because “rape me” wouldn’t fly.  I was fat and had a bull-cut, but I did shred the bass….I think I even painted my nails black….psycho.

 •  You’ve been with the band from the beginning, how did Six Gallery first form and what did you want from it at the start?

 Well, the band actually consisted of 2 former members of this scream/heavy band I was in called And The Sun Went Out (please don’t google…it’s a bit embarrassing).  When that band split, I had just graduated college so I moved home thinking I’d just move on.  A couple months into the following quarter I went to go visit and heard Will play guitar.   Once I heard what he was doing I dropped the job I had at home, moved back down to Athens, Ohio and wrote music/slept on a couch/worked at Pita Pit.  
  • Initially an instrumental band, was this how you wanted you guys to be at the time?
 No, but none of us could sing which created a problem.  When we wrote, we didn’t really think about vocals and just figured at some point we’d add them.  It took us 3 years and 2 e.p.’s to get around to it.  Ooops 
  •    Within your music what outside influences trigger your creativity, what’s your backbone to your effort?
 Cleverly worded Naomi.  Initially it was American Football, Owls, Ghosts and Vodka, Owen, etc….  No surprise there, Will and I really respect what those Chicagoans (Chicagites, Chicagoanians, whatever) do.  Since then, the backbone is still the “pretty/mathy/progressive style, but I have enjoyed listening to newer bands like This Town Needs Guns (Tim “Collins” is a cool dude), Maps and Atlas’, Sigur Ros.  We really like the idea of progressive music, it’s more thinking like, “what comes next” as oppose to A/B/A/B stylistic music.  Nothing wrong with that, we’ll do it (for money) but it’s not as interesting. 
  •     Casting back to your EP releases, online there doesn’t seem to be many reviews or hype as your debut release seems to have dominated the worldwide web, but at the time were these released independently and how did they go down?
  Well, the first one I recorded and mixed.  We probably burnt about…50 copies to sell total.  The second one our friend Jay Alton did (awesome dude).  Same deal, pressed some copies, made them look nicer but in reality it was just burnt CDR’s.  We didn’t really have the idea to go national/international yet.  We were actually just stoked to get a solid gig in town. It wasn’t until we added a singer and started writing Breakthroughs that we decided to try and take it to another level. That and the help of our good friend/manager Austin Briggs….he whipped us into shape. Literally, he forced me to work out. 
  •    When you took vocalist Daniel on board of the gallery experience, the sound obviously directed you into new areas but was it a long process adjusting with recording and performing with a vocalist or was it quickly adapted?
  It was pretty quick.  We recorded 4 songs, 1 later becoming Bermuda Triangles, to hand out to possible vocalists. His band had just disbanded and we picked him right up.  He helped focus our writing to better accommodate vocals and within 5ish months we had the record written. It was a total collaborative effort and we’re still really proud of it.
  •    Did you have any input into the lyric writing at all or was that down to Daniel?
  No, that was all Daniel.  He wrote all the lyrics and we may have helped a bit in the studio finishing off some of the songs but vocals were all him. 
  •     Describe the writing and recording process for “Breakthroughs in Modern Art”
 Fast and a blur.   Don’t remember much of it.   It was a lot of late nights.  Our drummer Ben owned a studio in Columbus that we did all the tracking.  Problem was, it was a lot of after hours recording.  Drums/bass got laid down in a couple sittings, Dan’s guitar parts were done in about 4 hours, and Will and I banged ours out fast as well. Mixing always takes a bit, but overall it was done in a matter of weeks. As far as writing goes, Austin sat us down after about 2 months of playing with Daniel and said, “we go in the studio in 3 months, write it”. I don’t really remember writing the songs. I take that back, I got into the band Battles for about 2 weeks and forced my hand to write Just Hey. Doesn’t sound anything like Battles but I loved the rhythm of it. 
