It’s unusual hearing a band like Supersuckersknown for their freewheeling, drug-lauding, party-time rock ‘n’ roll attitudewrite a song so heartfelt and sentimental. It’d be like AC/DC trying to pull off “Beth,” he difference mainly being that “Breaking Honey’s Heart” is a far better song than “Beth.”
They do share a similar ethosboth are apologias, except the KISS song isn’t serious, and the Supersuckers are. He isn’t returning home, hat in hand, on “Beth,” but rather making another excuse (“we just can’t find the sound,” or was it “more cocaine”?), while “Breaking Honey’s Heart” finds the narrator seriously chastened: “She knows I’m sorry, but sorry doesn’t even start to make up for the way I broke my honey’s heart.”Indeed, it’s rare to hear a man in rock so earnestly confess his sins (“She doesn’t deserve to be treated so mean and cruel/And I don’t deserve her after acting like such a fool”), and all the more affecting given the suckers usual tone.
Of course, all this sentimental emoting would be worth about as much as a John Mayer miss if it weren’t such a well-written song musically: The accordion that rides in with the guitars at its open, evoking a mournful, lonely feeling. The light-stepping country strum’s accompanied by a strong, understated bassline. Here’s hoping that composing such a beautiful song bought Eddie Spaghetti a little clemency.
We caught up with him at a tour stop in Atlanta to ask.
INDEPENDENT WEEKLY: What’s the origin of “Breaking Honey’s Heart”?
EDDIE SPAGHETTI: As the song suggests, a fuck-up of some sort on the male side of the fence. And just sort of the feeling you get when you screw up so bad, you think you can’t ever fix it.
Is this based on a true story?
It’s based on a true story, yeah.
How did it come together? Did you have lyrics, a riff?
It just started with that opening line: “Ain’t this something/ never been through something so hard,” and it just spilled out from there. It was one of those songs that happened really quickly.
Those are usually good songs.
Yeah, all the really good ones happen really fast, it seems like. It’s very seldom I get one that good that’s pored over, although it does happen occasionally, where you pore over a song and get every lyric exactly like you want it.
How long have you had this song?
I think it’s about four years now.
The track appeared before on one of your live albums. Do you generally try to get your songs some road exposure before cutting them?
Yeah, we try to, as much as we can, with the way we operate anymore. We all live in different towns, so basically our time on the road is a chance to get the songs up and running. That’s the M.O. We try to get them up and running before we go into the studio, and make sure they’re crowd-pleasers and are going to be good ones.
How did the accordion end up on the tune? Did you hear that in your head going into the studio?
It’s a toy accordion. [Laughs.] It’s pretty cool. The guy who recorded it with us, Billy Joe Bowers, had this laying around his house, and he put it on the demo of this. We loved it so much we kept it. I couldn’t believe it was a toy. When he showed me what he was using, I was like, “Wow, that thing sounds great.”
The other unusual sound I noticed was a kind of low, frog-like noise in the middle of the song. What was that?
It’s one of those things you drag a wooden piece acrossa ribbed wood, it’s like something you find at a Mexican souvenir store all the time. It’s a little percussive instrument. It’s usually shaped like a fish.
It also felt like something of an unusual choice for a band that created “How to Maximize Your Kill Count”?
Yeah, definitely. When I made up the song, I kind of envisioned it being like more for a solo record then a band song. But the band liked it so much that we ended up playing it together and recording it, and it sounded really great so we kept it on for the band record.
It’s unusual in the musical canon to hear such a brazen male mea culpa.
Yeah, it’s definitely out of the box for us. I was super nervous about including it in any kind of recording that we had, but it wound up being kind of a fan favorite, especially among some of the more sensitive types at the showwhich are pretty much few and far between. It’s wound up being a good thing for us, for sure.
Is it difficult being on the road and away from your loved ones, exposed nightly to decadence and temptation?
It can be. You get used to it after a while, but it never gets easy to leave home, especially as I just had a new baby, and it’s superit gets harder and harder everytime to leave. But you get used to it, and hopefully you have people at home that support what you do. I definitely do, so I’ve been really fortunate.
