Too dumb to quit
Seattle’s Supersuckers might be virtually unknown if it weren’t for the toss of a coin. In the spring of 1989, a quarter decided whether then year-old Tucson band The Black Supersuckers would relocate to New Orleans or the Pacific Northwest. The members were unaware that their new home was about to become such an important music scene. A couple of years later, the goofy, naughty, rockabilly-tinged punk band (which has moonlighted as a country and Western outfit) was signed to Sub Pop under the name Supersuckers. Later it formed its own record label—Mid-Fi Recordings—and the Supersuckers hasn’t let up once.
The Alibi spoke on the phone with guitarist/vocalist Dan “Thunder” Bolton from Long Beach, Calif., while he was walking his two wiener dogs—Gus and Wrigley—and waiting for his wife as she attended a surf/snowboard gear convention.
Supersuckers has been doing it for a long time ...
The simple fact is we're too dumb to give it up—we're just too dumb to quit. That's why it's been over 20 years of the same band—we're still getting in the same van with a trailer in our forties. Anybody with half a brain would have become management at some hardware store by now.
What’s the motivation to tour so often?
I still enjoy doing what I do. When we're not touring and I'm at home, I get a little stir-crazy. It's like I have to be moving.
For you, what's the main difference between rock and roll and country?
It's kind of hard to explain, but I'll do my best: It doesn't matter if you're playing in a country format, or rock format, or rap—if a song is good you should be able to play it in any kind of format. You should be able to take a good country song—like a Johnny Cash song—and turn it into a reggae song, a disco song, a rock song or what have you. It's just the strength of that song that should be able to carry it to any kind of genre. Like Bruce Springsteen's song “Born in the U.S.A.”: You could take that song and bang on a half-full gas can with a rubber mallet and sing it, and it would still be a hit. Because that's how powerful it is, regardless of who's playing it. But the difference is, instead of playing a Marshall turned up as loud as you can, you're playing through a Fender amp. And you're using a Telecaster.
What's your songwriting process?
I'll come up with a real good chorus and maybe a good verse, and I'll sit on it for years. And it just takes me forever to finish it because everything else I write after it kind of sucks, and I know it sucks, and it just gets irritating to try to force anything. I'll come up with a verse and chorus and an idea of how the music should go. Eddie [Spaghetti, frontman] has to come up with two more verses, and maybe a bridge in a song. But you get an idea stuck in your head and it just rolls around forever.
What's your favorite guitar?
That would be the Goldtop Les Paul.
What have you guys learned from running your own record label?
That we're not rich enough to keep it together. You need capital to run a record label, and the record business is so different now. It's stupid to have a record company, but yet you still need one.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Wear clean underwear because we're gonna rock the pants off of you when we get there.