Electric Six go in for the 'Kill'
Talking meat, stocks and 'Gay Bar' with Detroit's disco-rock mad men
Special to Metromix
Within the maelstrom of fuzzy bass and righteously snarling rock guitar on Electric Six’s sixth album, “Kill,” the band manages the enviable feat of still delivering its soulful, danceable core. On the eve of releasing “Kill” and launching a national tour, Electric Six founding member and singer Dick Valentine spoke to Metromix about checking his stocks, staying spontaneous onstage, and controlling “the Crazies” when the lights go down.
You came up in the Detroit rock scene and your songs have such a good groove to them. Were you a fan of Motor City techno music, too?
As far as the music, no. But as far as wanting to have some connection and interpretation of the lifestyle, yes. You’d drive by the clubs and you’d see the people getting in and not know any of them or how they got to be like that in their life. I’ve always been fascinated by different mind-sets because I do come from a very rock 'n' roll mind-set, and you look at some of those people and they look nicer than you and you’re curious as to how it comes about and you want to infiltrate it. But as far as sitting around in my apartment, listening to techno by myself? No, I’ve never done that.
You almost named “Kill” after the Sign of the Beefcarver restaurant in Detroit. Why did you get cold feet?
I was all for it, and everyone in the band was stoked on it, but we got cold feet because the restaurant has a history of all types of litigation. And even though I was assured it was a noncompetitive use, I’ve already gone to court for a couple of things and I thought it was not worth it. The people who own that restaurant kind of seem like grizzly old men that go down to the track every day and smoke cigarettes and would jump at the chance to sue some hippies.
You’re right, it doesn’t seem worth it to lose your shirt over some steak.
Maybe I’m overly cautious, but at the end of the day, I didn’t think it was a good idea to poke around the old men.
Do you feel like your fans are open-minded about what you play on stage, or does everyone just want to hear “Gay Bar” over and over?
I’ve been doing this for so long, and I believe that we have such a rabid fan base in some sectors, that I can get away with really doing anything. It’s a great feeling, and I don’t have to over-think anything and I don’t have to worry about anything anymore. If we decide to play everything off the new album, I can sleep at night. If we decide to do a greatest hits show, that’s fine, too. I’ve reached a point of—what’s the word I’m looking for?—nirvana. Bliss, if you will. I’m just at a point in my life where I feel like I can do anything and nothing will matter, as long as nobody gets hurt.
Oh, what’s a casualty or two for the cause?
Sure, sure. But you know what I’m trying to say: I’ve reached a supreme confidence, at least with the band.
Outside the band, you’ve got zero confidence?
I have a lot less confidence outside of the band. I’m walking down the street right now and I’m on high alert.
That must be great to not feel trapped into playing the same set all the time.
We try to be conscious that someone may be seeing us for the first, or only, time and we take great pride in our work. But at the same time, everyone’s gonna be dead in a hundred years from now, so it doesn’t matter. I do always like to try a song that we haven’t done in a while or a song that we’ve never done before. We’re not the Grateful Dead, but people do follow us around and go to show after show, so we certainly don’t want to be playing the same show every night.
What are those fans called, the Sixheads?
What do we call our die-hard fans? Honestly, we just call them “the Crazies,” because people have ideas about us as people. I think they think we spend as much time thinking about our band as they do, and nothing could be further from the truth. So, whenever they encounter us, they try and impress us with their knowledge, and all they’re doing is making themselves look bad.
So, all the deep analysis presented to you is just way off-base?
Yeah. A lot of times my response to it is, “You know, I forgot I was even in Electric Six.”
What band do you think you’re in?
I don’t think I’m in another band, but I’m about to turn 38, and I check my stock portfolio regularly, and I recently got married and am buying furniture and stuff. I just really a lot of times don’t feel like I’m in a band.
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