Here is a history of the band. The information has been collected by a variety of sources but if there’s something incorrect or missing contact me via the site page. You can find out more by checking out Spencer’s interview on the Absolute Treasure second disc.
1995 – 2000
Electric Six began as the band The Wildbunch in 1995, formed by drummer Cory Martin and vocalist Tyler Spencer, who had just graduated from college. Tyler Spencer didn’t come from a musical family and was originally born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania before moving to Detroit before high school. Cory Martin was born in Detroit. Adopting monikers of Martin M and Jackson Pounder respectively, they began touring around Detroit.
Spencer explained their monikers:
We use stage names because we had a stupid idea one night and now we have to live with it
These pseudonyms have changed over the years, Spencer now being known as Dick Valentine.
Spencer was born in Pittsburgh, Pensylvania and moved to Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky before settling in Royal Oak in Michigan, moving every three years. He went to Berkeley High School where he knew of the other members of them loosely with Steve Nawara’s sister being in his class, but he was friends with Cory Martin.
Spencer learnt to play guitar at this time and soon began writing songs and forming early bands around 1992 at the height of grunge, but playing different music and performing live at frat parties. Going under many names, such as the Wildbunch, Maine Lobsters, Doycher, and Shatner, this was a more informal group.
When Spencer graduated he had no ambitions to be in a band, planning to become a weatherman a year after leaving University. He went to Starkville, Mississippi to study at Mississippi State University but didn’t enjoy it due to the lack of a social scene, and a different music taste, and so came back to Detroit to rejoin the Wildbunch.
The Wildbunch originally started with Spencer and dummer Steve Christensen, but when he left Cory Martin stepped in and recorded eight songs on four-track in Martin’s basement studio. These demos were heard by Anthony Selph and Joe Frezza at Gasoline Alley, who asked if they could cover ‘Gay Bar’. Instead they all formed a band together.
The band had a demo deal with Hollywood Records, and the trip to LA was for the purpose of recording a demo by which Hollywood would evaluate the band and decide whether or not to offer them a record deal. This was but 6 months after the band formed. Needless to say, a deal was not forthcoming. Songs were recorded at that session, obviously, but they were never circulated. Some songs that would be familiar to fans (Gay Bar, The Ballade of MC Sucka DJ, Computer) were done in that session.
A demo of eight tracks (Gay Bar, I Lost Control (Of My Rock ‘n’ Roll), Tiny Little Men, I Know Karate, I’m on Acid, Computer, Christian Radio Manchester and Are You Afraid of the Devil?) was created,
With Spencer learning his trade and performing the songs live in the area around 1996 – 1998, an A&R man saw them and they recorded three songs for a possible deal with Hollywood Records, the record label of Insane Clown Posse, but it fell through, as did possible deals with Roadrunner Records and Americoma, among others in the late 1990s, though no demos were created for these.
This first combination of The Wildbunch released their first single ‘I Lost Control (Of My Rock ‘n’ Roll)’ on 7” and cassette under the record label of Uchu Cult, a cover name for self-distribution, in 1996. Only 500 copies of this single were pressed, and fewer cassettes were made.
On this first single, Tyler Spencer was responsible for much of the creation of the track, performing vocals, guitar, bass and synthesizer, with Cory Martin on drums, but it was recorded with all the members of the band in place.
Aside from this single release on Uchu Cult, The Wildbunch also released an 8-track album entitled An Evening With The Many Moods Of The Wildbunch’s Greatest Hits… Tonight! also in 1996.
This 8-track is extremely rare, only 10 – 15 copies were pressed and was basically recorded over other old 8-tracks and consisted of live tracks recorded by Spencer and Martin at the Old Miami.
The 8-Track begins with three tracks by support band Panhandle and concludes with five acoustic tracks performed by Spencer. This includes two as-yet unreleased / unrecorded tracks All The Coffee I’ve Been Drinkin’ and I May Or May Not Destroy You. It clocks in at a total time of around sixty minutes.
Their second single release was under the record label of Flying Bomb Records, who they were with up until they became known as Electric Six. The Ballade of MC Sucka DJ, a parody of white rappers, featured six members. Aside from Spencer and Martin still adopting their original monikers were Disco on bass (Steve Nawara); Mojo Frezzato on guitar (Joe Frezza, who would become Surge Joebot); Rock & Roll Indian, also on guitar (Anthony Selph) and Blacklips Hoffman (Dr Brent Hoffman).
Having completed that, The Wildbunch then contributed to, what would be, an annual release from their record label Flying Bomb Records – X-Mas Surprise Package. This ‘package’ released in 1997 consisted of three tracks including The Wildbunch’s instrumental X-Mas Xorcismus (Ho Ho Ho), a cover of the theme song to “Exorcist II: The Heretic”.
During the time of releasing two 7” singles, an 8-track and contributing to a further 7”, the band found themselves touring around many locations in the Detroit area including Old Miami, the Magic Bag – where lots of their biggest gigs took place including projections and pyrotechnics – and The Gold Dollar and it was this location that was going to be where their next recording would be released, on CD.
Having toured Detroit for many months, on the 26th November 1997 The Wildbunch recorded a live album at The Gold Dollar.
Neil Yee, owner of the ‘Gold Dollar’ and ‘Off Woodward’ label, posted the following comments on the website’s forum:
There were either 500 or 1000 copies of “Don’t be Afraid of the Robot” made. I can’t remember which. My documentation is in storage… There were also some pre-pressing (lower quality printing) versions that I found when I was clearing out my house – these are the ones on eBay on occasion these days. No re-pressing has happened…
The financial deal was that after my costs were covered, all of the $ from the CD would go to the band. Of course my costs weren’t very high ($1600 I think?) but weren’t covered until a bit after I closed Gold Dollar… The band appeared to be calling it quits around the same time I was, so most of the copies made were given away in 2001 when I shut down the business! A souvenier for those showing up on those last few crowded nights. It seems that nobody really made any money on this one – because the band just wasn’t popular then…
As for the mix… The one that came out was really supposed to be the rough mix for the band to check out, but they insisted that it not be changed at all. It really could have been much better, and I did another mix of it a year ago that I’m much more happy with. I was actually sweeping the floors and restocking the beer coolers while that “mix” was blasting on the speakers….
