TO LIVE LIFE like a cartoon character would be pretty hellish. You'd spend lots of time acting silly, enduring the threat of violence, and constantly>"/>
TO LIVE LIFE like a cartoon character would be pretty hellish. You'd spend lots of time acting silly, enduring the threat of violence, and constantly anticipating another cruel joke right around the corner. The closest thing to a flesh 'n' blood cartoon may be Supersuckers lead singer and bassist Eddie Spaghetti, whose new record, The Evil Powers of Rock 'n' Roll, grandly illustrates his party-boy caricature.
Graceland, Wednesday, December 8
The album is something of a revival, given recent events that had imperiled his proud, drunken legacy.
Immigrating to Seattle from Tucson in 1992, Spaghetti and the Supersuckers firebombed their way to local notoriety by celebrating the punk-influenced virtues upon which their music is founded—sex, drugs, and fistfights. "We were driven by the quest to create a rock 'n' roll force," Spaghetti says.
They were men without fear or subtlety, brandishing guitars proudly and projecting a lifestyle of nonstop carousal that was as shameless as it was ridiculous. Then a series of strange occurrences threatened to divide the Supersuckers from their mystique.
It started in 1997 with the release of Must've Been High, a surreal left turn into country music that showcased their under-appreciated songwriting skills but also left those inclined to bang their heads scratching them instead.
"I wanted to show people the similarities between punk and country, that they're both basically three chords, a great melody, and some heartfelt, honest words," Spaghetti explains. "When country is good, it's gritty and real and hard. When punk is good, I don't think there's much better; but it's the same with country."
An ensuing bout of troubles with their label, Interscope Records, kept the Supersuckers sidelined for a year, meaning that they were four years removed from their last real rock record, Sacrilicious. Spaghetti's persona as a rocker was fading.
"I assumed that we'd have a rock record out pretty much immediately after the country album," Spaghetti recalls. "But we were told to sit tight. Meanwhile, time goes by and our profile slowly diminishes. . . . But now we're in a position to rebuild, so I'm letting it go. Water off a duck's back!"
Spaghetti's think-good-thoughts attitude can be attributed to the fact that The Evil Powers of Rock 'n' Roll is no longer in limbo but is instead perverting impressionable young minds at a store near you (though it's not on Interscope; the album was released on the indie Aces & Eights in October, about the same time that Sub Pop issued a "hits" collection called The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World). Evil Powers sounds like a chaotic street brawl, spitting out its teeth while working over your eardrums. Sprinting along with mindless velocity and crushing, double-guitar onslaughts, songs like "I Want the Drugs," with its thoroughly irresponsible take on the joys of controlled substances, are just what this Y2K-weary world needs—a sizeable chunk of fantasyland escapism.
"I brought [the song] to the practice space, and everyone said 'Well, I don't know. . . .' But then they'd play it and be like, 'Ohh, that's a blast!'" Spaghetti remembers. "What I love about a song like that is there's no qualifier at the end of the song, no 'but don't do it! It's bad for you!' It's just like, gimme the drugs and I'll sort it out myself."
Another song, "Hot Like the Sun," displays songwriting growth. After starting with the obligatory sexual metaphors and untamed guitar riffs, the tempo downshifts abruptly and the song evolves into an entirely different and darker tune. Dan Bolten's guitar solo angrily rips everything to shreds by the time it finally fades out.
"For me, it's been a constant quest to write a good song," Spaghetti says. "It's never been about clockin' major dough, it's just about being able to do this for a long time."
There are other healthy signs of a rock rebirth for Spaghetti and his band: the fight that broke out at a recent show in Boston, for instance.
"Some guy asked me to move. I was backstage watching Zeke perform, who I totally love, so I told him to move. What the hell's he doing backstage, anyway?" Spaghetti says indignantly. "So I turned back around, and he shoves me, again saying, 'Yo! Move it!' I give him the middle finger, look away, and he just clocks me.
"So I start after him," Spaghetti continues, "and Ron [Heathman, guitarist] comes in between us. Then another guy comes over and just decks Ron. I popped that guy, then I got punched, and this big fisticuffs breaks out. It was just one of those stupid things that happened in a split second with a couple of biker dudes whose mamas didn't love them."
As for how long the man known as Eddie Spaghetti can continue life as a rock 'n' roll hellion before finally succumbing to ambivalence, old age, or one of the other gnawing realities that eventually claim us all, no one can say. Still, he chooses to keep the door open.
"I don't know that I'll be able to stand up there screaming 'Fuck!' at the top of my lungs when I'm 50, but I don't wanna say I won't either," he says. "Right now, it feels so good, and we're just stoked to get out there and tear it up doing what we do best, which is play shit-ass rock 'n' roll."