Something of an anomaly on the Sub Pop roster, the Supersuckers bore a limited surface resemblance to grunge, but they were a party band at heart, donning cowboy hats and kicking out a gleefully trashy brand of throttling, rockabilly-flavored garage punk. Their lyrics were a raucous, over-the-top celebration of all the attendant evils of rock & roll -- sex, booze, drugs, Satan, and whatever other vices the band could think of, all glorified with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Save for an abrupt and temporary detour into hardcore honky tonk, their approach stayed relatively consistent through the '90s, as did their quality control.
The Supersuckers were formed in Tucson, AZ, in 1988 by high-school friends Eddie Spaghetti (born Edward Carlyle Daly III, bass, vocals), Ron Heathman (guitar), Dan "Thunder" Bolton (guitar), Dancing Eagle (born Dan Seigal, drums), and Eric Martin (lead vocals). After playing the local scene for about a year under the name the Black Supersuckers (taken from a pornographic novel), the band moved to Seattle, ostensibly in search of a climate more conducive to leather jackets. Martin left the band not long after, and Eddie Spaghetti took his place on lead vocals. Shortening their name to the Supersuckers, the band recorded singles for several indie labels, including eMpTy, Sympathy for the Record Industry, and Lucky; these were collected on the eMpTy compilation The Songs All Sound the Same, which became the band's first CD release in 1992. That year, they signed to Sub Pop and issued their proper debut album, The Smoke of Hell, which was produced by Jack Endino and featured cover art by renowned comic artist Daniel Clowes. Featuring one of the band's best-known songs in "Coattail Rider," the record also spun off the single "Hell City, Hell," whose B-side was a fan-favorite cover of Ice Cube's "Dead Homiez."
The Supersuckers came into their own with their second album, 1994's La Mano Cornuda, whose title translates as "the horned hand" (i.e., of Satan). It featured signature songs like "Creepy Jackalope Eye" and "She's My Bitch," and is still regarded by many fans as the band's best. Following its release, Ron Heathman temporarily left the group due to drug problems, and was replaced by onetime Didjits guitarist Rick Sims on their next album, 1995's The Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers. Produced by the Butthole Surfers' Paul Leary, the album was noticeably different from the Supersuckers' usual pedal-to-the-metal roar, owing to Heathman's absence, despite some worthy additions to the group's catalog (like "Born With a Tail"). Fortunately, Heathman made a full recovery and rejoined the band for 1997's Must've Been High, a full-fledged excursion into country music that even featured a guest appearance by Willie Nelson. It was released concurrently with a five-song EP that featured country maverick Steve Earle fronting the band.
After issuing their country project, the Supersuckers signed a major-label deal with Interscope. Unfortunately, in the wake of the massive label mergers at the time, Interscope underwent a restructuring and wound up dropping the band without ever releasing the straight-ahead rock & roll album they had recorded. Strongly disenchanted by the experience, the Supersuckers landed on the small Twenty14.com label and finally recorded the proper follow-up to Sacrilicious, recycling some of the material from their ill-fated Interscope debut. The result, The Evil Powers of Rock 'n' Roll, was released in late 1999, and featured the band's affectionate look back on their high-school days in Tucson, "Santa Rita High." The same year, Sub Pop issued a generous 27-track retrospective of the Supersuckers' stay on the label, How the Supersuckers Became the Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World. After contributing two songs (including a collaboration with Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder) to the benefit album Free the West Memphis 3 in 2000, the group cut a split LP with Electric Frankenstein in 2001.
Burned by Interscope and seeking a permanent home, the Supersuckers formed their own label, Mid Fi, in 2002, and inaugurated it with a live document of their country phase, Must've Been Live. A new, hard-rocking studio album, Motherfuckers Be Trippin', followed in 2003; after its release, longtime drummer Dan Seigal left the group and was replaced by Mike Musburger. While tinkering with a new studio album, the Supersuckers kept the Mid Fi release schedule full with a pair of archival live albums and a collection of singles sides and non-album material, Devil's Food. The Paid EP and Live at Bart's CD Cellar and Record Shop followed in 2006. ~ Steve Huey
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