Something about Kurt Baker is utterly irresistible. Chalk it up to the ’80s vocal bravado, sneaker-pump stage jumps or overall goofy charisma, but the dude should come with pom-poms stapled to his hips.

See, Baker feels he was born in the wrong generation, and as the occasional sha-la-la and ooh-na-na attests, you’d think Baker was 20 years older and hanging with Elvis Costello. But sneaking around under the slick sheen is a serious artist in hot pursuit of a well-oiled, versatile stage show.

GO recently caught up with Baker to discuss why he so digs the fuzz. 

What did your experience with The Leftovers teach you about going solo?

Playing and touring with The Leftovers was such an incredible learning experience. Our DIY approach really helped me feel confident when it came time to go solo and book shows, work with promoters and everything else that goes into being in a rock ‘n’ roll band. I truly value all the stuff we did at a young age because I wouldn’t know half the things I know now about the music business. 

Who are some of your favorite Maine-made musicians to record with and why?

My current group that just recently recorded my new singles and who tour with me happen to be some of my favorite local cats. I couldn’t be more honored to play with Josh Malia and Geoff Useless, two guys that really got me into local music with their old groups, The Taxis and The Guts.

Kris Rodgers is an incredible piano player and a fantastic singer, and although not “officially” from Maine, Craig Sala is a spot-on drummer. Never misses a beat! It’s absolutely a pleasant breeze working with these guys, because we’re all on the same page. 

What dates do you have coming up? What show are you most cranked for?

On April 28 (today), we’re headlining down at Empire here in Portland. It’s just going to be a crazy party. But also that weekend we’ll be playing in Boston, Brooklyn and down in Asbury Park, N.J., for the Power Pop-a-Licious Festival. An old-school rocker and huge influence, Paul Collins set up the festival and his group The Beat are playing, and it will be great to play for an audience of power-pop fans. (Also, the venue is a bowling alley — we play on top of the lanes.) 

How did Europe receive you? Are the old countries more welcoming of a solo act than the U.S.?

Touring Europe is totally different than touring anywhere in the States. Not only are the wine, women and cheeses far superior to anything we have here, the old countries’ general attitudes to going out to see bands, having fun and supporting artists on the road is unmatched. Also, throw in the fact that in countries like Spain and Italy, punk and power-pop music does very well. And driving distances tend to be shorter than in the U.S., so all in all it’s the perfect conditions for touring. I might move there. 

You’re also an avid DJ. What’s special about spinning that you can’t get from playing?

There’s no denying that there is something special about vinyl records — it’s probably in the sound quality. I may not have all my DJ moves down, but I just love spinning records that make people wanna get up and dance. My DJ nights are more of a straight-up house party in a club setting. I just love putting on a good record and looking out to see people having fun, smiling and dancing to weird and obscure ’60s and ’70s songs I thought only I enjoyed.

What has Wyatt Funderburk (coolest name ever) brought to the table for you from Nashville?

Wyatt is a terrific songwriter and arranger, with a great ear for a catchy hook. When we first wrote The Leftovers’ single “Telephone Operator,” I knew that I had to work with him again. In February, I went down on a writing trip and came back with a bulk of new material I’ll be releasing at some point this year, and I feel like our song collaborations just keep on getting better and better. It’s not often you can really find a good songwriting partner, but Wyatt is definitely my main man. 

How do you see your sound evolving and improving in the next five years?

I’m just a sucker for a three-minute pop tune, and I couldn’t see myself branching too far away from the pop formula of a catchy chorus and some nice sounded chords. However, lyrically I could definitely use some improvement, so I’ve been reading a lot more. I’d also like to venture into some disco tunes and more Electric Light Orchestra-styled piano ballads. Hair metal is always an option. 

Mike Olcott is a freelance writer who lives in Portland and Boston.