A Fast and Loose Chat with Eddie Spaghetti of The Supersuckers, ‘The Greatest Rock n’ Roll Band in the World’


Ken SharpCategories:Featured ArticlesFeatures

Rock Cellar Magazine

Melding garage-punk, brawny rock and roll and alt-country since their formation in 1988, The Supersuckers have carved out a formidable career built on a catalog of killer records and exhaustive touring around the globe.

Join us for a free-wheeling conversation with Supersuckers chief songwriter, bassist, vocalist and all around rock guy Eddie Spaghetti.

Rock Cellar: What’s the first rock and roll record you bought?

Eddie Spaghetti: The first record that I bought with my own money was Crimes Of Passion by Pat Benatar. I still have it. I think Neil Giraldo is a great guitar player and I think that record still holds up.

Rock Cellar: If we took a peek into Eddie Spaghetti’s bedroom while growing up, what would we see? What were the albums that got the most time on your turntable, posters on your wall?

Eddie Spaghetti: When I was a kid, the first music that I got turned on to was kinda more new wave-y. The record that made me want to play music and want to be a rock-n-roller was Get The Knack. When I heard “My Sharona” on the radio I literally lost my fuckin’ mind!

They were amazing. I still think I’m trying to write a song as good as “My Sharona” to this day. That record still sounds so good. It just sounds like a band. You can hear a live band. There’s very little overdubbing that needed to be done. I imagine there’s a lot of vocals they did after the fact, but the music sounds so live and vibrant … and just the sound of those drums, oh my God!

[Editor’s Note:  Read more about recording the cover of The Knack’s “My Sharona” and the video by Eddie Spaghetti & Frank Meyer by CLICKING HERE – opens in new window]

So you would find The Knack and Blondie and The Cars and also sprinkled in was some Commodores. I was pretty into the disco thing when I was a kid. That never really left me either, I still love that music and think it holds up really well. I had a Sir Nose d’Voidoffunk poster on my wall; he was a Parliament character. I also had a Commodores poster up on my wall and I had a Blondie poster, too. I was really into Blondie a lot and I had a massive crush on Debbie Harry as a young man. So that kind of stuff was my first love, but then when I got into high school I got turned onto Van Halen and then my walls were completely covered with pictures of Van Halen.

Rock Cellar: If someone did not know the Supersuckers but wanted to check out the band, what’s the first Supersuckers album you’d pick to turn them on?

Eddie Spaghetti: Oh boy, I guess it kind of depends on their angle. If they’re alt-country people or if they’re more like rock-n-roll people, that would go a long way into determining which album of ours I’d recommend someone starts off with first. I would say our newest albums sound the best. Suck It and Play That Rock ‘N’ Roll are our best sounding records that we’ve ever made.

Rock Cellar: How about the alt-country folks?

Eddie Spaghetti: I’d say Must’ve Been High is the one. I think it’s probably our most popular record, even though at the time when we put it out it was met with a large amount of confusion and disdain from our hardcore fans. They just didn’t get it. It was so out of left field for us, for this scrappy, shitty punk rock band to put out something so big and mature in scope.

It still had goofy Supersuckers lyrics on it, but it was such a departure and came so out of left field that I think people didn’t understand it at first. That record came out before here was any such thing as “alt-country,” there was no No Depression magazine about grassroots music. There were none of those cornerstones of the movement now which has become an accepted genre in country music.

We were one of the first to put wheels on that wagon, and I’m pretty proud of that.

Rock Cellar: The Supersuckers mantra is “we’re the greatest rock and roll band in the world.” Make your case for that.

Eddie Spaghetti: I don’t think there has been anyone else doing it for as long as we’ve been doing it — and as consistently good as we’ve done it. There’s very few bands that make it past their first couple of records. They might have had a flash of brilliance on their first record and then it starts to wane on their second and by their third record they’re creatively spent.

I feel that creatively, we’ve just gotten better and better. I feel like the newer records are better than the early records, and nobody does that, even a band as great as The Rolling Stones. They had a bunch of great records but they ran out of gas eventually — with their studio records.

Rock Cellar: To what do you attribute that robust creativity for the band?

Eddie Spaghetti: Well, I don’t know if I have a real answer for it, but I’m really good. [laughs] But also, I think it’s the fact that we’ve never had any real sort of success. At different times in my life I’ve been torn up in jealousy by these bands that are so popular that I think are so mediocre — bands like U2, Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam.

I feel like we’re just as good as all of those bands, and yet here they are making millions of dollars and having millions of people identify with what they’re singing about. But I just think they’re singing about nothing. I don’t hear anything they’re speaking. Eddie Vedder has been a great friend of mine and I love the guy to death and Dave Grohl is a friend of the band as well and I love that guy as well. He’s super nice, but their music, to me, just doesn’t do it. It’s average at best, and for it to be so ridiculously popular is insane.

