The Supersuckers' last studio effort, Get It Together, came out six years ago, but the veteran cow punk/garage rock band didn't take a hiatus: It toured regularly throughout that period. So why the hell did the group take so long to issue its new studio effort, Get the Hell?
"That was a product of the times, really," says singer Eddie Spaghetti as the band's driving to a Philadelphia tour stop. "We were putting out all our records on our own for quite a few years there. We decided we would stop doing that, and we wanted to get someone else to help us put out the record. That process took longer than we thought it would. We wanted to get someone interested and willing to lose their ass on a record basically. It took a little longer to do that."
One byproduct of the long gestation period is that the band had plenty of time to refine its songs. Past Supersuckers' albums haven't always been particularly polished, but Get the Hell sounds sharp right from the opening number, a song that features loud guitars and gang-style vocals. "Gotta run, gotta run for cover," Spaghetti snears.
"These songs are the cream of the crop from the last few years," says Spaghetti. "We never stopped writing songs. That's why this new record is so good. We had a lot of time and were able to pick the best ones for it."
To record the album, they went to Willie Nelson's Arlyn Studio in Austin, the same place where they recorded 1995's The Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers.
"It's a super cool little studio," says Spaghetti. "It's in a good location in the heart of Austin. It's a great place. We were down there for a week or two making the album. We work quick. Once we get in there, we know what we want to do."
After the sessions were recorded, Spaghetti played the songs for his friend, Dwarves leader Blag Dahlia. Dahlia thought the tunes sounded good but not great. He offered to do the mastering.
"All of the Dwarves records sound great," says Spaghetti. "They sound like they're from the future or something, and we wanted that sound. He really whipped our record into shape and made it sound fucking incredible. I feel like we're better as songwriters and better as musicians now. If the record wasn't better than all our other ones, then there would be a problem."
The Supersuckers have taken a long, circuitous route to the place where they're now at. Initially, Spaghetti didn't even like country music.
"As a kid in Tucson, I fought against the country music because it was everywhere," he says. "It was something that I thought I didn't like. Right before I moved out of town, I got turned onto this Merle Haggard tape that changed everything for me as far as country music went."
After moving from Tucson to Seattle in the early '90s, the band landed a deal with Seattle-based Sub Pop Records.
"I liken the move to Seattle to a scene in the Wizard of Oz," says Spaghetti. "Everything is in black and white and then the house gets swept up in the tornado and they land and they open the door and everything is in color. Our move was like that. It seemed like we were living a two-dimensional life in Tucson, and we moved to Seattle and everything was exploding. We went there and thought we'd be the best band they'd ever seen. We knew Heart was from Seattle and Queensryche, but that was all we knew of. We got there and there were all these bands, and it was such a cool thing to be a part of. The timing of it was great for us. We shared some bills with the grunge acts, but we maintained our own identity."
That Haggard tape had a subtle influence on The Smoke of Hell, the band's 1992 debut for the label, but the band's first true foray into country came with 1997's Must've Been High. It would further explore those impulses with a split 7-inch it recorded that same year with outlaw country icon Steve Earle.
"That was supposed to be a bigger project than it was, but he had to go to a funeral so it got cut short," says Spaghetti when asked about the Earle sessions. "But it was a cool thing that we go to do."
With Get the Hell, the band's sharpened its songwriting skills. "Something about You" has such a great hook, it sounds a bit like Joan Jett or the Ramones.
"I thought of it as an '80s song," Spaghetti says. "It almost has a Billy Joel vibe to it. When I demoed it up, it was super new wave-y sounding. In the band's hands, it sounds more powerful and tougher than when I demoed it up. I really like that song and am super happy with it."
Spaghetti says he's pleased with the band's current status too. With Get the Hell out of the way, the group is gearing up to do another country album.
"I never really thought about the future," he admits. "I just kept doing it and the next thing you know, it's 25 years. When it started, I didn't see the shelf life. I didn't think it would last as long as it has. The key is just keep your antenna up and never stop writing. As long as you keep writing songs, you'll have something to do. It's a fun thing to do and eke out a living, and you just have to maintain the creative side of it. That's what you're doing. You're writing songs that will last a long time, and people will look back and see the legacy."
7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7, House of Blues Cambridge Room, 308 Euclid Ave., 216-523-2583. Tickets: $13 ADV, $15 DOS, houseofblues.com.
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