Oh yeah – I actually was in DC for a few days last October… Where’s my drink? and also happened to be in Spain a month before – saw E6 at Azkena Festival – great show… E6 are also perhaps the nicest people in the business…
Never know where I’ll be next… It is a rather scattered life these days. Sadly probably no shows for me for awhile. I’ve only seen them three times outside of Gold Dollar – twice in DC, once in Spain.
Where now? Just left Switzerland actually…. and no E6 there…
Oh yeah please DO NOT contact me about getting copies of any other live recordings from Wildbunch or White Stripes or whoever… I only release things with the band’s permission – why there are not bootlegs of all of this on ebay – though I have multitrack recordings of most shows that I hosted. Also please don’t hassle the bands about it… Just buy their new CDs or get ’em from a paid download source that actually pays the band…
On that note, in running the Gold Dollar after having been in bands forever, it was/is particularly important to me to support the music and musicians that I enjoy. 100% of the door/cover charge money at Gold Dollar went to the bands, and they often got more if there was a contract or guarantee… People would try to get in free “I’m a friend of the band…” Well, if you’re a friend then how about giving them some $$ for their work? That said, I did keep my day job for the first two years of running the place, and lost about $1400 a month putting on shows?!? Yikes… Things got better though… Was doing it for the love of creativity and original music, not for the money… used to have a good “day job.” So once again…. BUY their stuff!
Finally… selling the bar for $250,000? Naa…. If only it would have been that much! Just sold the last pieces of the business in January… That seems to be the number everyone uses. Wonder who came up with it?
Cheers, neil (not online much these days…)
As for more sales of “Don’t be Afraid…” I have maybe 50 more in storage in the USA, but probably won’t be there for another year.
As the live CD Don’t Be Afraid of the Robot showed, aside from the tracks usually associated with The Wildbunch and Electric Six, they also wrote many others. According to some interviews, the band experimented with between 150 and 200 songs with around 50 or 60 of them being regularly played.
A year later, The Wildbunch self-released another full-length CD but was distributed solely be the band. Entitled Rock Empire, it was their first studio album and recorded near the end of the existence of The Wildbunch.
“Then we released a limited edition of “Rock Empire.” That was the last show. We mixed it in a day. We thought it was over, so we wanted to release a souvenir.” [M, http://www.freewilliamsburg.com/august_2003/electric.html]
It was sold both at live venues and at stores, with 500 copies being pressed. Whereas the CD was the same, the cover differed.
However, after three to four years of being together, The Wildbunch were soon to split and the members went their own separate ways. Spencer moved to Los Angeles in 1999 after three yeas in the band to think about his future, but also ended up writing a lot of songs, moving back to Detroit, getting a transfer with his company. Back there the Wildbunch got back together.
Prior to the release of Danger! High Voltage Tyler Spencer worked as The Dirty Shame, the album Smog Cutter Love Story contained eleven tracks, including Vengeance and Fashion, which would be later re-recorded by Electric Six for their debut mainstream album.
Recorded in 2000 and released in 2001 all tracks were written by Spencer and he also performed all vocals and instruments, aside from a guitar solo and percussion on Who’s Gonna Suffer All Your Industrial Accidents? by Chris Peters (who would later become a permanent member of Electric Six), whose brother Drew played accordion on the same track, as well as Chinese Restaurant.
As with their second Electric Six album Señor Smoke, the album was recorded at 40oz Studio at Ann Arbor in Michigan by Drew Peters, who mixed the album as well.
In 2001, The Wildbunch were back together and recording. The first big change in this new line-up (though still under the name of The Wildbunch) was the adoption of new monikers and a new member.
Tyler Spencer had changed his stage name from Jackson Pounder to the now familiar Dick Valentine around the time of Rock Empire. Original The Wildbunch member Cory Martin changed from Martin M to M. Cougar Mellencamp. Blacklips Hoffman adjusted his name slightly to Dr Blacklip Hoffman and Joe Frezza altered his stage name to Surge Joebot. Disco left the band and was replaced by Frank Lloyd Bonnaventure on bass.
It was about this time that the band created a promotional video entitled ‘Young As Hell’ that was created for submission for a VH1 television show called ‘Bands on the Run’, but the show was cancelled after one series and had been submitted for a second.
The narrator of the piece is Joe Frezza, impersonating a narrator of an Exorcist documentary (doing a pretty good impersonation apparantly). A black and white promotional video of ‘Dance Commander’ was created around this time as well.
At this time the single of ‘Danger! High Voltage’ was recorded, with Jim Diamonds credited as Bill Clinton on the saxophone and additional vocals by the artist John S O’Leary.
The official story post-release is that John S O’Leary won a competition to appear on the record, but it was Jack White who did the vocals on the record, using the pseudonym that he used when booking into hotels.
The song was originally recorded in 2000 and Jack White’s appearance on the record came about during a telephone call.
Originally the lead vocals of White and Spencer were laid down together as a standard duet but were later adjusted to a call and response style of duet which got a better reception. The reason that Jack White doesn’t sing all the parts is because he didn’t want to endorse Taco Bell. He did, however, record his parts of the song in twenty minutes and history was made.
The track came about after Spencer added lyrics to a riff created by Joe Frezza from an old Brickyard tune.
Having released their third single, The Wildbunch recorded one more track under this original name. It was a duet with Detroit artist Troy Gregory, who had appeared on Rock Empire, on his album Sybil (named after a book from the 70s about Sybil, a woman with multiple-personality disorder; the album is a collection of personalities), again produced by Jim Diamond (along with Troy Gregory) but this time released under record label Fall of Rome. The vocals were shared between Troy Gregory and Tyler Spencer, though Spencer’s familiar vocals aren’t as prominent as usual, and the line up was similar as on Danger! High Voltage, with Surge Joebot, Martin M (returning to his previous stage name) and Rock ‘n’ Roll Indian. Disco was now on bass. The track, Dealin’ In Death ‘N’ Stealin’ In The Name Of The Lord, is different from most other tracks, probably because it was written not by Tyler Spencer but by Troy Gregory instead.
