Outlaw Rockers

The Supersuckers are ready to return to Tucson

A Groggy Voice answers the phone with a gravelly "Hello." It's 11 a.m. Australia time and Supersuckers singer Eddie Spaghetti is feeling road weary. He is still sleeping but rustles himself to consciousness because it's time to get to work.

You almost have to feel for the guy, between the jetlag, the relentless tour schedule and—oh yeah—this little issue of kicking cancer's butt a couple of years ago, Spaghetti has proven himself to be pretty bulletproof, so he's allowed to be a little tired.

"We've been on the road since the beginning of September," he says, his voice adjusting back to normal. "We're looking forward to coming home."

Home these days is everywhere and nowhere, as the band members now live in three different cities. They started in Tucson in 1988 but became better known as a Seattle act after living there for 25 years and getting signed to Sub Pop at the peak of the early '90s grunge movement.

Known for a boisterous, hard-driving, storytelling rock 'n' roll, the Supersuckers have always been down for a good time, even when they switch gears into the occasional country realm. They may be one of the longest-running, hardest-working bands in the biz, if there is even a music business anymore. Spaghetti, an imposing figure who looks like rock's most dastardly villain in his large black cowboy hat, aviator shades and a grizzly beard, has seen both sides of it as an artist and as the brief owner of a record label, Mid-Fi Recordings.

"I learned that it's an impossible business to maintain when everybody stops buying what you're making," he says. "Music is still popular, but now people aren't expected to have to pay for it. It doesn't make sense to have a record label anymore."

The band has jumped around on several labels throughout a 10-album career, the most recent being Holdin' The Bag, released on Acetate Records in 2015. They spend much of their time on the road playing shows and, according to Spaghetti, the current lineup—Spaghetti on vocals and bass, "Metal" Marty Chandler on guitar and Christopher Von Streicher on drums—is the best the band has ever been.

"It's what the band has tried to be all these years," he says.

But there was a brief moment when the future of the band was thrown into uncertainty. In 2015, Spaghetti was diagnosed with Stage III throat cancer.

"Just to hear the diagnosis was a shock," he says. "I'm the guy who never gets sick. When everybody gets the flu, I never get it. But I got cancer."

Fans rallied behind the band, raising funds to support them because they couldn't work during Spaghetti's treatment and recovery.

"It was like dying without having to die because I got to hear what everybody thinks about me!" he says. "It was eye-opening to see how many people care. That was a silver lining to a very dark cloud."

While Spaghetti looks like the kind of guy who would challenge you to a good ol' Western gunfight (and win every time), battling the Big C was no cakewalk. He had to undergo intensive speech and physical therapy even to be able to talk, much less sing again.

"There was a lot of work involved in getting my voice back," he says.

But now that he's in remission, he feels that his voice might be stronger than before.

"It changed a little bit but I think my range is better," he says.

The experience also affected his songwriting.

"I wrote a few dark songs, but now I'm back to just writing fun songs," Spaghetti says. "I want to write more stupid silly songs because that's what I really like."

The band has always been known for having a sense of humor weave through their rambunctious, urban rock crunchers and country sing-a-longs that portray life with a twist of satire. Spaghetti says they plan to go in the studio early next year to begin work on the next album. And there may be another run as a solo artist, which Spaghetti dabbled in briefly while the band was on hiatus in 2011, releasing the album Sundowner. The experience of going solo gave him a chance to see if he was a viable artist on his own. 

"It started as a fluke and kind of took off," he says. "It's cool to have the ability to entertain people just by yourself."

So what can fans expect from their upcoming show in Tucson on Dec. 3 at the Rock?

"The typical Supersuckers knockdown, drag-out party in the street!" exclaims Spaghetti, who adds what he's looking forward to the most in returning to his hometown. "I love the food in Tucson. There's a dish called carne seca that's so good. I look forward to going there and eating!"