The first time I saw Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, Goose stripped down on stage. The next time they raised $150 with me for the UVA Children’s Hospital. And the third, we were all backstage at Madison Square Garden.
Most recently, Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers were performing a special acoustic at Decatur, Ga., listening room Eddie’s Attic. Frontman Stephen Kellogg wanted to talk about the purpose he and his bandmates have found.
“As a music fan, music connects me to who I am and to who I want to be,” he says. “The more in touch with that you are, the better chance you have of being a productive, peaceful person in this world. If you’re a musician and you choose to not just entertain, but to use that power for good, that’s great.”
The band has been together since 2003 but it’s just recently that Stephen senses success. “When I hit my early thirties it occurred to me that success isn’t just a financial marker or an award someone gives you. I really believe success is whatever you define it to be and that was the first point where I started to define success as the life I was living instead of stuff on the horizon. You will be troubled if you always see success as something you’re not doing yet. Success is being happy and doing your best to make a positive difference to the people that you come in contact with.”
The Sixers have certainly been making a positive difference in the lives of all those they meet, particular those in uniform. “None of us are socially conservative,” Stephen says, “but we have this big respect for the military. There is so much anti-war stuff going on and it feels weird to be fighting a war that people are complaining about. It’s important to question decisions but we wanted to say, the armed forces are not politics.”
When an opportunity came for the band to serve as “non-hard-core-right-wing, normal people that publically supported the military,” they jumped on it. They toured with Armed Forces Entertainment in 2009 and 2010 to bring “home” to the troops in places like Kuwait, Israel, Bahrain and Ramstein Hospital in Germany. “Playing music and thanking them for their service was probably much more powerful for us,” says Kellogg. “They got a little diversion but it was life changing for us.”
This summer, Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers are donating hand-written lyrics to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. “I have such a soft spot for children,” Stephen grins. He married his high school sweetheart and their fourth baby girl is on the way. “Each of my girls have their own song,” he smiles.
The top lesson Stephen’s learned after over 10 years on the road? “There is good and bad in all of us and on tour you see that up close. You have a choice with everybody. You can accept them with all their warts and whatnot and have a friend or choose to judge them and not have a friend.”