As if clad in hot pink spandex, Electric Six boundlessly frolics through the most garish and overindulgent periods in 20th Century music, touching on hair metal, '80s bubble gum pop, and, ick, New Wave. If disco really did die, Electric Six would be wearing its taut, withered skin while doing The Hustle.
But despite being most well known for wacky songs like "Gay Bar" or "Danger! High Voltage!," Electric Six have done their best to move away from being a trite self-parody like Bloodhound Gang or Mindless Self-Indulgence by working (and shaking) their asses off. In fact, since 2003's "Fire", Electric Six have been the definition of prolific, producing no less than 10 albums, each splashed with the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Detroit band's characteristic comic flair.
We called up Dick Valentine (known by his mother as Tyler Spencer) to ask him about the challenges of his career, including that time he dressed up like Freddie Mercury, pirouetting on his grave (literally) with a poodle backing band. It was a cover of "Radio Ga Ga," and Mercury was supposed to have risen from the dead, but this still pissed off certain corners of the internet.
"I think in today's age you see people take offense on the internet quite easily over this, that or anything ... [but] we were forced to do a cover," Valentine explains. "We were trying to distance ourselves from being a 'novelty band,' what they kept calling us in Britain at the time. I think the worst possible thing we could have done was cover 'Radio Ga Ga.' But that was what we were forced into doing. We've been really lucky since then to not only be on a big, commercial level, but we've had such an amazing grassroots fan base grow since then. We're lucky we got past that."
Originally The Wildbunch, Electric Six changed their name after learning it was taken by a loose collective of musicians and DJs based in Bristol. Somewhat ironically, the reverse has happened to Valentine and Co., as there is now a South African group calling themselves Electric Six.
"[This is my] first time hearing about it," Valentine says. "I'd like to go to South Africa someday and shake their hand ... I'd have them open up for us. Or vice versa."
Valentine was incredibly earnest about getting folks to come out, begging no less than four times during the interview for help getting "some bodies in that room." When bringing up the band's 11th album, "Human Zoo", Valentine claims this is a perfect excuse to come to the show.
"This is our finest album. We're really peaking at the right time, 110 percent, leaving it all on stage every night and "Human Zoo" is just a culmination of the band coming together," Valentine says, sounding almost desperate. "So you need to come to the show at Club Congress and you need to buy a copy of it. On vinyl."
What is a "human zoo" anyway? Wikipedia defines the term as '19th- and 20th-century public exhibits of humans, usually in a so-called natural or primitive state ... criticized as highly degrading and racist". But Valentine's definition is fictional, he says, and a bit more simple: "It's just where humans are kept in cages ... it's definitely a literary concept. It could happen, it's a big world. I don't pretend to know everything that goes on everywhere."