New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
"It's really humbling, and it's great to know that so many people care," Supersuckers leader Eddie Spaghetti says of the band's fans, who have stepped up in droves to lend support following the front man's recent diagnosis of stage-3 throat cancer.
The indefatigable singer/bassist/songwriter's illness - which coincides with release of the Supersuckers' bracing new album Holdin' the Bag - has forced the band to cancel a planned European tour and put their touring activities on temporary hold, while Eddie undergoes surgery, radiation treatment and rehab. Meanwhile, the Eddie Spaghetti Cancer Fight Fund has already raised more than $57,000 to help pay for his treatment, thanks to the kindness and generosity of the group's fans. Holdin' the Bag is set release on October 16, 2015 on Acetate Records.
If Eddie has proven anything over the course of the past quarter-century, it's that he's one of rock's most tenacious survivors. The same can be said of the Supersuckers, who over the past 25 years have released more than 20 albums, while maintaining the sort of punishing touring regimen that's been known to break lesser combos.
In that time, the self-proclaimed "Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band in the World" has set an unmatched standard for epic, arena-ready guitar rock and raucous punk-country. Along the way, the Supersuckers have been sustained by a rabid grass-roots fan base, while maintaining a staunchly iconoclastic spirit that's allowed them to prevail on their own uncompromising terms.
"It's an extraordinarily unlikely story," acknowledges Eddie, who's also found time to release four solo albums. "From the start until now, everything about this band defies logic. This band has no business being as good as it is this far into our existence, and it just seems to be getting better."
The Supersuckers' trademark balance of take-no-prisoners swagger and hardheaded introspection is reflected throughout Holdin' the Bag. The album's eleven songs find them in typically rocking form, while tapping deeply into the band's longstanding affinity for country music, which has grown increasingly prominent in their output since 1997's landmark Must've Been High. In recent years, the Supersuckers have been known to play relatively low-key all-country sets, sometimes under assumed names.
"I love the honesty and directness of country, and that's how we approach it," Eddie states. "I feel like having the country thing in our back pocket kind of takes the expiration date off the band. It's way more acceptable for an old guy to be up there singing a country song than it is for an old guy to be up there screaming about the evil powers of rock 'n' roll."
Holdin' the Bag offers a compelling blend of brawny badassery and sensitive songcraft on such memorable originals as the high-lonesome title track, which kicks the album off on a deceptively spooky note, and the rousingly twangy anthems "High and Outside," "Man on a Mission" and "Jibber-Jabber." The album closes on a thoughtful note, with an update of the Hank Williams Jr.
standard "All My Rowdy Friends
(Have Settled Down)," with updated lyrics that refer to such Supersuckers contemporaries as Steve Earle
and Lemmy Kilminster of Motorhead. (The album sessions also yielded a second cover tune, a spirited reading of the Billy Joe Shaver classic "Georgia on a Fast Train," which will be included as a bonus track on Holdin the Bag's vinyl edition.)
The Supersuckers — Eddie on vocals and bass, plus guitarist Marty Chandler and drummer Chris Von Streicher — recorded Holdin' the Bag in Austin, Texas, at Ray Benson's esteemed Bismeaux Studios. They were joined by such kindred spirits as outlaw singer-songwriter Hayes Carll, who's featured on the rollicking hard-luck tale "This Life Would Be a Whole Lot Better," and acclaimed alt-country songstress Lydia Loveless, who adds her distinctive voice to the bittersweet "I Can't Cry." Also lending their talents are Asleep at the Wheel fiddler Jason Roberts, Butthole Surfers member Jeff Pinkus, noted neo-honky-tonker Jesse
Dayton and Willie Nelson's longtime harmonica sidekick Mickey Raphael.
"We knew that we wanted to come out with something quickly after Get the Hell," Eddie recalls. "We had rocked ourselves into oblivion with Get the Hell, so we were ready for a country break. We had just done a one-off country show, and we enjoyed that so much that it felt natural to start writing country songs. I really felt like I was onto something, and I felt more and more inspired as the process went on. Some of the best songs on the record are some of the last ones I wrote. So by the time we got into the studio, we were in a really good place."
The fiercely independent spirit that drives Holdin' the Bag has been a constant in the Supersuckers' musical life since the band's formation in Tucson, Arizona at the end of the 1980s. After relocating to Seattle, they gained substantial attention during the initial explosion of grunge, first with a series of indie-label singles that were compiled on the 1992 CD The Songs All Sound the Same, on the eMpty label, and subsequently on their SubPop debut The Smoke of Hell. But it was clear from the start that the Supersuckers' propulsive, exuberantly trashy musical attack, and the band's wickedly humorous celebrations of sex, vice and rock 'n' roll, stood apart from transient trends — a fact that was underlined by their 1993 release Good Livin' Platter, an album of country-style cover tunes recorded under the pseudonym Junkyard Dogs.
The Supersuckers continued to blaze their own musical trail with such albums as 1994's La Mano Cornuda and 1995's The Sacrilicious Sounds
of the Supersuckers. The band's authoritative venture into country on 1997's Must've Been High was given added weight by the presence of guest star Willie Nelson, and their fluency in the genre was confirmed by the five-song EP on which they collaborated with alt-country maverick Steve Earle. After a brief but frustrating major-label stint with Interscope that produced no releases, the Supersuckers returned to the indie world for 1999's The Evil Powers of Rock 'n' Roll, which coincided with SubPop's modestly-titled compilation How the Supersuckers Became the Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World.
The band then formed its own label, Mid-Fi Recordings, releasing 2002's Must've Been Live and 2003's Motherfuckers Be Trippin', which was followed by the EP Paid, the rarities collection Devil's Food and the archival live releases Live at the Magic Bag, Live at the Tractor Tavern, Live at Bart's CD Cellar and Record Shop and Live in Orange
County, and the 2008 studio album Get It Together. Between 2004 and 2013, Eddie released a quartet of solo albums: The Sauce, Old No. 2, Sundowner and The Value of Nothing. The Supersuckers came roaring back into action with 2014's Get the Hell, which marked the beginning of the band's current association with Acetate Records.
"If you don't like Holdin' the Bag, then you really don't like the Supersuckers," Eddie says. "I really feel like this and Get the Hell are the best records we've ever made. I feel like, after 25 years, we're finally getting the hang of this.
"If I had to come up with a reason for the Supersuckers' longevity, I'd say that it's our lack of giant success," Eddie asserts. "I feel like we've had just enough success to keep us hungry, but still feeling like the possibility of having a big hit record is still out there. We're still that hungry little band that pictures itself being much bigger than it really is."
Having faced down all manner of challenges, musical and otherwise, Eddie views his current challenges with characteristic can-do spirit.
"I have no plans on anything other than everything working out fine," he says matter-of-factly, adding, "Every good thing I have in my life, I got through being in this band. I like the idea of getting old playing music and never stopping, like Willie Nelson. It's a pretty good life, and I'm planning to continue living it for a long time."
1. Holdin' the Bag
2. This Life Would Be a Whole Lot Better feat. Hayes Carll
3. High & Outside
4. Man on a Mission
5. I Can't Cry feat. Lydia Loveless
6. Let's Bounce
7. I Do What I Can (To Get By)
9. That's How It Gets Done
10. Shimmy & Shake
11. All My Rowdy Friends
(Have Settled Down)