Cowboys From Hell

Eddie Spaghetti is homesick.
At the mere mention of Arizona, his voice goes limp as his mind hearkens to happy childhood memories. Like the other members of the Seattle-based hillbilly hard-core band Supersuckers, Spaghetti was born and raised in Arizona.

Along with original guitarists Dan Bolton and Ron Heathman and drummer Dancing Eagle (Eddie plays bass and sings), Spaghetti grew up in Tucson, graduated from Santa Rita High School (class of '85) and played clubs all over the state before making a break for the cradle of grunge in 1989.

"Yeah, we're good old Arizona boys," Spaghetti muses. "Seattle's a beautiful city--there's water everywhere, great place. But when I go back to Tucson now, I love it. I have a great appreciation for things down there . . . but it took moving away to see it."

Occasionally, Spaghetti says, he wonders if the 'suckers hightailed it out of their home state at the right time or for the right reasons.

"Back then, we didn't realize there were people in Arizona who were actually putting out independent records and doing tours without major-label support," he says. "It was happening, but we just didn't see it. We weren't in those same circles."

Spaghetti rattles off a roll call of names like Green on Red, Naked Prey, Sidewinders, Giant Sand and the Meat Puppets as Arizona bands that, unbeknownst to him, were making it on their own in the mid-'80s. He says the Supersuckers--known then as the Black Supersuckers--were blinded at the time by their opening-act status in long-gone Tucson and Phoenix venues like Rockers and the Sun Club.

The band's iffy career momentum, along with a healthy hit of postadolescent wanderlust, combined to give the young musicians a collective kick in the hindquarters.

"We had all lived there for 21 years and we were more than ready to get out," Spaghetti says of Arizona. "We didn't want to go to L.A., and we had a friend living in Seattle, so we thought, 'Why not?'"

Spaghetti says he and his bandmates pictured Seattle as a sleepy little town where they, as conquering Arizonans, would "go up there and blow everybody away."

"We got here," Spaghetti says with a laugh from his Seattle home, "and we were proven wrong right off the bat."

One of the band's first jobs after relocating was stuffing Nirvana singles at Sub Pop Records. Spaghetti and company got the gig via another Arizona expatriate--Danny Bland of the fondly remembered Valley band Nova Boys.

At the time, Sub Pop was a tiny local label with fewer than ten people on the payroll. Bland offered the 'suckers free beer in exchange for help inserting seven-inch singles into record sleeves.

"It's our first day there, and we're like, 'Who is this Nirvana band? What's up with them?'" Spaghetti says. "Then someone played a promo copy of Bleach and we were like, 'Oh. They're good.'

Wide-eyed, the 'suckers watched the Seattle scene explode in a blaze of flannel and feedback. But while the Northwest sound was being defined by heavy guitars and screaming lyrical introspection, the Supersuckers--resplendent in their cowboy-hat-and-cheap-cigar motif--were yucking it up with country punk songs like "Creepy Jackalope Eye," "She's My Bitch" and "Sweet 'n' Sour Jesus."

Suffice to say it took a while for the locals to catch on to the Supersuckers' knucklehead vibe.

"I think our sense of fun is something we carried up from Tucson," Spaghetti says. "When we first moved up here, I was feeling like I didn't have a hope in hell. I mean, I'm kind of a normal guy. I don't do a lot of brooding, my parents loved me, I wasn't abused, I don't have a drug problem--well, I don't have a drug problem [insert rim shot].

"Anyway, I felt out of place because, basically, we're kind of a good-time band. It took a while before people here--and other places--latched on to the idea that we weren't shoe-gazing, miserable rock 'n' rollers like most Seattle bands."

Recently, the sound coming out of Seattle has taken a mood swing. Up 'n' comers like the glam-heavy Sweetwater and the gangly goofballs in the Presidents of the United States of America are turning Seattle's frowning music face upside-down.

The Supersuckers may soon be flashing the toothiest grin of 'em all. The band's latest CD, The Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers, ranks as the best Satan-friendly, retro-redneck party disc Seattle has ever seen (and perhaps the only one--but it's still damn good).

Sacrilicious kicks off, appropriately enough, with "Bad, Bad, Bad," followed by the debut single, "Born With a Tail," a jaunty little number that has Spaghetti shout-singing, "You know/I'm in league with Satan and/You know/There can be no debatin' my hell-bound trail/I was born with a tail."

The CD's devil-may-care hootenanny is enhanced by a strong sense of melody that gives tracks like "Doublewide" (the 'suckers' ode to trailer-park life) and the pop-smart "Bad Dog" a snapping set of teeth--the album grabs on and holds tight.

The band still comes off like buzzed truckers at happy hour, but Sacrilicious hints at a more approachable Supersuckers--willful satanic references notwithstanding.

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