You know that rule of comedy that dictates that something that may not be funny initially becomes increasingly hilarious upon excessive repetition? It’s the backbone of every Saturday Night Live catchphrase, and it’s the Austin, Texas-based Supersuckers’ new method of creating liner notes. After 10 years of unabashed supercharged alt-country-slash-rock-‘n’-roll, the ‘Suckers have taken that rule to its most vulgar conclusion: Their new album, Motherfuckers Be Trippin’ features liner notes that contain 78 instances of the word “motherfuckin’” (and variations thereof). By the time the liner notes end with a shout out to “all the little motherfuckers that make motherfucking so motherfuckin’ great”, it’s obvious that this is the album layout that band has been working toward their whole career, and you’re either with the Supersuckers or against them. (Bonus points to the band for using “motherfuck” as a noun, verb, and adjective in the above sentence.)
While it’s hard to say whether the Supersuckers are the kind of band who throws “motherfucker” around with reckless abandon or just a parody of those bands, either way, they’ve got a wicked sense of humor and have no time for those who take their rock too seriously. They’ve even got non-vulgar jokes. They helpfully note on the album cover “Parental Advisory: Explicit Title”. Well, no shit, guys. And their record label’s motto is, “It’s not hi-fi, it’s not low-fi, it’s Mid-Fi and it’s pretty good.” That also doubles as an apt description of the band, who just wants to have fun rocking your socks off.
The Supersuckers (lead singer/bassist Eddie Spaghetti, guitarist Dan “Thunder” Bolton, guitarist Rontrose Heathman, and drummer Dancing Eagle) have positioned themselves as the unlikely love child of insane pop metaller Andrew W.K. and alt-country bar band mainstays the Bottlerockets on Motherfuckers Be Trippin’. While some may fail to see the humor in their rampant use of “motherfuckin’”, there’s no denying the appeal in their latest batch of songs. (Finally, we get to the music.) “Rock-n-Roll Records (Ain’t Sellin’ This Year)” opens with a huge motherfuckin’ (sorry) guitar riff and rocks non-stop from there. Guitarists Bolton and Heathman never met a power chord they didn’t like, a point they prove time and again on each of Motherfuckers Be Trippin’‘s tracks. Selling records isn’t the Supersuckers top priority—honoring the rock is job one. “Rock Your Ass” does exactly that, too, melding the most fun elements of rock—handclaps, big guitars, and commands to party (“Grab a drink and chug-a-lug / Have some sex / And take some drugs”, demands Spaghetti)—into what amounts to the album’s manifesto. Is there a band out there that has less use for subtlety that the Supersuckers?
After the album’s two opening gems, there’s nowhere to go but down, and Spaghetti and Co. seem to acknowledge this on “Pretty Fucked Up”, their take on the ‘80s power ballad (“She used to be pretty / But now she’s just pretty fucked up”). This song also shines on a light on the shortcomings in Spaghetti’s raspy voice when he isn’t singing about drinking, rocking, or otherwise carousing.
Fortunately, those moments are few and far between, as the band dives back into their element on the middle third of the album. “The Fight Song” could be a lost kid brother to AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”. Bolton’s and Heathman’s guitars battle each other across the speakers, and it’s an early contender for Song Most Likely to Be Playing If You Get a Black Eye This Year. Meanwhile, “Bruises to Prove It” posits battle scars are a badge of honor, and the opposites-attract “Bubblegum and Beer” veers close to pop territory.
If the front half of Motherfuckers Be Trippin’ is all about fighting and good times, side-B is soaked in cheap booze and regret. “Sleepy Vampire” opens with a dusty guitar intro that marks the band’s closest alt-country approximation (Spaghetti Western? jokes a rock critic for the millionth time . . .), and it’s also the only time the band stops to catch their collective breath—musically and lyrically. It’s back to the blistering pace for “A Good Night for Drinkin’” and “Damn My Soul”, with the former notable as the only track that views booze as a bad thing: “The thing that kills won’t let you die”. Who could have guessed a man named Eddie Spaghetti was capable of such introspection? Introspection is not their forte—as if that hasn’t been made abundantly clear to this point—but only once does the band’s over-the-top sense of humor fail them: “Someday I Will Kill You”. Drunken boastin’ and brawlin’ is good-natured; but murder? Not so much. As if it weren’t enough, “Someday I Will Kill You” is their most embarrassing ‘80s hair metal track. Memo to Spaghetti: Stick to the bumfights and the high octane roots-rock riffs.
Intentional or not, Motherfuckers Be Trippin’‘s greatest contribution may be that it dissolves the line between cock rock homage and parody. Thanks to the Supersuckers, listeners can now enjoy both simultaneously. Can any band start nearly every guitar solo with a shout of “Let’s go!” and brag about their fists’ and livers’ abilities with a straight face and not have an arched eyebrow? If you can find this album (perhaps no small feat), it’s worth a listen to see what the answer is.
// Notes from the Road
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