How was working with Billy Joe Bowers on the new one?
Fantastic. I’ve known him for years and years. We knew each other when we were in a band together in Tucson. Back in the 80s, that band had some success, and we were poised to move to L.A. together, and he decided to go ahead to L.A. I decided to stay back and start the Supersuckers. He went on to become a recording engineer, and he works with Brendan O’Brien now. He’s actually here in Atlanta, where I am right now. I’m going to be seeing him in a few hours.
What did he bring to the album?
He’s super creative, and brought a lot of great ideas to the table as far as arrangements go. He wasn’t just a sit-back-and-put-the-mirror-to-the-band kind of producer we’ve had in the past. He really got in there and dug around in each of the songs, and found a good rhythm. There’s no off position on his creative switch.
There’s a kind of ragged quality to the albums a lot of the times, but this one seemed particularly crisp and clear.
Yeah, definitely. We spent a good amount of time getting it to sound unlike any of Supersucker record before, for better or worse. It doesn’t sound like any of the other records. I personally think it’s a good thing, though I’m not sure our hardcore fans embrace this record yet.
Well, it does sound like a record thatfor better or worse as you sayback in the old day could be played on the radio.
Exactly. Which is exactly what we wanted. We wanted a record that would give radio no excuses not to play the record. Of course, they found them anyway.
I was wondering if children’s performer Eddie Spaghetti was blocking your solo career.
You know, he has thrown a few shows in the Northwest, and a lot of my fans went to go see him, I guess, and were super bummed out. I heard all about it, so I guess it has thrown a wrench in the plans at times.
A dozen years ago, you made a comment, “I used to think that life is not fucked and people are not shit, when in fact they are. I have what I like to call a ‘positive pessimism’ toward life, a world based in acceptance and reality.” Care to speak to that?
Ah yes. [Laughs.] I did say that, and I do stand behind that. I call it a pessimistically positive or optimistic outlook.
Even after having two kids you believe this? You could seriously be making some grunge music with that outlook.
[Laughs.] I totally could. I’m trying to be more positive, although my new year’s resolution was to be a meaner, more vicious person. I’ve been too nice all these years, and my wife always tells me I need to be a harder, more difficult person to deal with, especially as a professional rock ‘n’ roller. But that said, I am trying to write more positive songs this time around, rather than all the doom and gloom.
So now that you’re sufficiently loosened up, we’re ready to drop the bomb. What happened to guitarist Ron Heathman?
Ah, Ron. I don’t really know for sure what happened to him, but I do know he recently spent some time in rehab. So I assume things were spiraling out of control for him, and he was under the impression he couldn’t handle being in the band and handle what was going on in his personal life. So he just decided to tell me this band is no longer conducive to his lifestyle. And he left the band.
Sad. A great player and obviously a close friend.
Yeah, but we’re really energized by our new guy, Marty Chandler. He’s been great. And the band has been firing like it hasn’t been firing in years. It’s actually been a joy to tell you the truth.
Sometimes one guy can really make a difference in the vibe of a group.
That’s what happened to us. He was kind of a dark cloud on the road for a while, unpleasant to be around and always complaining what should be nothing to complain about, really. We’re a band. We have a career. We’re on the road. We get to do this for a living. It should be all good things. It was never good enough for him.
Finally, a while back you did a Jukebox Jury for Seattle Weekly, and Superchunk’s “Slack Motherfucker” came up, and you and Ron immediately exclaimed “Alternachords.” Please explain.
[Laughs.] There’s like these dissonant chords that aren’t really chords, but are just really made up by somebody. They turn them into a song, and it was big in the 90s to do this sort of what we called Alternachordthese chords that are kind of ringing and jingly-jangly. They aren’t real chords at all, but somehow they turn them into a song.
So like that alternative rock answer to the bar chord?
The Supersuckers play with the Straight 8s Thursday, Jan. 28, at Berkeley Cafe in Raleigh at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.