Electric Six
Front: Dick Valentine, John R. Dequindre. Back:  
The Colonel, Tait Nucleus, Johnny Nashinal  
  NY Rock Confidential By Jeanne Fury
Online coverage of the New York
City music scene since 1996...

March 2006 Issue:
    • Andrew WK
    • The Vacation
    • Electric Six
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Andrew WK Who Knows? DVD Screening at the Pioneer Theater, New York, NY, February 3, 2006

Female voice: "What does the WK stand for?"
Andrew WK: "What does the WK stand for?.... Who knows?...."

So began a journey into the thoroughly odd world of Andrew Wilkes-Krier, a.k.a. Andrew WK, the little prince of party metal. At a screening for the new DVD, Andrew WK Who Knows?, more than a few minds were warped at the mix of crappy concert footage and dark, depresso-art-student video collages. But even bad AWK videos are still pretty kick-ass. No matter how shaky and low-grade the camera work was, there was a definitive rush to be had watching AWK and his band of sweaty cavemen tear up a stage full of ecstatic fans. There was some footage of AWK performing in a wheelchair onstage in Tokyo. Even a cast on his right foot couldn't keep him from getting wet and partying hard.

In between the music, there would be snippets of a young-looking AWK in his traditional white t-shirt and white jeans wearing what looked like a wig of long brown hair. The figure would walk slowly down a dark hallway, stare out a window, or gaze directly into the camera for minutes on end. But seeing as how this is Andrew WK, the crowd would randomly start laughing or murmuring. No one really took it "seriously." Fact of the matter was, the real reason we were all there was not for the DVD. We were there because He was there. At the end of the film, the WK himself slowly and menacingly walked down the aisle to a piano at the front of the theater. With his back to the small audience, AWK pounded out some classical-type music and then disappeared through the exit, only to re-appear out front signing posters and mingling with the crowd. I can now officially attest to three things: Andrew WK is quite shy, quite stinky, and his new album has two more months of work to go before the party returns.

The Vacation at the Mercury Lounge, New York, NY, February 10, 2006

What's the deal with the influx of shirtless, ladylike, white dudes fronting rock bands? We had Living Things, then the Ark, and this month it's the Vacation. Not that I'm complaining in the least. Hell, what this world needs are more lithe lily-men who look good in tight pants.

The fellas in Los Angeles' Vacation were in town to promote their upcoming self-titled Rick-Rubin-produced album, which actually came out last year under the title Band From World War Zero. They since got signed to a major label (American), hence the refurbishing and big bearded mega producer. It was early in the evening, and not a lot of folks were in the house. The band's PR rep informed me that the Vacation is one of the few bands that play amazingly well when thoroughly soused. After enduring more than my share of bands that mistakenly believe the same thing about themselves, I was skeptical, but she insisted. Since it was still early, the band didn't have time to polish off all the beers being handed to them, so I had to take a rain check on that one.

In the spirit of Iggy Pop, the Vacation took off with lecherous, unfussy rock 'n' roll, the kind you play to make your date put out more than they normally would. Lead singer Ben Tegel happens to have a love affair with danger and debauchery made famous by that streetwalkin' cheetah. Tegel – who slightly resembles everybody's favorite cornrow-loving babydaddy Kevin Federline – sported little more than a pair of low-slung ripped jeans and scars across his hairless chest, the result of an intimate encounter with broken glass at an LA gig. But that was the extent of his accessorizing. No eyeliner, fancy belts, or hipster haircuts – this quartet is purely dirty-jeans-and-optional-t-shirt rock 'n' roll. There's still some tough-guy posturing in the music's scrawling guitars and bass, but it's more like a baiting agent than sonic symbol of testosterone. As a whole, the songs kinda came and went. They were nothing to fall in love with, but they were nothing to kick out of bed, either.

Onstage at the Mercury Lounge, the Vacation flaunted a loose, sexy, upbeat energy that fueled Tegel's sass. Seeing as how most of the floor was clear, Tegel was able to jump down from the stage, get up close to crowd-goers and ooze his charm right in their faces. He'd wiggle and shimmy to bursts of guitar debauchery, and hot damn did the cameras love this boy. Every two seconds, a flash would go off as if we were at a photo shoot. Clearly, I'm not alone in my quest to bring more boogying asses to the masses.

The Wisdom of Dick

Dick Valentine is a Brooklyn resident who describes himself as "a yuppie" on a never-ending quest for exciting pizzas. At the end of the day, the lead singer of disco hard-rock party monsters Electric Six is just trying to get paid. And now that their second album Senor Smoke is finally getting its U.S. release, the odds of a happy Valentine are looking good. So bend over and let NYRock and Dick blow a little Senor Smoke up yer ass.