If I were a jealous person it would eat me up inside.

From the video “Top Shelf Shame” off the album “Motherfuckin’ Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Eddie Spaghetti and Frank Meyer

Rock Cellar: Growing up, who did you consider the greatest rock and roll band in the world?

Eddie Spaghetti: Well, it was Van Halen for a long time. When they made those five records with David Lee Roth I thought they were on top of the world. I still think that Eddie Van Halen is a great guitar player. I would probably call AC/DC the greatest rock and roll band because they overcame so much. They had probably the best lead singer to ever grace a microphone in Bon Scott, and they were able to replace him and they had even more success. [laughing] The Highway To Hell album is their high watermark.

Rock Cellar: Very few bands tour as relentlessly as the Supersuckers. How do you survive that many days on the road?

Eddie Spaghetti: [laughs] That’s a good question. We don’t eat well. We take crappy care of our bodies, and yet we’re still able to do it. I think there’s a drive to it. We’re like sharks, we have to keep swimming in order to survive. You just put your blinders on and you just go get it done. You never stop.

Rock Cellar: Before the band left Interscope, you recorded an album with legendary producer Tom Werman. What are your recollections about working with him?

Eddie Spaghetti: That was a really interesting thing to do because I had so much reverence for Tom Werman and his work, especially with Cheap Trick. To have him interested in what we were doing, it felt like, “Now here it is, it’s our time to shine. We’re gonna make this record and be every bit as popular as we always felt we ought to be.”

 

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And of course, to have that record pulled out from under us was a crushing blow. We did a show with Cheap Trick when they were doing those album shows of their first three albums. We got to open for them on the In Color night and I remember Rick Nielsen pulling me aside and said, “Hey, what’s up with Werman?” There was still some contention there. They didn’t like the way the records they did with him sounded and I was like, “these are classic records.” It’s a combination of the band being at its peak and Werman being there, but those records sound great.

Rock Cellar: I understand Werman was a big fan of you as a singer, right?

Eddie Spaghetti: Yeah, he was.  He was really complimentary of me as a singer and I’d never experienced that before. I still don’t think of myself as a singer. People aren’t coming to Supersuckers shows to hear me hit the high notes. They’re coming for the style or the delivery, and it’s more of a guttural thing. But with Werman, especially when I would go in to do backups and harmonies, he was really impressed. He even flattered me by comparing me to Robin Zander and he’s a high watermark singer. For sure. That guy is a god.

Rock Cellar: Discuss how the stoppage of live concerts at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic forced you to reinvent new ways to engage your audience and survive. 

Eddie Spaghetti: Yeah, this whole thing [was] uncharted territory. There’s no handbook for this. First of all, you never thought people were gonna stop buying your records and instead get your music for free on the internet, and now you can’t even go out and play your live shows.

What music has basically become is a loss leader for live shows. You just put out the record, everybody gets it for free on YouTube or streams it, and you just have to go out and hope the record becomes an advertisement for the live show. Now that that’s been pulled out from under us, the way to monetize what you do has become such a challenge.

Rock Cellar: Your latest album, Play That Rock ‘N’ Roll, came out before the pandemic and garnered rave reviews. How difficult was it to promote a record without being on tour to support it?

Eddie Spaghetti: It’s kind of impossible. Something similar happened to us us with our Holdin’ The Bag album, which we put out in 2015 while I was battling throat cancer. We recorded the record and then I got diagnosed with cancer, but we decided to put out the record anyway and it made it really hard to get anyone interested in it because we couldn’t go out on tour to support it. It left a hole in my creative process as well, because the way I work is I make up these songs, then we record them and we go out and play them to death and then I get sick of them and I need to make up new ones.

So there was a big hole in my process when I wasn’t able to go out and play these songs. With the new album, Play That Rock ‘N’ Roll, I need to get out there and play these songs and get sick of them in order for me to get fuel to make up new ones.

Rock Cellar: If you could have written one rock and roll song, what would it be and why?

Eddie Spaghetti: Oh, without question it’s “My Sharona.” I just think it’s one of the greatest rock and roll songs ever. The rhythm of it, the beat, the singing, that whole weird guitar solo at the end. It’s way too long [laughs], but that’s a rippin’ guitar solo. When you really listen to it, it just escalates and does all the right things a guitar solo should do.

I think that’s the perfect song.

~*~*

Catalog of The Supersuckers music is available at our Rock Cellar Store HERE
Eddie Spaghetti and Frank Meyer’s Motherfuckin’ Rock ‘n’ Roll is available on CD from our Rock Cellar Store HERE



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