Interviews Music — 22 September 2010
A Exclusive:  Electric Six’ Dick Valentine, on All Things New York

They have come from the wild (mid)west city known as Detroit, Michigan. Their music style is genre bending to say the least. Put Tom Jones and KISS in a blender and you would most likely go to prison.  But in the music world, we get Electric Six.  The band, lead by eternal showman Dick Valentine, have traveled the country for the better part of a decade.  Once known as “The Wild Bunch,” Electric Six have made their mark on music by avoiding the pitfalls of a more mainstream style.

Electric Six’s first major release, Fire (2003) gave rock fans a new band to add to their listening arsenal.  With garage based funk, their head-bobbing tracks like “Danger! High Voltage,” and “Gay Bar,” made it clear that they planned on doing things their way.  During the release of “Fire,” the band toured relentlessly around the country and the up-tempo and catchy tunes coupled with Valentine’s eye popping flamboyance toward the crowd, sometimes even undressing, led to the band catching a cult following.

After the success of “Fire,” the six piece band of Road Dogs has continually released new material regularly, with five more solid albums following suit, in anticipation of the upcoming “Zodiac,” which is slated for release later this month (9/28).  Clearly, the band loves playing live shows, as they officially embarked on the 59-date North American and UK “Rent is Too Damn High” tour, just last night.  A live Electric Six show is something to behold, as you never quite know what to expect.  But as longtime fans, we can guarantee that you will be shaking your butt the whole time. Your face may even melt. (Note: is not responsible for any melting that may occur to your face.)

This coming weekend, the band comes to Maxwell’s in Hoboken (9/24), followed by a performance at New York City’s famed Bowery Ballroom (9/25) in support of the new album.  Vocalist Dick Valentine was gracious enough to grant some time for an exclusive interview in anticipation of the upcoming area performances.  A transcription of our conversation is below, and if you are unable to make it out to the shows this weekend, for any information on everything Electric Six, make sure to check out Hit the jump for the full interview.

LocalBozo: Aside from changes to the band’s lineup, how do you think the focus of the band has changed since the beginning?
Dick Valentine: I would say that the focus of the band has changed in that we’re very future, forward looking now, whereas earlier we were very present minded, very focused on the present- living in the moment if you will.  Now we realize that we will never die and that we have a future to plan.

LB: (Laughing) The Bowery Ballroom is a frequent venue for the Electric Six.  Tell me why the Bowery Ballroom is a place that you guys play whenever you’re in town.
DV: Well we have a good relationship with the people there and it’s a perfect sized room for us.  It’s those two factors, I think when going to play.  Also it being a Manhattan venue, for whatever reason we don’t really draw that well in Brooklyn so whenever we play actually in Manhattan, the shows tend to be bigger.

LB: Okay, just a follow up to that- what supporting bands are you into bringing on the road for these tours?
DV: For the tour coming up- we have a band called The Constellations from Atlanta.  We’ve actually done three shows with them.  They’re really good.  So, it’s a match made in the agent group’s mind.

LB: I know you guys are from Detroit, so do you have a favorite spot maybe outside of your hometown that you like to play across the country?
DV: Our favorite venue in the world used to be the Khyber in Philadelphia, but that’s closed.  So now, I’d have to say the Bowery Ballroom.

LB: When you’re around, and you have a show in the area, what bars or places to eat do you guys frequent?
DV: We don’t really frequent bars per se as (much as) a Whole Foods.  So we know there’s a Whole Foods at Houston and Bowery.  So that’s pretty close.  We know there’s one in Chelsea.  There’s one in Union Square.

LB: Nice promo for Whole Foods right there, man.
DV: Thanks a lot.

LB: As the lead singer of a band on tour, and you’re all over the US and stuff- what would you say that your guilty pleasure is musically?
DV: I don’t really listen to music.  I don’t listen to music.

LB: You never listen to music?
DV: No, I don’t.

LB: It’s Electric Six, and then nothing.
DV: I listen to Electric Six in the sense that it is always around me.

LB: How would you say that as a band from Michigan, how do the crowds differ between New York and Michigan?
DV: New York is a real city where people actually want to live in the actual city, whereas Michigan is a state and people want to live in the state.

LB:  (Laughing) What can fans expect from the new album, Zodiac?
DV: They can expect 12 songs.  I think it’s our (best) work to date.  It’s very varied stylistic across the board.  The songs are up tempo, down tempo, mid tempo.  We are not afraid to extend songs and overall I think it’s our finest album and I stand behind it.

LB: Where did you guys record Zodiac?
DV: We recorded the last four albums at our guitar player’s house.  His name is Zack Shipps and he goes by “The Colonel.”  This album is a lot like the other albums that are pieced together by everyone in the band.  We use a lot of garage band tracks.  Especially on this album, there’s no real songwriter- it’s pretty much all of us.

LB: And how long did it take you guys to finish it?
DV: Generally it takes about six months.  That’s not working every day for six months though.  We start in January, turn it in in July but again within that, we’re not working every day.

LB: Say a Non-fan of the band came to the show at the Bowery Ballroom.  What can they expect from the show- for their first show to see Electric Six?
DV: They can expect to be handed a customer comment card.  Generally, if you are a new fan of the band, we take you up to the dressing room and ask you how the night went for you.  We really try to reward the new fans and take the older fans for granted.

LB: Right on.  We really appreciate the time.  Is there anything that you want to leave us with that we can help to promote the show coming up or any other thoughts that you want to leave with
DV: I would say, if you’re reading this- thanks for your time.

LB: Thank you, Dick.
DV: Okay talk to you soon.

-  Alan Smithee & Jane Van Arsdale

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(1) Reader Comment

  1. Nice article!