About a month ago, I found myself at a basement show in Southeast Portland. Walking down the dark, beer-soaked stairs, I heard a roar from the crowd. A metal band from Chicago had just finished imploding the ears of a frenzied crowed. Frantically pushing my way through the sweaty crowd and thick layer of cigarette smoke, I made my way to the makeshift stage. Yes sir, I was in the mood to get some metal up my ass! My shit-eating grin turn to chagrin when I realized that the band was breaking down. My night was ruined, I might as well go home and watch “Touched By an Uncle,” I mean “Angel.” As luck would have it, I saw another band setting its equipment up. I whispered into the ear of a cute little bird next to me “what band is next?” “The 6-Minute Heartstop,” she screamed back at me.
As the next band started to play, I instantly forgot my woes about missing the metal band from Chicago. 6MH took me on an adventure, musically, that I had not been on for quit some time. They started the set out with samples, good samples, not like the predictable samples that the vast majority of bands use. They incorporated the music into the sampling flawlessly. My attention was then sharply focused on the guitarist, who looks like Fivel from “American Tale.” (I can say this because I look like Fivel’s diabetic cousin.) This guitarist had a humble confidence in his playing that was pure melodic. He had a smooth, fluid style that flowed over the purposely-jerky bass and drums. The combination was new to the ears. Listening to them even more attentively I tried to classify them into a genre. I first thought, oh they’re an electronic band, then that was blown away by the instrumentation of the members. As the songs progressed I saw a hint of Don Cabalero in there, but the song writing was not as jazzy as Don. After that I heard a smidgen of indie pop influence, but it did not dominate the style.
After racking my brain trying to stereotype the band, I just gave up nodded my head back and forth. (I am in Portland and I must do as the natives do.) I really wanted to freak out and start dancing like a broken top. Portlanders have never heard of this “dancing” thing so I nodded my head and crossed my arms like the rest of the audience. I had to control myself because the music was heart-stoppingly inspirational. 6MH did every thing right; they blew everyone’s mind for 25 minutes straight, building and building into a massive frenzy, then graciously ended giving them a humble mystique. I thought this to be very classy. I hate it when bands (even my favorite ones) play like a two-hour set. 6MH, on the other hand, performed a short powerful set left me wanting more.
After the show was over I wiped the tears of my face, walked up and talked to the band.
“Where did you get your name?” I asked. “I was living in Seattle, I didn’t have a job I was broke.”
Aaron Edge (drummer) explained, ” A friend told me that I could make some money, serious money, doing medical testing. They’ll pay you $5000 to let them cut off your pinkie toes and do experiments with them. Then my friend said that they’d pay $50,000 to stop your heart for six minutes.” “No!” I said, “did you do it?” Aaron went on to explain, “No, they can only stop your heart for six minutes. Anything longer than that and you’ll have some serious brain damage. I decided against it, but that’s where the name comes from!”
If you were to close your eyes while listening to the band you could swear that there are more than three members in 6MH. The band boasts only three, Mark Olsen (bass, piano, vocals,) Ryan Cross (Vocals, guitar) and Aaron DC Edge (Drums/samples). “I guess every band has someone in it that takes charge and is the leader of sorts, that person in 6MH would be Aaron,” Olsen said. Edge has worked with a plethora of bands from around the United States, from musician to graphic art design for Revelation Records. As Himsa’s former guitarist, Edge has learned the in and outs of the indie rock world, fully understanding what is involved in the making of a successful band. “There are a lot of bands out there that are amazing but do nothing because they just don’t get the business side of this” Edge explained. “This band and music in general is my love. I love nothing else with such passion, except for my wife.”
The boys from 6MH have much to be excited about; they recently recorded in Seattle at Rainstorm Studios with Engineer Steve Carter and Paul Rockenfield (Sir Mix A Lot), recording an EP in three days. “We worked all day and all night on the album. We didn’t have time to be anal or overproduce. Things went very well,” Cross said. Rise Records almost immediately picked up the EP. The debut album will be in stores, distributed by Cargo, in early December. In January the band shoves off for their first West Coast tour to promote the album that they are so rightly proud of. “I need to see the unknown. I want to communicate and relate to people. I can do that on tour and use my music as a vehicle,” Olsen said. I find it more than a joy to meet people like this, who have such ambition and a love for what they do. It’s not about trying to make a boatload of money or become “famous” for these guys. These artists do it purely for the adventure of it all. This is my favorite part of music, meeting people with their eyes full of promise and energy. I really don’t see that gift that often, but this band gives me hope!