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May 2, 2003

Hyde Park's own punk rockers want to eat you alive

The Sixtyeights are a punk rock band from Hyde Park. They currently have a seven-song EP out that they recorded in the basements of various dorms. Two of the band members, Nilay Patel (vocals and guitar) and Will Long (lead guitar), and Jon Hersh from Pixel and the Chronic Network sat down with Voices for an interview.

How do you like playing music in Hyde Park, and having your band associated with Hyde Park?

W: Well, it's nice to be part of a community. I think most Chicago bands don't come from anywhere in particular, they're just like, "We're from the North Side." We have friends here...we have reasons to go out to shows.N: It's a really supportive community, but I think right now we're in this weird transition stage, where the scene is moving but we don't know where it's going. People aren't playing as much [on campus] anymore. The next step is waiting for us, but nobody knows really what it is.

If you had to pick something about Hyde Park that you would change in order to make it a better music community, what would it be?

N: A venue.

W: Yeah, a place with a semi-permanent PA that people want to hang out at, a place that sounded good. A good place to play.N: Seriously, if Hyde Park had a good place to play, we'd be golden. People would go. It's kind of amazing considering the limited resources we have that we put on as many shows as we did in Hyde Park, and that we got so many people to come. There's obviously demand for it.

Tell me about your next show.

N: Our next show is Friday at 9:30 pm, we're playing the Lyons Den weekly punk rock night.

You mentioned that you're playing another new song lately, right? What's it like? What's it about?

N: [timid voice] This one's about cars.W: I think our new song is about girls, yeah.N: Yeah, you're right, it's about a girl. It's a positive song, though.J: I think "Girl Named Stupid" was kind of a positive song. [laughs]N: It is! That girl is actually not stupid! She's smart enough to not go out with me, which I think is stupid. [laughs]

Are you aware that you're getting some airplay on WHPK now?

N: Wow. Which tracks are people playing?

People seem to like "Caroline."

N: It's so weird, you know, we actually have strange random people who know about the band now. The first two years of being in this band, I was telling people about it, and now people are telling ME about it. "I heard your CD, your picture is my desktop wallpaper..." Things like that.

Have you heard from any labels?

N: No. I should probably try again. We tried once...after we cut the first demo, I sent it out. We only heard from one person...the guy from Failed Experiment Records was interested. He said he's maxed out with other bands right now, and he doesn't really know what he'd do with us, but he likes our stuff.

As a musician, I have a pretty serious self-esteem problem, so I wanted to ask you...how do you deal with your self-worth as musicians? What is it about your band that makes it worthwhile for you to keep playing?

W: For me, one of the problems that I always have as a guitar player is not feeling quite good enough to be a standout lead guitarist. But just playing with the Sixtyeights is energizing for me, so I think that says something about the music. I think it's fun to play, and we sound really good when we're at our best, so that's worth it for me.N: I think kind of one of the cool things about this band is that we all have very established roles. I write a song, and it's O.K., and these guys take it away from me and it just gets so much better. Will is very in charge of guitar stuff, Paul is doing this punk rock thing in the back, Sean adds his own flair...

What's your writing process like, exactly? Do you come up with words and then chords, or...?

N: This last song we wrote, I emailed the words to Will and said, "I don't know what to do with this." He came over and he wrote the main riff of the song, and I finished it up. So the words were written well in advance, and the music was written separately from the words later.

One of the things I've said about you before is that I think you embody the spirit of punk without getting bogged down in the details of trying to sound exactly like you're from 1977. Would you agree with that?

W: We're punk maybe like how the Talking Heads were punk.N: A lot of punk bands were trying to send some nihilistic message or something, like the Pistols for example. And the Clash were doing their social revolution thing. But we just want to have a good time. I mean, if anyone [in this band] stopped having fun...I mean, that's why we're still out there doing this. We're having a good time.