When Sixpence None the Richer split in 2004, co-founders Leigh Nash and Matt Slocum broke away to pursue other music: Slocum formed The Astronaut Pushers, and Nash-- whose breathy, dulcet voice we remember from 1997's pop smash “Kiss Me”-- recorded a solo album, Blue on Blue. But both missed Sixpence, their artistic home, which Nash, who'd been with the band since age 15, described as “some comfortable old shoes.” Both musicians are in a different stage life now-- Nash has a four-year-old son, and Slocum just became a father himself-- but they've reformed the band and just released a Christmas album, The Dawn of Grace. The birth of Slocum's child inspired “The Last Christmas,” one of the album's two originals, and both bring three years of fresh experience to the table now. But, according to Nash, they're still “the same Sixpence, in a way.” Paste recently talked with Nash and Slocum about their reunion and getting in the holiday spirit.
: You've been back together for about a year now, is that right? How's it going? Is the creative process any different now that it was before?
Slocum: I suppose the creative process has ended up kind of being pretty similar to in the past, but I think we’ve had the benefit of years of maturing musically, and writing-wise. I think we feel just more experienced, and both kind of bringing different things to the table. But I think the process has kind of remained the same, and I guess it worked back then and it seems to be working now. It hasn’t been quite a year, so we’re just sort of, like, feeling our way and trying to get a good rhythm and momentum going, so we’re having fun. That’s probably the most important part. We’re trying to keep it fun, I guess.
Paste: I read on your website that a Christmas album was a consistent request from your fans. Why a Christmas album for your first full-length after the reunion?
Nash: It seems to be something that people missed from us the first time around. We never got around to making one, so it kind of makes sense. There’s less pressure with a Christmas record. That wasn’t really our reason for doing it, but in retrospect, I think it was probably a little bit less pressure and a nice way to get things rolling, to be doing some songs that are well-known and put our own spin on it. We have a couple of originals on there, but it’s just not quite the pressure that you’d have with the first regular, full-length from a band that’s been gone for a couple of years.
Paste: Matt, you've said that the idea of "Advent" was important to you during the creation of this album, because you were also expecting a child. "The Last Christmas" is a celebration, sort of a love song to your burgeoning family, as well as a song of praise and thanksgiving. How did the family aspect influence the music on this album?
Slocum: I think just the fact of, you know, expecting a new baby, and sort of the rebirth of the band, and sort of, like, the newness and good things happening all across the board in my life. I guess that word just stuck out to me a lot, because it seemed like the advent of a lot of new things and the birth of a lot of new things, so that kind of just ended up being the theme that ran through the record—for me, anyway, even though we had sort of selected a lot of the songs without thinking that on the front end.
Paste: You’ve both talked about bringing different things to the table, now that you’ve had some time apart. What’s different? Life experience? Musical interests?
Nash:I think for me, the things that I’ve gone through are, those things affect your heart and mind, and where you are spiritually and emotionally. And, of course, all of that affects anything that you do. The music that I’m making and the things that I’m doing now musically are going to be a reflection of some of those things that have been going on. So I don’t know. I just feel like a deeper, more seasoned human, so hopefully it’ll make me a more seasoned and—you know, have kind of a wider perspective than I did before as an artist and as a singer. Because I think—I don’t know if he originally said it—but I read something about Leonard Cohen, about having your heart inform your throat. And that’s so, so, so true. My emotions, the good and the bad—it all informs my voice, and I think you can hear it. Hopefully it will be a positive thing.
Slocum: I would add, too, that I definitely think Leigh’s experiences as a songwriter, going through and making a really great solo record. You know, just the songwriting aspect has grown immensely, especially on Leigh’s end. I think it’s just been really amazing to see how she’s grown there and what that’s kind of doing to the music—just making it so much better.
Nash: Thanks, Matt. And for me, I’ve always been—I mean, I don’t know, it might be putting Matt in too small a box, but I think I’ve always been his greatest fan. So it’s so comforting and so nice to be back in the band and doing what we’re doing. It’s so comfortable and familial, and familiar, both. I don’t know, it just feels incredibly safe and like it is how it’s meant to be now. It feels really good. And last week we recorded three songs, but it’s the best time I’ve ever had. We did it in three days, and it was the most comfortable and the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had in studio, in all these years, when we were together, or the past four years. So I’m really looking forward to what’s coming next, whatever that is.