Motherfuckers Be Trippin’ (Mid-Fi)
An interview with Eddie Spaghetti
by Brian Varney
The new record (Motherfuckers Be Trippin’) is on your label?
Yeah, out April 22, on MidFi.
How have the new songs gone over live?
Kinda surprisingly well. Generally speaking, when you have new songs that people haven’t heard before, they just kinda stand there with their mouths hanging open. I remember when we finished our La Mano Cornuda (Sub Pop, 1994) record, we did a couple of sets where we just played the record front to back and people were just like, “Whatever, dude.” This time around, people totally rock out.
Are you running the business side of the label, or do you have people who do that?
It’s sort of a collective. I’m more in the creative department, our drummer is more on the financial end, and we’ve got a guy, Chris Neal, who we met when he was scouting us for RCA. He thought, as we did, that we’d be better off doing things on our own.
Did you have problems with previous labels?
We’ve had good and bad experiences with record labels. It just seemed the time was right to be the fully independent machine that we always kinda think of ourselves as. We just learned a lot from doing this and saw how it works and we pretty much know how many records we sell each time, so we figured we could do that on our own and eliminate the middleman. It’s been really rewarding, for sure, to do everything on our own.
When you do your country shows, is the audience markedly different than when you do your rock shows? Do you have people who just go to one but not the other?
There’re people who go to both and enjoy both just as much, there’re people who don’t like the country stuff, and there’s people who say, “Wow, I couldn’t believe how good your country was. I didn’t really like you guys that much before, and now I love that side of you.”
Do you get the hardcore country guys?
Yeah, we get some of them. We really set out to make genuine country music. We’re not making fun of it any more than we make fun of rock ‘n’ roll, we’re just funny guys. We love country like we love rock ‘n’ roll music.
Real country music is as underground as real rock ‘n’ roll music…
Yeah, that’s a good way to look at it. I’ve always felt that way about good country. I’m hard-pressed to find an artist in the rock world who’s doing things like, say, Steve Earle, as radical and as good as what he’s up to lately.
Is that the original reason you guys did the country stuff? Because you loved the music and wanted to get it out there?
Yeah, to show people that the process that goes into these different genres is really similar, and that you’ve got really similar thematic ideas, and that it’s a simple music that pretty much anybody can play after they’ve played their instrument for a couple of months. You can play punk or country and, if you’re honest, it’ll be pretty good.
When you guys go on country tours, do these tend to draw the same size audiences as your rock shows? And do the country records sell as well as the rock records?
Yeah, Must’ve Been High has actually sold the most of any of our records, which is kind of frightening. As for the shows, it depends. If we haven’t done them in awhile, they do really well. We try to space them out a little bit.
Are there plans to release records by other bands on MidFi?
Yeah, we’re hoping to. We’ve been talking to a couple of bands that we like a lot about maybe doing some records. It’s looking like something like that will happen, probably by next year. I think both bands are from Southern California. One’s called Hangman, the other is Throw Rag.
Are they rock bands?
Yeah, they’re rock bands. I’m not sure if anything is going to work out with them, but we’re trying. We can’t offer anybody fat advances or anything like that, and we tell bands if that’s what they’re looking for, they should go get it.
Are you guys able to make a living off being in Supersuckers?
I haven’t had a job since 1990.
Really? That’s good to hear, because not many people are.
That’s for sure… It’s a meager living, but it beats flippin’ Whoppers.
Why the extended downtime between The Evil Powers of Rock ‘n’ Roll (Koch, 1999) and the new one?
We’ve been going through a lot of changes. There was a lot of time between Must’ve Been High and The Evil Powers…, which was due to label shifting. After The Evil Powers…, we were thinking of moving to another label, so we did some looking around before deciding to fire up our own. That took time to get going. Our first release was the live country record (Must’ve Been Live, 2001, MidFi). We’re hoping the gaps won’t be as big now because we keep making up songs, it’s just that our outlets kept drying up on us.
So it wasn’t writer’s block or something?
Not so much, although the process has slowed down a little bit. We’ve been lucky because we also have the country side, so we have two different things to do at all times.
You also became a father in the interim, right?
Yes. Actually, three of us have in the last couple of years, so that’s a new development that’d definitely tend to make one slow down. It’s actually made us work harder, because now we’ve got babies to feed!
Does having a kid make you hesitate to sing and write songs about drinking and taking drugs and stuff?
(ponders) Nah. (laughs) Not at all, really. It’s something that I think we do in a very positive manner. Even though we deal with a lot of negative subject matter, at the end of every story, there’s something either funny or positive about what we’re saying, even with songs like “I Want the Drugs.”
Yeah, it’s always pretty good-natured…
A lot of our stuff is funny. We’re funny guys!
I read that you weren’t originally the singer in the Supersuckers. Did you still write the lyrics even when you weren’t singing?
Yeah, that’s why I had to be the singer. I was the only one who knew the words.
