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The quartet that makes up mi6 hails from Lawrence, KS, and infuses its light-hearted punk music with the Midwestern values that come from the open plains. Kenny Peterson, guitar and lead vocals (born Kenny Peterson III, 1971, Milwaukee, WI), started his first band, One Way, while still in high school. After he joined the Army, he found time to practice his guitar daily while stationed in San Antonio. In 1991, he enrolled at the University of Kansas and in 1993 started doing the vocals for Cockpit Biscuit (CB). When its guitar player left, Peterson slipped into the dual role of guitarist and vocalist. From 1994 to 1996, Cockpit Biscuit managed to record two albums and a few videos in addition to opening for some better-known bands. In 1997, when its bass player left to go to work at Microsoft, the band dissolved. Peterson decided to follow his love for new wave punk and put an ad in the paper; Aaron Riffel, bass and backing vocals (born 1976, Topeka, KS), responded.
Riffel fell in love with music and the drums when he was eight, influenced by Sammy Hagar's video "I Can't Drive 55," but didn't get his first guitar until he was 13. He soon found his true niche when he acquired a bass and joined with friends to form the Deprived. The band recorded one album and played around Kansas for about a year and a half before dissolving in 1997. Then, Riffel met Peterson and they worked with various musicians with the sole idea of playing songs that were fun and writing lyrics that represented real life as they saw it. With Joe Weaver (from Cockpit Biscuit) as the drummer, the threesome continued to write and play gigs locally. They soon chose the name mi6 and hit the road touring. In 1998, mi6 cut its first self-titled demo and began opening for bands such as Ten Foot Pole, L7, the Suicidal Tendencies, and Good Riddance. Weaver eventually left to follow his love for blues and jazz. In March 1999, Peterson and Riffel met David White (guitar and backing vocals) and Jimmy Coles (drums and percussion) whose band 2 Player Option opened for them. The four found their styles fit perfectly.
David White (born 1977, Ann Arbor, MI) started playing acoustic guitar when quite young and in fifth grade was enrolled in a classical school of music. He studied there two years, managed to get out, bought an 85-dollar guitar from a JC Penney's catalog, and started practicing heavy metal riffs. In 1991, he formed Muck Rake, his first band. After graduating from high school in 1996, White went to the University of Kansas and in 1997, he met Jimmy Coles (born James Oscar Coles IV, 1977, Griesheim, Germany).
Coles loved drums, but at the urging of his band teacher, played trombone for eight years. During high school, he lived in South Korea and managed to get some drumsticks and join the punk band BENCH. This was one of the few punk bands in Seoul. Later, at the University of Kansas, Coles met White and they formed the 2 Player Option. This band recorded two demos and played gigs locally for two years until it merged with mi6.
Alcoholiday, mi6's first full-length CD, was recorded during the summer of 1999 and released by Sump Pump Records in May 2000. Rave reviews carried it to number one on GarageBand. The New York Times contacted mi6 and did a front-page article on them (the band shared the page with Bill Clinton and Yassar Arafat). mi6 also recorded the track "Stupid Little Things" on the compilation Local Super Heroes released by Syde-Sho Productions; "Lezbian Girlfriends" on the compilation A Really Big Mouth; and "The Good Life" on the compilation Making Noise: A Tribute to Weezer, released by Skunk Ape Records.
By August 2000, record labels were soliciting the band and in March 2001, after many months of negotiating, mi6 signed with Kung Fu. Lunchbox, mi6's sophomore full-length, was released by Kung Fu in October 2001. Kung Fu also released the movie soundtrack That Darn Punk, with mi6 playing "Jabberjaw." With two strong guitarists, great backing vocals, and songs that are mostly first-person narrative, mi6 continues to create that wholesome, Midwestern relationship with its listeners.