The 66 are yet another extremely hard working outfit from the North West, Warrington to be exact, and my hometown (almost). An incredible colossal sound with a nod in the direction of psychedelic, blues, rock & roll, glimpses of the early Rolling Stones, Woodstock, 60’s, The Doors but with modern fresh noises. I’ve been keeping an eye on this band for a while, since they made an impressive statement at the Warrington Festival back in 2009, since then they have certainly grown in confidence and stature and creating waves all around the North West, particularly in Manchester. I witnessed their electrifying headline performance once again at the Warrington Fest 2010. The 66 consists of Danny Rimmer (vocals), Mike Bee (lead guitar), Craig Harman (bass), Paul Glover (keys/synth), Ian Wilson (drums/percussions)
Their 2nd E.P ‘Storm’ is released today by Outlier Records for £3.00 and can be found here: Check out the exclusive Mudkiss video of ‘Red Dog’ filmed at their rehearsal studios this week.
MEL: The 66 is an intriguing name, not quite the number of the beast 666, but curious as to where and how this name was born and why the missing last 6? Do you have a good story to tell us Mike?
MIKE: People often ask this question. This is the first time we’re going to let people glimpse inside the 66 machine and its inner workings, but there is a storm coming, so I’ll begin.
Firstly it has nothing whatsoever to do with the beast 666 or Luciferian practice. None of us have ever been involved in the worship of Baphomet, eating children, or blood sacrifice. But there is a strong possibility that Danny’s been possessed on at least several occasions, so may have unknowingly been involved in such things. So, there is no missing 6 in the 66, although at times I have considered that Danny may actually be the missing number! Thankfully he ‘let light in’ and is now an outstanding member of the 66 community. Most of the time.
I wanted this band to represent us, and the music we created. Back in 2007 the rot was really starting to come-out in the music industry, we didn’t need [or want] to join the quirky name brigade, playing quirky music – this was for us. People form first impressions easily, we didn’t want the noose of a name that gave anything away, restricting creativity. While I was thinking about this, in a lucid state, just after our first practice, I wrote a text message in a sudden rush of consciousness with about 7 or 8 band names. Just before I pressed send to the rest of the band, ‘the little voice’ in my head told me to include ‘the 66’… When I did press send I absolutely knew that would the one. Sure enough the texts fled back – and the 66 were unanimously born.
When someone digs-up our CD in a thousand years, and language and words have changed or disappeared – numbers will remain. So we’ll be their curiosity then, a geometric head-fuck from the past!
MEL: Would you care to introduce us to the band, what does each member bring to the table in experience and character?
MIKE: I’m Mike Bee, song writing and guitar conduit of the band. I’ve been playing and writing songs for 15 years, mainly electric and acoustic blues guitar. Playing live and improvisation is where I’ve learnt my trade, so my own style is a hybrid of many. When I’m involved in music it’s like I’m possessed by creative energy, like an out-of-body experience and I’m the observer watching it happen! That journey is now my main influence. Out of a million-things, music has been the only constant in my life, it always will be. It would probably be fair to say I hold the vision of the 66!
RIMMER: I’m Daniel Rimmer, singer. I don’t know. I brought my experience from my previous band, but I feel I’ve evolved in the 66. I bring a bit of style, as I’m officially ‘Warrington’s most fashionable male 2009’ see the Warrington Guardian archives.
CRAIG: The bassist is yours truly, Craig Harman. My love of Blues, those bands and artists who’ve developed the Blues into their own pieces of work, Madchester, Britpop and House music gave me my inspiration for the bass lines I play. According to some, I am the pioneer of the Harman-Swing which scientists explain ‘is caused by the flow of adrenalin going right through his body when playing live’.
GLOVER: As the eldest member, I’d like to think I bring a certain level of sensibility to the chaos. I generally shy away from the spotlight and see myself as more of a chef in the back kitchen, throwing my sonic spicing into the 66 cooking pot!
IAN: I’m Ian Wilson the drummer. I would say my experience in playing different styles definitely brings a wide variety of beats and rhythms to the song writing. Playing live is my forte though, and where all my energy goes! Playing live is me, my character, and who I am.
The 66 playing the Warrington Festival in the Summer of 2010 - 'Hidden Glove'.
