After 10 years in the business, many of which were spent touring more than 200 nights a year, Stephen Kellogg takes his job seriously.
"There's no band doing what we do," he says. "I don't say that to be cocky. I just feel that even folks who normally don't listen to our kind of music should be able to find some appeal in our show or we haven't done our job."
He's even willing to bet money on his band's ability to impress an audience. "Anyone who sees us play and doesn't have a good time, catch me after the show and I'll give you your money back."
Kellogg needn't brag; he's built his musical credibility over the past decade, self-distributing his first two full-length albums while touring the northeast tirelessly as a solo artist. He formed his band The Sixers in 2003 so he could put on full-band live shows. They quickly sold more than 10,000 copies of “Bulletproof Heart,” their debut, which caught Universal's attention, giving the band a chance to release a major-label self-titled album in 2005.
Since then they've left their label, continued touring relentlessly and managed to release their finest album, 2007's “Glassjaw Boxer,” in the interim. With an alt-rock style blending early Bruce Springsteen and The Band with the likes of Counting Crows and Whiskeytown, The Sixers merge modern tastes with a nostalgia for the artists Kellogg grew up hearing.
"It's what I listen to every day," he says. "I don't really listen to the Coldplays or the Belle & Sebastians out there, so it's more that we play the kind of music I naturally gravitate to."
The band's music took a more confessional turn on “Glassjaw Boxer,” something Kellogg says was completely deliberate.
"For me, it's personal," Kellogg says. "It's more compelling when you're singing about your life because you've got more skin in the game. We don't get paid to be guarded."
The Sixers are working on material for a fourth album, which they'll record this winter. In the meantime, Kellogg says he's motivated by the continued need to write great songs.
"Songwriting can be like when you first get drunk or have sex," he says. "In the beginning it's passionate, fiery and you don't know what to do with it. So you focus on quantity over quality. Now I would rather write one great song. I want to make each one count."