Features Regular Columns Remember that one time...? Guest Column: Eddie Spaghetti (Supersuckers)

Remember that one time...?

Regular Columns: Guest Column: Eddie Spaghetti (Supersuckers)

Remember That One Time...? A life lived and lessons learned by Eddie Spaghetti

*some names have been changed to protect the not so innocent

This happened in the mid-nineties, 1995 to be exact. It was my birthday, so it was March and we were in Austin, TX working on our third record for Sub Pop Records, the ill-fated Sacrilicious. I say ill-fated not because it was a bad record but because it was the record that put us so far in the hole with Sub Pop, financially speaking, that we are still paying that debt back today.

Here's what happened...

We had finished our second record for them, La Mano Cornuda (Spanish for “The Horned Hand”) and I remember going up to the offices and asking them what the plan was to get that record heard. It had a couple of really great—and what I considered to be radio friendly—tracks on it and I wanted to hear their plan for getting the maximum exposure out of it. They essentially told me that the record was dead and we better get to work on the next one. "Punk rock just isn't happening on the radio right now," was what they said.

And then along came this little band called Green Day and everything changed.

Their way of making up the huge dropped ball they on La Mano was to put an assload of money into our next record. We were a lock to become the next Green Day: we had the right attitude, the right songs, and the right sound. All we had to do was let the world know that we are here and, boom! just like that, another star is born. If it were only that easy. Although, at the time it certainly seemed possible, if not down right likely, that it would work. Sub Pop was enjoying a huge profit from Nirvana at the time and they definitely had the money to spend, so it stood to reason that if they just threw their money down the right pipes, everything would turn up rosy for them and for us.

The budget took us out of town to record for the first time and we were excited to work with a “real” producer too, (although, our choice for a "real" producer was the guitar player for the Butthole Surfers, so, there's that...) and it was going to be fun spending close to a month in Austin, TX just to make a record.

He came in with four or five cans of beer in one hand and an unlit joint in the corner of his mouth that didn't stay unlit for long.

It was fun, and productive too. That period saw some of the best songs of our career. "Doublewide," "Bad, Bad, Bad," and the "hit" single, "Born With A Tail" were all recorded during that session. We got to make a couple of expensive videos and see our record cover on the side of the Tower Records’ building on Sunset Strip in Hollywood. We were put in a tour bus for the first time and it seemed as if things were really going to start happening for us. I'm getting ahead of myself though.

Our manager at the time, Mr. Danny Hand of American Handstand Productions, was simultaneously working with a big-shot producer in Houston. A real rich fella who worked with a lot of cool country artists. Guys like Waylon Jennings and Billy Joe Shaver who we totally loved and respected. They were putting together a compilation record called Twisted Willie, a tribute to the amazing Mr. Willie Nelson that totally stands the test of time as a great record today. Our contribution to it was a version of “Bloody Mary Morning” and the real coup was that Danny and this fella got Willie Nelson into the studio to record the song with us! We couldn't believe that that was really going to happen. Well, it did. It was on the last day of tracking, my birthday, March 16th and we were kind of using the studio for our own selfish benefit by recording this song that was never going to be put on the record we were making for Sub Pop. All was forgiven however when Willie walked in.

He came in with his guitar, the famous Trigger, in one hand and about four or five Lone Star cans of beer dangling in his other and an unlit joint in the corner of his mouth that didn't stay unlit for long. The hard and solid rule about "no smoking in the studio" was about to be put to rest for the evening. As soon as he'd get one lit and passed around, another seemed to magically appear. It was a never ending chain of joints! I'm surprised we got anything done at all because we were so ferociously stoned, but the track got recorded and it actually sounded pretty fantastic at the end of the day. He was only there for about an hour and-a-half, but it was the best hour and-a-half of my young life up to that moment.

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We were so excited that we had just recorded with Willie fucking Nelson that we decided to go out and celebrate in downtown Austin. South by South West was going on at the time, so we all wanted to go down to our favorite nightclub, Emo's, to see who was playing (and maybe brag a little bit about what we had just done). So we grabbed some beers and headed on down. For some reason we were under the impression that it was legal to walk around in Texas with an open container of alcohol. It seemed to us that we had seen it done and had done it ourselves numerous times, so it came as a bit of a shock when the cop stopped us in the parking lot.

"Whattaya got there, son?" He asked.

“It's called a beer. Ever heard of it? They're quite delicious,” I smugly retorted.

"Smart ass, eh? Well, why don't you come with me?"

"Because I don't want to. We're just going around the corner to see some bands play."

"Not anymore, you're not. You're coming with me down to the station house."

"But it's my birthday and I just finished recording with Willie Nelson!!" I cried, panic starting to creep into my smug attitude as he took the beer from my hand, spun me around and cuffed me on the spot.

"Just how stupid do you think I am?" He replied. "I've been dealing with assholes like you all week long. You're just another punk out here pretending to be somebody." He then walked me a whole block and a half to the police station where I was put in a holding cell with a bunch of other quality individuals.

"It's my birthday! I just recorded with Willie Nelson!! You're ruining the greatest night of my life!!!" I was beyond livid and most of all, I was worried that I might actually have to spend the night in jail after having had the best day ever. A couple of the guys in the holding cell with me seemed a little bit too interested in my connection with Willie, which at that time amounted to about an hour and a half's worth—not nearly enough to claim any great friendship with the man, so I clammed up about my accomplishment and began to settle in to what was going to be a long night, I was sure.

“It's called a beer. Ever heard of it? They're quite delicious,” I smugly retorted.

Well, a couple of hours later I heard my name called and an officer appeared at the cell door telling me that I had some "good friends" out here and that I was being let loose. Turns out that one of the presidents of Sub Pop, Bruce Mavitt, was in town for SXSW and he heard about my predicament and bailed me out. Bruce was always our guy at the label. He was the one we would go to whenever we needed something and he was always there for us. He believed in us from the get-go and it was probably his idea to spend the ridiculous amount of money on Sacrilicious, although I'm pretty sure bail money wasn't in the projected budget. Nonetheless, it turned out to be a recoupable expense that we are probably still paying for to this day.

So I got out and there was Bruce and Danny and Dan Colton all waiting for me.

"You happy now? You little smart-ass?" Danny said. I hugged them all and thanked them for getting me out of there.

"Let's go get a beer. Only this time, let's drink it inside," Colton said.

"Agreed! That's something I don't want to experience again anytime soon."

"How 'bout ever?" said Danny. He was right, I didn't want to be in that situation ever again. Lesson learned: no matter how great you think you are, you're still not above the law. Unless you're Willie Nelson. Then I bet you can do whatever you want.

-- Eddie Spaghetti

Credits

Posted on June 17, 2013, 5:46 p.m.

Words by Eddie Spaghetti, whose new album Value Nothing is available from June 18th.

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Guest Column: Eddie Spaghetti (Supersuckers)

Posted on June 17, 2013, 5:46 p.m.

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Series: Remember that one time...?

A life lived and lessons learned by Eddie Spaghetti of Supersuckers.

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