High Voltage: Interview with Dick Valentine of Electric Six

by | Apr 29, 2009 | MUSIC

Detroit electro-rockers Electric Six headlined the Canal Club on Tuesday with their first ever Virginia show. The band was as rambunctious as ever spouting out new and old songs from their seasoned repertoire. Their playful stage antics, and silly, sexy and outrageous songs sent the diminutive audience in to a dance epidemic, which the singer, Dick Valentine, suspected was really the swine flu.

I had a chance to ask Valentine a few questions after the show and here’s what he had to say about Virginia, skulls, summering in the Hamptons and politely declining groupies.

LV: You’ve never played Richmond before, how come?

DV: Well I don’t know. We just go where they book us and it’s tough for the managers and booking agents to decide where we need to go and where to maximize our potential. [In the past] we’ve toured so much so they were like “Let’s try to get you to as many new places as possible.” So we’re knocking of a few new states this year that we’re really excited about. People though, they’ll never go to Virginia, they’ll never go to Connecticut or Iowa. We’re proving them wrong. We’re showing people that we are going to Virginia, we are going to Connecticut. I was just talking to some body down stairs and she was like “You’re not going to Connecticut,” and I said “Oh? Watch me. I’m going to Connecticut in August.” So you’ll see and I’ll be up there holding her skull in Hartford, you know, “What’s up now? I’m in Connecticut!”

LV: Her skull? You’re not messing around are you? (Two drunk, blond groupies approach us in the stairway).

DV: No. I mean it. I want to go to all 50 states before it’s said and done. I’ve been to 48 of them, but the band, we were just talking about this, and once we get to Connecticut it will be 40. I’ve been to great 48, but as a band, when I’m holding the skull in Connecticut it will be 40 states we’ve played in.

LV: What do you think of Virginia so far?

DV: I gotta get out side of I-95. I’ve never been to the coast or to Charlottesville. I’ve never been to…

Groupie: You should go to Avalon tonight.

DV: Where?

Groupie: Avalon. It’s a bar that we’re going to.

DV: Oh? I can’t do that. I can’t do that. I have to rest up for the drive to Washington, DC.

Groupie: That’s only an hour and a half away.

electric six Richmond VA 2009

DV: You don’t know my metabolism. (Turns back to the interview) Yeah, I want to see more [of Virginia], I want to go to the pan handle there. I want to get way in there, into coal country.

LV: Can you tell me a little about your non-musical influences?

DV: Oh, things that excite me outside of music? That’s a great question. I don’t know. The Internet? The Internet, I think, influences everybody. It’s one of my biggest influences these days. The Internet. It’s clearly not fashion. Look at me!

LV: Where do you get your sense of humor from?

DV: I hate my parents.

LV: How long have you been playing music? Was it something you discovered as a kid, or did you get in to it later?

DV: I guess I dabbled in it starting at age 10. I didn’t really focus on it until I was about 18 when I was a freshman in the dorm and my roommate had a guitar. I learned to play his guitar. We’re still friends. He was the guitar player and I was the guy who was going to grow a moustache and have nine kids, now he’s got the nine kids and the moustache and I’m the one playing the guitar.

LV: Do you remember your first band and your first show? Was that like for you?

DV: This is kind of my first band. I mean, it’s evolved over time, but this is sort of my first band. I guess I was a drummer earlier on and I played in some really bad high school bands. I was a high school drummer. I remember those, I was in a couple of those. I’d get really excited to go on and you have no idea how bad you are. No one cares how bad you are because they’re all bad. They’re bad fans, bad people. You’re in high school. You’re 15, 16 years old and they just think it’s amazing that you’re up there playing. Nobody cares about anything other than that.

LV: Do you have any interesting side projects going?

DV: I do. I started one this year called Evil Cowards. I’ve done other things in the past, this, that and the other. Electric Six takes up a lot of my time and has for the last six or seven years. It’s pretty much full time. We tour a lot. I try to take summers off now because I can. I’m going to do that again.

LV: Where do you spend your summer?

DV: I’m out in Brooklyn. I summer in Brooklyn.

LV: As opposed to the Hamptons where everyone else in New York summers?

DV: I’ve been to the Hamptons. But it’s nice to stay in Brooklyn while everyone else is out.

LV: What were you doing in the Hamptons?

DV: Uh, It’s good. My friend that I grew up with got involved with a Hampton family. So we’ve had opportunities to go out there. The lobster rolls out there are out of control. They’re like 25 bucks. You’re out there and you’re like “Hey let’s go have lobster rolls” and then you have to bring like a hundred bucks just to go have lobster rolls. It’s sort of worth it but sort of not. Yeah.

LV: What else do you do with your time off besides eat lobster rolls in the Hamptons? Do you end up spending a lot of time writing?

DV: I don’t know, I just try to get involved. I try to use the city. I live in New York but I’m not there a whole lot, so when I’m there I try to use it. I try to make excuses to get to this borough or that borough. If you live in Queens I’ll come visit you, I’ll ride my bike to you. So I ride my bike to Queens or over to the upper west side, that sort of thing. It’s all about an excuse to try and use the city. You might not even want to see that person but it’s just to get out.

LV: I often ride my bike to see people I don’t like just to get out of the house.

DV: You go to Roanoke?

LV: Never rode my bike to Roanoke, but I’ve been there.

DV: That’s the home of J. J. Redick.

LV: I’m sure Roanoke is home to many interesting people like him.

DV: Where’s George Allen From?

LV: I’m not sure.

DV: Where’s Macaca from?

LV: I believe that gentleman was from India.

DV: Was he?

LV: I’m not 100% sure. That’s not something we Virginians are proud of.

DV: It changed the balance of politics here.

LV: That it did. Do you follow politics closely?

DV: I do enjoy getting on the blogs. I like looking at the comments more than anything. I used to be a commenter but now I’m reformed.

LV: Reformed? Why are you reformed?

DV: ‘Cause it was getting me nowhere. My blood pressure was going up. So now I’m just a passive observer.

LV: Is there anything else Richmond should know about you and Electric Six?

DV: I know we’d like to spend more time here. We’d like to play a house party here sometime. Somebody could throw a house party here and provide a nice basement and set us up next to a water heater and say, “We totally don’t have any money to pay you guys but we’re totally going to tell some people about you guys.” That’d be awesome.

LV: Consider it to be done. We’ll definitely get you set up with a crappy basement water heater show.

DV: We’d drive in from Detroit just for that. Old school.

LV: We definitely won’t pay you either.

DV: I know. That’s great.

LV: We might feed you some delicious vegan pasta salad.

DV: (Shakes his head)

LV: Or some meat stuffed meat? We’ll make steaks and you can play in the basement.

DV: We’ll have Macaca-dogs. Sounds good.

RVA Staff

RVA Staff

Since 2005, the dedicated team at RVA Magazine, known as RVA Staff, has been delivering the cultural news that matters in Richmond, VA. This talented group of professionals is committed to keeping you informed about the events and happenings in the city.




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