It only took quirky Detroit rock act Electric Six about a week to raise $25,000 on Kickstarter for their forthcoming live DVD, Absolute Treasure.
For their outpouring of support — depending on the amount they pledged — fans will earn everything from a copy of the DVD to autographed drumsticks or production credits. "I never have any idea. I just let the chips blow in the wind. I don't try to have expectations, goals or ideas really," says front man Dick Valentine (a.k.a. Tyler Spencer) over the phone en route to Orange County, California, about the fan funding.
The idea for the release came about when someone at a show in London offered to film and produce it for free. At the last minute though he decided he actually wanted "a pile of money" for his efforts.
With fans already anticipating the release, "We looked into taking it into our own hands," Valentine says. "It's the state of the music industry. It's becoming more and more DIY. Before if you did something like that you'd have to go through your record label. Record labels don't have money to throw out like that."
The band is scheduled to film the DVD at a concert in their home city Sept. 7 with the hope of releasing it in 2014. With another month of the campaign left to go, Valentine says all the extra cash will "go into our bank accounts."
He adds: "If you don't like the sound of that, I'm very sorry for you then. It's all perfectly legal. We have lawyers and contracts. All the other bands are doing it. Why can't we?"
I clarify I'm not accusing him of any wrongdoing.
"I'm kidding," he says. "I'm creating controversy where there is none."
I'm caught a little off guard, considering Valentine is a charismatic performer with a reputation for putting on an engaging live show. It's hard to tell if I've sincerely insulted him or if this is just a variation on the sense of humour that prompted him to dress as Lincoln in flamboyant clothing in the video for the group's hit "Gay Bar."
That track is just one of a string of catchy, eccentric singles the band has put out over their 12-year career. Others you might recall: "Danger! High Voltage," "Radio Ga Ga" and "Dance Commander."
But it's the band's live show — which they've toured relentlessly over the last decade — where they've really won fans over. Putting on a high-energy performance night after night isn't actually as tough as it sounds, Valentine says. "You're only performing one hour a night. It's just like... if you're a fitness instructor you should have no problem doing 20 push-ups. If you're a musician you can do feats of musicianship every night that an ordinary person can't do... We try not to phone in the show every night. We realize that we're the type of band (with) pretty dedicated fans. Even if we're playing to 10 people we try to give them a good show," he says.
After a tour that will take them across Western Canada — with a stop in Whistler at the GLC March 11 — the group will head back into guitar player Johnny Nash's studio to continue work on album number nine, Valentine reveals. "The songs are more or less written. We have an idea of what songs will be on the album. They're kind of mapped out and in April/May it will be recorded and mixed," he says.
While they typically don't test out new material on live crowds, Whistler might get a taste of the forthcoming release. "There's talk on this tour of working out maybe one or two. So you might see that in Whistler, I don't know," he says.
So far, songs are diverse and unrelated to each other, dipping into various genres. "We definitely have a couple of really heavy guitar numbers. We haven't had that on an album in a while so that's nice," he says. "It's 13 songs that we've written and it's coming out."
Not via Kickstarter, but rather the more traditional label route. So don't ask.