A quiet Tuesday night with zero expectations looming over it; dinner and a catch up with a friend, maybe a few more drinks to follow. When you live in Manchester, it’s this kind of night that has all the potential to become something much more than it set out to be.
(I promise you now, this has everything to do with Naked Six. Bear with me. )
Everything was starting to sound ‘same old same old’ to me and I couldn’t put my finger on why – anyone who knows me well, will tell you that the only things that get me up in the morning are music, finding the next exciting gig to head to, and the thought of the Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special getting a little closer every day. It seemed odd that for a little while, I felt like I’d fallen out of love with some of my favourite bands and songs, or at least had no desire to listen to anything, either old or new. My drum kit had also been left to gather dust; the Vic Firth logo on the sticks in the exact same position I’d left them about a week earlier, and the little kink in the rug next to my kick pedal, after a heavy fight with a Queens of the Stone Age classic, still kinked. I was due to be at another gig that Tuesday evening – a bit of heavy, rocky, local goodness that would usually have been my ideal night, but just not today. I was starting to worry I’d fallen out of love with the thing that usually keeps me going.
(No really – this is about Naked Six. Stay with me.)
Dinner with one of my best friends was a fun one, wine flowed too easily and we made friends with the family unfortunate enough to be sitting next to us at Mackie Mayor. We thought we’d move on, and on passing the Rose and Monkey ‘live music tonight’ sign, it seemed like the universe knew exactly where we were supposed to be heading.
An instant welcome at the bar by a few incredibly beautiful local characters, meant that within half an hour of walking through the door, I’d learned more about the early Manchester music scene than you ever could from reading all the Mad-chester themed books in the world. We were told about the Naked Six acoustic set on that evening – I knew the name as I’d previously added their song, ‘Broken Fairytale’, to a playlist (which you can listen to here, just FYI, hint hint – it’s really quite good).
Now we all know the feeling of losing yourself a little when you know all the lyrics, it’s one of your favorite bands on stage and a veil of sudden invincibility hits you for a split second (every time I’ve seen Foo Fighters play Everlong live – chills my friend. Chills.)
It’s rare though, that a band who’s music you’ve never heard previously, can have exactly the same effect on you. After seeing Naked Six play their acoustic set, I’ve come to understand that it’s very little to do with knowing words or recognizing songs; the imperative factor that makes you believe in a band, and their ability to take you into an Everlong-esque, perfect little bubble in time, is the undeniable strength of a bond between band members and their belief in their own music and story. It was incredibly obvious from the first note that this one ran deep, and I was unwittingly drawn straight in.
Lead singer and guitarist, Seb Byford, has a way of effortlessly holding the attention of the whole room – I have no doubt that you could place him in any decade, with a crowd of any size, or even change up the musical genre, yet he would still have you hooked on the story he wants to tell through every perfect verse and chorus. The rhythm section is equally as strong, with cousins Callum Witts (bass/keys) and Tom Witts (drums/percussion) forming the complete, flawless picture that makes up the Naked Six trio. The band describes their feel as alternative rock / grunge – considering this was only an acoustic set, I absolutely cannot wait to see what a full-blown gig brings. On hearing their recently released new single, ‘Gimme Something’, the unapologetic blast of raw energy that I was instantly hit with, took me right back to the first time I heard The Hives’ ‘Tyrannosaurus Hives’ album as a teenager. Naked Six’s full album, ‘The Lost Art of Conversation’, is due to drop in the Spring of 2020.
These three boys have all the ingredients that could easily equate to a pretentious, image focused, straight off the rockstar conveyor belt band – incredible talent, a big love for the music scene (and corduroy), and really bloody great, shampoo advert worthy hair – yet on talking to them, there’s not an ounce of arrogance between them. It’s such a refreshing feeling, and I’ll say this again and again – egos in music might be seen as a necessity in some circles, but there is nothing I hate more than people who see their musical status as an excuse to be – pardon my French – absolute twats. Thankfully, you won’t find any of that around these guys – just three people who genuinely love sharing their work with the world.
Now this is where my earlier ramblings become a little more relevant. I realised after that night, the reason I was feeling a bit off, wasn’t because I’d fallen out of love with music, but because of everything that it can sometimes bring with it. I write because of the pure love of playing, listening, gigs and talking to those in the heart of the Manchester and wider northern music scene. It’s not my full time job, and whether one or one thousand people read a post, it doesn’t matter to me – if only one person discovers a new band they love, or finds out about a tiny little gig happening that changes their world in a small way – that’s more than enough. I think I’d recently become weighed down by one too many egos and attitudes, and it had suddenly made me lose the love for the cause itself. On that note, I should probably stop rambling, and finish off by saying that the ultimate message of this one goes a little something like this…
That Tuesday night, we met some incredibly beautiful characters, heard stories that can only be told at 3am by friends who were very recently strangers, and most importantly for me, I was reminded what a true love of music feels like, by being surrounded by people who are in the game because they truly love music. If a band have the absolute power to make an uninspired, Mancunian girl fall back in love again, then I think they are probably worth a listen, no?
Catch Naked Six supporting Calva Louise at Yes Manchester this December – I’ll definitely talk more about them then, probably with less whining from my side (no promises) and a bit more about the band, rather than what we had for dinner at Mackie Mayor.
Much love x
(You can also pre-order ‘The Lost Art of Conversation’ here)