Catching Up With Sixpence None the Richer's Leigh Nash

Music Features Sixpence None the Richer
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The last time most of the world heard from Sixpence None the Richer, they were topping pop charts with covers of “There She Goes” and “Don’t Dream It’s Over” in the early 2000s. Following the band’s break up in 2004, founding members Matt Slocum and Leigh Nash split ways and started families.

But over coffee five years ago, Slocum and Nash decided to start making music together again. For Lost in Transition, their first full length effort since 2004, Slocum and Nash signed on with independent music distributor The Orchard and hired Jim Scott (Wilco, Crowded House) as producer. In the midst of a busy end-of-year schedule for her family, Leigh made time to talk with us about her favorite childhood artists, working with Jim Scott and the ways that adulthood has shaped her songwriting.

Paste: Jim Scott, who has worked for Wilco and Crowded House, signed on as a producer for this album. What was it like working with him in the studio?
Nash: He’s a great guy to work with. He’s a really relaxed and just a chilled out guy. It’s really hard to have any kind of tension around that man, so it was really good for us to be around that kind of energy in the studio. He just has got a great energy about him, a really beautiful kind of energy. He just really seems to genuinely love the band and the music and what he’s trying to do. So it was a great kind of marriage, in general.

Paste: Musically, what do you think he brought to the table?
Nash: He kept us on task, kept it boiled down. We had a conversation before we even got out here to make the record, that we wanted to make something that was a little more sparse, compared to what we’ve done before, and just have it be about the song and the voice, primarily. So he definitely helped to keep us going in that direction, and just gave great advice, and his energy really rubbed off on us. It was just a fun record to make. The process was really fun and, it was a very, what do you call it, a great experience. You can’t always say that about the making of the record, and that one was just really a joy to make.

Paste: Your voice has always been one of the defining characteristics of Sixpence’s style. What kind of female artists were you listening to growing up?
Nash: When I was growing up, and when I was younger I really loved Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Connie Smith, and Tammy Wynette of course. Those were some of my favorite artists back then, even now. When I got to be a teenager and when I met Matt, my musical taste sort of started to round out, because he was listening to 10,000 Maniacs and The Sundays. So when we were on the road a lot, I would be subjected to whatever everyone was listening to, Crowded House and Jeff Buckley, we got in to all different kinds of stuff. But my earliest interests were all older country artists.

Paste: Your album’s name is Lost in Transition. How would you describe some of the transitions you and Matt have taken on since the last full-length record?
Nash: Well, it’s definitely been a massive transition. It’s just been a transition of us living our lives, and you know, there’s been a long distance between the last effort and now. We walked away from the band for a few years. And then we both did some solo records. Matt did some really cool stuff as well separate from me, and then we got together and had coffee and talked about how we had sort of taken a lot for granted and how we really wanted to continue to make music together again.

We wanted to maybe do the business part better than we had before, and then we kind of started down this road again and found ourselves once again having issues with labels and things like that, and so it didn’t really work the way we had thought it would. But now that it’s 2012, and we have this record, it feels right. It feels like it’s a better time for the record to come out, and for that I’m really thankful even though it’s been really frustrating. We’re older now, so things don’t seem quite as crisis as they did when I was younger. Maybe we just had less to lose, but when you’re younger, you’re just more in a hurry in general. We’re more relaxed. We’re parents. We’ve both got kids. Life is good, but this has definitely been a frustrating period, on a career level.

Paste: Many of these songs seem to come from a deeper, darker place lyrically.
Nash: Our first couple of records had some dark subject matter. We were babies; we were so young. We definitely had some serious songs, but a lot of people just know us by some of the stuff that was more lighthearted, like “Kiss Me” and “There She Goes” and that’s it, but there’s a pretty big spectrum, and a pretty big range of moods there in our albums. But yeah, this one is moodier, and it’s moody in a different way, and I think that maybe reflects our maturity and the fact that we’ve gotten older, and we’re experiencing life in a different way. I think that we’ve aged—and like I said, we’ve become parents— we’re understanding the world as adults. As a real, grown-up, in-your-thirties adult. It’s different. It’s a totally different thing, so, I think that, you know, the album is deeper, and reflects some maturity.

Paste: In the past, Sixpence has seen a good deal of success on pop radio charts. This time around, you paired up with The Orchard, an independent music distributor. Do you see Sixpence trying out a different model as a band this time around?
Nash: We don’t have any great expectations. I just think we genuinely want to be in a position where our fans can expect a new Sixpence record every couple of years. I’m hoping we could get that going, just have enough people listening and wanting to hear more. So it’s a little more independent, probably the route we should have gone five years ago, but it’s whatever. Hindsight is 20/20.

Take a listen to the single “Radio” here.