NYROCK: Senor Smoke is a gem. I almost want to smoke it; that's how good it is.

DICK VALENTINE: Yeah (laughs) well, I wouldn't do that.

NYR: Yeah, that might ruin it.

DV: Don't smoke the CD.

NYR: The previous album Fire, which everyone loved so much, was dance-party hard rock. This one seems to have some political statements in there. You start the album out with "Rock N Roll Evaluation" and it sort struck me as...

DV: What really inspired that song – if anything inspires anything that we do – like, the first time we went to the UK, just to kind of score points with the audience, we would apologize for our president, and that was an easy way to get a cheap applause which is always good for your ego. So we were in Glasgow and some kid came backstage, he was about 16, 17 years old, and he was like, "I really like what you said about Bush, and your band can make a difference. Rage Against the Machine is gonna stop the war, man, and you guys can stop the war!" And I really think it's funny that people actually think that rock bands can do anything about any of this. The song isn't really anti-Bush, but more like pointing fun at people who actually think rock and roll can do anything about anything.

NYR: So you're not of the belief that rock can save?

DV: No, not at all, but I also don't like Bush. I don't like anybody.

NYR: S'okay. Everybody's on Dick's shitlist?

DV: (laughs) I don't have a shitlist, per se. I don't like shitlists. I just want to make enough money at the end of the day to buy myself an exciting pizza. As long as I can get my pizza at the end of the day, then I'm not really concerned about anything else.

NYR: That's a good goal to have, an exiting pizza at the end of the day.

DV: That's right. Reward yourself at the end of the day with a nice pizza.

NYR: So let's talk about New York City's cabaret law, the fact that you can't dance in a club unless said club has a license that allows dancing.

DV: Is that true?

NYR: Yes, it is true.

DV: I didn't know about that at all.

NYR: It's some arcane law that requires a license so people can dance.

DV: I don't really do much dancing when I'm out and about in New York, because, like I said, I'm a yuppie.

NYR: But as Electric Six, ambassadors to the nightlife, please impart your wisdom to your fans: tell them how to combat the legal restrictions on rocking and rolling.

DV: Oh uh, I guess, what always works for me is if you cover yourself in glitter. People think you could be a club kid... people will understand at that point how important the nightlife is to you. You're probably on your way to an after-hours club; you're probably on E. They just don't want to mess with that because they know you probably chucked everything else in your life in order to be this person. So by covering yourself in glitter, you can pretty much do anything you want at night.

NYR: If you had a dream actor and dream actress to star in an Electric Six video, who would be the lucky winners?

DV: Let's see. Let's just break that down. Like, Guttenberg, Steve Guttenberg. I always felt he needs more work. And at the same token, Cindy Crawford. Little known fact, she was in a movie with like Stephen Baldwin. [Editor's note: It was Billy Baldwin. Damn Baldwins, can never get them right.] You remember that?

NYR: I do. They made out on the train.

DV: Yeah. I really really think she's a very beautiful woman. I believe that.

NYR: So you'd be bridging the two of them together. Which song would you have the two of them go for?

DV: Ahh, I think we'd put them in the "Bite Me" video.

NYR: You put the bar really high with your first album Fire. How'd you put together Senor Smoke?

DV: Well, we had a different lineup this time around and by the time we started work on the second record, we had already been dropped by the first record label. It was more of "let's just demo some stuff and see who wants to put this record out." We weren't really on a schedule. We had a lot of time to throw stuff up against the wall and see what stuck. The problem with that is that you got, you know, there are a couple songs on the record that I don't like, there are a couple songs that other people don't like. You get an album that you're 80 percent happy with and you wish could be a little bit better. Fortunately, we've done our third record and I think we've rectified that. That'll come out in September.

NYR: Is there a theme for the Senor Smoke tour? Is there any kind of overriding creative artistic thing going on?

DV: Yeah, you know we've kinda got some ideas for the next record. This record obviously has been out a year-and-a-half, two years now. We're also aware of the fact that a lot of people are still seeing us for the first time. We're not exactly a household name. We're putting on the ol' rock show one more time. We'll deal with lasers and smoke in the fall.

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More NY Rock Confidential Installments:
by Jeanne Fury:
Dec '05: The Ark, Tim Fite, Living Things, Independent Music Video Festival
Nov '05: Living Things, Bonk, God Forbid, Early Man, Face to Face, Secret Mommy, Various artists at the Continental
Oct '05: Black Halos, Fireball Ministry
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