You’re a really good lyricist. Your songs have kind of a Chuck Berry thing going on…
Thanks. That’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing, even when I was in bands in high school and stuff, before I was any good. I would write the words to whatever crappy originals we had.
I’ve always wondered about the little audio clips between songs… Are they things you record or taped off TV?
It’s stuff from radio interviews we do, different weird recordings that we make on the road. It’s all stuff that we’ve generated ourselves. Well, there are a couple of things that aren’t, like Rudy Ray Moore on La Mano Cornuda….
On the new album, there’s an old guy telling a story about how when he hears the name “Supersuckers,” he thinks of…
That old guy is actually Willie Nelson.
We were asking for a quote from him for our country record, and that’s what he gave us, so we used it for this record.
It doesn’t sound like him at all.
It was on one of those microcassette recorders, so it came out really weird.
I’m sure you’re tired of this question by now, but who came up with the title for the new record?
It’s actually a pretty good story… The guy who came up with it was the singer for New Bomb Turks. We did a lot of touring with them in the early ’90s, and he’d always say, “This is from our new record, Motherfuckers Be Trippin’” and we thought that was so fucking funny. But they never did it. We kept waiting for the next record to be called that, and it never was, so when we were making this record, the joke was, “We’ll call this record Motherfuckers Be Trippin’.” It got to where every other title we came up with sounded lame in comparison, so one day we just said, “Fuck it, let’s do it.”
I can’t imagine what reaction people will have to seeing that title in a store.
I’m looking forward to it. It’s just starting up now, with people getting advances. And the cover art is totally disturbing and weird, too.
I haven’t seen it yet.
It causes people to go, “What the fuck is that?” It’s totally motherfuckers be trippin’. (laughs)
It makes sense that the title came from Eric Davidson.
Yeah, he’s a funny dude.
Is it true that you guys used to do entire sets of Thin Lizzy songs where you’d dress up as the band?
We’ve done a few. We did a Halloween show where we dressed up as Thin Lizzy and played the entire Live and Dangerous album, which was pretty awesome. This guy came up to Ron after the show and said, “Dude, I thought you guys were dead!” (laughs)
Did you wear an Afro wig?
Yeah, I got a ‘fro and got some stage makeup and painted myself brown. I told some Irish jokes and tried to do the best Irish accent I could, but it was pretty lame.
Did you do the stage patter from the album?
A little bit, yeah. And then I changed some of it – “This is a song I wrote before I died.”
What music really made an impact on you when you were a kid?
The first stuff was probably when I was in 4th or 5th grade. The first song I heard that made me decide I had to be a rock ‘n’ roller was “My Sharona.” I still love that song to this day. In fact, I just played that album yesterday, and I love it still. That was first, and then I was a new wave kid, I guess: Blondie, the B-52s, Devo, and stuff like that. As I got into junior high and high school, I got into really crappy metal during the heyday of metal in the early ’80s. Van Halen was probably the most influential on me, and you can still hear my love for David Lee Roth and his irreverent nature.
The band that really sealed the deal for me as far as writing songs was The Replacements. That’s when I sorta left metal behind, when I started listening to The Replacements and the Ramones. I still have a soft spot in my heart for all of that metal, and I do wish I hadn’t sold all those records now. And then there were bands like Motörhead and AC/DC, who were kinda considered metal bands but just sounded like rock ‘n’ roll to me.
I never really understood why AC/DC was considered metal in the ’80s.
They were more of a blues band that figured out this crazy formula that no one else is allowed to touch because they’ll just sound like an AC/DC pretender.
But some of those pretenders are good.
There’s definitely a place for Rose Tattoo and Angel City and a lot of bands I ended up liking. That second Def Leppard record is pretty great.
When you start touring for the new album, do you know who you’ll be touring with? I saw you guys play with Zen Guerrilla, New Bomb Turks, and The Hellacopters, and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Something like 100 people got thrown out of the club that night.
That was a powerhouse bill and a great tour. Hopefully we’ll have a great bill on this trip, too. We’re also going to do more opening slots and try to play for more kids.
Are you going to try opening for more mainstream acts?
Not really mainstream, but bands that do well with all-ages crowds. When we get back from Europe, we’re going on tour with this band called Flogging Molly. I don’t know much about them other than that their singer used to be the singer for Fastway, so I think that’s pretty cool.
I didn’t know that. A later incarnation of Fastway?
No, THE version of Fastway. He was the “Say What You Will” dude!
I know. I saw them in the ’80s when I was 16. The guy must’ve been a kid, 21 or so. He’s probably only a few years older than I am, but he’s been doing it forever.
That’s surprising because Pete Way and Fast Eddie Clarke are ancient.
Exactly. They must’ve been 40 when he was 21. We’re going to learn a Fastway song and hopefully he’ll sing it with us. I guess they did a couple of Warped tours and now they sell 100,000 records and play to 1200 kids a night, so we’re gonna go open for their asses and steal their fans. Also, I hear they’re fun and good ol’ beer drinkin’ type guys, which is basically what we are as well. (a gulping sound and a very loud, very long burp) Excuse me…