After these releases, Tyler Spencer began work on a second, more electronic-based, solo album. Only four tracks were recorded however: Future Girls, Brand Name Recognition, Transatlantic Flight, and Electric Demons (In Love), which would later appear on Fire. Spencer didn’t have chance to complete the album as The Wildbunch had just signed up to record label XL Recordings.
In 2002, having released three 7” singles, two live albums, an eight-track and a feature on another album, The Wildbunch finally got a new record deal, with XL recordings. However, the name The Wildbunch was already taken by a group which included members of what would become Massive Attack. This meant that they would have to alter their name. Different names they’d come up with before settling on Electric Six, including The Turkeys, The Detroit Pythons; The Push (already taken!), Shantershumpt, Black Guy, and Sex Stars of ‘77 and Electric Five.
Having been included as part of Soulwax’s mix-compilation ‘2 Many DJs’ the previous year, Danger! High Voltage was released on the 6th January 2003 as part of a 2-CD set. It was a joint writing effort between Tyler Spencer, Joe Frezza, Steve Nawara and Anthony Selph. It was beaten to number one by the first single from band Girls Aloud.
With interest from UK record labels, The Wildbunch were on their way.
This release of Danger! High Voltage was re-created from the original tapes and, though some slight remixing and adjustments were made, it’s pretty similar.
And with a single release in 2003, they had to make an accompanying video. Tyler Spencer and actress Tina Kanarek – who lip-synchs to Jack White’s vocals – sing along to the song in a house that is a contender for the world’s worst wallpaper, with many strange objects including weird paintings on the walls and a large stuffed moose. The strangest aspect of the video is that as the words ‘High Voltage’ are sang by either Spencer of Kanarek, their genitals and breasts light up respectively. Quite. The other band me
mbers are represented in the paintings hanging on the walls.
The promo was directed by Tom Kuntz and Mike Maguire, who would later go on to direct the videos for both Gay Bar and Radio Ga Ga, and filmed in August 2002 in a house in the suburbs of Toronto.
The single was also launched with many performances on television, including the iconic BBC music programme Top of the Pops.
However, during the live recording of Danger! High Voltage for Jools Holland’s television show (in fact Jools Holland was worried this performance wouldn’t go ahead as they were arguing before the show, as detailed in the DVD booklet) three of the band members left the group – Surge Joebot (Joe Frezza); Disco (Steve Nawara) and Rock ‘n’ Roll Indian (Anthony Selph) – due to musical and personal differences between the members, with this line-up honouring the remaining tour dates before quitting.
Whilst on tour, the remaining members Spencer, Martin and Tait, now upgraded to a full member, were joined by new member Johnny Na$hional (John Nash) alongside apearances from Frank Lloyd Bonaventure (Mark Dundon), John R Dequindre (Chris Peters) and the Colonel (Zach Shipps). The Colonel did not play Glastonbury (the other two did), but he did play Reading and Leeds (Bonaventure did not). Dequindre did not play Fuji Rocks in Japan but the other two did, etc.
So with the new members, Electric Six continued on tour to promote themselves and their music before preparing to release their second single as Electric Six.
Gay Bar first appeared as a b-side of the first Wildbunch release I Lost Control (Of My Rock ‘n’ Roll), although in a slightly different version: the second chorus of ‘do you have any money?’ would not make an appearance until this re-recorded Electric Six version. It also appeared as a demo on An Evening With The Many Moods Of The Wildbunch’s Greatest Hits.. Tonight and later as the penultimate track on the live CD Don’t Be Afraid of the Robot. It would also make an appearance as track number three of Rock Empire.
It was the extended, re-recorded version that was used for the 2003 release (also released on Fire) that went on to increase the success of the song that had already proved popular in The Wildbunch days.
Gay Bar was released on June 2nd 2003 and was accompanied with the usual promotion on television including on Top of the Pops. The crowd were obviously familiar with the group’s previous song, as before the song began they chanted lines from Danger! High Voltage.
The song was released on 7” with their cover of the song Living End, on CD with Wildbunch favourites Don’t Be Afraid of the Robot and Take Off Your Clothes and on DVD, with the video, Gay Bar sung by Peaches and Electric Six’s cover of Peaches’ Rock Show. Both versions of Rock Show would be released together on a vinyl that year.
However, even before Gay Bar’s release it caused controversy with its lyrics because they mentioned ‘Nuclear War’ in the song which, because of the Iraq War being in progress and WMDs common talking points, the song had to be altered. So Spencer went back into studio and adjusted the lines from ‘Let’s start a war… start a nuclear war…’ to ‘Let’s do an edit… do a radio edit.’
The video was again directed by Tom Kuntz and Mike Maguire and featured Spencer dressed up as American president Abraham Lincoln (who was rumoured to be gay).
It was shot in April 2003 in a Toronto studio and used many stand-ins to achieve the final results. The video starts with Spencer in the Oval Office before showing him in a bath, in a bedroom, in a gym and in a pole-dancing room with his many clones, with the scenes being intercut with various suggestive items including a pepper mill, an egg in an eggcup and a train entering a station. As with the track itself, parts of the video were subject to editing, with several of items being blurred out, making the items look even worse than they did before they were pixelated. None of this damped the popularity of the video, which proved more popular than the first, and even won Video of the Year at both the Q and Kerrang awards in 2003.
The video helped the track reach the position of five in the UK charts.
So popular was Gay Bar with the public, it spawned many different things. London radio station XFM ran a competition to make a bootleg using the acoustic Gay Bar lyrics and any song you pleased. Entries include the song mixed with YMCA by The Village People, Justin Timberlake’s Rock Your Body and The Stranglers’ No More Heroes.
