Evil Supersuckers power rock n’ roll

By David Kenney

Sometimes, the evil powers in rock and roll are real, real good.

For Seattle band Supersuckers, it means getting illegal substances thrown at them. At a recent show in Oregon promoting their latest album The Evil Powers of Rock and Roll, they hit paydirt while bellowing the anthemic "I Want the Drugs."

"In Eugene, [Oregon], it’s just nutty," laughs Supersuckers guitarist Ron Heathman from his Seattle home. "Some guy threw up like a quarter ounce one time. It was like, ‘Dude! How’d you even lift that up here?’ It never ceases to amaze me."

Ah, rock and roll. Calgary gets its chance to shower the ball-bustin’, punkabilly Supersuckers with paraphernalia when they play The Night Gallery, Fri. Feb. 23. The flu-groggy and drug-free Heathman down-plays the group’s toking habits, saying for his bandmates, it’s about moderation. Strange but true for a band noted for their spaghetti-western drug opus album, Must Have Been High. Besides, it’s not just about the drugs.

"I almost wanna say that drugs are a better influence on rock and roll," says Heathman on sex vs. drugs in rock. "I think it’s a sexy thing to be up on stage and sweating and rocking.

"Everyone says that you’re lying if you don’t say everyone got into rock and roll to get laid, [but] to be honest with you, I never had any trouble getting laid before I was in a band."

Modest, yes, but the married guitarist isn’t alone. Last year, the humour-heavy band did more than the usual run of touring. Rallying behind three Arkansas men convicted of murder with questionable evidence, the Supersuckers released a compilation CD on their Aces and Eights label, and toured to support the release. Artists appearing on the Free the West Memphis 3 CD include Steve Earle, Tom Waits, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and the Supersuckers themselves. Heath-man says the West Memphis three story hit close to home.

"They’re kind-of victims of geography… had the same set of circumstances happened here in Seattle, they wouldn’t be in jail," he says. "They would just get laughed out of court because there’s no evidence. It was just this good old boy mentality that is still around in the south."

Becoming part-time lobbyists affected the band in a way Heathman expects to show on their next album; he expects the band to demonstrate more of its human side.

"It’s easy for us to get caught up in our careers… but when you look at these kids, you’re like ‘my problems are shit compared to that,’" he says. "It gives you perspective."

Keeping a strong perspective transfers into their music, from punk to country.

"That’s the one thing about us, we’re unpredictable even unto ourselves."