  • [Gear Talk] what’s been the worst piece of gear be it amp, pedal, that you’ve used?
 The Line 6 DL-4 delay guy.  Great pedal, but broke like 11ndy billion times.  And that’s not even a real number….
  •  [Gear Talk] And What is it that most life-changing bit of equipment for you?
  I love my Lazier amp.  My buddy Andy started making amps and built one for me.  It’s brilliant, he used circuits that are used to make Hammond organs to piece it together.  He showed me the schematics for it and described it all to me.  I had no idea what he was talking about, but at the end he said, “you’ll love it”.  I said, “ummm kick ass!”. Flash forward 2 months and sure enough, I love it.  
  It’s basically a class-a head, much like an orange amp but without the grit to it.  I also have a malekko chicklet for reverb that I love. I use both that and a carbon copy pedal to get my reverby clean tone. 
  •     How has your own writing process changed/developed throughout each release?
 Everything we’ve released is different. Once our label said they’d help put everything we’ve done out for free we went back and listened to it. Our first release was just getting ourselves situated, Prelude was a lot of “what can we get away with” guitar and timing wise.  It wasn’t too crazy but sometimes wasn’t always the best at flowing…  
After that, we got vocals and became smarter about where to place all the jibble jabble Will and I do. 
  •    Breakthroughs in Modern Art really did solidify Six Gallery a respectful reputation and dutiful support from a fan base, did you expect the support that arose from the release? And how does this make you feel knowing the work you create is constantly aiding others?
  I wasn’t aware people were actually listen to it. Kidding, we’re always stoked anytime we see or hear someone else is as excited as we are about what we do. We’re in a dark place right now, and knowing that people still stand behind us is the number 1 thing that keeps us going. It’s especially awesome to hear from people that live in Germany, England, Spain, Australia, etc…  It’s crazy to think about something we did in Columbus, Ohio is getting out to people in different nations. It’s humbling to say the least.    
  •    You finger tap like the boss. And have shared stages with renowned tapping musical icons such as Maps and Atlases. What’s been your favourite act you’ve played with to date and why?
  And by the Boss do you mean Bruce Springsteen?  I hope so. (I really do man’s my idol) Maps’ was definitely a blast. We actually played a basement show once with them that was a ton of fun. They’re such nice people, they even called us up when we were both in New York and put us on the list so we could just hang/talk. I’m really happy they’re continuing to grow and become great.  We also have a lot of fun with a band called Pessoa out of Bloomington, Indiana.  They’re also some of the nicest people we’ve met.  When we toured the states we got to play with different bands every night and there were very few I have anything bad to say about.  
  •    How did your involvement with Superball Music come about and how has it helped?
  It’s a long story, but the skinny of it was that I emailed around 3 thousand people with our 1 sheet and record.  We got some emails back from PR companies and such with great responses.  Funny thing is, there was this one particular person who emailed us back and not only didn’t like it, but gave in great detail why he didn’t like it.  It wasn’t terrible but I was shocked that someone took a lot of time to do that.  I told Austin and he actually sent the guy an email thanking him for taking the time to listen and wanted to know if he knew anyone who’d dig it.  Bingo, he gave it to Superball and the owner liked it.  He told us he had to give it about 10 listens on multiple days before he sent us an email.  It was great, he actually put a ton of thought into it and pulled the trigger. Funny thing was, they were in the process (unbeknownst to us) of merging Superball with Inside Out and Century Media.  We were the first band under that tri-fecta umbrella (totally rhymed for those of you keeping score) which allowed Breakthroughs to be released world-wide. Basically we lucked out. 

