Alt-Nation: An Interview with Dick Valentine of Electric Six

For the past few summers the Electric Six have come to Providence like The Rapture to liberate souls from the sweltering heat and summer repeats. Electric Six don’t make many promises, but if you’re looking for a band to tell you about a dance epidemic, or better yet, bring you a dance epidemic, you’ll need to see Electric Six this Sunday, August 21, at Fete. Electric Six harness heavy rock guitars, disco beats and singer Dick Valentine’s always entertaining observations to make the alternate universe version of The Killers. You know, the one where The Killers are actually a great band. If you happen to disagree with me and like The Killers, then you really need to come to this show because you are going to have your mind blown!

Electric Six have most recently released a movie via a kickstarter called Electric Six Roulette Stars of Metro Detroit, the premise of which is the band aspect of Electric Six is just a cover-up to hide the millions of dollars they launder from metro Detroit casinos. As for the movie, I was entertained, but have a hard time envisioning Electric Six getting their own HBO series (ala Flight of The Conchords or Tenacious D) anytime soon. Music wise, the band has released 11 studio albums, a live album and a couple of rarities records. I talked to Dick Valentine last fall on the release of the band’s most recent album, Bitch, Don’t Let Me Die!, from the road in Birmingham, Alabama, about mortality, politics, his pornographic thrillers and more. The conversation went a little like … this:

Marc Clarkin: The newest album is called Bitch, Don’t Let Me Die! With the title and songs like “Take Another Shape,” did you have a theme of mortality?

Dick Valentine: No, a lot times someone says we need a press release by tomorrow, and I just come up with stuff.  That’s pretty much the whole way I’ve operated every time I’ve had to write stuff for the band. I’m just writing things because space needs to be filled.

MC: Over the years you’ve had catchy tunes with big choruses like “Alone With Your Body” that is pretty much about necrophilia and “Steal Your Bones” about cloning.

DV: Some friends of mine have died so I write songs that pay tribute to them. I don’t want to forget about them just because they are dead. So I’ll write songs about dead people.

MC: Was there any story behind “Big Red Arthur” about Santa Claus going down a chimney only to land on spikes?

DV: That’s entirely true. When that song came together I just had the vision of Santa Claus that got impaled on spikes. There is just something very English about the song. I’ve got the whole video in my head – it would be shot in IMAX scope or Dolby scope and it would be really impressive. You’d just follow one of those young English kids that look like a young Wayne Rooney running through Manchester or something trying to get away from Santa Claus.

MC: You’ve been putting out solo albums regularly and occasionally playing the odd solo acoustic show. I saw you a couple of years ago in Boston where you did a solo set with a full band and did a song from the web zombie series you scored. Any plans to ever put that music out?

DV: There are no plans. I don’t think we can put those recordings out. I mean we’ve asked a few times. What I might do when there is time is just re-record all those songs. I can re-record and do all those songs. I just can’t (legally) put out the recordings of those songs (that were used in the show). That is food for thought, though, when there is time.

MC: If in the next presidential election a Republican wins, does the song “Rock and Roll Evacuation” make it back in the set list the next show? Or do we have to wait for inauguration day?

DV: We would have to wait till we are dragged into another war. There are a couple of Democratic candidates that I could see dragging us into a war as well.  That is kind of the main thing, but we’ll take it one step at a time. The older I get the less concerned I get with any of it.

MC: I interviewed you once before the 2008 election where you said if Hillary won, you were going to start covering Electric Light Orchestra’s “Evil Woman.”  Is that still on the table?

DV: You’ve got a better memory than me. That is probably just something I said. That is probably just pandering to the crowd to be completely honest. I don’t really have an opinion of Hillary Clinton. I don’t really understand people who loathe her. She is just kind of there. I don’t really have an opinion about her.

MC: In addition to putting out your solo and Electric Six albums, you’ve have a party planner that people can buy online. What makes a great party?

DV: I’m just trying my best to relate to people that like to party. I’ve never liked to party so I’m just trying to have another thing to sell. I found this website where you could sell PDFs (https://www.amazon.com/Dick-Valentines-Party-Planner-Guide-ebook/dp/B00SU9N78U) and I thought I like to write. I like to write things so let’s find things to write. I thought about writing stock market advice, self-help, and motivational stuff as well but you know, there are only so many hours in the day. I’m working on the sequel to (his pornographic thriller EBook) Chinatown Reacharound  (https://www.amazon.com/Chinatown-Reacharound-Tyler-Spencer-ebook/dp/B00KGL0QNO) that is taking up most of my writing time now. It is equally pornographic and thrilling.

MC: From the 11 albums, do you have a favorite song to play live?

DV: Right now we’re playing “Dime, Dime, Penny, Dime” (from Bitch, Don’t Let Me Die!) and I’m  having so much fun with it. We’ve never had a song quite like that in the set. “Pink Flamingos” (from Switzerland) comes close, but this more of a tongue twister. It is just a really fun song to do live. We usually only get around to learning three or four new songs when a new record comes out to do live.

MC: Do you have a favorite older song to bring back live?

DV: I always love doing “When I Get to the Green Building.” There are certain songs that we’ve never played before that I’d like to try. Like “Face Cuts,” I think that would be good. But we have way too much material.

Electric Six, Math the Band, VulGarrity, & Eric & The Nothing will rock Fete on August 2.

Email music news to mclarkin33@gmail.com

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