“I generally avoid temptation unless I can’t resist it.”
~ Mae West
We didn’t really know what to expect, waiting for a few members of Electro Cult Circus to arrive at the office. With their reputation firmly intact, and most definitely preceding them, who knew what bad craziness might ensue?
A knock at the door led to trepidation… oh, who am I kidding? We welcomed Casey “Oddfellow” Ward, Vivienne Vega and Mike Folker into our office with wide-open arms.
Presenting us with their album “I Wanna Know (I Don’t Wanna Know)”, led to smiles all around as we settled into chairs for the interview.
“It’s bringing together energies and people of a similar belief, which would be a cult,” Casey said of the band, with a wink, “and then want to put on some sort of performance… so, I don’t know what that is.
“But the last, I don’t know how ever many years it’s been… 16 years? Oh, my Lord!”
“He likes to call himself a lifer,” said Vivienne, laughing.
From its start in 2001 in Defiance, Ohio, Casey has morphed the traveling circus through ups and downs, eventually landing in Columbus. He’s an artist at heart, with a wonderful soul, on a mission to bring happiness to everyone he meets.
But, just exactly how did Casey and the Electro Cult Circus wind up in Columbus?
“I had a girlfriend who lived here, and is now a lesbian. And, she’s actually the namesake of the bar that he owns (Bossy Grrl’s PinUp Joint),” said Casey, pointing to Mike Folker. “It feels like a little slice of New Orleans when you’re there.” (Ed. – Casey and his former girlfriend are still friends)
“And that’s a big part of our connection,” Casey continued. “He’s been making albums with us for years. He’d been playing half of the tracks when the guitarists would quit, so I was like, ‘Why don’t you just be in the band?’ Plus, he’s a great vocalist and great songwriter.”
The band released “I Wanna Know (I Don’t Wanna Know)” in 2016 and the breadth of its styles is wonderfully pleasing on your ears. It also showcases the many talents that come together to form the band.
“Electro Cult Circus is like a supergroup of people no one knows,” said Casey.
Mike added, “We’re like a fish that gets as big as his tank. If you give us a bigger tank…”
“We like to be a multimedia experience, where you can see the music you’re hearing,” Vivienne opined. Meanwhile, I was still wondering about the fish and what kind of fish exactly ECC would be…
Snapping back to the present, we discussed the fact that almost every band has a “Spinal Tap” moment in their history. This band is no different, in that regard.
“We had a period a few years ago,” said Casey, “where we went through four drummers in one year. 2015 was a rough year. But all through it, we just have this saying that the show must go on.”
“Our album (I Wanna Know) had to basically be re-recorded with a new drummer, because our old drummer was just a hot mess,” Vivienne said, eliciting laughter from the those around the table.
When it was thrown out that lead singers are the stereotypical prima donnas, Vivienne jumped right in with, “We’re not saying that he’s (Casey) not.” This led to everyone laughing heartily.
“One thing about being older,” Casey said, smiling, “is that I got a lot of that out of my system and have better perspective. You wouldn’t have even wanted to talk to me when I was 19, probably.”
The 11 tracks that make up the “I Wanna Know” album show the band secure in their sound, with a bit of something special for everyone listening.
With their live show truly a sight to behold, they are just coming off their short winter break before commencing with a new round of craziness for 2017 and beyond.
“We’re working on getting to South by Southwest (SXSW) next year,” Casey informed us. “Comfest we hope to play again, and Trauma… so, those are kind of our tent-poles, if you will, that keeps us going. We focus on making the shows great and we’ll get there.”
“If we run out of other big shows to play,” added Mike, “we’ll just make our own. We’ve had a good couple of years of that.”
“Of course, we’re a little narcissistic,” concluded Vivienne, “so we bring in really good bands to play with us. But, we’re partial headliners ourselves, since we put the shows together. We’ve got to let ourselves have that good vibe.”
That “vibe” is what makes an Electro Cult Circus show special. They’re having a good time, which invigorates the crowd in front of the band, sending those positive vibes right back to the stage.
“There comes a time when you reach a point,” Mike said, “that we’ve got to be the ones who throw the big shows and do the big, crazy things.”
Those “big, crazy thing” are what their shows are all about. It’s most definitely not a show for those that feel a bit prudish. ECC are risqué, at least for the Midwest. But the fact is, their shows are positive and liberating.
Although, this doesn’t mean that everyone is onboard with what they do.
“Some venues are really scared of the type of sexuality that’s in our shows,” Casey explained to us. “Sometimes, you get a reputation for things you didn’t even do. It’s like, ‘Oh, they had naked ladies up on stage’… which is true, sometimes,” he finished with a smile.
“Something I’ve always wondered,” said Mike, “is that some venue will book a band with a guy singing about his cock all night…”
“We have one song about our dicks,” Vivienne said, jumping in quickly. “But if you have cleavage showing, they’re like WHOA!”
What’s important to remember about their shows, is that it’s not about gratuitous sexuality. The shows promote a positive body image, all while serenading you with some really kick-ass music to accompany the visual experience.
“It’s a show about sex,” said Mike, “but it is supposed to remind you that you’re going home with someone who is amazing. Everyone should leave feeling a little uplifted.”
We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves. The Electro Cult Circus is all about having fun and enjoying life. And, we heartily subscribe to that theory.
The band is slated to play at The Shrunken Head in April, as they gear-up for a wildly eclectic summer.
“Some may never live, but the crazy never die.”
~ Hunter S. Thompson