In an age when bands take years between albums and some -- bowing to the realities of the digital marketplace -- are talking about not making albums anymore at all, it's hard not to be impressed by Electric Six's work ethic.
The Detroit-formed group has released 11 albums since setting "Fire" in 2003, an impressive, nearly annual output that frontman Tyler Spencer credits to basic creative ambition.
"It's the right combination of having people who are good songwriters, people who understand that there's nothing they'd rather be doing than music, for better or for worse," says Stewart, 42, a 10-year Brooklyn resident who performs under the moniker Dick Valentine and was part of the Wildbunch, which morphed into Electric Six during the early OOs. "There's always bad days where you wish you were doing something else, but those never last too long. And writing a song always helps bring you out of that.
"And the fact that we're not multi-millionaires, that we have to keep going to pay the rent...It bodes well for productivity that we're money motivated."
Electric Six's latest collision of art and commerce is the just-released "Human Zoo," an eclectic 12-song set produced by the groups Johnny Na$hinal. From the hard-rocking "Karate Lips" to the Motown-flavored "Alone With Your Body" and the theatrical "I've Seen Rio in Flames," it covers a lot of ground, though Stewart says that wasn't necessarily by design.
"I think this album more than any other there was zero concept going in," he says. "With (2013's) 'Mustang' we wanted to make more of a rock record, and (2011's) 'Heartbeats and Brainwaves' was more of a synthesizer record. Everybody's a songwriter in the band now; you look at Keith (Thompson), our bass player, he wrote the music to three of the songs on the record, so with all that different input it can't help but be all over the place.
"But, yeah, it was definitely an album that, going into it, we had no idea what it would sound like, and it came out sounding amazing, in my opinion."
Electric Six also launched a Kickstarter campaign for a deluxe edition of the album, letting fans choose covers for the group to record and also get premiums -- including house concerts by Stewart -- in exchange for their donations.
The Electric Six, the Soft White Sixties and Silent Lions
Friday, Oct. 17. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.
Saint Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit.
Tickets are $19.
Call 313-961-6358 or visit www.saintandrewsdetroit.com.
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