 Also for the record, the record was originally going to be called “Breakthroughs in Modern Art via Subliminal Messages Beamed down by God”.  We shortened it because, well…. Isn’t it obvious, it’s super long.  We weren’t trying to say that what we were doing was a breakthrough, we’re not Refused (great band though). 
  •   Back in September you sadly announced a hiatus (obviously this post is about your work and return so we wont bring up to many dips in the road) but clearly for any band this is a difficult decision, but why was this outcome reached?
  When the second singer left it knocked the wind out of us. We had been working/jobless/homeless for about 9 months and the stress of what we went through took its toll. Even now it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It seemed, at the time, that almost all hope was lost. We collectively decided to take a break and get our personal lives sorted before we went headlong into whatever we were going to do next. Overall, at the time is was the right move for us personally. 
  •  You have as a band had your high’s and low’s, you lost two vocalists and had to cancel a tour,  I am fully aware that working with a band and being on the road a lot of time is extremely tough and you do have major blocks but you guys have decided to continue which is fantastic and battling these problems alone is just more credit on your behalf, how did you reach the decision that you were like “you know what fuck this, this is our band this is our work and we need to continue“?
  To be honest, we’re still sorting things out. Will and I pretty much eat, sleep, and breathe this band, almost to a fault. When people interpreted “hiatus” as breaking up, I knew I had to say something. It’s like trying to have hope while serving a life sentence in prison. 
To me, this music is it.   
 I feel that we play the music that we’re not hearing, which is the attitude I would hope all musicians have. Like I said, we’re still sorting things out, and regardless of the make-up of the band, we fully intend to put out a record in the next year (baring any disasters). 
  •       This year is essentially your reigning return I gather or plans to do so, tell me all about this new post-hiatus return and how  the band is shaped at current.
  Hard to say, Will and I have written a bunch but Ben is in a different city and Alex’s new work schedule has him working 8 days a week.  We’re also entertaining some vocalists at the moment.   If all else fails, we’ll have someone rap over it.  3 dollar bill yall wasn’t that bad of an album…right?
  • Describe your new recordings/ new ideas and how you will get them across and when?
 Something I encourage everyone to do is write and demo first (pre-production). We didn’t do that on our last record and it’s really nice to record these ideas/songs, sit on them and listen back to them later. I use to think, “ugh, this part is amazing” only to listen back and see “whoa, should’ve done that differently”. 
  •   Have any plans been made to return back to the live scene?
Step 1: Get someone to sing. After that, we’ll probably take some time to get tight again and do some writing.  Good question…who knows?
  • Will there be a vinyl release in the future?
  Like a vinyl suit? Hmmmm…..well, we talked about it with the label. We booked a European tour this one time and the label said they’d front the expense to press vinyl because you guys love that stuff. But go figure, we cancelled last minute and no dice on the vinyl. I heard someone say once that they only have released a record when it’s ACTUALLY released on a record. I pretty much feel the same way. 
  •   Any plans to come to the UK?
 Yea, but I’m not sure if the band will come along.  Also if we do….can we borrow someone’s floors to sleep on? 
  • All featured artists are asked this- What album or track has been stuck on your turntable, ipod, cd player for a while now?
Band: Mew       Song: Introducing Palace Players

It’s the best song of 2010 hands down.

Link to listen to that track HERE.
  •    Finally What does the future hold for you at present, that we can all look forward to?
 Well, I’m re-building a motorcycle that’s about done, so that’s super kick ass.  I joined a biker gang called “Devil’s Mustache” and started an Ohio chapter.  And Will and I are, at the very least, going to write music that’ll make people crap their pants.  Well at least the motorcycle part was accurate…


 If you have yet to hear what Six Gallery have composed, their critically acclaimed album “Breakthroughs In Modern Art”, which is coming up to its anniversary of its release date, can be found streaming below via their bandcamp. 

 “Their recorded sound is both tight and impressively large, it’s not just pure technical bells and whistles that make them sound good – the noodley guitar lines swim over the tracks in a way that only serves to confirm that there are people who can play guitar, and then people who can really play guitar. It doesn’t seem to be too convoluted or arrogant either, which is a whole other feat in itself.

Share this band. They need to be heard.
Stay closer to the boys by becoming a fan HERE.
Circuit Sweet will be keeping you up to date with all Six Gallery related News, the revival, you name it.
We featured this rad bands video for track ” A Live Nativity Scene” at the beginning of the year. If you missed out on that, hit play on this..

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