Secondly, the song was used as of a viral e-mail with doctored video of Tony Blair and George Bush singing to each other and edited in such a way that it seemed like they were singing the song.
Thirdly, and perhaps most famously, the song was used on the website www.rathergood.com on a ‘Viking Kitten’ flash animation by Joel Veitch.
Having released two singles under the new name of Electric Six and having toured extensively in the first half of 2003, they released their second full length studio album, though the first as Electric Six, entitled Fire, titled after the band noticed the abundance of the word on the album tracks.
The album was created by the five members before the split in early 2003: Dick Valentine, Surge Joebot, The Rock-n-Roll Indian, Disco and M, plus other associates Tait Nucleus?, Dr. Blacklips Hoffman, Jeff Simmons, Johnny Vegas-Hentch and Frank Lloyd Bonaventure (some of which would appear in later line-ups of the regularly changing band) plus many other additional musicians. The tracks were produced by Soulchild (though the album had previously been recorded without them but this version was scrapped) and recorded between London and Detroit. The group had already promoted the album live on BBC Radio One’s Lamacq Live show, playing Dance Commander, Danger! High Voltage, Gay Bar and She’s White.
The album acts as a kind of bridge between The Wildbunch releases and Electric Six with six tracks having been released before in one form or another (they are: Naked Pictures Of Your Mother; Danger! High Voltage; Gay Bar,; Nuclear War (On The Dancefloor); Getting Into The Jam and Vengeance and Fashion.)
Fire was released on CD and 12” vinyl in the UK on June 30th 2003. Fire was released on the same day in Japan but with some extra bonuses: a lyrics sheet, the CD-Rom video of Danger! High Voltage and three tracks tacked onto the end: Don’t Be Afraid Of The Robot; Remote Control (Me); and I Lost Control (Of My Rock & Roll).
The album reached number seven in the charts and enjoyed relative success.
On the same day that Fire was released, Danger! High Voltage appeared on the OST of Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. In fact, Danger! High Voltage and Gay Bar appeared on lots of compilations around this time. See the discography for more information.
Throughout the rest of 2003, Electric Six toured extensively around the UK and USA, plus in various other places including the ‘Pukkelpop’ festival in Belgium. They also continued to update their website and also providing many items for their fans including t-shirts, cigarette lighters and badges. But there was one more event for 2003: their third and final single from Fire was released later in 2003, and that would be a modified cut of the first track on the album.
On the 13th October 2003, Electric Six released their next single: Dance Commander on two CDs and a 12” vinyl. Featuring rousing lyrics and a catchy tune – slightly altered for the single release from the album version – the single was destined for success following the previous two releases but never quite got there, debuting only at number forty in the charts.
The releases of the single including remixes by Soulchild, Fatboy Slim and Benny Benassi, as well as the original album version and re-recording of popular live favourite I Am Detroit.
Naturally there was a video made to accompany the song that, although not shown on the music television channels as much as the previous two.
This third video was directed by Ruben Fleischer, who did some videos for Dizzee Rascal among others, and was a combined effort of two ideas; one from Fleischer and one from Spencer.
Fleischer’s idea was to have Spencer going round his house smashing everything up. Spencer’s on the other hand was of himself, the Dance Commander ‘holding court in a high school gymnasium with cheerleaders, freaking them as needed’. The director and star of the video reached a compromise and combined the ideas. As Spencer says on the official Electric Six website, ‘resulting in a video that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever’.
Fleischer has since gone on to direct films such as “Gangster Squad”, “Zombieland” and “30 Minutes Or Less”.
After the release of Dance Commander, Electric Six faded from the spotlight. For a reason that has never been disclosed, XL Recordings dropped the band even though they’d secured two top ten singles and one top ten album. There had been plans for a fourth single – a christmas release for Radio Ga Ga but, obviously as the band had been dropped from the label, this never materialised in 2003, instead appearing a year later under the Warner record label.
They continued to tour and write songs but little happened. There songs, however, continued to appear on compilations into 2004.
In June 2004, after many months of touring but with much quietness otherwise, Electric Six began posting fresh messages on their official website. Written mostly by Spencer, they started off just talking about what the band was up to but soon got on to talking about more about what would be happening in the next year.
One of the first postings was about Mark Dundon (Frank Lloyd Bonaventure) who was appearing on the American version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? He subsequently went on to win $16,000.
On July 8th the spoke how London radio station XFM were conducting their annual poll on favourite music of all time, urging Electric Six fans to capitalize on the success of Gay Bar the previous year, coming in at an amazing 37 in the chart.
In August 2004, Electric Six said how they’d had a busy month touring: playing in New York, London, Sydney and Ibiza (“It’s worth noting that their performance was at reknowned Ibiza club Manumission’s 10th anniversary party. Electric Six was the first and, to date, only actual “band” to ever play the main room in that ridiculously huge club”; it was also where Radio Ga Ga b-side Gay Barwas recorded) and later on September 27th announced a new electronic mailing list for fans.
It was on Thursday, September 23rd 2004 that Electric Six announced the news that fans wanted to hear: they had got a new record deal with Rushmore / Warner Music. The posting, from the official site, was as follows:
After close to a year of free agency, self-loathing and finger-pointing, Electric Six can finally announce it has a new roof over its head in Rushmore/Warner Music. The pairing of this exciting young band and this venerable record company was made official this month after a long, flirtatious courtship and now everybody wins.
We are moving forward with Rushmore/Warner Music and we are very excited,’ says Tait Nucleus? speaking for his bandmates.
Rushmore Recordings is a brand new entity under the Warner Music umbrella and its braintrust of industry veterans Steve Allen and Paul Brown claim they are excited to be working with Electric Six and they have a lot of plans and ideas involving their new act.
‘We are moving forward with Electric Six and we are very excited,” says Steve Allen, speaking for Rushmore/Warner Music. “We have a lot of plans and ideas for them.’
