The Supersuckers have made a career out of not being serious. How else to explain a body of work that includes songs like “Pretty Fucked Up,” “Born With a Tail” and “I’m a Fucking Genius”? In their 34 years as a band, the heavy-metal-meets-outlaw-country group started by bassist/vocalist Eddie Spaghetti has, in some ways, come a long way, and in others, stayed just the same.
From the band’s late ’80s beginning in Tucson—even before they were known as the Supersuckers—the group always played original material.
“Pretty much ever since I was able to play three chords on the guitar, I’ve been making up songs,” says Spaghetti. He laughs as he admits that his skill set hasn’t progressed much past that point in the three and half decades since. “I just learned what I needed to.”
The Supersuckers’ output—a dozen albums of original recordings, four compilations and five live releases—has showcased consistent quality. But when it comes to musical style, few would describe the band as consistent. On record, the Supersuckers have veered from hard rock to hardcore country and back again…and again. The thread that runs through all of their—on record and onstage—is its spirit.
Eddie Spaghetti describes the band’s enduring philosophy:
“Just come up with something that’s catchy and preferably fun,” he explains, “and then play it as fast as it ought to be played.” The band, he says, lives in the spirit of Motörhead, AC/DC, and the Ramones. “Throw in some Replacements, and you’ve kind of got the vibe of what we’re going for.”
All of the original members of the Supersuckers grew up in Tucson, but felt hemmed in by their hometown.
“We formed the band thinking that it would be our ticket out of town,” Spaghetti says. The band took an irreverent approach to the prospect of relocating, though. “We decided based on a coin toss,” Spaghetti says. “We narrowed it down to either New Orleans or Seattle.”
Seattle won the coin toss. Spaghetti recalls thinking, “There’s nothing going on up there; there’s no [music] scene. We’ll go up there, we’ll be the greatest band that anybody’s ever seen!”
When they arrived in the Pacific Northwest, reality hit them hard.
“Nirvana was already going,” Spaghetti laughs.
The band eventually inked a deal with taste-making indie label Sub Pop, and would go on to release four albums on the imprint.
In 1995, the group scored a major break when Willie Nelson invited them to play at Farm Aid.
“That really helped us a lot to get solidified in that whole outlaw country world,” Spaghetti says. “It’s acceptable to be an old fart in a cowboy hat up there singing songs,” he says with a chuckle.
It looked like another big leap forward was in the cards when Interscope Records picked up the band, but abrupt changes at the label left the band high and dry with an unreleased album in the can—where it remains to this day.
“We made a real cool record with Tom Werman, who had produced Cheap Trick and Mötley Crüe,” he says. “But nobody’s ever heard it.”
The Interscope debacle paled in comparison to another challenge the band would face. Diagnosed with cancer, Spaghetti wasn’t sure if he—much less the band—would survive. But he earned a clean bill of health in 2015. The record that eventually came out of the experience, 2018’s Suck It, is equal parts dark and humorous, and it ranks among Spaghetti’s favorite Supersuckers albums. Their most recent record, Play That Rock -N- Roll, featuring the trio lineup that’s been in place for nearly a decade—Spaghetti on bass, plus guitarist “Metal” Marty Chandler and drummer Chris “Chango” von Streicher—was released in 2020.
Now, after being sidelined by the pandemic, the band is back on the road.
“We’re going out into this vast, messy, germ-filled world, to try to tour,” he says. “There are upsides: maybe I won’t have to be giving hugs to strangers!”
Asked where he sees the Supersuckers five years from now, Eddie Spaghetti has a ready answer.
“Doing the same thing we’ve been doing for the last 30-plus years,” he says. “Just making killer rock music.
Thur, 8pm, $15
The Ritz, San Jose