Bruises to Prove It
As the outmoded ineffectiveness of the record industry’s business structure becomes more and more obvious, more bands are simply taking matters into their own hands. After a decade or so of toiling in the underground trenches, releasing fine albums on other peoples’ labels, the Supersuckers are finally going for the brass ring. Having established their own Mid-Fi Recordings label to release 2002’s “Must’ve Been Live,” the band is now ready to assault mainstream America with their latest, self-released endeavor.
Actually, anyone who thinks the Supersuckers would ever be “mainstream” rockers, grabbing at any ring that isn’t in the shape of a beer-bottle top, has never heard them and surely hasn’t heard the indelicately titled new album, “Motherfuckers Be Trippin’.” Though the Seattle band has never been one to court middle-of-the-road acceptance, the 75 variances on “motherfucker” or “motherfuckin'” that appear in the liner notes of the new disc ensure family fun for all.
“[The title] was a reaction to all of us getting into our mid-30s and proving to each other that we’re still just as stupid and retarded as we’ve always been,” says bassist/vocalist Eddie Spaghetti.
Career experts, they are not: naming their best song “I Say Fuck”; covering Ice Cube’s “Dead Homiez” as a Sub Pop B-side during the height of grunge; and releasing “Must’ve Been High,” an aptly titled country album. Yet, these guys survived more than a decade in the business by being hard-rockin’ dumbasses, so they’re not about to stop now. After seeing a creative milestone flounder (the excellent “Evil Powers of Rock ‘n’ Roll” album languished on a poorly distributed label), the band concluded it was time to handle their own affairs.
“We’d always wanted to be as independent as possible, but we always had a boss,” says Spaghetti. “After we left Sub Pop, we signed with Interscope — if we were going to have a boss, we might as well have the biggest boss of all — but they didn’t like our record. So, we wound up deciding to be our own boss. As we got older and got less drug addled and retarded, we thought we could do it as well or better than it’s been done in the past.”
Consequently, the ‘Suckers are now in the somewhat awkward position of promoting their music. Having recently embarked on one of their most comprehensive tours in years, the job of publicizing that tour has given them a unique perspective on their position in the rock pantheon.
“I grew up in the ‘Be a mystery’ school,” says Spaghetti. “And now we’ve totally shifted into thinking of ourselves as a small business. I don’t know if that’s rock & roll, but it’s been pretty freeing to tear down the walls between the bands and the fans.”
Thankfully, entrepreneurial stresses haven’t cracked the band’s resolve. “Motherfuckers” is a fine follow-up to the rollicking mastery of “Evil Powers” and it shows that — nearly 15 years after moving the band from Tucson to Seattle — they still haven’t forgotten how to whack an audience upside the head with full-power rock. With ridiculous raucousness (“Rock Your Ass” is a prime example) occasionally softened by moronic sentimentality (lyrics like “She used to be pretty, now she’s pretty fucked up” are touching … if you’re a recent lobotomy patient). Like their idols — the Ramones, AC/DC, Motorhead — the Supersuckers aren’t changing the world, or even changing their tune. They’re just rocking the only way they know how.
“We’ve been friends since the fifth grade,” says Spaghetti. “We formed this band to have a band with friends. That helps keep each other from killing each other. So, we still manage to be pretty damn grateful for what we’re doing.
“Now, I feel like we’re a new band again. We must be the slowest learners in the world.”
First appeared May 22, 2003 in Orlando Weekly.