Now that Sixpence None the Richer have earned their second Grammy nomination, it's all the richer that the tune that got them the nod almost didn't make it onto their self-titled 1997 album. After finishing the smart, romantic "Kiss Me"-up for a best pop performance award-Sixpence founder and songwriter Matt Slocum thought it didn't match the somber tone of the rest of the songs, which are haunted by Slocum's moody guitar and cello, vocalist Leigh Nash's pristine vocals and lyrics that snarl about writing "my forty-fifth depressing tune." "I thought that was ridiculous," laughed Nash in an interview before the Grammy nominations were announced. "It surprised us to find out "Kiss Me" wasn't one that Matt was especially proud of. I think he thought it was just too frivolous. He's just real particular. We've got to watch him."They'd better watch him very closely. After the song popped up on the soundtrack of the teen flick "She's All That" early last year, it took off, then stayed in the public's consciousness thanks to the band's relentless touring (Sixpence's upcoming appearance on the "Tonight Show" will be their third in less than a year) and the fact that the video was all but on a loop on MTV. Last month, New York's top-40 giant Z100 cited "Kiss Me" as its most frequently played song of 1999.Not bad for a band from the obscure Christian alternative scene, who admit in the opening trilogy of the album-"We Have Forgotten"/"Anything"/"The Waiting Room"-that long years of being thwarted had given them doubts about whether they'd ever succeed. After three well-received albums in the Christian market, the band got into a nasty fight over artistic control with their label, R.E.X. A long, mean legal season followed. In 1997, they were finally free to sign with Squint Entertainment and quickly produced "Sixpence None the Richer." But it took more than a year before "Kiss Me" bubbled to the top. "We spent months visiting radio stations," explains Nash, "playing the songs for people during their lunch hour. Then Columbia put "Kiss Me" in ["She's All That"] and the song just took on a life of its own."
Fans who pick up the album based on the lighthearted romp will no doubt be surprised by the band's brooding side. But Nash, who took Slocum up on his invitation to form a band when they were still in high school near Austin, Texas, says Sixpence has always thrived on musical diversity. "My personal influences are in old country music," she says. "People like Patsy Cline, George Jones, Willie Nelson. That changed pretty quickly after I met Matt. He was listening to XTC and U2, and he turned me on to Edie Brickell, Sarah McLachlan, and The Sundays. Matt's tastes run the gamut. He goes through stages. Some weeks he listens to nothing but classical music." Sixpence has stayed close to its spiritual roots as the mainstream has discovered them. "The subject matter is much as it has been from the beginning," says Nash. "It's just been the whole process of growing and hopefully getting better."There She Goes," a second single from the "Sixpence" album is already getting its jump start from another movie: "Girl Interrupted," with Winona Ryder. The tune will also be on the soundtrack of "SnowDay," due out in February. For now, though, success has left the group without a follow-up to "Sixpence." After months and months of touring, Sixpence suddenly had an international hit, which meant months of more touring. After supporting the album for nearly two years, they have only just begun talking about recording something new. Nash says she's intent on enjoying what is happening now. "I think the beginnings of our career, the lessons we learned, is helping now," she says. I try to remember that this is fun, in all the work to say, 'it's fun, it's fun'". There are a ton of bands who are just as talented, who won't get this chance for whatever reason, and I want to enjoy it for all of them."