By Daniel Kohn
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SiX front man Lauren Boquette looks like a bouncer. The Orange County resident is tall, tattooed and mean-looking. He wears black. The one clue that he might be onstage talent, not in-front-of-the-stage security: He's constantly surrounded by good-looking women.
"I can't help my genetics," the 6-foot-5-inch Boquette says. "I grew up in rock & roll, and that came with tattoos and madness. I'll be the first one if something goes down, but I'd much rather see everyone have a good time than have it turn into some macho, tough-guy fest."
While there's no doubt Boquette could reorganize most any man's kisser, he's more likely to buy you a shot than put his fist through your face. The singer has a welcoming charm that counter-balances his "don't fuck with me" appearance. His band SiX possess the same quality. On stage, the quintet looks scary as hell, and not in a showbiz kind of way, but in an ass-kicking-in-an-alley kind of way. The other members also wear black and have the sorts of outlandish haircuts that make girlfriends' parents lose sleep at night. The tunes also blend the aggro with the approachable. Guitarist Alan "Alfunction" James melds sped-up drop-C Sabbath-esque riffs with hook-laced choruses.
James and Boquette teamed in 2001 after each had flirted with major-label stardom. Boquette sang in a group called Drown that signed with Elektra Records and released their first album in 1994. The band's sophomore effort was supposed to be issued on Geffen Records in 1997, but red tape forced the disc to be delayed a year before it was finally put out on SlipDisc/Mercury. Drown broke up in 1999; the singer bounced back with Famous, a one-off band that toured 2000's Tattoo the Earth festival with Metallica, Slayer and Slipknot. James, who had recently left his spot as guitarist for Cypress Hill during their flirtation with a rock/rap hybrid, was Famous' tour manager and had enough of a history with Boquette to know the pair would work together. "I filled in in Drown when the original members left," James says. "Six months after I got off tour with Cypress Hill, Famous ended and me and Lauren were the last men standing."
Boquette and James ditched the major-label world to start 1605 Records, named after a party house in Huntington Beach, and wasted no time in getting the band and the label operational. The pair issued SiX's 2001 EP When the Beauty's Gone and got themselves on national tours with GWAR and Clutch. Two full-lengths followed, 2005's The Price of Faith and the recently released Between the Warning and the War, and more do-it-yourself booking on bills with Slipknot and Arch Enemy.
SiX began with an electronic influence and at times used a pre-recorded bass track during shows, but the stripped-down songs of Between (which includes cameos by Suicidal Tendencies' Mike Clark and Static-X's Tony Campos) find the band playing its heavy blend of thrash/metal/hardcore completely live. This shift toward simplicity comes from a background that includes more than just shredding, James explains. "I grew up on stuff like the Descendents, ALL and Bad Religion," he says. "People think we listen to Slipknot and Pantera all the time, and it's like, 'No, just occasionally.'"
SiX's genre-hopping sounds recently landed them a spot on the first annual Warfest tour with Hemlock and Total Chaos. The shows featured metal and punk bands; Boquette says the tour provided good exposure to a diverse audience. "People have been really open-minded to both scenes," he says. "We've managed to get Total Chaos fans to like our music. Kids just want to go crazy. Play some loud rock & roll, and that's what they do."
SIX PERFORM AT THE BLUE CAFÉ, 17208 PACIFIC COAST HWY., HUNTINGTON BEACH, (562) 592-1302; WWW.THEBLUECAFE.COM . SAT., 9 P.M. $10. 21+.