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Electric Six sparks up the GLC

Detroit band visit between prolific record output and erotic novel publishing



Danger! High Voltage!" is a song that fired up the careers of Detroit band Electric Six when it came out in 2003, getting to No. 2 on the U.K. charts.

With a video so uniquely obscene that one YouTube fan says he switched to Internet porn on his computer when his mother came into the room because it would be easier to explain, it sets out the unbridled style of singer Dick Valentine and his five Motor City cohorts.

Valentine says that musically, Electric Six stays true to their muse and follows her to whatever dark and crazy place she wants to take them.

"We don't really pigeonhole ourselves. People think we're a disco band based on our first album, but 11 albums into it now we kind of do whatever we want," he says.

Human Zoo, their 10th release, came out last year, and they just returned to the studio to start the next one.

"We just started the process. It's early yet, but we've got a lot of the songs mapped out now. We don't plan to have it done until July so we have some time," Valentine says.

"This album is shaping up to be a bit more raw rock, which is cool because Human Zoo was all over the map. This one is more straight-up guitar rock."

The band is returning to Whistler, playing at the Garibaldi Lift Company on Monday, March 16.

Valentine says that he is the main lyricist, but as far as music goes he's dependent on his bandmates Da Ve, Johnny Na$hinal, Smorgasbord, Tait Nuc and Percussion World.

"I'm easily the worst musician in the band. I can play chords but the others bring it all together musically," he says.

"For me, personally, it's easier to pick up a guitar than to plug in a synthesizer. One extra step."

Electric Six tries to release one album a year, with band members seeing it as their job — a live album several years ago was seen as more of a vacation, getting funding from Kickstarter to make it happen.

The band went back to Kickstarter last year for another project that is about to come out in the next few weeks, a CD of covers called Mimicry and Memories.

And Electric Six Nation came through for the guys. Hoping to raise $25,000 on Kickstarter to put the album together, 793 fans backing them pledged $64,977.

Valentine recognizes the value of such support, especially after writing his first book last year.

Chinatown Reach-Around is an erotic novella published under his real name Tyler Spencer and he has just released it on audiobook.

"It's my first foray into fiction and I'm definitely going to continue with that," Valentine says.

"The book is an old-school L.A. detective noir, with those clichés and stuff like, 'And then she walked in.' The character is a loser, a drunk. He's trying to solve a mystery... It's like Angel Heart because the mystery he is trying to solve leads back to him."

Great writers try to tell a good story. Did creating and self-publishing the book take you to a new level in Valentine's writing?

"I'm very proud of it. I tied up all the loose ends pretty well. It was something I wrote without having any idea where it was going and it worked out," Valentine says.

"The fact that it became a good story and was well written was secondary. I just wanted to write a gratuitous pornographic novel. The sex is 100-per-cent gratuitous. I thought it would be funny more than anything. I'm already working on the sequel, it was so much fun."Unsurprisingly, the people responded.

"We have such a rabid fan base, so I figured market this thing at $3.50 a throw. So it sold," Valentine says.

"People like that I did impersonations of the characters in the audiobook. I was a black guy. I was a Mexican guy. There were a whole lot of women at different points. People said that doesn't happen in audiobooks and that's why they liked it. I'd never listened to an audiobook, so that was cool going in blind."

This is Electric Six's "fourth or fifth" visit to Whistler. Valentine became a father two years ago and doesn't do seven-week tours at this point, which has limited the opportunities. He is happy to be coming back.

"There's no other place on tour like it for us. It's so nice in Whistler Village, a great spot to be in for a night. There's a lot of Australians, you have to learn to like 'em," he laughs.

"Last tour we could only do the major markets. I'm really glad we can do Whistler this time."