IN Interview: The Electric Six
They took you to the “Gay Bar,” hit you with a shot of “High Voltage,” and put you on the floor with the “Dance Commander.” Now, after more than a decade of fusing a unique style of rock and retro music, The Electric Six is making their first stop in Pensacola on Oct. 3 at Vinyl Music Hall.
This week, IN sat down with front man Dick Valentine to talk about the band’s visit, their new album and what makes the six so…well…different.
IN: OK, so you go by Dick Valentine, but your real name is Tyler Spencer, correct? So what should I call you?
Valentine: Um…just call me Roy.
IN: So Roy, tell us a little about your new album “Zodiac” that was released this week. Should fans expect a similar sound, and what were you trying to go for with the track listings?
Valentine: I don’t think it sounds like other albums, but at the same time it’s the same people in the band. We’ve got 12 songs on the record and have made a half-assed attempt to link each song to the zodiac signs. It’s basically a way to make the listener think we are making connections and thinking a bit more.
IN: You covered The Spinners’ song “Rubberband Man” for the album. Any particular reason you chose that song?
Valentine: I’ve always really liked the song and I felt our band could do it well. We’ve talked about putting it on the past four albums, but this one seemed a bit more serious and suitable. Actually, the first time I heard the song was while watching the movie “Stripes”…the mud wrestling scene with John Candy. As far as putting it on the album, I think we were just trying to bring back the music to the center of fun.
IN: OK, let’s go back to your roots. Tell us a little about coming up in the Detroit music scene. The people aren’t as mean as they seem in “Robocop,” are they?
Valentine: (laughing) I think that’s the future of Detroit. I think 50 years from now people will be mean, but right now I think people remember the good things in life and they really do support local music. It’s what kept our band going for so long. Every weekend you are playing for a lot of people…as long as you have a good venue, you will have a large crowd there.
IN: The White Stripes are from that scene. Did you have a lot of involvement with them?
Valentine: Not really. I don’t think we ever played a show together, but back then we ran into them all the time. Jack (White) sang on “(Danger!) High Voltage,” which was a big part of us being recognized. They weren’t necessarily friends, but more acquaintances.
IN: When you sit down and write a song, where does the inspiration come from? I mean, how do you come up with some of the off-the-wall lyrics?
Valentine: They’re all different. If I’m listening to the radio or at a local bar I’ll retain lyrics of what I think I heard. The other day I heard, “I’m coming home and you don’t care.” It turns out (the lyrics) weren’t even close to that, but now I’m going to write a song by that name.
IN: So, is the line “ease the seat back” in “I’m the Bomb” a reference to Van Halen’s “Panama”?
IN: When you released “Fire” in 2003, you had “Gay Bar” turned into an animation of fighting kittens on the Internet. How did you get involved with that? Do you know the guys at rathergood.com?
Valentine: It was more of they got involved with us and just did it. I don’t even know if we gave them permission. There was another one for “Gay Bar” with Tony Blair and George Bush. I think we had three big videos for that song and only one we officially gave permission for.
IN: You guys have been described as a rock band with a whole slew of musical mixtures, but sum up The Electric Six in two words for me.
Valentine: Nervous dance…music.
IN: OK Roy, last question for you. The band hasn’t been to Pensacola before to perform, but have you personally been here and do you plan on doing anything in particular while here?
Valentine: Never been there—just passed through. It’s where Joe Scarborough is from, right? I remember reading a big Rolling Stone article on Depeche Mode when they were rehearsing there and David Gahan saying he had been called a *&^got like 20 times.
IN: I do remember that.
Valentine: We have a couple members in the band…well, if you want to accuse us of being gay, you can do that. But seriously, I wouldn’t mind going to the beach and getting a blue drink and taking off my shirt for some sun. Hopefully we’ll get some time to work out before now and then.
THE ELECTRIC SIX
WHAT: The Electric Six, The Constellations, and Cockfight
WHEN: Doors open at 7 p.m., show begins at 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3
WHERE: Vinyl Music Hall, 2 S. Palafox Place
COST: $12-$15, ages 18+