Best known for breakout singles "Danger! High Voltage" and "Gay Bar," both found on their stellar 2003 debut Fire, Detroit's Electric Six have not slowed since. Although the band has reached nine full-length albums of humorous and absurd dance-infused rock, they've never done a live one -- until this weekend. The band will record tonight's First Avenue visit, which will include Fire from front to back. Gimme Noise caught up with lead singer and chief songwriter Dick Valentine to discover his rationale.
Gimme Noise: What made you decide to record your live album at First Ave?
Dick Valentine: Well, it's an amazing venue. It has amazing sound, and we have such a good relationship with the people that run it. When we talked about where we were gonna do it, it didn't take long to come up with it.
Is there a discernible difference between the Minneapolis crowd and other cities?
No; I would say people there are very respectful to us as human beings and musicians. You can't say that about every city. But that has nothing to do with why we chose the venue. I think we mainly chose it for the massive amounts of appreciation and the overall VIP treatment that you get. Also, we're doing two shows. When we put out the album , it'll be mixed and matched [between] Minneapolis and Chicago. You're not going to be hearing one set in its entirety, unless it's amazing. That's why we're doing the two shows, as just sort of a backup.
Electric Six now has a star on the wall of First Ave. How did you react when you heard that was going to happen?
It was kind of a shock. It was also a great honor that for one, shining moment, someone actually took us seriously. That doesn't happen often.
Do you feel like you get written off as a novelty?
Oh yeah, every day, We've been now going for ten years, so if that truly affected us, we probably would've stopped a long time ago. We started in '96. The original lineup of the band took us up to recording and the first few months touring of Fire, and then that lineup completely imploded. It's been fairly consistent since then; a person here, a person there, but most of the people that joined us in 2003 are still with the band.
What's it like returning to Fire? How do you feel about that record today?
I don't really think about it that often. It's out of print from the label that put it out, so therefore we can't sell it at shows, so this is one way of getting around that. It's the thing to do; you've seen other bands do a ten anniversary to revisit the album that got them to where they're at. We're not doing anything that any other band wouldn't do in this situation. But I haven't listened to Fire in a long time. There are a lot of songs that we haven't played in a long time, like "I Invented the Night" and "Vengeance and Fashion". You know you're going to hear those, and I'm pretty excited about it.
We still don't know exactly what we're gonna play on the non-Fire album, we're still talking about it. We're basically just doing our favorite songs. I think the thought of pulling a song that we've never played before, that's been shot down, because we wanna make sure it sounds good and could screw up the energy of what we've been doing for the last ten years as a live show.
You've managed to maintain your core sound pretty consistently through the years.
I think it has to do with [the fact that] we got our record deal when we were a lot older, and just realizing how lucky we were to be in this situation. When you get a record deal when you're 30 as opposed to when you're 20, there's a whole decade of shitty jobs and stuff to make you appreciate doing this for a living, so you definitely do everything you can to keep it going.
Anything else you'd like to add?
You need to get everybody to come to this show. It's just imperative. Every single person has got to come out.
I will do what I can. I think they have a capacity though.