The vacation is over now for Electric Six. No more tomfoolery. And so far, so good! Recording for their as of yet untitled sophomore record is wrapping up today in Ann Arbor, Michigan as John R. Dequindre plops down the last of his bass parts. The band is using the bass guitar on this record, as it did on the last one, to make the songs sound richer….fuller.
‘I play bass guitar for Electric Six,’ says John R. Dequindre. ‘Today, when I leave the studio, primary tracking will be completed for my band’s as of yet untitled sophomore release. My instrument, the bass guitar, will make these songs sound thicker…..fuller.’
A release date is yet to be confirmed, but indications point to early 2005, making it a healthy year and a half between the upcoming Rushmore/Warner debut and the first and only record on XL Recordings, known as Fire.
‘There once was a time that we were moving forward with Electric Six and we recall being very excited then,’ says Artie Fufkin, speaking for XL Recordings.
Having been dropped by their record label XL Recordings in 2003, they were happy now to be on the books of a new company.
October was the month that really set things going in the band. Spencer announced on October 31st that he was in Toronto, having just filmed the new video for their next single… Radio Ga Ga. Though a cover of the classic Queen song, it had proved extremely popular as an encore at their live shows and felt it would do it justice to release it as a single. Again the video would be directed by Tom Kuntz and Mike Maguire. But more on the song in the next chapter.
Having promised it a week earlier, a preview of their new single Vibrator was released as a free download on their website on October 18th. The official reason behind the free release was so they could get the song out to their fans quickly after such a gap. The band weren’t keen on the actual track and didn’t really want to release it as a single. There was a lot of the promotion around the release though, including a promo CD being manufactured.
On the 10th November 2004, a message was posted on the Electric Six board to reveal that Cory Martin, one of the two founding members of The Wildbunch way back in 1995 was leaving
Martin did reveal that he would be rejoining forces with another Detroit band The Witches but it would be the end of his association with Electric Six.
On November 11th, having already announced that the song was being recorded and the video put together, Spencer officially announced that, as from the 12th November, the video for Radio Ga Ga would be appearing on the request music channels on digital television as well as the radio.
‘So hopefully you’ll be seeing it so often’ Spencer said, ‘you’ll have poodles dancing through your nightmares. That’ll make sense tomorrow, we promise.’
The video features Spencer dressed up as Freddie Mercury, emerging from his grave to sing the song and appear in several scenes with poodles (which may, or may not, resemble Brian May, the Queen guitarist) including a graveyard, a pub, a lounge, a stage and a room among others before returning to his grave. Watch out for another one of Spencer’s moustaches and a pair of large sticky-out false teeth that cost $1600 apparently.
The song itself was liked by Brian May but the writer, Roger Taylor, wasn’t keen. Also, there were some complaints about the nature of Spencer dancing on Freddie Mercury’s grave but I don’t think these people quite got the tongue in cheek humour of the video.
On November 30th 2004 Electric Six announced, on their website, that Radio Ga Ga was the record of the week on BBC Radio One’s early morning Nemone show between November 29th and December 3rd. They requested as many fans as possible to write in to help the track get noticed by Radio One producers.
In the time between the release of the video and the release of the songs, much happened in the world of Electric Six. Martin was replaced on tour by The Next Level (Matt Aljian) and Mark Dundon (Frank Lloyd Bonaventure) would be appearing as bass as well, having been out of the band for a while.
On the same day that that was announced, they revealed that they were getting a new person to handle their PR. Martin Landau, 24, was now responsible for promoting the band and provided everyone with an e-mail address to contact him with any queries. They want on to start, on November 19th 2004, a street team for people to help promote Electric Six in the run up to the single release.
Going back to Radio Ga Ga and the video was posted on the website in the run up to its release. After a quick post about guitarist Johnny Na$hional learning Spanish, it was time to announce the release of Radio Ga Ga.
Released on December 13th 2004 on 2 CDs and a vinyl, Radio Ga Ga managed to reach 21 in the UK charts, having faced stiff competition for the 2004 Christmas number one from the likes of Ronan Keating and Yusuf Islam’s Father and Son and, of course, Band Aid 20.
2005, a posting on the Electric Six website finally announced what fans had been waiting for: a new album. ‘A new year dawns…’ said the poster, ‘… and with it, a new Electric Six album is to be released. Señor Smoke is to be released on February 14th in the United Kingdom by Rushmore / Warner.’
The release date – whether intentional or not – was appropriate as it was Valentine’s Day.
So with a new album in the pipeline, Electric Six got ready for the launch, confirming on Wednesday February 9th the track listing.
Señor Smoke only managed to reach #105 in the charts, having been released on single CD on February 14th.
The reasoning behind this is unclear because they had been touring heavily, but whether it was a lack of promotion or a chart that is dominated by more manufactured bands, the album didn’t do as well as expected.
Having settled down with the new members, to back up the release of their new album Señor Smoke, Electric Six headed on tour around the UK. As is usual with the fluid band, there were a few line up changes for the tour. Drummer Percussion World was hired for the drumming (as on the album they didn’t have a specific drummer after the exit of Cory Martin) and Mark Duncan ( Frank Lloyd Bonaventure) stepped in for John R Dequindre who was on holiday at the time.
The touring was mainly concentrated in the UK (From Newcastle-upon-Tyne to London, from Leeds to Bournemouth), but they had time to visit other places including Russia and Prague (where they played at a wedding for some Russian friends).
Electric Six were dropped from Warner Bros, however. Electric Six had been signed to Warner Bros. under one regime and by the time the record was to be released, a new MD had been installed, who wasn’t as keen on the record. Warner did, though, give the band the record masters back (that’s why there’s a release of it on Metropolis) for nothing, which isn’t always the case.
In the book of Revelation it is written, “When God was done laying down the law from Dan to Bathsheba, He needed a place to kick back and yodel and a place where His infinite riches could earn 20% and where He and His family could be spared the wrath of the Nazi war machine. It was on that day that God created Switzerland.”
