Music News

All Killer, No Filler

On Sunday, May 7, rock music buffs from Miami to Martin County were wetting their pants in anticipation: The Motor City 5 — the band that gave birth to modern garage rock — was scheduled to headline this Sunday's Little Steven's Underground Garage show at the Seminole Hard Rock. But on Monday, May 8, those hopes went up in a cloud of burnt rubber; MC5 bassist Michael Davis nearly bought the farm in a motorcycle accident, the victim of a wayward muffler that fell into his path. Having suffered a fractured spine, bruised ribs, and numerous abrasions, there's little chance Davis will be kicking out the jams with "Brother" Wayne Kramer any time soon. The question now is, WWESD? — what would Eddie Spaghetti do? If anyone can make up for this Memorial Day bummer, it's the man who fronts the Supersuckers, Seattle's reigning kings of ball-busting (but catchy) rock 'n' roll and also on the Underground Garage roster. New Times recently spoke with the Spaghetti man himself; he was every bit as cool, calm, and down-to-Earth on the phone as he is wild, loud, and full of fire on stage. But before the Supersuckers questions began, we asked Spaghetti if he had heard how Davis was doing now that the MC5's not playing.

"MC5's not going to do it?"

All right, so maybe Kramer's a little slow with the news. But no worries — Spaghetti's just as thrilled with the MC5's replacement, power-pop legends the Romantics.

"I love the MC5, but they've been more of a grown-up pleasure," he says. "As a kid, the Romantics were definitely a part of my life. That In Heat record was big."

That, right there, is the Cliff's Notes introduction to the Supersuckers, a band equally inspired by the raw-powered, bullshit-free rock of the MC5 and the tuneful power-pop of the Romantics. Although, a more precise description would include the Ramones and AC/DC, while making a brief pit stop into Willie Nelson territory, the latter bearing fruit on 1997's Must've Been High — a straight-up country album that even featured Nelson himself on one track. But for the most part, the Supersuckers are more urban than country.

"When I was a kid, I was all about power pop before I got into hard rock," Spaghetti says, recalling the days when he lived in Arizona and answered to the name Edward Carlyle Daly III. "I was all about Blondie and the Knack; the Knack was my first favorite band. Also, Devo and the B-52's. I was kind of a new-wave kid to start. There was a lot of good disco from that time too — I still like those Earth, Wind & Fire records."

The Supersuckers formed in Tucson in 1988 and moved to Seattle a year later. Shortly after relocating, original vocalist Eric Martin bailed, leaving Spaghetti to take over, in addition to playing bass. In 1992, the Supersuckers put out The Smoke of Hell, the band's first full-length; the album was released by Sub Pop Records, the Seattle label that helped launch Nirvana and Soundgarden. Despite having little in common with their neighbors in the Seattle grunge scene, the Supersuckers made it through the '90s just fine. Hell, they even made some new friends along the way.

"We played Eddie Vedder's 40th birthday party last year," Spaghetti recalls. "It was great. The Heart girls were there, Joey Ramone's widow, Rob Zombie, and some actors who I don't know by name but definitely recognize. And I met Richie Sexson, the first baseman for the Seattle Mariners, so I was pretty excited about that."

However, if Interscope Records is planning a wine and cheese party, that's one industry elbow-rub the Supersuckers won't be going to. The band had signed to Interscope, even recording an album. But the label was too busy dealing with mergers to actually, you know, release the damned record. Thanks to that bit of major-label moronics, the Supersuckers decided to create their own label in 2001, Mid-Fi Recordings. So when Spaghetti penned the song "Rock 'n' Roll Records (Ain't Sellin' This Year)" — the lead track on 2003's Motherfuckers Be Trippin' — he knew doubly well what he was talking about. And if you ask Spaghetti, he'll tell you the music business isn't getting any better for people who dig rock music.

"I think it's even worse today," Spaghetti says. "It's really about pop music — it's what people want to hear. But I think rock 'n' roll songs are buying. I think that bodes well for the future, if people can embrace the idea of it being like the '50s again, where it's more single-oriented. And I think it's good for bands too because it creates less album filler. Who needs that?"

Despite his '50s-era, hit-single outlook, Spaghetti is keeping au courant for the next Supersuckers release, the Paid EP, which comes out on June 6 (that's 6/6/6, the number of the beast, buddy).

"We're trying to get this new release to be available for free for the first month on iTunes," he says. "We're literally giving it away."

That may sound a bit generous, and it is, but the Supersuckers know they've got the one thing all those overprotective studio bands don't — a live show that's worth the price of admission.

"It's something we have to offer that can't be replicated," Spaghetti says. "Some bands make much better records than they put on shows. For us, I don't mind the downloading because I feel it's an opportunity for us to have an advantage in a very difficult market."

Besides, why should a band have to worry about market forces? There's only one force that drives the rock 'n' roll market, and it's got nothing to do with piracy-protected CDs. It's what's on those CDs — and what happens on stage.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jason Budjinski