Supersuckers Stick With What Works

Twenty years into his career Eddie Spaghetti has no intention to change his band's sound—for better or worse

In an interview before The Supersuckers' Thursday, November 13, show at Dan's Silverleaf in Denton, singer/bassist Eddie Spaghetti sounded enthused about the band's forthcoming Get It Together, which earns its release on November 25.

"I love it," he said. "It's easily the best-sounding record we've ever made. The songs are strong, and that's what you want to do. It's kind of a grower—not as immediate as our other records—but I think it's longer-lasting."

Which begs the question: Is that a good thing? Even 20 years into the life of the band, immediacy is a huge part of the 'suckers' appeal; the band's cover of Outkast's "Hey Ya!" was released while the inspiration was still in heavy rotation on the radio.

Eddie Spaghetti flashes his fans' favorite sign.
Michael Levine
Eddie Spaghetti flashes his fans' favorite sign.

"It just seemed like such a rock song to us that it needed to be reflected as such," he said. "I always like the thing about the '50s when there were three versions of the same song on the charts at the same time. If there's ever, like, a really current, popular song, we like to cover those."

These days, though, the band is sticking to tried and true covers—like Thin Lizzy's "The Cowboy Song," which got the biggest response of the night during the Dan's show as the first song in the band's ritual "fake encore."

But they still worked in plenty of new material, too, immediate or not.

Normally, with aging bands, the crowd's energy level tends to plummet during new songs. People will generally watch politely for a moment before turning for another beer or to take a leak. Not so much with the 'suckers. People were nodding to the beat during the new tunes, playing air guitar and even shouting back the choruses.

On earlier dates, Spaghetti said, he'd noticed that fans seemed to already know the new songs. His best guess is that they'd learned the songs from bootleg live recordings. Given the intense devotion of the hardcore fans, that' s probably the case for a few audience members on a given night.

But there's a more likely explanation for the bulk of the crowd: With any given Supersuckers song, if you can't at least fake a few words by the second chorus, well, you're an idiot. There's not much room for deviation in the band's songwriting formula. The Supersuckers' workmanlike approach to cranking out new verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus country-tinged punk songs has become a job—and Spaghetti admits as much in person and in songs like the new "Paid."

But no matter how practiced their rock poses (like guitarist Dan "Thunder" Bolton stroking Spaghetti's bass neck with his guitar strings, using the bass neck as a makeshift slide) might be, there's always a genuine smile. There's some greasy beer-stinking charm that will probably never disappear. The band's not going anywhere anytime soon.

And why would it? The members' efforts have given them the chance to work with musical heroes like Steve Earle and Willie Nelson—the latter of which the Supersuckers backed during a Tonight Show performance to promote the 1996-released Twisted Willie tribute compilation.

"We did a sound check with [Nelson], and it went horribly, just awful," Spaghetti recalled. "I was telling myself, 'No matter what, don't go burn one with Willie. Don't go burn one with Willie.' And Willie's like, 'Well, that sounds good. Hey Eddie, you wanna go burn one?' And I'm like, 'Yes, I do.'"

On Nelson's bus, smoking what Willie calls "the shit that killed Elvis," time stood still. Next thing Eddie knew, there was a knock on the door. He had completely forgotten why they were there.

"We went out there, and it went awesome," Spaghetti said. "I think getting stoned with him was the key to our success."

With a lack of foresight and a knack for good luck, it's no wonder Spaghetti and crew haven't yet started thinking about a Plan B.

"I don't see any expiration with what we do," Spaghetti said. "Especially with our country side, we could do this until we're 60 or 70 years old. It's like Willie Nelson says, 'All I do is play music and golf. Which one do you want me to retire from?'"

 
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