Electric Six from Detroit is a collective of spiritually bankrupt people. But they found meaning in the above biblical passage. They understood that God, love Him or hate Him, knew how to make a heck of a country when He wanted to. Electric Six loves to yodel, loves to make money and loves to sit on the political fence. So it was inevitable that their next album would be called simply…Switzerland.
Switzerland offers up thirteen songs of all styles, sounds, genres and themes. Wanna have a good time? We can do that! Wanna wallow in regret? We can do that! Wanna get real deep and examine why we are here and who God is? We can do that!
We can do that!
From the bouncy, peppy “I Buy the Drugs” to the Def Leppard/Journey-esque “Night Vision” to the super-smooth “Infected Girls”, old school E6 mavens will find just the right amount of puerile yet groovy (and vaguely intellectual) concoctions that make them want become one with their aggression. Sex is still there to be had, skulls are still there to be smashed. It’s all good.
But life is more than just a 24-hour party. Just ask Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. There comes a time when you inevitably ask “Why am I here?” “Is there a heaven and a hell?” “What happens to me after I’m dead?” and “Are you my mother?” The answers may or may not be found in the tracks entitled “The Band in Hell,” “Pink Flamingos” and “There’s Something Very Wrong With Us, So Let’s Go Out Tonight.” Electric Six is not afraid to explore the unknown and publish the results. And the results sound good, baby. Real good.
Switzerland, like its predecessor Senor Smoke, was recorded at 40 oz. Studios in Ann Arbor, Michigan. At some point during the recording, frontman Dick Valentine was asked what he thought of the recording so far. It is said that he simply nodded and said, “I’d like to do a video for every song on this our finest record to date. Get me my manager.” At which point he told his manager, “Let us do a video for every song on this our finest record to date. And if we are to fail in this endeavor, let us be brave in the attempt.”
To summarize, Switzerland is Electric Six’s finest record to date. It is a feel-good, drive-around-in-your-car-with-the-top-down summer staple. That’s why it’s being released in September.
Switzerland Press Release
Much of 2005 was uneventful for the band. After the release of Senor Smoke the band continued to tour but nothing much else was discussed. Their tour to coincide with the album included visits to London, Hastings, York, Weisen Festival (Austria), Coventry, Harelbeke Festival (Belgium), Tastefest (Detroit), Big Gay Out (Finsbury, London) and the Azkena Rock Festival (Vitoria, Spain).
The release of Senor Smoke was a sticking point through much of 2005. Initial speculation was that it was due to be released in the USA on 14th June but this failed to happen. However, in the autumn of 2005, rumours began to appear that a third album was in the planning. In fact, by November the majority of the as yet untitled third album had been written. Then, in December, the band announced via their official site that they had secured a new record label.
Through Metropolis Records, this situation should change. The record label released Señor Smoke in North America on February 7th 2006, a week shy of a year since its UK release.
Electric Six then embarked on a large tour of North America to promote the album, receiving much acclaim for the 40 odd dates, performing tracks from their vast library plus a cover of the ‘Stevie Nicks’ song ‘Stand Back’.
The band’s presence on the Internet increased in 2006 with the popularity of their MySpace section flourishing. Valentine and Tait appeared on television on a countdown of the funniest music videos ever, shown on VH2.
As the World Cup kicked off, Electric Six began posting on the official site after each Switzerland match, revealing a new track on ‘Switzerland’ each time: ‘The Band From Hell’, ‘Pulling The Plug On The Party’ and ‘Slices of You’. Christopher Tait also appeared on Detroit Internet radio station Riff2 on the 6th June 2006, debuting tracks ‘Pulling The Plug On The Party’ and ‘I Buy The Drugs’ as well as playing some classic Wildbunch tracks.
Then, on the 27th June, Electric Six revealed that after a two and a half year gap, they were to releae a new single. An I Buy The Drugs video was recorded at Fraternity House Wayne State in Detroit on Saturday 1st July 2006. The band requested for people to appear in the video via the official site.
The band’s third album, Switzerland, was released on Metropolis Records in the USA and on Inertia in Australia on 12th September 2006. There were also rumours that the band have secured record deals in France and, of course, Switzerland!
On June 26th 2006, through a posting on the official site, Electric Six announced that I Buy The Drugs would be the first song from Switzerland to get a video which was shot at ‘Fraternity House Wayne State’ in Detroit on Saturday 1st July 2006 at 8pm.
The band continued to supply tracks to be made available on ‘MySpace’, with ‘Mr Woman’ debuting on Monday 17th July after the initial uploading of ‘I Buy The Drugs’ and ‘Pulling The Plug On The Party. This was accompanied by some promo photos.
On the 21st July, ‘Electric Six’ released ‘Infected Girls’ onto ‘MySpace’ plus the ‘Tony Magnum’ directed video for ‘I Buy The Drugs’. On the 26th July it was announced that Jen would be stepping down as the runner of the MySpace site to be replaced by the Electric Six management.
Though the exact circumstances of what happened are unconfirmed, www.myspace.com/electricsix ceased to be the official MySpace site for the band. Instead it was replaced by www.myspace.com/electricsixmusic (“The OFFICIAL Electric Six MySpace Page”) backed up by an alternate link on the main official site. The arrival of this new space heralded two new tracks (‘Night Vision’ and ‘Slices of You’) plus a new poster to promote the album.
On Sunday 6th August 2006, the animated video for the short and final ‘Switzerland’ track was unveiled on their official MySpace site. Animated by Brian Oakes, it features Dick at the piano and a body-less rocket-powered Ringo Star in a pope’s hat.
Information about ‘Switzerland’ increased in mid-August. Following the album’s inevitable leak to the illegal file sharing networks in mid-August, ‘I Buy The Drugs’ was released as a digital download single on many American legal sites plus ‘iTunes’ and ‘Napster’ in the UK. The download came with a relatively high quality copy of the artwork. More release dates of ‘Switzerland’ were also announced via the official site on Thursday August 17th, confirming the album would be releasing in Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands on September 15th; the UK on September 25th or October 2nd; and Scandanavia at some point, all following the US and Australian releases on September 12th. The album became available to pre-order on the ‘Inertia Music’ website around this point.
