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Supersuckers

Loosely translated from a French fanzine, the Supersuckers are “the worthy bastard one of a mother country and a punk father,” a formula that has earned the band a reputation as one of the greatest live acts in rock & roll today. The boys from Seattle-via-Tucson steamroll into Valentine’s tomorrow (Friday) in support of their latest CD, Motherfuckers Be Trippin’, a raucous diary of drinking, damage and due diligence released on their own Mid-Fi Recordings label after years of dealing with oxymoronic major independents. Frontman-bassist Eddie Spaghetti phoned Metroland from the road last week to give readers the skinny on the business of going it alone.

“Doing it all ourselves has been the best, most honest way to live, I think,” Spaghetti says. “This is a cutthroat business and we’ve had a lot of . . . debilitating events happen that most bands may experience and not survive. After we left [Sub Pop], we got signed to Interscope and recorded an album we were really proud of, and they never released it. They ended up dropping us. It literally wasted a year and a half of our career, but out of that came so much good and so many positive things that you always have to remember and focus on that stuff.”

That “stuff” came in many forms, including an association with former RCA scout Chris Neal, who left the industry giant to head up Mid-Fi. Working together, the band have been able to capitalize on their staggering work ethic and flesh-rendering firepower by getting their music heard—whether it be in the clubs, with eBay contests, on Sega video games or extreme-sports DVDs. And despite MTV’s almost ironic refusal to air the single “Rock-N-Roll Records (Ain’t Selling This Year),” Spaghetti is proud to see sales continue to climb, higher than previous major-label missives.

Motherfuckers is on pace to beat most of our other sales, so we’re really thrilled about that, especially since I said that rock & roll records ain’t selling this year,” he explains with a laugh. “The big question mark was whether we were gonna be able to get this into the stores in the right way, and most importantly, if we were gonna be able to get it out, but so far it’s been working. Chris is super creative . . . always looking for another interesting way to sneak our music into people’s subconscious. Convert the masses, if you will. But [the MTV thing] just boggles my mind, like, even if the song was total ass, that video has just gotta be seen, it’s just totally killer.”

Inspired in equal parts by rock magnates like Thin Lizzy and UFO and country legends like Willie Nelson, the Supersuckers discovered long ago that the two styles of music feed well off one another, as opposed to one canceling the other out. Their full-length country effort, Must’ve Been High, remains one of their most popular to date.

“There’s always happy middle ground to be struck there,” Spaghetti says. “But we might rethink our ideas about only playing the rock shit at the rock shows and the country shit at the country shows, and sort of blend it together a little bit more. I think it will enable the Supersuckers to be around for a long, long time.”

But for now, Spaghetti—along with new drummer Mike Musberger (Fastbacks, the Posies) and guitarists Rontrose Heathman and Dan “Thunder” Bolton—will bring strictly devil’s music to Albany and its willing victims. And everyone else. They’ll play tomorrow (Friday, Nov. 7) at Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave.) as part of the Rock Out.

“If they’re there to get rocked, we’re definitely gonna rock ’em,” he says before the conversation drifts into testaments to the invincibility of Lemmy Kilmister and the fine art of song stealing. “We’re always able to do that. And yeah, we’re still in the van after 14 years, still pullin’ a trailer, putting our records out ourselves and stuff, which may have a bit of a stigma attached. But look what we’re doing. We get to make a living playing rock & roll. I’m in my 30s and I’m still not flopping Whoppers.”

He chuckles, and one can envision him tipping his Stetson down across his brow and reaching for another cold one.

“That’s insane.”

—Bill Ketzer

The Rock Out

Sr. Spaghetti and the rest of the Supersuckers (see interview, this page) are playing tomorrow (Friday) at Valentine’s as part of the Rock Out—a mega-show event taking place at various venues around the region.

The shows are spread between six different venues on Friday and Saturday and it can get quite complicated, so we’ll try to make it easier. Performing with the Supersuckers at the aforementioned show are power popsters Until Sunday and the hard-rocking local group To Hell and Back (show starts at 8 PM, tickets are $12). Earlier in the day, the Supersuckers will play a free in-store performance at the Last Vestige in Saratoga (437 Broadway, 226-0811) at 5 PM. Boston garage-rock ensemble the Downbeat 5 (featuring onetime DMZ guitarist J.J. Rassler) and Albany garage-rock band the Staynz will play on the downstairs stage at Valentine’s on Friday (starting at 10 PM, $5).

The final Friday Rock Out show happens at King’s Tavern (Union Avenue, Saratoga Springs), with Dublin-bred alt-rock lads Nero (who, for a brief spell, called Albany home), pop-punk band Four-Minute Mile and area pop stars the Day Jobs (show starts at 10 PM, $5).

On to Saturday, fellow rockers: At the Saratoga Last Vestige, loveable pop-rock geeks Scientific Maps and singer-songwriter Samantha DeBie will play in the store at 3 PM. Hang out a bit in ’Toga Town for a rousing show with Pirate School (Kamikaze hearts with ampage) and Connecticut-based post-rock ensemble the Weigh Down at Falstaff’s on the Skidmore College Campus (7:30 PM). At Saratoga’s Club Caroline (Caroline Street, 580-0155), you’ll find an eclectic bill of garage rock (the Trauma Queens), pop (the Sixfifteens), Pavement-style indie rock (the Mitchells) and noise rock (Struction), beginning at 9 PM ($5). Saratoga’s final show, at King’s Tavern (10 PM, $8), features Cleveland-based art-damaged punk purveyors Cobra Verde, along with our own mud-damaged Coal Palace Kings, noise-damaged the Wasted and sludge-damaged Small Axe.

The southernmost Saturday Rock Out show is a doozy, and it takes place at All Sports (194 River St., 687-0064) in Troy. It features garage-rock monsters the Lyres. The Boston-based band, featuring another DMZ alum, Farfisa king Jeff “Monoman” Conolly, have been kicking it like the Stooges, ? and the Mysterians and early British Invasion since the ’70s—and for a while they were the Boston punk-rock band.

Joining them at All Sports are the Fleshtones, another garage-rock fuzz-laden Farfisa-sporting group, this one from the other metropolis oh so near, NYC. Their punk-rock and new-wave leanings originally caught the attention of I.R.S. Records, who released their debut EP in 1980, and they’ve been revivalists ever since. Opening the show are Thee Ummmm, our own garage hotshots, featuring members of 1313 Mockingbird Lane and Rocky Velvet. This one starts at 10, and $15 gets you in the door.

Go to www.therockout.com for a complete schedule and further band info, and check our club listings [page 62] for specific venue information.

The Red Rose Girls: An Uncommon Story of Art and Love

Three young women artists, Jessie Wilcox Smith, Elizabeth Shippen Green and Violet Oakley, met and were dubbed the Red Rose Girls by Howard Pyle when they attended Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and were his art students at the Drexel Institute in Philadelphia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The name was taken from the home and studio the girls lived in, the Red Rose Inn on Philadelphia’s Main Line. At a time when women were discouraged from taking classes in art, these three were fortunate to have their talent nurtured and supported. The girls were known for their luminous representations of domestic life and images that “fed the fantasies and aspirations of middle-class society.” Two of them, Smith (whose Hansel and Gretel artwork is pictured) and Green, became children’s book illustrators while the third, Oakley, became an internationally renowned painter and muralist.

The Norman Rockwell Museum (Route 183, Stockbridge, Mass.) will hold a major retrospective of the Red Rose Girls’ work beginning Saturday (Nov. 8) and continuing through May 31, 2004. For more information, call the museum at (413) 298-4100.


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