The Supersuckers emerged amid the grunge movement that emanated from their adopted Seattle home base in the early 1990s, along with such bands as Mudhoney, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana. The Super-suckers, however, while sharing the Sub Pop label with many of grunge's most notable acts, fell short of the grunge label by embracing garage rock music that subtly parodied the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll ethos. Originally formed in Tucson, Arizona, as the Black Supersuckers in the late 1980s, the group resettled in Seattle just as the town was earning its reputation as the harbinger of rock music's next major movement. Rather than resembling the gravelly vocals and soft verse/heavy chorus of such grunge acts as Nirvana, however, the Supersuckers presented a full-fledged aural assault on their listeners with a musical style resembling such seminal garage-rock groups as the MC5 and the Stooges. Rather than simply sounding retro, however, the group began to provide high-energy soundtracks for X-treme sports, and their music has been used in Mountain Dew commercials as well as in snow and skateboarding films and videos.
The Black Supersuckers formed in 1988, taking their name from a pornographic novel. The original band was comprised of guitarists Dan "Thunder" Bolton and Ron Heathman, drummer Dancing Eagle (real name: Dan Seigal), vocalist Eric Martin, and Eddie Spaghetti (real name: Edward Carlyle Daly III) on bass and vocals. Spaghetti confessed to Seattle Weekly writer Kurt B. Reighley that his own early influences included Blondie and Devo. "The Knack, 'My Sharona,' was the song that made me want to be a rocker," he recalled.
Local success led the group to try their luck elsewhere. They flipped a coin—heads was New Orleans and tails was Seattle—to determine where their next base of operations would be. The coin landed on "heads," and the group departed for Seattle in the spring of 1989. "We had no idea that Seattle was about to become 'Rock Mecca USA,' we just wanted to go somewhere where we could wear our leather jackets a little more often," Spaghetti recalled on the band's website. "It was exciting and encouraging to see all of the great bands there, doing their own thing and making some kick-a**, aggressive rock 'n' roll that we could relate to, so we started recording immediately." Martin left the band shortly after they arrived in Seattle. According to Spaghetti, "After some classic 'creative differences' with our lead singer, we decided to try it as a four piece with yours truly as the singer (I was the only one who knew all the words), and the Supersuckers … were born."
The Supersuckers recorded several singles on labels eMpTy, Sympathy for the Record Industry, and Lucky. These early singles were compiled on the full-length album The Songs All Sound the Same, which was released initially on eMpTy and reissued on the band's own label Mid Fi in the early 2000s. The quartet signed to Sub Pop in 1992 and recorded their label debut, The Smoke of Hell, that same year with producer Jack Endino. The album also featured cover artwork by cartoonist Daniel Clowes. One of the singles released from the album, "Hell City, Hell," became sought after by collectors for the group's B-side cover of Ice Cube's "Dead Homiez."
The group released its second Sub Pop album, La Mano Cornuda, in 1994. The title alludes to the "horned hand of Satan," a tip of the band's collective hat to such occult-leaning bands as Black Sabbath. The album featured such concert favorites as "Creepy Jackalope Eye" and "She's My Bitch." The former song refers to the comically legendary animal that is part jack rabbit and part antelope. Following the release of La Mano Cornuda, Ron Heathman exited the band for a temporary drug rehabilitation hiatus. He was replaced by Rick Sims, who had formerly played guitar in the group Didjits. With Sims, the group recorded The Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers, which was produced by Butthole Surfers' guitarist Paul Leary.
Heathman returned the following year to record Must've Been High, an album of entirely country music that even featured Willie Nelson performing vocals on one track. The album was released at the same time as an extended play single that featured five songs performed with country-rock legend Steve Earle. The next year the band signed to Interscope, a major label that unfortunately restructured shortly after recruiting the Supersuckers. After recording what the band considered to be the best album of their career, Interscope dropped the band from its roster without releasing the record. The group rebounded on the independent Twenty14.com label, re-recording much of the Interscope material and releasing the songs on 1999's The Evil Powers of Rock 'n' Roll.
For the Record …
Members include Dan Bolton , guitar; Dancing Eagle (left band, 2003), drums; Ron Heathman (left band, 1994; rejoined, 1995), guitar; Eric Martin (left band, early 1990s), vocals; Mike Musburger (joined band, 2003), drums; Rick Sims (joined band temporarily, 1994, left band, 1995), guitar; Eddie Spaghetti , bass, vocals.
Formed as Black Supersuckers with lead vocalist Eric Martin in Tucson, AZ, 1988; relocated to Seattle, WA, and changed name to Supersuckers after Martin left band, early 1990s; released debut album, The Songs All Sound the Same, 1992; signed with Sub Pop label, recorded and released label debut, The Smoke of Hell, 1992; released sophomore effort, La Mano Cornuda, 1994; Heathman left band for drug rehabilitation, replaced by Rick Sims for third album, The Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers, 1995; Heathman returned to band for Must've Been High, 1997; released The Evil Powers of Rock 'n' Roll, 1999; formed Mid Fi label, 2002; released Motherf***ers Be Trippin,' 2003.
Addresses: Website—Supersuckers Official Website: http://www.supersuckers.com.
Once the group got past their disappointment with Interscope, they set about forming their own label, Mid Fi. Their first recording on their own label was the 2003 release Motherf***ers Be Trippin'. The band jokingly put a warning label on the compact disc that warned buyers that the title is obscene. PopMatters critic Stephen Haag noted that the first half of the album "is all about fighting and good times, [and] side-B is soaked in cheap booze and regret." Dancing Eagle left the group after the album's release, and was replaced by Mike Musburger.
The Supersuckers toured incessantly behind their albums, opening for such acts as the Ramones, the Butthole Surfers, Mudhoney, Social Distortion, Bad Religion, the Reverend Horton Heat, and White Zombie. In addition the group appeared as Willie Nelson's support band during a televised episode of Jay Leno's The Tonight Show, and had songs on the soundtrack of the television series Beverly Hills 90210 and in the films Basketball and Hype. They also increased their public exposure by appearing at several Farm Aid charity concerts organized by Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp. "Throughout this entire time, our sole mission has been to create and perform timeless, quality music and get as many people as possible to hear it," Spaghetti wrote on the band's website. "That goal has never changed. The pursuit of that perfectly imperfect rock 'n' roll moment is all we've ever been after. We've been doing this for well over a decade now and we're just getting started." Spaghetti recorded his first solo album, The Sauce, in 2004.
The Songs All Sound the Same, eMpTy, 1992; reissued with bonus tracks, Mid Fi, 2001.
The Smoke of Hell, Sub Pop, 1992.
La Mano Cornuda, Sub Pop, 1994.
The Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers, Sub Pop, 1995.
Must've Been High, Sub Pop, 1997.
The Evil Powers of Rock 'n' Roll, Koch, 1999.
How the Supersuckers Became the Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World, Sub Pop, 1999.
Splitsville, Vol. 1, Cargo, 2001.
Must've Been Live, Mid Fi, 2002.
Motherf***ers Be Trippin,' Mid Fi, 2003.
Seattle Weekly, April 4-10, 2002.
"Review of Motherf***ers Be Trippin,'" PopMatters, http://www.popmatters.com/ (June 4, 2004).
"Supersuckers," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com/ (June 4, 2004).
Supersuckers Official Website, http://www.supersuckers.com/bio.htm (June 6, 2004).
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