On Friday August 18th, a competition was announced via the official site / MySpace site for fans to create their own video for ‘I Buy The Drugs’. The competition ended of September 8th with the best three versions shown on the MySpace site and the winners winning a signed copy of ‘Switzerland’, an ‘I Buy The Drugs’ t-shirt and free admission to one of the gigs on the upcoming USA ‘Swiss Vengeance’ tour.
On September 8th, the competition came to a close. On the same day the video for ‘Mr. Woman’ was revealed via a posting on the official site, though it had been posted on an external site on the 29th August and had just not been picked up.
The winners of the ‘I Buy The Drugs’ fan video competition were Philip Lickley, with his animated video showing the effects of drugs on a relationship; Shannon Klug, with her atmospheric black and white video showing the effects of a giant mushroom on a monkey; and Dorian Ramirez, whose animation showed the attempts of a TV evangalist to cure the watcher of a drug addiction, but he seems more bothered about eating evil fries. All winners won a signed copy of ‘Switzerland’, an ‘I Buy The Drugs’ t-shirt and two free tickets to a gig on the upcoming ‘Swiss Vengeance’ tour.
On September 11th the official video to ‘Pulling The Plug On The Party’ debuted on YouTube, but was not picked up on the official site then. The ‘Swiss Vengeance’ tour started two days earlier on 9th September. The video was created by the company ‘Cargo Hold Pictures’ and Zachary Holman. Casting calls had been held on August 6th and August 8th 2006 and filming took place on August 18th to August 20th. The video was finally highlighted on the band’s official MySpace sight on Monday September 18th.
September 12th was obviously the release date for ‘Switzerland’. It featured thirteen tracks including the lead single ‘I Buy The Drugs’. ‘Infected Girls’ was one of the oldest tracks on the album, dating back to the ‘Senor Smoke’ sessions when it was nearly completed for then. ‘Pink Flamingos’ had also been swimming around as an idea since around 2003, a similar length of time from when ‘Germans In Mexico’ was demoed which, like ‘Dance Epidemic’ before it was vetoed from ‘Fire’ as the band didn’t like the track.
On October 9th the promo video for ‘There’s Something Very Wrong With Us So Let’s Go Out Tonight’ debuted on the official MySpace. Directed by Bangs and Blurry it has a dark feel to it and a twist at the end…
On November 2nd the band once more posted on their official site about the end of their ‘Switzerland’ tour and an extra date on December 14th 2006 for the first American date of the ‘American Troubador’ shows.
On November 23rd the band announced via the official site the dates for their 2007 ‘Switzerland’ UK tour.
As 2006 came to a close, the video for ‘Rubber Rocket’ debuted on YouTube on the 29th December 2006. It was a low budget video featuring Dick Valentine singing karaoke.
Electric Six and Metropolis Records are pleased to announce the impending release of Electric Six’s fourth studio record entitled “I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being The Master” which will be released in North America on Oct. 9, 2007. Releases in other territories will follow.
To promote the record, Electric Six will be embarking on the It’s Showtime! Tour this fall. The tour will be the usual 7-week E6 haul across North America, except this time the band will be heading to Spain for a week in the middle of the tour to play some shows there.
A music video or two will be made.
We wish to state for the record that we are back on top of our game. The Switzerland era is over and we are no longer shy and introverted. We are now once again outgoing and social. We want to be radio and video stars again. We believe this record has a shot in hell of getting us there. We are going to update our website and do all sorts of neat podcasts. Also, Dick Valentine has recently acquired a purple cape and some professional stunt fangs.
But we can’t do it alone. We need you, the kids, to march into the offices of MTV and to cause trouble outside of KROQ and BBC Radio One. We need you to start viral internet campaigns pleading that “I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being The Master” becomes the greatest selling record of all time. We need you to broadcast pirate signals declaring this record to be the pinnacle of sound recording. If your parents try to stop you….exterminate them.
Tell everyone you know. Talk about it at church, at school, at your orthodontist’s office. Write a letter to David Geffen or Clive Davis.
There are obstacles in front of us…people, corporations, conglomerates, dependence on foreign oil, slow internet connections, attitudes and perceptions. But all those things, as you will soon see, can be….exterminated. Together, we will exterminate.
P.S. Also, we think our new song Fabulous People would be perfect background music on one of those VH1 specials about the out of control spending habits of Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears. If you are reading this and you work for VH1, let’s make a deal. Let’s make that deal now. We got some business to do. Let’s do it now.
Fourth album press release
With a new year dawning, on January 13th the band finally confirmed that the fourth album, currently being recorded, will be released in Autumn / Fall 2007 on Metropolis Records. At this point it was unnamed and the tracklist unconfirmed.
On the 20th January 2007 Dick appeared on Detroit Internet station Riff2 where he played ‘Pink Flamingos’, ‘Jimmy Carter’ and ‘I Killed Our Love’ live. He also talked about the band’s videos, the recording of the fourth album which had been done in the previous two weeks and gave it the working title of ‘Something For Everybody’.
In February 2007 a series of interviews with Dick resulted in the names of the first tracks such as ‘Dance Pattern’, ‘Dirty Looks’, ‘Sexy Trash’ and ‘Lenny Kravitz’.
On the 22nd May 2007 it was revealed that touring player Smorgasbord would become one of the main members of the band, replacing Chris Peters.
After a long time of waiting, the band proved the third album hadn’t been forgotten by revealing the promotional video for ‘Infected Girls’ on the 28th June 2007.
On the 15th July the band announced the title and tracks for their upcoming fourth album.
On the 29th July the band announced that live shots of the band from ‘Lollapalooza’ will be available for purchase in two frame sizes from http://www.frcphotos.com.
On the 8th August the online shop returned with two new t-shirts for ‘Infected Girls’ and the new album.
On the 13th August new promotional photos for the fourth album appeared, taken by photographer Alicia Gbur.
