Here is my interview with Dick Valentine, the sharp dressed and sophisticated frontman for the wild time band, Electric Six!
Alex Obert: Tell me about how you’re preparing for your upcoming live DVD.
Dick Valentine: How am I preparing? I haven’t even thought about it.
AO: Do you have any songs in mind?
DV: No, I haven’t even thought about it. We’ll probably start thinking about it later.
AO: And how long have you wanted to do a live DVD for?
DV: I don’t know if I’ve thought about it, per se, it’s just something that was requested over the years, and as a, what the fuck word am I looking for, a fuckin, as a businessman, you know, you don’t wanna blow all your wad, you don’t wanna blow your whole fuckin load right out of the gate. If people want a live DVD, hold off a few years, make it a decade, and give it to em then.
AO: I know you released a live CD, how’s the response for that been?
DV: The response has been good. I see comments or people slap me on the back and say, “Good job.” and they believe that the CD was recorded in a professional manner and the songs sounded pleasing to the ear.
AO: Are you happy with the song choices on the album?
DV: I’m happy with the choices we made, yes. As you get older, I think the key to life is making better choices.
AO: I saw you last year when you played your first record (Fire, released in 2003) in its entirety, what’s that like? Going back through all those songs that you don’t always get to play live.
DV: Okay, did you travel to see us? Because we have not played in Hartford, Connecticut.
AO: I saw you in Northampton.
DV: Northampton, Massachusetts. I’d like to thank you for making the one hour drive. That means a lot.
AO: Oh yeah. For you, I’d go a long way.
DV: Oh, okay. Well, you’d go two to three hours. You might go to see us in let’s say, Syracuse.
AO: Might take a plane if I had to.
DV: Oh, thank you! Thank you so much! What was the question?
AO: So, when you played the first album in its entirety, what was it playing those, some of those songs you don’t get to play live all that often?
DV: Yeah, you know, it’s refreshing. Some of those songs off the first album we hadn’t played in a while and it’s nice to revisit them and having an excuse to play them because obviously, once you get eight, nine albums in like us, you tend to forget a lot of those songs.
AO: What is it that, using Northampton as an example, that you love about playing small clubs?
DV: Well, you know, if you wanna talk about small clubs or you wanna talk about Northampton, to me, it’s two different things. I kinda think in Northampton, we might have run our course there, that’s a situation of a venue nickel and diming you. We’re gonna try not to ever go back there again. That having been said, if they try to book us there, we’ll go there just for the sadistic aspect of it. Small clubs, in general though, are a lot of fun to play. We enjoy playing small clubs all over the country.
AO: I also saw you a couple of years ago at Middle East in Cambridge.
DV: Would you consider that a small club or a medium club?
AO: Moreso a medium club. That’s probably one of my favorite places to go and just seeing you guys there was perfect.
DV: That’s great. We are a medium band. We are right down the middle. You’re best seeing us in a medium environment.
AO: What’s your experience playing a large venue?
DV: We’ve played a few ones and it’s nice. Sometimes when you’re backstage, maybe the band isn’t in one dressing room, maybe we have two to three dressing rooms that are spread out. And therefore, you get a break from talking to your bandmates a little bit, which is nice.
AO: When you play all over, what’s the difference you feel between U.S. fans and the fans in other countries?
DV: Well, I think people use different colognes and perfumes and scents, so that’s the main thing. When I smell you, you might not smell like a man from Germany. That’s the main thing.
AO: Where are your favorite places to play?
DV: We enjoy going to Russia, I think just for the weirdness of it. Love going to Spain for the food. Love going to France for the women.
AO: In the U.S., where are some of your favorite places to play?
DV: The United States. It’s a large country. Everyone’s exactly the same no matter where you go, we’re all pretty much cookie cutter people. We all have the same dreams, same aspirations. So you can’t really break it down to the people moreso than the geography. Let’s go with Portland, Oregon. Let’s go with Boise, Idaho. And let’s go with New Orleans.
AO: For another band that you were in and did live performances, tell me about your time in Bang Camaro.
DV: I was in Bang Camaro for one song.
AO: And which song was that?
DV: Push Push (Lady Lightning).
AO: And were you apart of the music video?
DV: No. I was just on stage.
AO: Were you apart of the recording or just for a live performance?
DV: I think people think I was in Bang Camaro because of something we said on our website once, which wasn’t exactly true. It comes back in interviews all the time. The truth is I joined them on stage for one song, I’m not sure that makes me apart of the band.
AO: I interviewed Alex (from Bang Camaro) and he was wondering why you hadn’t shown up to band practice in a few years and then he learned that you were in Electric Six and he figured that’s why.
DV: That’s probably why. I think it’s power to people seeing things on Wikipedia and they take it as gospel and it’s just bad data.
AO: What’s your opinion of that kind of format, the multiple man singing group?
DV: I think it’s great. I think it’s a fine way to go about it. There should be more bands like that, then more people would have jobs.
AO: Back to Electric Six, which songs do you wish you played live more?
DV: Transatlantic Flight is up there. That’s one I wish we did on a nightly basis. Psychic Visions, wish we did that one more. Those are two songs, that’s the answer. All you need is two songs to make it an answer.
AO: Which are your favorite to play live?
