With the release of album number four, I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being The Master, the members of Electric Six are fast becoming the hardest working men in disco-infused, ‘80s-throwback garage rock. Successfully churning out a record a year since 2005, vocalist Dick Valentine and his once rotating cast of bandmates now seem to have settled, both in their home label (I Shall Exterminate will be the band’s second release with Metropolis Records) and in their lineup. Valentine phoned from Detroit to discuss the album and upcoming tour.
How does the new album differ from Switzerland? What direction do you see the band taking? Coming off doing Switzerland, we did want to make a more up-tempo record; a bouncier record I think was what we were going for. We don’t have a necessary direction, per se, other than not to think about it too much and not try to be anything we’re not. We do attempt to do [certain new] things, but not if it takes longer than 10 to 15 minutes. : I feel sorry for bands that spend more than a day making a record.
Wow. I’m kidding. But I don’t think it’s any problem to put out an album a year. There are a lot of bands that worry about how their record’s gonna sound, and at the end of the day it usually just doesn’t pay off. Waiting on a record, you might make it sound a little better, but what does that really get you?
After so many lineup changes, how much of the songwriting duties still fall on you? With the original lineup, I wrote all the songs because no one else really seemed to want to. : The people we have now take a lot more initiative and it’s a lot easier that way. I’ve noticed that the more people bring to the table in terms of musicianship and creativity, the more humble they are. In the previous lineup, the people who brought less to the table were always the ones making the most noise. It’s an inverse relationship between how good you are and how big of a pain in the ass you are. : It’s a lucrative job, but it’s also a lot of fun, and it wasn’t always like that. Back when we did the tour for Fire, we knew we all hated each other and we’d look at a map and be like, “What city do you think the band is gonna break up in?” Now it’s not like that. Now we look at a calendar for the year 2015 and we’re like, “I wonder if that’s the year we’ll finally stop doing this.”
You’ve always been recognized for your theatrics. What are the live shows like now? We have always been, more or less, a bar band. I remember in the U.K. when people saw our videos they’d just be so disappointed when they saw us live, not because we’re not a good band, but because we didn’t have the whole Vegas show. And we’d have to explain to them that we just don’t have the money to do that. [Laughs.] So we just honed our craft as a bar band. : Everything’s [on a] budget, and that’s the beauty of it. Instead of slaughtering a goat on stage, you might slaughter a ferret. You have to make concessions and you have to make hard choices.
Sean Healy presents Electric Six at Velvet Jones on Wednesday, October 17. Call 965-8676 or visit velvet-jones.com for information