By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Two days into a tour that doesn't end until the middle of July, Eddie Spaghetti is in a room at San Francisco's Commodore Hotel, checking the place for anything he may have left behind before he gets into a van and back on the road. Spaghetti's band, The Supersuckers, played at Slim's last night, and in a few minutes they'll be headed south, bound for Hollywood's Key Club. The Supersuckers have a long road ahead of them, literally: The band is headlining for a month before they join up with Motörhead for another month, and then they'll finish up with a week on this summer's edition of the Warped Tour.
Of course, Spaghetti, born Eddie Daly, is already prepared for the months on the road and all the usual chores that go along with it, like phone interviews. "You're early," a slightly surprised Spaghetti says. "Are you calling from Texas?"
Though Spaghetti's in a hotel room hundreds of miles away, the last time we heard from his Seattle-based band they were firmly residing, in a musical sense, in the heart of the Lone Star State. A cross between the group's high-octane, mean-street rock and roll and gut-bucket country, 1996's Must've Been High proved that the cowboy hats Spaghetti and the rest of the band sport on stage weren't just for show. But Must've Been High was more or less a diversion. The band recently released its aptly named fifth album, The Evil Powers of Rock 'n' Roll, via the independent Koch record label. The release comes after a period of inactivity spent flirting with the big-league record business and coming back worn but wiser after a stint on Interscope Records that didn't yield a record.
So now The Supersuckers are "preaching the gospel again -- the evil powers of rock and roll," Spaghetti says, as he closes his hotel room door behind him. The evil Spaghetti's referring to is the kind that says, "Fuck off, Mom and Dad. I'm going out rocking tonight, and I'm going to be coming home late, and I'm going to be coming home drunk and high. And if I get caught by the cops before I get home, be ready to bail me out." You know, just good ol' rock-and-roll fun.
"All right, I'm heading down to the lobby empty-handed," Spaghetti reports almost gleefully. It's a bit of the real-life stuff most fans don't often see -- along with stuff like cooking or gardening -- that show how these supposed stars are only poor suckers like the rest of us. "Like doing laundry," he adds. "The stuff they don't want you to know about, but they all do." Spaghetti knows the score. As for the real-life guy behind Spaghetti: "Oh, you know, married, that sort of stuff."
"I'm in the van now," he finally announces. "Interview commence. Van is now moving."
The most obvious place to begin is where the band's relationship with Interscope Records ended. "It would have been nice to have a record out on the same par as all these bands that I feel are inferior to us," Spaghetti says, before explaining that the bands he's referring to are pretty much all of them. "Any band that's selling lots of records. I feel like we are better than most of them. That's why McDonald's sells the most hamburgers, because they're the worst. People want crap, and we refuse to give it to them.
"So we recorded the record for Interscope," he continues, "and it was a combination of it being something they could not put into a category easily, like a rap-metal thing, and of course, the merger thing, which didn't help things any. So we ended up being dropped, and they had to take it upon themselves to keep the record, so we couldn't release it even if we wanted to. Which in retrospect wound up being a good thing, because the record we just recorded is much more like The Supersuckers sound, and a tougher, rawer record than the one we made for Interscope."
Instead of trying to sell out once they hit a major label after four records on the seminal Seattle indie label Sub Pop (including 1992's The Smoke of Hell, 1994's La Mano Cornuda, and 1995's The Sacrilicious Sounds of The Supersuckers), The Supersuckers were perhaps only guilty of giving Interscope a record they thought the label could work with. "We tried, and that was our undoing. Any time we've ever tried in our career, it's been a failure. So it's back to being loose and off the cuff," Spaghetti says. For the making of The Evil Powers of Rock 'n' Roll, "We brought in a keg, and invited a bunch of people, had a party, and recorded a record, and it came out really great. Especially after going through the major-label recording process, it was very easy and fun again."
Perhaps it's no surprise that the band's major-label flirtation went sour. After all, The Supersuckers are an act who have rarely bowed their heads to the current zeitgeist. Case in point: They may be based in Seattle and have recorded for Sub Pop, but they are anything but part of the now-dead grunge movement. "It was something that we made a decision to do: not be a part of any genre that's currently being pulverized into the public's eye. Like when we first started at Sub Pop, the grunge thing had just started, and we were real careful not to get lumped in. Maybe it was to our financial detriment not to play that game, but we wanted to be our own entity. Then, later on, when we did the country record, the same thing sort of happened, where they were trying to put us in that alt-country world. Which is a great scene and everything. I just don't want to be part of a movement. I just want to be our own beast."