DV: Favorite songs to play live, now that you’re mentioning it and I think about it, I have to come up with an answer. I have to give you some sort of an answer. Let’s just go with Gridlock. Let’s say Gridlock, it’s off our last album, Heartbeats and Brainwaves, that’s a great song.
AO: I remember I was listening through, I believe it was the newest album, the song, It Ain’t Punk Rock.
DV: That is not the newest album. The newest album is called Heartbeats and Brainwaves and then we have a new album coming out this Fall called Mustang. It comes out in late September.
AO: Which album was It Ain’t Punk Rock off?
DV: That’s off of Zodiac. That’s album number seven.
AO: Okay, because I remember, my Dad’s actually a big fan of you guys, I take him to see you guys and he’s hooked on you, so I got him the CDs for Christmas.
DV: Oh my God, you like being seen in public with your Dad?
AO: He actually hugged you last year when you gave out hugs after the show.
DV: You hugged your Dad?
AO: No, you hugged my Dad after the show in Northampton.
DV: Were you also involved in the hug? Was it a three man hug?
AO: Oh no, I waited in line, and then I went.
DV: When’s the last time you hugged your Dad?
AO: This weekend.
DV: That’s great. Were there tears involved?
AO: No, not this time. Him and I go to a lot of concerts together and Electric Six is one of our favorites to see.
DV: Would you say, growing up, there were times you thought your Dad was a son of a bitch, but now that you’ve gotten older, you understand why things went down the way they did and now you respect him for it?
AO: What do you mean?
DV: You asked me for an answer, I gave you an answer about what my favorite song was.
AO: This is true.
DV: Those are the rules. If you ask a question in an interview, I think you should get an answer.
AO: Alright, so what was the question?
DV: For the times growing up, maybe you thought your Dad was a son of a bitch and at the time, you hated him for it, but now that you’re a little older, you respect him and you understand what he was doing?
AO: I just think it was a lot of work he was going through at the job to support his family and he’d come home angry and I thought he was angry at me, but I guess it was just because of the stresses of the job.
DV: That’s right.
AO: So, I guess that’s how I look at it. And then music is our bond.
DV: Music is a well-cultured escapement, it sounds like.
AO: Currently, who are some of your favorite frontmen?
DV: David Bowie, David Bryne, David Coverdale. That’s three, that’s the answer. We already established that if I give you two, it’s an answer.
AO: Fair enough. Which songs do you regret not making music videos for?
DV: Well, all the ones that don’t have videos. If we had the money and the time, we’d make a video for every song. But the songs we do have videos for, and process of elimination, the ones we don’t, those are the ones that I regret.
AO: I feel like the Pink Flamingos music video would have been really cool.
DV: Would’ve been. I think we had a guy who was supposed to be making us one, and then it never showed up.
AO: And there was that album (Switzerland, released in 2006) that you said you were gonna make a music video for every song on the album, what happened there?
DV: We have a short attention span. We’re not the biggest band in the world, so I guess we thought nobody was paying attention to what we were actually saying. Those are probably the two biggest factors. We’re not a very big band, so we can say whatever we want and I think we think that nobody’s paying attention anyway.
AO: What are your favorite Electric Six song titles?
DV: Well, let’s have a think about that. Pink Flamingos, you were just talking about that?
DV: Yeah, that’s a great one. That’s really good, a really good title. And we need two. Let’s go with Pound Puppy (titled One Sick Puppy off of their 2009 album, KILL).
AO: What’s up for the rest of the year for Electric Six?
DV: Well, we have some shows, a few shows overseas coming at the end of July, and then we’re gonna start our tour in the Fall for our new album, Mustang, so that’s kind of it. We like to take our Summers off and work hard the rest of the year, so Summers are for us, it’s for the family.
AO: Aside from the live DVD taping, can we expect you back in the states anytime soon?
DV: We will be doing some shows in the states, yes. Doing a Fall tour of the eastern U.S., so I think you’re in luck. It’s luck, an opportunity to see Electric Six without driving too far. So yeah, we’ll be doing East, the South. West Coast, we’ll find a way to get to eventually, but that’s probably not this year.
AO: I think, hopefully, you’d enjoy the Connecticut music scene.
DV: Is there one? I didn’t know there was one.
AO: There is. In Hartford, it connects to Springfield, a bunch of bands there, some nice venues.
DV: A bunch of white kids whose dads work in the insurance industry and Daddy might be working too hard and have a drinking problem, and gives the kid a drum set, shut him up. That’s how the bands start?
AO: I’d like to thank you for your time. First off, do you have any websites that we can get updated at? An Electric Six website?
DV: There’s electricsix.com, but I think we tend to use our Facebook pages more. electricsix.com and then if you go to Facebook and search under Electric Six, you’ll find Electric Six on Facebook.
AO: Alright, and for the readers, for someone who’s reading this that hasn’t heard of Electric Six, which music video and which song would you recommend that they start with?
DV: Well, I like the Psychic Visions video, I like the Formula 409 video, I like the I Buy The Drugs video. Great places to start, they’re catchy songs, good videos.
And we’ll go with Gridlock and Transatlantic Flight. (For the songs without music videos)
AO: Well thank you very much for your time and I look forward to seeing you this Fall.
DV: Can’t wait. Thank you very much for the time. We’ll look forward to seeing you this Fall.