When Electric Six released its first album, Fire, in 2003, the band hoped to indulge in-the-closet spastic dancers and record-store geeks with a blend of cock-rock guitars, Turbonegro humor and disco-synth beats. Much to lead singer Dick Valentine's surprise, though, the Detroit rockers are worshipped as idols in the land of the Greeks. Despite spouting the refrain "I've got something to put in you/At the gay bar" (in the hit song "Gay Bar") and even naming E6's latest album, Switzerland, after the notoriously peaceful country, Valentine can't shake fraternity boys from his coattails. He spoke to B-Sides about the band's ironic fan base and how it really makes him feel.
The single "I Buy the Drugs" was filmed in a frat house. How do you feel about fraternities?
It's funny that more and more they are tending to make up our core audience. My loyal customer base now is a bunch of aggro meathead dudes, and it's a weird psychology. I'm not really sure how people get like that. Obviously they are repressing something, and this is the way they channel it. I get put in bear hugs and headlocks a lot and get people shouting at me and punching me, thinking that is what I want, that it will somehow bring us closer when really what that does is make me file restraining orders every night.
Electric Six performs Friday, November 30, at House of Blues.
Have you ever actually had to?
I got close. Well, in Columbia, Missouri, once I got put in a sleeper hold, and I told the guy never to touch me again, and the guy told me I was breaking his heart. And I was like, "Well, you are breaking my spine." And then he told me to go fuck myself because I was breaking his heart. So I don't understand that; I have a hard time with that. Do you understand that?
Well, you stomped on his heart. That kind of sadness always turns to rage; it just takes different amounts of time for different people.
Well, it's funny, really, anyone's musical stage persona is 180 degrees from who they actually are. I'm just a skinny white guy with sinus problems, and when I'm not on the road I play with dolls.
Do you collect them?
[Laughs] No, but I'm looking to get off the road.
I noticed on Switzerland that none of your songs refer to dancing anymore. Have you hung up your dancing shoes?
Well, yes and no. I don't know if I ever had them, which was the whole point. We want to make records at the time that we want to make. So we've already made a couple party records, and we wanted to totally back off, at least for one record. We've already made our fourth record, and now that's right back in the party zone. Inasmuch as we party.
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How much of your time is consumed by partying?
About .5 percent.
So you're focused on doling it out for everybody else?
I think so, yeah. Maybe what we are doing is a commentary on people who party. You have to understand that what you are seeing is six people onstage who were never invited to the party, and now it's payback time.