MEL: How/why/when did you guys all get together?
MIKE: In mid 2007 I was on holiday in Dublin with the missus. My bass player had just left my current band, and we were having one of those deep conversations fuelled by Italian food and heavy drinking. It’s pretty hazy but I do remember still being pretty down from the split of the previous band I was involved in, The Bridge. I was thinking back to the madness and buzz of it all – wanted to be part of something again that felt real, with people who wanted it just as much. We talked about who would be in our ideal group, and came up with list of people. A few weeks before this, Danny had sent me a drunken text at stupid o clock in the morning, saying something along the lines of ‘wanting to be a band together’. I didn’t reply because I was comatose. He’d been nomadic for months following his band [The Energy] split. I didn’t know him massively well, so he’d got my number from someone. What I did know was that he was a fucking brilliant frontman. He was added to the list, and the other names comprised of friends from Warrington and a serpent from Newton-le-Willows. They also happened to be amazing musicians who I respected, with the ability to cause chaos and mayhem; yet remain focused on the band.
We got together to make the music that we wanted to make. But first I had to poach them!
RIMMER: I was a free transfer, out of contract. Mike went on a scouting mission and I was the star-striker.
CRAIG: I was a victim of poaching tactics used by a certain other member of the band. I can still remember the beginning of shake and bake connection like it was yesterday.
GLOVER: I was playing bass at the time in a rock band, and had been doing so for a few years. So, the chance to play a different instrument, and create something new with musicians and friends I already knew and respected, proved to be an offer I couldn’t refuse.
IAN: I hadn’t been in a band for about a year and a half, when Mike asked me to join I said yeah straight away. I knew he was a top guitarist from when we were in school together, and we’d be fucking good.
MEL: So, its fair to say you’re the spokesman for the band Mike, which is unusual as its generally the frontman who does all the talking. How do all the band get along, any in-house squabbling or are you all pretty easy going?
MIKE: Give him 2 beers and Rimmer will talk until the cows come home! It just won’t make any sense or will offend 66% of the population. When it comes to things I’m passionate about I’ll talk till I’ve run out of breathe, and the 66 happens to fall into that category. Out of all the bands I’ve been in, the 66 is an absolute enigma – we all get on really well. If we weren’t in a band together, we’d be out drinking together - which is obviously what we do! I think it’s down to a mutual respect, interests, and a combined urge to succeed. I think the fact that 4 of us have had to cope with Rimmer for the past 3 years has definitely brought us closer together, like any war situation. I consider the 66 to be my best friends; Rimmer is the younger brother who was born to test me!
MEL: What would you say was the manifesto of the band, do you have strong views about anything which comes out through your music? Anything you really want to fight a cause for?
MIKE: I have strong views, which usually find there way into the songs. I’ll often take a theme and build a song or a number of songs from it. It may be a situation, feeling, colour or event. That’s how the Storm EP was created. I knew there was going to be a song called ‘Money Men’, and the theme was going to be Oil; greed and lies. Then just a case of waiting for the inspiration to hit me so I could create the song. It happened at about 3am in the morning during a case of insomnia, often my most creative time! My songs are generally about light; darkness, love, loss, the esoteric, escapism, spirituality [not the religious type] combined with whisky, cigarettes and chaos. They can be written in minutes, or sometimes over the space of years in various forms until they’re ready.
RIMMER: I think the manifesto of the band is to make big sounding music. That hopefully moves people and the Earth. The things I feel strongly about are; I can’t abide shit music, everything has to sound big and massive. I can’t stand jingly-jangly bollocks, the type of bands that wear suits and ties and dance around in an arty fashion. My final thought, if it’s not big enough, and you don’t wear paisley, then don’t bother.
GLOVER: I have views and strong views about things, but I’m not the lyricist, so it would be too pretentious to say I try and convey any political messages through the medium of synthesiser sounds. But I think our music itself fights a cause for real music, back to a time where songs had atmosphere, and an energy, and not the watered down pop nonsense that people are being spoon-fed today.
CRAIG: My aim and mission is to get people moving to the beats of the band. I’m just really happy that people are out there enjoying and listening to our music. I hope everyone will enjoy what we’ve done with The Storm EP.IAN: To get our music listened to by as many people as possible. Everyone needs to good new music these days, with all the shite in the charts.
