Last year, SIX60 made New Zealand chart history—again. Their self-titled second album, released in 2015, now holds the record for the most consecutive weeks in New Zealand’s Top 40 Albums Chart. It overtook Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon, which lasted 297 weeks on the chart.
It’s difficult to imagine the accomplishment ever being surpassed. SIX60 remains in the top 40, having now spent 330 weeks in the chart. Though, the affable pop and soul quintet’s latest LP—and third consecutive self-titled release—is a possible challenger. It’s presently placed at #3, 84 weeks after entering the chart.
But SIX60, who formed while studying at Dunedin’s University of Otago in 2008, have made a habit of breaking records in recent years. The five-piece made world news earlier this year for performing to more than 50,000 people at the Auckland rugby stadium, Eden Park; the biggest live show to take place anywhere in the post-pandemic world.
Watch SIX60 – Kia Mau Ki Tō Ūkaipō/Don’t Forget Your Roots 2021 Tour Video
They’d already made history by selling more than 130,000 tickets to their 2020 Aotearoa summer tour, a record that was eclipsed by the SIX60 Saturdays 2021 NZ tour. The band’s success isn’t limited to Aotearoa, either. 2019’s SIX60 debuted at #8 in the ARIA Top 50 Albums and the band will return to our shores this November for their biggest Australian shows to date.
The quintet, led by Matiu Walters, have released two new singles since the 2019 LP. The first, ‘Fade Away’, came out in conjunction with the SIX60 documentary, Till the Lights Go Out, last November. The band’s latest release is ‘All She Wrote’, a sprightly acoustic anthem in which Walters’ lyrics promote accepting what comes your way and not getting hung up on the past.
The music video for ‘All She Wrote’ features cameos from a host of Kiwi celebrities, including Sir Dave Dobbyn, MP Chlöe Swarbrick, All Blacks legend Dan Carter, boxer Joseph Parker and dancer Kirsten Dodgen. Throughout the video, the five members of SIX60 are seen cruising the streets of Auckland in a convertible, itself a nod to one of Aotearoa’s most enduring pop exports, ‘How Bizarre’ by OMC.
Watch SIX60 – Sundown (Live at Eden Park 2021)
Tone Deaf spoke to Walters about ‘All She Wrote’, the significance of OMC, the Eden Park experience and what to expect from the Australian tour.
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Tone Deaf: ‘All She Wrote’ seems to be about cultivating zen and looking forward. Can you tell me a bit about what the song means to you?
Matiu Walters: Looking back on the frame of mind we were in writing that song, we were pretty much in the middle of lockdown here in New Zealand. There was very much a feeling going through the group that it can all be taken away literally in no more than a few days. We wanted to try and capture it in more of a playful way, so there are pop sensibilities in the production and this kind of OMC style sing-along that we’re always trying to achieve.
TD: OMC’s ‘How Bizarre’ was one of the songs of my childhood. Though, I doubt I recognised at the time that it was performed by a Māori and Pasifika artist. How significant was that song for you as a young Māori?
MW: It wasn’t so foreign to us. I mean, that level of success definitely was and that definitely inspired a lot of young Māori guys like me, but there was a lot of Brown music on the radio and at the festivals and around the scene at the time. People like Ché-Fu and the Deceptikonz and people like that.
But I think [OMC] just took it to a whole other level and he was pretty influential for Māori and Pacific artists, because he held onto it too. He didn’t sell out, which was pretty admirable.
TD: Fast forward to 2021 and not only are SIX60 the biggest band in New Zealand, but there are plenty of other Māori and Pasifika artists dominating the charts. Do you think the level of representation has significantly increased?
MW: It’s hard to say. A lot of people in New Zealand, a lot of modern Māoris, they might feel a bit of identity crisis and perhaps what Māori means or what Pacific means is different to what it meant 25 years ago. It’s kind of… not diluted, but things are a lot more blurred now.
There’s more understanding of the culture and definitely an acceptance of songs in Māori, which has been a good thing to see. It’s something we’ve helped push along by redoing our song ‘Don’t Forget Your Roots’ in Māori.
TD: That version, retitled ‘Kia Mau Ki Tō Ūkaipō’, came out in 2019 and it’s also been really popular.
MW: That was pretty cool, because the real challenge is putting a flag in the ground so that Māori music in future isn’t just a gimmick and getting used for a political purpose or for some kind of social currency. Success is determined by whether it’s commercially successful, and that is still to be proven, but I think we’re heading in the right direction.
TD: You made headlines all over the world this year for playing to more 50,0000 people at Eden Park. Are you still coming down from that experience?
MW: It was a dream come true. Six months beforehand when we decided to take on the challenge, we didn’t have consent yet. It was still up for debate at the council level and they were still deliberating. We went into the court proceedings to try and put some weight behind it, because it felt like the best venue from a punter’s point of view.
So we’re happy to have changed that for future generations and we’re proud that we were the first band who was asked to play there.
TD: You’ll be playing your biggest ever Australian shows this November. You’re known for writing laidback, melodic songs with big sing-along potential. Do you make many adjustments to suit bigger venues?
MW: I think the songs translate into any kind of [venue], be it 50,000 or 500. I know that to be true because we’re not just fresh off the block—we’ve put in the hard yards, we’ve done the work, you know? For years we played to no one when no one would listen and I don’t think we need to change much at all. We’re trying to make small rooms feel like stadiums and make stadiums feel like small rooms.
ODEON THEATRE, HOBART
WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 3
HORDERN PAVILION, SYDNEY*
THURSDAY NOVEMBER 4
HORDERN PAVILION, SYDNEY
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 5 – SOLD OUT
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 6 – SOLD OUT
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 7
THEBARTON THEATRE, ADELAIDE
WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 10
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 12
RED HILL, PERTH
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 13 – SOLD OUT
RED HILL, PERTH*
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 14