On the 15th August four tracks from the upcoming fourth album were made available to listen on MySpace: ‘Down At McDonnellzzz’, ‘Randy’s Hot Tonight’, ‘Feed My F***in’ Habit’ and ‘Sexy Trash’. Also that week the album artwork appeared on the online store of record label Metropolis Records and photos from the Lollapalooza set appeared to buy.
Around the 12th September the whole of the fourth album leaked, and on the 21st the band announced the track ‘I Don’t Like You’ would appear on all formats of the computer game “MX V. ATV Untamed.”
After the release of the fourth album on the 9th October, the promo video for ‘Down At McDonnelzzz’ came into public knowledge on the 15th.
In early November a promo video for ‘It’s Showtime!’ emerged and as December came to a close a news posting on the official site announced that the band’s fifth album had been greenlighted.
The band kicked off their UK tour in February 2008, finishing off that month with the release of the promo video for ‘Randy’s Hot Tonight!’. Though news for much of Spring 2008 was quiet, Tyler Zach did create the vocals and music for the California Milk Processing Board’s ‘Got Milk?’ campaign under the band pseudonym of ‘White Gold’ with classic video director ‘Tom Kuntz’ directing the videos.
In May 2008 a sample of Tait’s keyboarding appeared on the band’s MySpace page under the title ‘Fuschia’ with possible fifth album track names appearing at the close of June, plus a Tyler Spencer written track ‘Unstoppable’ by TV Rock (with him on vocals) being discovered back from a posting in May ’08.
On July 18th 2008 the complete track list of fifth album ‘Flashy’ was announced on the official site, plus their MySpace page debuted track ‘Transatlantic Flight’ and an eccentric mash-up of all the tracks from the album. The band also revealed that a video for ‘Formula 409’ would be appearing within a few weeks.
On July 30th the video for ‘Formula 409’ made it’s debut on YouTube and a day late the album cover appeared on the band’s MySpace page.
As August came to a close, ‘Flashy’ became available for purchase on CD and Vinyl from the record label on the 29th, with a 30-second sample of ‘Your Heat Is Rising’. Two days later that track, as well as ‘We Were Witchy Witchy White Women’, ‘Formula 409’, ‘Your Heat Is Rising’ and ‘Lovers Beware’ were made available for preview on the band’s MySpace page.
A total leak of the fifth album happened as August melted into September, and as that month came to a close more information about the live-gig-only rarity release ‘Sexy Trash’ came to light, coming out in live gigs on October 17th with a mixture of unheard songs, interludes and demos. Four days later ‘Flashy’ came out.
On the 27th November 2008 the video for ‘Making Progress’ debuted on YouTube.
The sixth record from Electric Six, ‘KILL’ was released on October 20th 2009 with an accompanying video for Body Shot. A ‘KILL Tour Mixtape’ was also released around the same time to promote the live tour.
Spencer also announced a collaboration in 2009 with Will Bates from Fall On Your Sword.
This resulted in them forming a duo called Evil Cowards and releasing an album called ‘Covered In Gas’.
The seventh album from Electric Six, ‘Zodiac’, was released on September 28th 2010, alongside a tour entitled ‘Rent is Too Damn High!’. Spencer also wrote some music with Will Bates for a series of Internet shorts entitled ‘Bite Me”. A limited-edition 7” of ‘Jam It In The Hole’ and bonus digital-only track ‘I Can Translate’ was also released.
The eighth album from Electric Six, ‘Heartbeats and Brainwaves’. was released in October 2011, alongside the usual tour. There was also a limited edition remix 7” vinyl released.
In 2012 Electric Six announced they would be recording and releasing a live album by the end of the year, as well as recording a live DVD, both to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Fire. Though this fell apart, the special gig was still held.
Spencer also continued to do solo work planning a solo album which was released as ‘Destroy The Children’ and working on a second Evil Cowards album, later entitled Moving Through Security.
He also wrote music for a second series of ‘Bite Me’ and was the singing voice behind the ‘White Gold’ sequel ‘Battle for Milkquarious!’ A video was also belatedly released for track ‘Psychic Visions’.
In October Zach Shipps left the band and was replaced by Da Ve just before they released live album ‘Absolute Pleasure’, which was following a week later by Evil Cowards’ second album ‘Moving Through Security’.
In 2013 Electric Six began work on the album that would become ‘Mustang’, released in September.
This ninth studio album would conclude ten years since the group became Electric Six.
Spencer also recorded his latest solo album, ‘Halloween Fingers’ in one day.
In October the band also performed a four song live set on World Cafe, which you can listen back to at http://www.npr.org/blogs/world-cafe/2013/10/24/240518105/electric-six-on-world-cafe
In September Electric Six recorded their live gig for the future ‘Absolute Treasure’ release, funded through a Kickstarter appeal.
On January 30th Dick Valentine was once more appeared on the Red Eye television show. Later in February the band talked about how they were to start recording their tenth studio album, alongside recording the cover songs for the Kickstarter campaign, which were sent out that month to backers alongside copies of Absolute Treasure.
In April 2014, Spencer confirmed he was writing his third solo album for release later in 2015. The band also appealed for fans to record lyrics for a song for their tenth album.
On 13th May 2014, Spencer released his debut novella ‘Chinatown Reacharound’ and two days later the title of the tenth album by Electric Six, ‘Human Zoo’, was revealed. Later in June the Kickstarter campaign for ‘Mimicry and Memories’ was launched.
Thank you to all our contributors and Christian Fuller for corrections.
In January it was announced that the recording and mixing of ‘Mimicry and Memories’ has been completed, and Dick Valentine’s 2015 Party Planner would be released. The band’s eleventh album was also in the early stages of creation, with its titled announced on the 29th August as ‘Bitch! Don’t Let Me Die!’ with a release date of 6th October. Their Kickstarter was also funded that month for a special mockumentary called ‘Roulette Stars of Metro Detroit’ with images from the filming appearing on their Facebook page over the summer.
‘Danger! High Voltage’ was also featured on a Forza6 commercial in September 2015.