MIKE: Hmm-good question. You can’t construct words without a jaw, so this is a Travelling Jaw used to promote the 66, as well friends and peoples music / ventures that we also enjoy. However, we do not control the Travelling Jaw, some say it controls us. The system went on-line February 2008. Human decisions were removed from strategic defence. Travelling Jaw began to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, April 2008. In a panic, they try to pull the plug. They failed…
MEL: This could be a pretty long list but who would you name as musical inspirations from growing up to present day?
MIKE: 'Voodoo Chile' by Hendrix changed by entire life as a 12 year old. Now it changes week by week, but at the moment I have Led Zep 3, Dead Skeletons and the Brian Jonestown Massacre on heavy rotation. And Muses ‘Map of the Problematique’ when I’m on the train.
RIMMER: I listened to loads of The Beatles when I was younger. My earliest recollection of having a favourite song was ‘Up The Junction’ by Squeeze, it’s perfect pop. The story of someone’s life in 3 and half minutes.
CRAIG: I could be here all day to be honest. Growing up Oasis was the band for me. My uncle’s always had house music playing whenever I saw them and I was into that from as early as 8 or 9. I was just gutted when I got to around 15-16 that I couldn’t go clubbing with decent DJ’s such as Sasha, Digweed and Oakenfold at their best; I looked too young to try my luck. Since I’ve been playing the musical inspirations that have grabbed my attention are Stone Roses, Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Music, Primal Scream, BRMC, Prodigy, Queen, 22-20s, the list goes on and on so I’ll end it there.
IAN: I have tons of musical influences, but to name a few I would say The who; The Clash, Queen & Muse.
MEL: Who writes the lyrics to your songs, or is it a combined effort? How do most of the songs start out?
RIMMER: I take inspiration from watching people. I used to like making up stories when I first started writing songs, but now I write quite dark stuff, about death and sex! I tend to start a song, leave it, and then come back to it. I think if you try and rush something, it can sound like you’re trying too hard – it should be a natural process.
MIKE: Death Sex! It’s true all his lyrics are about death and sex. I also like to observe things, from a great distance. I’ll often write full songs in my head, music and lyrics and then work on them when I’m near a guitar. I’m more of a conduit as my songs come to me from another dimension! It’s a constant stream of lyrics, melody, beats and colours – everything else fits in-between. It’s just a movie-script!
CRAIG: We really enjoy having our jams when we go into The Priory and we’ve came out of there a fair few times with a new tune from writing something on the spot. We usually play 20 minute plus sounds of chaos that we can’t play live which is due to live set time limits. We all tend to write our own music outside of the practice room and we all get together and work on it as a collective.
MEL: Has there been any press coverage that you loved/annoyed or amused you? And if you had to write a review of a 66 gig what might you say in no more than two sentences?
MIKE: We’ve been very lucky that since we started nearly all our reviews have been pretty fucking stunning! That was a massive boost for us in the early stages, getting support from Manchester fanzines and writers we respected, it still is a boost! It drives you on. We appreciate the fact that people love our music as much as we do, and get it as well. In no more than two sentences “the past, the present, and the future – all rolled into one giant ball of sound”
CRAIG: All of the reviews that we’ve had so far have been fantastic. We’re really glad to have started and kept up our reputation of performing well live. Two sentences eh? The Harman-Swing is nothing short of lunacy. I never know what they’re going to do next with set-closer Firefly?!
RIMMER: When we played at the Dublin Castle in London, the programme had us down as sounding like The Vines, which I thought was hilarious as we’re not a 3 piece, and we’re not Australian. My review? “Come and see the 66, you’ll never be the same again”.
GLOVER: Energetic, atmospheric, loud, and powerful. I did it in 4 words instead!
IAN: I’ve never seen anything that’s annoyed me so far; it’s all been good. A review of the 66? ‘We are musical Sinnery’.
MEL: Have you got anything planned tour wise, news shows booked? Any plans to take The 66 overseas?
MIKE: We’re sticking to a few select gigs leading up to Christmas, and then we’ll sit-down and make a battle-plan for the New Year. We’re playing the Longfield Suite in Prestwich on December 2nd, with a Clint Boon Vs Mani DJ set, The Janice Graham Band and Richard Dutton and the So & So’s… that’s going to be a hell of a night.
