The members of Sixty Minute Men spend a fair amount of time punching the clock, though their music allows them to slip away from the grind.
"We all have day jobs," relates the band's saxophone player and principal recording engineer, Jonathan Frett. "I work nine to five doing tech and digital-media consulting. Nick, our drummer, who we call Slick, is a restaurant manager. Andy, our bassist, is a sales manager. Our lead singer, Sonny, is in real estate, and Zach, our guitarist, is in contracting. We get together to rehearse and do some jamming on Wednesday evenings, and then we do nuts-and-bolts rehearsals on Sundays, where we tweak arrangements and work out our songs."
The title of the group's new release, What It's Gonna Take (LP), highlights the musicians' existential dilemma.
"The title track is a mix between young love and our music career and what we might accomplish," Frett explains. "What's it gonna take, and how do I make it? What is anyone trying to accomplish with any career? We also have a track, 'Chew,' which is about life and work. It wonders: Have I bitten off more than I can chew?"
Frett, the youngest member of the band at 29, moved to Boulder from Boston in 2015 and through some mutual friends met the group of musicians who now comprise the Sixty Minute Men. He says that the band, which changed its name from a previous handle (ISSOVEE) around the time he joined, takes its latest moniker from an old R&B tune from 1951. And while the outfit keeps its nose to the musical grindstone, its members also like to have a good time.
"We play on the Front Range a lot, and we just drove to Aspen yesterday to play at the Belly Up, where we opened for a band called Too Many Zooz. They play a genre that they coined brass house, which includes a lot of horns. The gig was great. It was the closing event for the last night of the X-Games. We played some tunes from our new record and had a blast."
Sixty Minute Men captures a soul-tinged sound that doesn't skimp on polished lead-guitar breaks and punchy horn sections. Frett says the band originally played Southern rock and blues rock but took a turn toward funk, jazz and classic R&B after he joined.
"When I first met the guys, we decided to focus on some higher-energy stuff, and collectively we decided to move toward soul and R&B with some jazz elements," he says. "The name Sixty Minute Men name came from a song, 'Sixty Minute Man,' that was one of the earliest R&B tunes ever. I think our bassist came up with it based on the song by Billy Ward and His Dominoes. We also market ourselves as 'funk and soul.'"
What It's Gonna Take, which is the band's third release under the Sixty Minute Men name and the first with lead singer Sonny Cruz, includes ten all-original tracks. Frett says the project is entirely a group effort, which is a mindset that the band, whose members range in age from 29 to 36, strives to preserve.
"We consider all our music a collective effort," says Frett. "We like to be part of something bigger than just ourselves; that's our culture. Some of the tunes are written by me and some are written by our guitarist, Zach [Robinson]. The two of us do a lot of the sheet writing, and then we'll bring it into the the band and Andy [Fox] will put a bass line on it, Slick [Nick Summers] will put the drum groove to it, and Sonny will write the lyrics. Everyone contributes their different parts."
The smooth, funky grooves and work ethic of the bandmates is on display, and their professionalism is evident in the nicely mixed production and musicianship on their latest tracks.
"Our theme has been to do what we can to get our work out there," Frett says. "I tacked on LP [long play] at the end of the title just because no one does that anymore. It's kind of ’70s-ish. The tunes [include] party songs like 'Get It,' which is a mix between James Brown and Soul Live and Lettuce. Then there's "Serendipity," which I wrote. I asked a friend to give me a word that she liked so that I could write a song around it. She gave me that word, and I wrote the tune."
Sixty Minute Men, with Here Come the Mummies, 8 p.m. Friday, February 22, Boulder Theater, $20-$25, bouldertheater.com.
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