EXPLORING THE STILL INFINITE POSSIBILITIES OF ROCK, ORANGE COUNTY, CA ENSEMBLE "SIXSTEP" DELIVERS STYLISTICALLY ECLECTIC, INCISIVE SOCIAL COMMENTARY
For the past four years, Orange County, California “comprehensive rockers” SIXSTEP have headlined the Classic Rock Halloween Show at their favorite San Clemente dive bar, Knuckleheads, paying tribute
to the great rock albums of the past. As lead singer Al Rahn—who joined the band in 2007, three years after guitarist Elliot Koenig launched the original lineup—explains it, they pick an album and play the whole thing in its entirety, from cover to cover. While SIXSTEP continuously creates and performs original material, there’s something magical about this Halloween show—where they’ve done their takes on Abbey Road, Morrison Hotel, Pocket Full of Kryptonite (Spin Doctors) and Aqualung.
Playing the music of the rock gods has no doubt influenced SIXSTEP’s eclectic genre-transcendent hybrid rock style, which as one critic pointed out, "interbreeds the soundscapes of 70s classic rock, funk, jazz and blues,” creating a “separation from other sound-alikes, carbon copies and poseurs that claim to want to bring back the glory days. These guys move forward and create a new sound all their own” (Andres Zuniga, Diablo Dispatch). Exploring these classic albums has also inspired the band—whose members include Jason Glen Peed (bass), Mike Cleveland (saxophones) and Ruben Puebla (drums)—to create a true concept album of their own. A blistering take on the unstable politics and economics of the world we live in, "House of Cards" is a dynamic Orwellian vision, best ingested like a vintage vinyl record, beginning to end, and experienced as a whole in all its eccentricity.
From the theatrical pop-rock opener “Ministry” through the dramatic soul-rock anthem “Enjoy The Free Fall,” SIXSTEP creates entertaining and layered songs that offer hard-hitting vignettes of the modern world, bringing a satirical lens to trends in music, technology, world affairs and the human experience. The hard-driving guitar/sax pop-rocker “Get In Line” takes a cynical view of the ideal of revolution. The expansive, vocal harmony-laden “Iron Tongue” challenges the movers and shakers of the world who opt for secrecy over honesty. Another key track is the cleverly titled “Apocalyptic Breakfast,” which paints a grim portrait of a bleak dystopian future if the economy continues its downward spiral.
Bookending this dynamic journey are two DJ "characters": the obnoxious “Skip Carson” who personifies music as a commodity, and “Cozmic Joe”, the underground guru preserving the soul of music. Elements like this showcase the wide lens of Sixstep's incredible vision; as another reviewer points out "these guys have the talent and skill together to make for something that is absolutely earth-shattering" (James McQuiston, NeuFutur Magazine).
SIXSTEP’s chemistry is fueled by the band’s wide diversity of musical tastes. Rahn comments: "Everybody brings something different to the table, to the rehearsal space, and as we mesh our views, our personalities, and our tastes together, it creates something completely new and organic. It's always difficult to describe what the vibe or the genre of our music is, but we think of ourselves as a rock ensemble in which anything goes as long as it feels right.
“We don't see ourselves as the next Zeppelin or the next anything,” Rahn adds. “We just seek to expand people’s awareness to the unlimited possibilities within music, and remind them that rock and roll isn't dead - it's just been advertised and marketed into a coma.”