Legendary Six Finger Satellite Reunite
By Michael Grigelevich
Back when wearing shorts with Doc Martens and ripping off Neil Young was the order of the day, Providence’s Six Finger Satellite donned suits, signed to Sub Pop, and released a string of near-perfect records of the electro, post-punk variety. Critics and listeners loved and feared them: 6FS’s coldness and penchant for disturbing lyrics and personal appearance – see the photo inside the “Massive Cocaine Seizure” 7″, for example – came across as both refreshing and terrifying. 6FS plowed through the 90s making records that still make any contemporary band playing in similar genres look pedestrian (The Rapture, anyone?), toured with giants like the Jesus Lizard, and even landed a video on Beavis and Butthead (“Parlor Games”).
The end of the millennium saw 6FS release “Law of Ruins,” a record many consider to be their finest, play some shows with various line-up changes, and then go on an indefinite hiatus. In the interim, band members went on to do their own things. Guitarist John MacLean changed his name to Juan and started making lame house music for DFA. Drummer Rick Pelletier scratched his dub itch with the excellent La Machine. Singer/Mooger J Ryan lent his signature howl to selected songs by the likes of Athletic Automaton and then moved to Colorado. Bassist James Apt seems to have simply vaporized.
Thankfully, and seemingly out of nowhere, 6FS have resurfaced in a revamped and revitalized form. A previously recorded, but never released, LP will be released on Load in the very near future, and there is even talk of a new record and live dates.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with J Ryan, via e-mail, about the latest 6FS goings-on.
Mike: A previously recorded, as-yet-to-be-titled LP will be released by Load records soon. When and with whom was it recorded? How does is fit into 6FS’s body of work?
J Ryan: The record will actually be called HALF CONTROL. That is the title. It was recorded in 2001 maybe? The lineup is Rick on drums, Shawn Greenlee [Landed and Pleasure Horse] on bass, Joel Kyack [Landed and MEGAFUCKERS] on guitar and me on synth and vox. Rick had been playing with Landed and it made sense to have Shawn and Joel play with us. The writing and practicing was definitely 6FS style and took Shawn and Joel a bit by surprise I think in that we rehearsed our songs and wrote parts and practiced them. Not that they did not have a work ethic, it just was a different format from Landed-less one riff jamming and more concise parts and playing. I think it fits into the 6FS oeuvre quite well. We worked hard on writing and practicing and recorded the songs ourselves- the sounds are ripping and it’s relentless. Almost like the record we should have made after “Severe Exposure.”
Mike: When I heard that 6FS was reforming I came dangerously close to crying. What motivated your decisions to get back together? What’s the current line up?
J Ryan: I feel like the band never went away-we never broke up actually- I mean Johnny Mac quit and we moved on. Rick and I have always been on the same page and it’s taken awhile but playing with him and other friends has never not been an option. The current line-up is Rick on guitar, John Loper [La Machine and Made in Mexico] on drums, Dan St. Jacques [Thee Hydrogen Terrors, Olneyville Sound System, and Landed] on bass and me doing my thing. Rick moving to guitar has been cool, although he is still my favorite drummer of all time. We have been writing new material for the last 5 months. Being in a different state has proven challenging but we all have lives going on so we get it done when we can. After all, we are seasoned professionals.
Mike: What can we expect from 6FS’s future? Are there any plans to tour and record new material?
J Ryan: The future will bring a new record and who knows what else. I’d hope to play live this summer. We are planning to record this summer as well. New material with the current line-up. Not sure about the rest. Ten years ago we were hitting a stride that could have brought us to some level of “success” but the music world is a retarded place as anyone with a modicum of sense has figured out. I guess as an “influential” group we could cash in on some kind of comeback bullshit but that ain’t going to happen. I will be satisfied at this point by just recording our new songs. Sub Pop wants us to come out and play their 20th anniversary show in Seattle later this year….