Six Mile Grove flying high on the release of their latest studio album ‘Million Birds’

Published 6:51 am Saturday, April 13, 2019

It’s been nearly 21 years since Six Mile Grove started down the musical path to where they are now.

Just a simple decision to come together and make music, but now just over two decades later the group is still going strong.

Lead singer and primary songwriter Brandon Sampson looks back at the beginning on the heels of the group’s seventh offering  “Million Birds, “ which was released in January of this year.

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While admitting that perhaps the band itself didn’t think they would be this far at the when it all started, Sampson said that soon into the journey the group received some of the best advice of their career from an early record producer.

“He said, If you liked to play together, if you are recording songs that you’ve written, making records and people are buying them and they are attending shows … congratulations, you are in the music business,’ “ Sampson said.  “Once it does happen, no matter how hard you try, you can’t make it stop. “

In those early years, Sampson said the band made a commitment to each other and that commitment has lead to a loyal following that continues to expand from their humble roots in Lyle, Minnesota.

“We’re writing the best songs we’ve ever written, “ Sampson said.

The band continues to write wholesome melodies with insightful and truthful lyrics, and it just keeps getting better.

“Million Birds “ perhaps is the clearest example of the fivesome’s ever-expanding songwriting, taking inspiration from the everyday world around them and within their own lives.

“I think with anything, the albums kind of create themselves from real life experiences, “ Sampson said.  “Continuing that theme, we continue to get more honest with ourselves. I’ve particularly begun writing painfully honest, trying to look at (those experience) from a different perspective. When you get out of the way of the music, it kind of takes care of itself. “

In recording this latest 11-track album, Sampson and the band took their own advice and got out of the way of the music, simplifying the recording by doing everything at the same time.

Saturday, April 13: Six Mile Grove will play at the Paramount Theatre at 7:30 p.m. with special guest Annie Mack. Tickets at the door are $25.

“We brought down our sound engineer, brought in a bunch of vintage microphones, played our songs together and let the tape roll, “ Sampson said.  “This was the most fun we’ve had as well as the easiest time we’ve had and less stressful. We’re going to do this again. “

Sampson said the process of recording with everybody in the same room was different from recording separately in that it lead the emotion and the feel of an actual show flow through the recording process.

A lot like a controlled concert for a group of guys that have always enjoyed making music together.

“Primarily it was because, what we’ve done for 20 years is play shows together, “ Sampson said.  “There’s always something magical that happens when you are on stage and have fun with each other. “

This idea began in the usual method for the band where Sampson, along with Barry Nelson, came up with song chord ideas with Sampson sending different progressions and ideas for songs to Sampson.

After Sampson puts to page some lyrics and the basic structure is put together, the demo recordings are sent to the rest of the band to figure out their parts.

After a few months the band formulated 25 demos.

“We thought, ‘this actually sounds pretty good,’” Sampson said. “And then we all recorded it in the same room.”

The recording process allowed Six Mile Grove to return to their roots and in the winter and spring of 2018 they really started putting everything together.

In talking to Sampson, it’s clear this entire process has left the band energized and feeling good about where they are 20 years and seven albums later.

It’s all about the journey and the scenery along the way.

“A lot of writers have mentioned us as the best band you’ve never heard of,” Sampson said. “We’ve been around a long time, but we never really tried to get the word out. We’ve had a few friends in the right places that have helped create the awareness.”