Who dares wins: Electric Six's Dick Valentine on 13th album and Irish gigs
Electric Six postponed their annual November Euro tour last year due to the birth of frontman Dick Valentine's second child: However, now that the madcap Detroit-bred rock outfit are finally on their way to Ireland, David Roy got Dick on the blower to talk about the tour for their 13th album How Dare You
HI DICK, is it weird for Electric Six to be coming back to Ireland in February rather than your regular pre-Christmas visit in November?
Yeah, but we're getting our heads around it. It's definitely a different schedule than we're used to – normally we're knee-deep in recording right now but that's the way the cookie crumbled and here we are. And we're going to do it, I don't have a problem with it.
When you had to postpone the tour last year, you offered to fight anyone who objected in a convenient Primark. Did anyone actually take you up on the offer?
A few people did, but I didn't really want to fight them. I didn't really think it was worth my time. But we're definitely keeping a Nixon 'enemies list'.
At least it's given people a bit more time to listen to the new album, How Dare You, which came out in October. How are the new songs going down in the set so far?
We get a lot of good feedback for this record, people really seem to like it. We're doing a couple of songs from the album now and we'll be learning a few as we go. We're in a good spot right now.
With 13 albums to choose from now, do you stick to roughly the same songs every night or do you like to change things up as you go?
We do try to do different sets every night, but that sometimes it doesn't work out that way – and that's just because we're having too much fun just enjoying ourselves and not worrying about the audience.
Not many bands get to make 13 albums these days, and even fewer put them out at a rate of one per year like Electric Six have been doing since 2005. What's the secret to longevity?
We're a working-class band and sometimes you have to do line-up shuffles to keep it going. People come and go for different reasons, but three of us have been together for 16 years now [Tait Nucleus? on keys and guitarist Johnny Na$hinal].
Everybody in the band is very good at crafting pop songs and everybody has GarageBand or Logik or whatever with them on the road, so we're always able to compose music and share ideas.
Are your label Metropolis always able cope with your high work rate in terms of putting out a whole new album every year?
Yeah, they actually prefer it – that's what they want. The main guy at the label Dave Heckman signed us and we've been friendly with him for a long time. It's definitely a good relationship.
Is there a particular theme running through the songs on How Dare You?
No, not at all. I think in the past we have sort of loosely attempted to have thematic records – but this isn't one of them. This is just the 13 songs that we had at the time.
You were sporting fine looking homemade T-shirts featuring the album title and another slogan "THE SYSTEM WORKS JUST FINE" in some of the album promo pics. Will you be selling professionally made versions of those on the tour?
We will actually, but it's funny you should mention those T-shirts: I did that photo shoot and then I did an acoustic show at Katy's Bar right next to The Limelight.
A couple of girls from the show followed me back to the hotel because they wanted to buy those T-shirts – I actually sold two of them right there in the lobby of the Travelodge.
Last year you ran another of your successful Kickstarter campaigns to fund a new album of 'holiday songs' and a special 'unplugged' set, A Very Electric SiXmas & Chill Out! You raised almost $67,000, with some fans ponying up $1,000 a-piece for special pledge packages such as 'choose the encore' and 'E6 writes you a song'. How does it feel to have that kind of backing?
I still can't believe it. I can't believe we've had five of these campaigns now and there hasn't been Kickstarter fatigue. It's amazing how much support we have and how enthusiastic people are about these campaigns – that's kind of why we keep doing it. Until we run out of ideas or we hit the wall and maybe not as many people pledge, I guess we'll keep doing 'em.
In terms of the big backers, is it the same folks putting their money in every time or do you keep attracting new high rollers?
It's both. In general, we have long-time fans who we've known for many many years and then the other thing about our band is that we're still under the radar in a lot of ways – people discover us for the first time with every album. It's very strange.
We just did a German tour and the promoter in Hamburg had never heard of us – like, he'd didn't even know [2003 Top 5 hit] Gay Bar – but he loved the band and loved the show.
That's the kind of band we are: we exist above the radar, we exist at the radar and we exist under the radar. I've said it many times, the biggest Electric Six fan in the world like three years from now has probably never heard of us at this moment.
Electric Six, Friday February 23, The Limelight, Belfast / Saturday February 24, The Academy, Dublin. Tickets on sale now via Ticketmaster.ie