First off, many of you may be asking, "What's the deal with the
name Sixpence None The Richer?" The band's name comes from this
passage in C.S. Lewis' book Mere Christianity:
Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs
from moment to moment, is given to you by God. If you devoted every moment
of your whole life exclusively to His service you could not give Him anything
that was not in a sense His own already. So that when we talk of a man
doing anything for God or giving anything to God, I will tell you what
it is really like. It is like a small child going to his father and saying,
'Daddy, give me sixpence to buy you a birthday present.' Of course, the
father does, and he is pleased with the child's present. It is all very
nice and proper, but only an idiot would think that the father is sixpence
to the good on the transaction. When a man has made these two discoveries,
God can really get to work. It is after this that real life begins. The
man is awake now...
The first seeds of Sixpence were planted when a 16-year old Matt
Slocum heard a 13-year old Leigh Bingham sing at a church retreat in 1989. Slocum
went on to play guitar for a Texas-based band named Love Coma, but he eventually
joined forces with Bingham to form Sixpence None The Richer and split his time
between the two bands. Along with bassist T.J. Behling, Sixpence recorded a four-song demo which contained Slocum's "The
Fatherless & The Widow" and "Trust" along with a track by
Behling named "Spotlight" and an instrumental by Slocum called
"Thoughts Of You."
In 1993 the demo paid off and Sixpence was signed by R.E.X. Music,
but Slocum continued to play with the independent Love Coma as well. In
fact, Love Coma's drummer Chris Dodds laid the drum tracks when R.E.X. sent
Slocum and Bingham into the studio to record their debut album, The Fatherless
and The Widow, which featured three of the four tracks from the demo.
Slocum soon left his post with Love Coma to give Sixpence his undivided
It was only after the release of "The Fatherless & The Widow"
that Sixpence began touring. Fellow Texan Dale Baker, who had lived
in the house where Sixpence's demo was recorded, offered his drumming
services to Slocum, and was invited to join the band. The summer of 1994
saw Sixpence spend a month-and-a-half in the U.S. The band scored
an opening slot for 10,000 Maniacs for four dates before jetting across
the pond to play Europe's Greenbelt and Flevo festivals. In preparation
for the European leg, rhythm guitarist/vocalist Tess Wiley, whose band Nothing
In Return had recently broken up, was recruited by Slocum. Later that fall
the foursome returned to the U.S. for another month of touring.
The band gained another member before once again entering the studio
in early 1995. Coming from a background of jazz and a position in the band
Arrival, bassist J.J. Plasencio joined the ranks of Sixpence, completing
the growth from a Slocum-Bingham duet to a full-blown quintuplet.
While in the studio working on the sophomore album This Beautiful
Mess, Sixpence actually recorded 15 songs. Only 12 of those tracks
made it onto the album, with the remaining cuts destined for Sixpence's
first EP, scheduled for release in October of 1995. Surrounding the studio
work, the band played a few select shows, including some acoustic sets featuring
only Bingham, Slocum, and Wiley (Baker and Plasencio had returned to Texas
following recording). But in late April of 1995 Sixpence once again
took its show on the road in full force. The spring tour offered the band
another opportunity to open for a well-known mainstream act, The Smithereens,
for 7 East Coast dates. The next two-and-a-half months saw the band perform
across the East, Southeast, and Midwest (including stops at the Atlantafest
and Cornerstone festivals) before taking a break from the road in mid-July
and August to put the finishing touches on the EP.
Just two shows before that break, Wiley left Sixpence to pursue
her own musical interests. The band continued touring without a replacement,
adapting the live show to the quartet status. After consistent touring through
the winter and spring of 1996, the band reduced their tour schedule to weekends
and festivals for the remainder of the year. Financial troubles with Sixpence's
label R.E.X. Music put plans for a new album on hold. In May of 1997, bassist
Placensio left the band to join Plumb with plans to eventually pursue a
solo project. In June Sixpence managed to secure its release from
R.E.X. Music and subsequently signed on with Squint Entertainment. The band
recorded its third full-length album under the production helm of Steve
Taylor (founder of Squint Entertainment) and released the self-titled project
to the mainstream market in February of 1998.
By the time the band took to the road in support of the album, they had
added two more full-time members: bassist Justin Cary and guitarist Sean
Kelly. After a whirlwind tour with friend Sarah Masen and The Waiting, Sixpence
began traveling to radio stations throughout the country in support of their
first single, "Kiss Me." Momentum slowly began to build, and 1998
turned into a breakthrough year for the band. A performance at the Nashville
stop on the Lilith Fair tour; opening slots for such acts as The Wallflowers,
Abra Moore, and Brian Setzer; appearances on MTV & VH1; and a growing number
of stations adding the single each week were just a few of the highlights.
In early 1999, "Kiss Me" was the featured single for the film
She's All That, and the band drew up plans to hit the road again
after taking a short break from their busy schedule in January.
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