WHO'S NEW ... SIXWIRE

LOOK AT THEM NOW

The members of five-man Nashville band Sixwire still remember the magical moment when they knew everything would work out. It happened three years ago, when guitarist/producer/songwriter Steve Mandile made an important personnel decision.

"We couldn't get arrested," he recalls with a chuckle. "So I fired myself."

Steve, who had been singing lead, decided to stick to guitar and hand over the microphone to former solo singer Andy Childs - and suddenly things fell into place. "It was like when the electricity shot through Frankenstein's bolts," laughs bass player John Howard. "The thing took on a life of its own."

The band's core trio of Steve, John and bass player Robb Houston came together in 1994, with drummer Chuck Tilley joining up along the way. But with Andy's addition, their warm, harmony-laden sound really came together. Still, they needed a name ...

"'Sixwire' was our pet name for a guitar," explains Steve. "It's a real guitar-oriented band - but you can't just call a band 'Guitar.'"

United under the Sixwire banner, the band started playing for fun around Music City clubs and immediately began attracting record-company attention. They signed on with Warner Bros. Nashville, and set about making their first album. With Steve producing, they knocked out the 11 catchy songs on Sixwire in under a week. The guys say it was a stress-free process.

"As a producer, Steve is very good about just letting everybody do what they do," reports Andy.

"That's because I don't have any ideas of my own!" Steve laughs.

"Steve's like the mad scientist, working late at night with his little test tubes, with smoke coming up out of the boiling water," John chimes in. "He'll get in there and just make magic happen." The magic is working: Sixwire's first hit, "Look At Me Now," is already in the Top 40. The guys are excited about being on the radio, but they still get their biggest kick from performing live.

"In spite of everything we do and everywhere we go, it's still the most exciting when we get onstage," says Andy. "That's what the whole thing is about."

And they hope to do it for a long time to come.

"The chance to go out and play something you created," says Steve, "is really special."

-- Chris Neal

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