“Kellogg’s music is semi-gritty, melodic alt-country. Think early Wilco, Whiskeytown, or Tom Petty. Relaxed, yet passionate.” – Boston Globe
Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers is a Massachusetts’ quartet made up of two distinct parts. In one corner stands the unmistakably jubilant personality of rock-n-roll’s The Sixers; in the other sits an authentic American songwriter in a period of profound growth. Rising triumphantly in the center is a band whose music is the perfect marriage of the two.
A few months after the band formed, they experienced a harrowing flight to Florida where they collectively saw their lives flash before their eyes. The experience caused them to all do a lot of soul searching. The result is Glassjaw Boxer – a lasting letter to the world about family and friendships. As a songwriter, Stephen emerged from the flight with a new found appreciation for everything and everyone in his life and his heartfelt songs reach out to those he cares most about. Delving into thoughts and issues we all struggle with on a daily basis.
Produced by Whiskeytown’s Mike Daly with mixing help from Dave Bryson of Counting Crows and guest appearances by Mike Daly, Caitlin Cary (Whiskeytown / Vocals) and Marc Roberge (O.A.R / Vocals) among others, the songs of Glassjaw Boxer warmly envelop the listener. As strummed acoustic and electric guitars share space with accordions, trumpets, and soaring lap steel, Kellogg crafts an impassioned set of music that is not observed from a distance, but intimately experienced. “We’ve traded nostalgia for brutal honesty,” says Kellogg.
On stage, these new songs add another layer to an already engaging live show that effortlessly mixes rollicking shoulder-to-shoulder singalongs, casually-spun four-part fables, and triumphant moments of musical synchronicity. With the Glassjaw Boxer material, the emotional spectrum expands even further, as Kellogg takes a quieter moment to share a soulful ballad or a poignant reflection. “It's that much more of a ride,” says Kellogg.
The album’s centerpiece, “Fourth of July,” tells Kellogg’s life story – swapping holiday patriotism for the individual moments that shape the living of a day, year after year. “In Front of the World” shares instructions on life with a younger brother, ultimately recognizing Kellogg’s own weaknesses. The opening piano arpeggio of “Sweet Sophia” immediately recalls classic Springsteen, while the late-night vocal stomp of closer “Big Easy” evokes the swamp-folk of The Band. Meanwhile, themes of fatherhood (“Father’s Day”), friendship (“Milwaukee”), and love (“Hearts in Pain”) bind the set into a heartfelt, coherent work.
Live, the Sixers - Keith “Goose” Karlson (bass/keys), Chris Soucy (guitar), and Brian “Boots” Factor (drums) - play together like brothers, effortlessly sharing the stage and the spotlight. Honed over hundreds of gigs across the country, the Sixers shows are vivid celebrations of camaraderie and friendship. “There is a realization in the band,” says Kellogg, “that this is a journey. It's not just an end result. What you have is what you make of every day.”
For the past few years, Kellogg & the Sixers have toured non-stop, some years clocking in close to 300 shows. They’ve shared the stage with such notable and diverse artists as Guster, James Brown, Jason Mraz, Kathleen Edwards, Carbon Leaf, Mike Doughty, Josh Ritter, and Pat McGee Band. In addition, the band shared arena stages with million-selling American band O.A.R. Kellogg recalls the nervous scene prior to their first such show: “we were pushing each other around the dressing room like it was Braveheart – like we were going into battle.” The success of that show led to continuing collaborations between the like-minded bands and the mutual decision to release Glassjaw Boxer on O.A.R.’s own Everfine Records. “It's nice to be a part of that family,” says Kellogg.
With Glassjaw Boxer, Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers have written a sincere statement to friends and family. And to their broadening base of dedicated followers: teenagers covering their binders and MySpace profiles with “SK6ERS” and their parents re-discovering how rock ‘n roll can speak to them, deeply, through the words and music of Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers – a growing musical legacy of a life honestly and actively lived.