Electric Six powers up for new year’s
Tyler Spencer has released three albums in the past year without breaking a sweat.
Spencer, best known as Dick Valentine, is the frontman of the eclectic Detroit-based dance-rock band Electric Six, who will play New Year’s Eve at Saint Andrew’s Hall.
The band last March released “Mimicry and Memories,” a covers album packaged with a second disc of live material. His third solo album, “Here Come the Bags!” was released in April, and the group’s 11th studio album, “B----, Don’t Let Me Die!,” was released in October.
Spencer says the new studio record is just “par for the course” for Electric Six. The band has released a studio album almost every year since its 2003 debut of “Fire,” which included the international hits “Gay Bar” and “Danger! High Voltage.” But this year’s other two releases don’t seem to have put any additional stress on Spencer.
“We put out a lot of stuff, but it doesn’t that take that long to record,” he says. “We’re going out on the road more than we’re in the studio for sure.”
The resulting records are polished, but they have a freewheeling charm that reflects Spencer’s anything-goes approach to songwriting. As with most Electric Six albums, “Don’t Let Me Die!” is unfettered by genre, ping-ponging from ’80s hair-metal throwback in “Two Dollar Two” to a goofy Elvis tribute in “Dime, Dime, Penny Dime.”
Although Spencer’s devotion to Electric Six seems robust as ever, his fascination with a solo acoustic format led him to release an album under his stage name in 2012. For “Here Comes the Bags!” he broke out of the acoustic-only aesthetic, as on one track created in the popular computer program GarageBand and featuring vocals by his 3-year-old daughter.
“She grabbed the microphone away from me and started singing the ABC song in the middle of me doing my vocals,” Spencer says. “I don’t think I’m ever going to release a GarageBand recording again unless she does something like that. You’re never going to replicate something like that in the studio.”
For its next trick, Electric Six is making its first foray into reality TV. Earlier this year, the band raised $63,000 on Kickstarter — more than double its original goal — to produce a pilot for a mock reality show called “The Roulette Stars of Metro Detroit.” This is the band’s third Kickstarter campaign (its last one produced “Mimicry and Memories”). The pilot is scheduled to arrive in June, and Spencer says the band hopes a network will pick it up.
“The idea is that we’re millionaires and we live a lavish lifestyle,” Spencer says. “But it’s not because of the band. It’s because we all made a lot of money in Detroit casinos.”
Spencer says the band is having fun shooting the pilot. But in venturing into the medium of television, it appears as though Electric Six may have finally found the outer bounds of its prodigious creative energy.
“It’s taking up a lot of time,” Spencer says. “I feel like we’ve got a lot on our plate right now.”
Patrick Dunn is an Ann Arbor-based freelance writer.
9 p.m. Thursday
Saint Andrew’s Hall
431 E. Congress,