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"We all grew up on bad heavy metal," says Ron Heathman, guitarist for the hardcore pranksters the Supersuckers. "Then we discovered `cool' music and started playing that. But we still have a little bit of the heavy-metal influence in us, too."
No kidding. While most punk acts have a metallic skeleton or two in their closets, none of them adhere to the lager-soaked gospel of the Motorheads of the world quite like the Supersuckers. Heathman and his compadres (singer/bassist Eddie Spaghetti, guitarist Dan Bolton and drummer Dancing Eagle) revel in the bygone days when dope was cheap, girls were easy and rock and roll was as stupid--and entertaining--as the loaded masses who listened to it.
These amusingly moronic flashbacks are captured in all their glory on La Mano Cornuda, the Supersuckers's latest release on the Sub Pop imprint. Mano (the title is Spanish for "the horned hand") is a veritable cornucopia of mindless, shiftless party-punk anthems: From the hair-trigger chords of "Creepy Jackalope Eye" to the way-too-politically-incorrect "She's My Bitch," the Suckers touch on virtually every relevant hard-rock topic of the last twenty years. Listening to the group's troubled odes to babes, guns and liquor, you get the distinct impression that these guys have spent more than their fair share of time tossing back Mickey's bigmouths in 7-Eleven parking lots.
Society can hardly hold the Supersuckers accountable for these delinquent transgressions: The performers spent their formative years in the dry, dusty environs of Tucson, Arizona, which Heathman says wasn't exactly a cultural hot spot. As he puts it, "We spent most of our time partying together and going to school together. `Seventeen Poles' [from Mano] basically sums up our life in Tucson. That song is about a place we used to go to party. You'd go past this certain street and then count seventeen telephone poles and take a left. We used to meet there and drink and smoke pot together."
The bandmembers subsequently decided to take their celebrations to the Northwest, relocating in Seattle in 1990. Shortly thereafter, the group released a series of singles, as well as its full-length debut, All the Songs Sound the Same, on the eMpTy imprint. That offering was followed by the Suckers's hemi-charged Sub Pop masterpiece Smoke of Hell. Produced by Jack Endino (who was behind the boards on Nirvana's Bleach), Hell received rave reviews in all the right publications. But due to the overwhelming tide of hype produced by Seattle grungesters at the time, the record was all but ignored by area fans. Now that the city's circus atmosphere is beginning to dissipate, Heathman feels that things are improving. "[Seattle's] a much better place to play than it was when the scene was booming," he enthuses. "We were absolutely nobody then. Now all the bands that were playing clubs then are playing arenas now--which is great for us. Now we have lots of cash, lots of chicks, lots of booze. You name it."
Thanks to their newfound station in life, the Suckers also spend a fair share of time rubbing elbows with the area's rock royalty, including the members of grunge grandaddies Mudhoney. "They bowl with us on Wednesday nights," Heathman boasts. "Every Wednesday is rock-bowling night here, followed by karaoke afterwards.
"Mudhoney likes our band and we like theirs," he continues, "so they took us on tour with them. Which is great, because they have nice coattails."
Judging from recent events, Heathman and company won't have to live in Mudhoney's shadow for long. The Supersuckers just finished their first tour of Australia ("home of AC/DC, the world's finest rock-and-roll band," Heathman insists), as well as a stint in Japan, where they previously headlined the Sub Pop Lame Fest with labelmates Seaweed, Fastbacks and Supersnazz. "[The Japanese] are a lot hungrier, because they don't get as many American bands over there," Heathman reveals. "They like three-chord, dumb rock and roll as opposed to looking for the newest, latest whatever. I think we have a long, bright future over there."
Does the guitarist find it weird that audiences that once bowed down to Kiss are now paying homage to their hyperactive, punk-pop paeans? Not really. In his words: "There's nothing that ironic about us. We're just a bunch of dorks from Tucson that are actually doing good for themselves.
"That's not irony," he concludes. "That's just blind luck."
The Supersuckers, with the Meices. 9 p.m. Tuesday, October 25, Fox Theatre, 1135 13th Street, Boulder, $6.30, 447-0095 or 290-
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