It's bad enough to be criticized for something that's your fault. It's a whole different matter when you get fallout from things you can't control. Take it from Detroit bootie rockers Electric Six, who have taken flack because of war, terrorist attacks and other catastrophes.
When the band's first single, "Danger! High Voltage," was released in January, some stations wouldn't play it just because lyrics like "Fire in the disco, fire in the gates of hell" were deemed inappropriate in the wake of the dance hall bombing in Bali. Then, the band was forced to re-record their single "Gay Bar" for England because the line "Let's start a war/ Let's start a nuclear war" were considered offensive since the nation was at war with Iraq.
"When our next single, 'Dance Commander,' comes out, we're like, 'What's gonna happen?' " singer Dick Valentine said. "Is there gonna be some dictator in Uganda that dances everybody to death? Obviously, what happened in Bali was horrible, but people have to remember that these songs were written years before those things happened."
The latest misfortune to befall the band hit last week when three of the members — guitarists Rock and Roll Indian and Surge Joebot and bassist Disco — suddenly quit. They were quickly replaced by guitarists Johnny Nashinal, the Colonel and original band bassist Frank Lloyd Bonaventure.
"From the very start, there have been fundamental differences between those who have left and those who remain," Valentine said in a statement. "These are differences on how to approach this band, how to approach music and how to approach life in general. For a long time, we viewed this as one of our strengths but the reality now is that we're no longer a local band playing Detroit once a month. We're playing around six shows a week, have a very hectic schedule and are traveling all over the place, so it was almost inevitable that these differences would reach a boiling point that was counter-productive."
Not everything's bleak in hipster dance land. Actress Drew Barrymore recently handpicked "Danger! High Voltage" for the "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" movie and soundtrack, the song was used in the season finale of "Malcolm in the Middle," White Stripes member Jack White (who contributed vocals to "Danger! High Voltage") continues to plug the Six to the media and the band's debut, Fire, has met with critical acclaim (see "New Tracks From Nas, Pink, Nickelback On 'Charlie's Angels' Disc").
The disc is an amped-up showcase of overdriven guitar riffs, seductive disco beats, sinewy synth rhythms and histrionic vocals that sound like a bizarre cross between the Rapture, the Cult and the B-52's. Just don't call Electric Six disco-punk.
"People call us that just based on 'Danger! High Voltage,' " Valentine complained. "To me it's rock and roll. We hate the Bee Gees, and as far as punk goes, we're not Avril Lavigne. We have a lot of different sounds and we're not a one-trick pony. We're a six-trick pony."
No matter how much bad luck befalls Electric Six, the band will never lose its sense of humor — one of the most vital elements of its appeal. They're not exactly Spinal Tap. They're more like Tenacious D. Their songs have humorous moments for sure, but their music is joyous, well crafted and it rocks.
"What we do is a celebration," Valentine explained. "We want to be taken seriously and we also want to be taken not so seriously. We want everyone to have a good time safely. We want people to help others, and at the same time enjoy what they have going on at home."
As the singer's discourse turned more passionate and energized, he started slipping off the rails.
"We want our show to be entertaining and at the same time we want to somehow broadcast a message of dancing. A lot of our songs are about dancing and robots and dancing with robots. And then there's the whole nuclear war thing. No one really knows what that's about."
Jack Black couldn't have said it better.