If the Supersuckers aren’t the best rock band working today, they’ll at least challenge the other contenders to a knife fight. In addition to a resume full of song extolling the virtues of babes, bars and brawling, the group packs references from the likes of Lemmy, Eddie Vedder, Steve Earle and living legend Willie Nelson. The band is marking its two hard-fought decades in the music business with the release of Get It Together (due out Nov. 27), its first album of original material since 2003’s impeccably titled Motherfuckers Be Trippin’. Here, Supersuckers frontman Eddie Spaghetti offers a look at his band’s remedial tendencies, the hard knocks of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, and which punk music legend is kind of a dick.
Will you consider this your official 20th anniversary interview?
Sure we can consider this the official interview. I’m not really into making things official, but that has a pretty good ring to it. When a band gets to twenty years, you have to take some time and celebrate the occasion.
Are you going to do it big for the 20th?
That’s really the only way we do it, so we’re doing it even bigger for the 20th. We’re having a big party for the release of the record that will be packed with our many friends, allies and well-wishers. Then we’re doing a full European swing at the first of the year. We’re also putting some dates together stateside. We’ll definitely be around when you need us.
During your 20 years as a band, was there ever a band to break up that made you wish it had been your own?
There have definitely been times when I’ll see that a band is breaking up and just curse. Rocket From the Crypt, New Bomb Turks, and the Helicopters all spring to mind. Bands never really break up anymore, though. They always reunite. Bands should quit breaking up and just say they’re going on a break. It’s less dramatic, but more truthful. The Supersuckers will never break up. We’ll just go on an extended break.
Looking back at other bands founded in 1988, you’ve buried the Baha Men. Jesus Jones, however, still soldiers on. Who breaks first?
It is a great honor to have had a longer career than the Baha Men. As for quitting, I’m with Jesus Jones. There is absolutely no quit in us. People have asked us if we still want to be doing this at 50, there is not doubt that we can and will. Look at Lemmy. That guy is 63 years old, and he brings it every night.
Lemmy is kind of a freak of nature. As a mere mortal, if you’ve been rocking for 20 years, shouldn’t you be dead or on your second liver?
I should, but I’ve been incredibly lucky. In the words of the great Molly Hatchet, I am beating the odds. The Supersuckers are thankfully able to rock just as hard today as we have at any point in our career.
I’m assuming that time also hasn’t taken a toll on your live shows?
All I have to say to the kids is that if they come to see the Supersuckers, they’d better wear clean underwear. Why? Because the Supersuckers will rock your pants off any night of the week. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. By the end of the night, you will be totally in our camp.
Was there ever a point where rocking became a tough job for you?
Yeah, there were of course times when you get weighed down by the impossibility of selling more than X number of records or getting on the radio or selling out a venue other than the same club you’ve been playing for the last ten years. At the end of the day, though, we get to do what we want for a living, which is something that a lot of people never get the chance to do. It’s a meager living, but in the end you can’t beat the hours.
Tell me something exciting about the new album.
It sounds amazing. It’s been too long since we’ve put out a record, but we spent a lot of time on this one. When I hear songs like “Anything Else” and “When I Go, I’m Gone,” I can honestly say that they are among the best songs the Supersuckers have ever recorded.
Other than the addition of your new drummer, how have the Supersuckers evolved since the last album?
We’ve actually been doing our bet not too evolve at all. We’ve tried during our entire career to remain as remedial as possible. The Supersuckers have always been about the everyman picking up a guitar. When the story of the band is written, it will say that our greatness was defined by our limitations.
What is the songwriting in the process in the band? Did you consciously try to include more of a country sound to the Get It Together?
I sit around with an acoustic guitar and play until something good happens. Then I bring it to the practice space or we work it up during sound check. It is the least complicated system possible. We pride ourselves on keeping focused on making good, basic rock 'n' roll music. We didn’t try to pull back from the country tendencies when we recording, though. We used to try and separate the two parts of the band, but now we just mix it up, both on the record and during our live shows.
Did you feel any pressure to name the album after your last set was called Motherfuckers Be Trippin’?
The pressure was immense. We had to work really hard to come up with Get It Together, which is a good title because it’s simple and it’s a lyric from the album, but there’s still just no contest. Nothing will ever hold a candle to Motherfuckers Be Trippin'.
What new bands do you see as carrying the same torch as the Supersuckers?
I don’t see any new bands out there that are playing our kind of music. I wish I did, because it’s been such a long time since I’ve heard something that knocked me out. Maybe it’s just that I’m getting old, but none of these bands sound like they care about rock and roll. It sucks, because I miss being excited about music.
After collaborating with everybody from Eddie Vedder to Steve Earle. Who was cool and who is a dick?
Working with Steve Earle was probably the most satisfying experience. That man can teach anybody a few things about the spontaneous nature of making music. Working with Willie Nelson was also huge. The man is such a legend that it doesn’t matter what he does; it’s total genius. Eddie Vedder was also surprisingly great. I thought he was going to be like a garden-variety rock star, but we ended up playing some ping-pong and having a big time. We’ve actually been incredibly lucky in that most of the people we’ve worked with are really very cool. I have to look for an exception. That would definitely be the singer from Bad Religion, though. He’s kind of a prick.
You’re a very socially active band. What causes are you currently involved with?
We’ve been involved with two causes during our career, Farm Aid and the movement to free the West Memphis Three. Our involvement is ongoing with both of them. We’re going to have some memorabilia up on eBay over the month of November, and a portion of the proceeds will be going the West Memphis Three defense fund. Things aren’t looking too good down there in Arkansas.
After 20 years as a rock star, what wisdom have you learned?
Don’t do it. If you think you want to be to be a rock star, look into another profession. Be an accountant or a lawyer or an Indian chief. Anything but a rock musician. The world has enough of those.