We’re also bringing back the legendary 66 Christmas Party after a years break. It’s being held at the ‘Old Town House’ in Warrington on Bank Holiday Monday 27th. We’ve invited some friends from Manchester and some local acts to play on the night. It’s free; so come down it’s going to be rammed!
We’d love to go overseas; grab some high-profile support slots [so we can steal their fans] But we have a bit of a reputation for destroying bands we’ve supported, so they usually don’t invite us on tour! There’s talk of some gig exchanges with the bands also collaborating with Outlier Records, which would be immense. [There are some amazing bands on the roster] I’d be open to having someone on-board, or a booking agent to sort the gig side of things out, so we can concentrate on the music making. It’s just a case of finding the right person – we don’t give out the keys to the kingdom that easily. There are plenty of sharks in the water!
MEL: Highlights of The 66 journey so far, shows, recording, personal experiences?
MIKE: Everyday this band a riot, boredom does not enter. So for me, the whole journey, and it’s only just beginning. Ask me in another 3 years after we’ve gone Platinum and left the current music scene in ruins – in order for a new musical world to arise, firstly the old one must be destroyed…
RIMMER: The highs for me personally, were people fighting to get into the Dublin Castle while we were on stage. And the first ever gig at the Lounge in Warrington, because you just knew it was the start of something special.
CRAIG: Every moment of the 66 has been amazing for me but I really enjoyed the recording of The Storm EP during an overnight stay at SSR. It was a bit of a task for me having to record a bassline to a song I’d never heard prior to that night! As far as live gigs go, the Scotland tour was special because the atmosphere was great and the banter was in full flow. Last year’s In The City gig for Manchester Radio Online at the Moon Under Water was a cracking one too.
IAN: My highlight of the journey so far would have to be the Scotland tour, brilliant gigs and a good time all round. Check out the video, it exists.
MEL: So, your about to release your second E.P ‘The Storm’ which has some brilliant cover artwork, not forgetting superb tracks. Can you tell us where the inspiration for title and artwork came from? Talking of artwork who designed the logo with the fly, has this got a good story behind it - I know Rimmer is scared of spiders is he also scared of flies?
MIKE: Muchos Gracias, glad you like. Originally the EP was going be called ‘The Hidden Glove’, however the credit goes to our label guy Mark, so I’ll use his words to explain how it came about – Working on the second track the conversation went something like “What the f**k’s this? Shouldn’t this be an album track? Shouldn’t this be the album title"? This track was called ‘The Storm’. It suddenly had a new meaning, The Storm EP was born.
A very talented guy called Benjamin Brown created the artwork. He’s worked with a number of high profile names and acts for their artwork over the years, so we were delighted to secure his services – it felt like a missing link. When I gave him the brief for the logo via the label, he told Mark ‘that is the most insane fucking brief I’ve ever had in my life, I like it’ it’s rife with meanings and symbology that I can’t, and possibly never will go into! But it means something to each of us – a hint? The Fly is actually a rare ‘Black Bee’. With the EP cover, Ben simply took all his talent and came up with something that was exactly right and was visioned – and then some! All the credit goes to Mr Brown for that one.
MEL: How proud are you of the finished product? Who produced the E.P (talk us through where it was recorded and any good tales you have around this). After this when can we expect the album?
MIKE: I’m very proud of the EP. I feel we’ve finally managed to translate our live sound onto record, which hasn’t been easy in the past. We wanted to get something fresh out-there with the sound of the 66 in 2010, so decided to create something from scratch. This was our chance to indulge in our love of modern blues.
It was recorded live at the legendary Spirit Studios at SSR [School of Sound Recording] in Manchester, and engineered by Adam Stokell & Piotr Czarnecki in one all-night session. Peter Fergie & Nathan Cain engineered additional overdubs in another session. We wanted to write it quickly, and record it quickly and get it out-there. Glover worked on his parts at his own personal lab, somewhere in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The mixing was by Mark from Outlier Records and myself; which wouldn’t have been possible without the expertise of Stephen Hull who controlled the hardware.
