Electric Six is a six-piece band from Detroit whose video “Gay Bar” was named video of the year by both Q Magazine and Kerrang! in 2003. Dick Valentine discusses protecting people from evil forces, the significance of the number 88 and the completely beige nature of all things Orange County. Like Gwen Stefani.
According to the website, Electric Six keeps people from evil forces. How does the band do that?
That’s just something to say on a website.
My copy of Zodiac won’t protect me from evil?
Your copy of Zodiac will have 12 songs we think are really good and a good representation of the band.
The website also says that the album is more lo-fi than its predecessors. How is it more lo-fi? How did you come to this sound?
There’s less distorted guitars. We replaced those with more horns, strings, acoustic guitars. That sort of approach. Lo-fi, maybe that was the wrong term to use.
Did you come to it naturally, or was it something you consciously decided to do?
The only thing we discussed was “Let’s have some Neil Diamond sort of songs on it.” Granted, the whole album does not sound like that, but I think a couple of the songs do. Whenever we do an album, we don’t assert that it has to sound a certain way. We let it occur naturally. If there is a song that goes against what we originally planned to do, we don’t fight it.
How did the whole Zodiac concept come about?
One of the songs that did not make the final cut of the album is called “Circle of Sagittarius.” So, we were thinking about calling the record Zodiac, and we didn’t even put that song on the record. We do have 12 songs on the record because we knew we were going to call it Zodiac. It’s a loose interpretation.
The number 88 is mentioned in a couple songs. What is the significance of the number 88?
When I wrote those two songs, I was walking from one neighborhood in Brooklyn to another to go meet my buddy for some beers. His address was 88 Carroll Street. When I was struggling to come up with a lyric, I had a piece of paper with his address on it and I just used it for a lyric. He no longer lives there. So, if you read this interview and you want to visit 88 Carroll Street, I can’t vouch for who lives there now.
I’ll mention it as a landmark anyway.
It is a landmark. It’s a good Italian brownstone. You don’t have brownstones in Orange County, do you?
We have condos.
They’re not brownstones, but they’re beige. I don’t know if that counts for anything. I think there is a rule that anything in Orange County must be beige.
Like Gwen Stefani.
That’s a good example. Or Sugar Ray.
I met Sugar Ray in Japan.
Oh yeah? How was that?
He said “Dude” a lot. Pretty much everything was prefaced with “Dude.”
How did you decide to record “The Rubberband Man?”
It’s a song we talked about doing for the last few albums. This album didn’t feel good-timey enough, so we decided to throw it on and make it more of a good time record.
How would you say you made that song your own?
We added electric guitars to it.
You have a European tour coming up.
Dude, we’re stoked for that.
Is this the first European tour?
No. We’ve done it a bunch of times, but this is our first time playing Paris in seven years.
How is touring Europe different than touring the US?
We have a driver in Europe whereas in the US we drive ourselves. If we get into an accident in the States, we know we’re on the hook. If we get into an accident in Europe, we’ll have somebody to sue. We’re always looking for the next lawsuit. It’s the only way to get ahead.
Is that the biggest difference?
The crowds may be a little bit bigger over there, but not much. I would say it’s a 22% increase in crowd size.
Do you have any other favorite European destinations?
We love playing in Spain. We’re playing four cities in Spain. Unfortunately, I can think of four other cities in Spain I’d rather be in. Where we’re playing, they’ll do.
It’s more exotic than Omaha or Billings, Montana.
I would rather be in Omaha than Valencia. It’s one of those towns that on paper, it should be pretty exciting, but when you’re there, it’s not that exciting. At least Omaha has a Whole Foods. At the end of the day I’m a proud American. I’ll stick up for Omaha over Valencia.
What would you be doing if you weren’t making music?
I’d probably be writing science fiction.
Electric Six performs at The Detroit Bar on Thursday. Also on the bill is Constellations. Tickets for this 21+ show are $15.