MOST FOLKS IN SAVANNAH have no idea who Electric Six is. It’s probably because we’ve never had a serious, commercial alternative radio station — and that’s about the only way you’d ever stumble across their brand of snarky, absurdist cock rock.
Of course, they’re all the rage on the internet, and over the past few years, a fair number of their over-the-top garage-meets-electroclash tracks have made their way into the sets of some of the more open-minded DJs around town (such as the sorely-missed Captain who initially launched The Jinx’s popular Thursday night Fever! Dance Party).
With standout, virtually unforgettable almost-novelty singles such as “Gay Bar” (with it’s relentless chorus of “Girl, I wanna take you to a gay bar”), “Danger! High Voltage,” which sounded like some bizarre cross between vintage Chic and middle-period AC/DC (thanks in no small part to a crazed guest vocal that was widely rumored to have been sung by hometown hero Jack White, of White Stripes fame), and “I Buy The Drugs,” E6 have become the bad boys of dance-punk.
Their brand-new CD, I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being The Master, may be seen by many as somewhat of a return to form, as their last disc, Switzerland, was met with some resistance by longtime fans.
I Shall Exterminate is filled with overdriven blasts of guitar-rock, abetted by thunderous drums and copious amounts of keyboard and synth textures. As on previous releases, frontman/vocalist Dick Valentine’s lyrics are obtuse, tongue planted so firmly in cheek as to do himself harm.
On this leg of their world tour, the group will be joined by two buzzworthy support acts: California blues and folk influenced indie-rockers The Willowz (known best for their contributions to the soundtrack of Michel Gondry’s film Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind) and Toronto’s The Golden Dogs, whose blend of angular, Shins-ian guitar pop and offbeat, TMBG-esque quirk-rock is earning them tons of satellite and college radio airplay.
Dick Valentine played a round of “Ten Questions” with Connect just before a gig in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Your music’s been described as “cleverly dumb.” An insult or an extreme compliment?
Dick Valentine: That’s a compliment. It’s pretty much what we are trying to convey. The problem is the majority of people out there accept everything on face-value. Therefore, people see a guy with long hair and a goatee —like the guy in Nickelback— with a guitar, and they accept that he is a “rocker,” when he is anything but.
E6 appeals to a wide variety of different types of listeners. Does that make it easier to craft successful records, or more difficult?
Dick Valentine: It’s never difficult making an Electric Six record. We don’t worry at all about integrity.
What five albums or artists are usually in rotation in the van while you’re out on tour?
Dick Valentine: The new Kanye West, the new Devandra Banhart. Only those two.
Your new CD hit the Top 50 on the Billboard Heatseeker Chart the week of its release. Has it been hard to resist the temptation to gloat and/or come up with lots of crass “heatseeker” jokes in the wake of this development?
Dick Valentine: What could possibly be funny about the term “heatseeker”?
You guys go through bandmembers like some girls go through boyfriends. Can some folks simply not keep up the rock star pace?
Dick Valentine: In some cases it was just as simple as people not being able to keep up the “rock star pace.” In other cases it was as simple as the band turning into something “he never signed on for.” In one particular case, both explanations apply. Also, there are people who have elected to do other things and the separation was amicable.
What’s been the most unexpected thing that’s taken place at the shows so far?
Dick Valentine: In Madrid, the entire right side of the stage blew a fuse and I was left to entertain the audience doing impersonations of barnyard animals for ten minutes. In Spanish.
“Sexy Trash,” off the new record, sounds to me like Capt. Beefheart sitting in with the Wallmen. What’s the story behind this song?
Dick Valentine: The music was basically just done by both our guitar players messing about. I had the lyrics laying around for just such an opportunity to present itself. I concluded that this was the opportunity.
Neither The Golden Dogs or The Willowz sound much like E6. How did this triple bill come about, and does your crowd dig them?
Dick Valentine: We are actually yet to play a show with either of them. The first leg of the tour has been with two different bands. We don’t know anything about them, but we trust our booking agent.
The venue you’re playing in Savannah is normally used as a dueling pianos bar. Ever played a place like that before?
Dick Valentine: Can’t say we have. But I’m never one to shy away from a duel.
If you had $10 left to your name, what would you spend it on?
Dick Valentine: Quesadillas.
Tiny Team and Connect Savannah present Electric Six, The Willowz and The Golden Dogs, 8 pm, Tuesday at Savannah Smiles (behind Bay St. Quality Inn). Charge $20 tickets at www.tinyteamconcerts.org. Cash tickets available at Primary Art Supply, Angel’s BBQ, Annie’s Guitars & Drums, Marigold Beauty Concepts, Le Chai galerie du vin (in Starland) and Silly Mad CDs. $22 cash at the door. 21+ only w/ID.