By Jennie Orton
CALGARY — Electric Six have been a throbbing and swaggering garage disco firestorm of testosterone run amok for the last 12 years. In an era when such brazen masculinity is enough of a gamble that any project embracing it is dissected in favour of understanding the true intent behind the boldness, this band shrugs and promises it is what it is and nothing more.
“I’ve been dissected my whole life,” says dynamic frontman and Electric Six mastermind Tyler Spencer, a.k.a. Dick Valentine.
“People trying to cut me open and see what’s inside. I mean that figuratively and literally: I wake up in bathtubs all the time.”
When a band decides to put real work into its musicality and then promises you lyrically that “I’ll be there in a jiffy with my stiffy” it causes a flux in the brain. Are they pulling my leg? Are they saying something deeper? Are they for real?
Electric Six released their 10th studio album Human Zoo in 2014 (it points to their shocking consistency: it’s their 10th since 2003). The album meanders through a variety of styles and approaches but essentially comes up with the same aura of jackassery the band has established thus far in their career.
“We aren’t taking ourselves too seriously with this one,” Valentine observes.
Characteristically, there are songs within that sound like Trey Parker and Matt Stone may have written them. Case in point: “Gun Rights” which theatrically establishes right wing penis-on-the-table aggression overtop of a Wild West villain style Latin beat. Electric Six, though astute with their punch lines, don’t want to make a big thing of it; like that friend you have who is known for partying but occasionally blows your mind with profound societal and philosophical observations before doing a keg stand.
Aside from the occasional line-up change, the band hasn’t undergone a very substantial evolution in the last decade, simply flitting focus from electronica to grunge to Motown with ease; something Valentine says is fairly intentional.
“We’re pretty happy with what we are doing which is putting out an album every year and touring a lot of the same venues the same time of year,” he says. Indeed, they’ve been doing it a LONG, LONG time, making fans at venues nation wide walk home sweaty, sticky and elated.
This sense of immovable objectivity is something Valentine is planning to ride like a galloping bull well into his twilight years. The Human Zoo track “I’ve Seen Rio in Flames” is an early glimpse into a project Valentine has already started working on for his Septuagenarian years. A song Valentine couldn’t wait 30 years to get to; the track stands alone as an ballad-esque, surprisingly simple anomaly on the record with understated, synth laden lines alongside bombastic vocals, showing the long-term vision of a man who never wants to stop.
“It’s a job but it’s a great job. If you treat this as a job and realize what a great job it is, you won’t have any problems. I think it’s the people who think that they’re here from a higher power to make rock and roll music and it’s really important, those people get into trouble.”
It is this realization that inspires Electric Six to rock out with its cock out despite attempts by critics and pundits to analyze, mature, or soften the project. Even while enjoying a day of domestic bliss with his wife and daughter, Valentine admits needing the road to remind him of what he is doing.
When we suggest that maybe you need to wake up in a bathtub every now and then to remember you’re still kicking, he cleverly closes with, “Absolutely, that’s why you have two kidneys.”
After all, a man only needs one to keep the aforementioned stiffy.
See Electric Six on March 17 at the Imperial in Vancouver, on March 19 at the Gateway in Calgary, or on March 20 in Edmonton at the Starlite.AB, Alberta, Electric Six, Gateway, Starlite Room, The Imperial