A lot of the debut album has actually been recorded, so we’re toying with the idea of releasing two albums next year! We like to keep busy, and challenge ourselves in the process. I’m currently writing the follow up to the debut album already, giving myself a head start. Release dates? I’m not too sure; we’ll have to see what the master plan is.
CRAIG: I’m delighted with what we’ve created in The Storm EP. It was our chance to show what we’re capable of doing away from the album we’re currently working on. Everyone who’s been involved in making this happen has been first class and it’s been an absolute pleasure to work with people who are so committed.
RIMMER: Yeah I’m really proud of it. And I’m looking forward to sharing it and seeing people’s reactions.
IAN: I’m very proud of the new ep indeed, slightly different than people would have expected, I love it more with every listen!
MEL: The tracks on the E.P are a mixture of Woodstock, psychedelic, and blues inspired with names such as ‘The Storm’, ‘Red Dog’, ‘Hidden Glove’, ‘Break Of Dawn’, ‘Money Men’. ‘Break Of Dawn’ seems to take a different direction though, with violins, sound of the ocean and a romantic vibe, was it wrote with anyone in mind? We recorded an exclusive live version of ‘Red Dog’ in the studio, is this one of your favourite tracks off the E.P.
RIMMER: Break of Dawn is about being insecure, which I guess is something everybody can relate too, and wanting to look after someone.
MIKE: I have a dislike for bands where all the songs sound the same, so we wanted to create something that had variety, but couldn’t be pigeonholed. I hope we succeeded! Money Men is about the Gulf of Mexico disaster, not a political statement, more an observation. There are more important things in the world than the shit we’re spoon-fed 24/7.
I heard Rimmer play break of dawn during a drinking session at his, and instantly knew it would be the perfect song to glue the others together so it was added to the EP. I haven’t really got a favourite, as of yet, they’re all our babies. Regarding Red Dog, I think you just caught us in the mood for playing some dirty blues, so we played that for you!
MEL: ‘The Storm’ is about to land (available Nov 1st) and your having a launch party in Manchester on Saturday Nov 6th @ Ducie Bridge on Corporation Street, Manchester and better still its FREE. What can we expect to see & hear?
MIKE: We’ll playing 3 of the 5 tracks from the EP, then will encourage people to pay £3 if they want to hear the rest.This will be followed by a greatest hits set from the past 3 years. Yes, we have a greatest hits set. We’re really looking forward to seeing all our friends from Warrington, Manchester and beyond that have supported us. No more so than all the guys from Manchester Radio Online, who are involved in the venue. They’ve shown their faith in us from day 1. We started around the same time so it’s been great to watch us both grow over the years; however we’re still chasing the 100,000 listeners a week! They’re a top bunch so it felt right the party should be there.
MEL: And finally Warrington has a huge crop of talented bands and musicians, is there something in the water?
MIKE: Well it isn’t the Fluoride. Maybe it’s because we’re sandwiched in-between Liverpool and Manchester, so it’s a bit of musical crossroads? I’m not sure… it’s always been full of talented musicians since I was young. In the last couple of years since the bands left the border and ventured out I think people have started to realise that. Most of our original venues have shutdown, so we have no choice but to be nomadic and spread our music! Unfortunately I don’t think they’ll ever be a BBC Introducing Warrington, but who knows? We could host it.
RIMMER: I think there is talent wherever you go through the country; it’s just a case of people using it, or sitting on their arse and dreaming about it. I think in Warrington there is a good work ethic with the bands, there is a feeling of wanting to change things and not fall for the spoon-fed shite that the rest of the country does. i.e.the fucking X-Factor!
CRAIG: Must be something lingering about in the Mersey and the Ship Canal that’s somehow combined and formed music-based bacteria to help Warrington stand up for itself in the middle of the Liverpool-Manchester battleground.
IAN: Warrington cannot escape its Northern musical routes. We are like a hybrid of these 2 great musical cities!
Thanks guys, good luck with your launch night and we eagerly await the album.
Many thanks to Mike, Danny, Craig, Glover, Ian for both the interview, taking the time to do the photoshoot and exclusive video. Thanks to Vanessa for assisting with the shoot - my long suffering companion on many outings and adventures.
Interview/photos: both on location and live @ Warrington Festival 2010/videos by Mel 01/11/10