Eddie Spaghetti

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Eddie Spaghetti


Not long after, Spaghetti decided to head north-west to Seattle where his band, The Supersuckers, rode the crest of the grunge wave sweeping through the Pacific North-West at the time. While The Supersuckers played their music fast, loud and hard, Spaghetti’s opposition to country music was gradually eroding. “In the mid ‘80s I got a cassette tape of the Best of the Best of Merle Haggard,” Spaghetti recalls. “At that point the door opened, and from there I got into Willie Nelson, then Dwight Yoakam and Steve Earle’s first record.”

Spaghetti became so enamoured of country music that The Supersuckers’ fourth album, Must’ve Been High, eschewed the band’s classic rock’n’roll attack in favour of a country bent. With a legion of fans expected another high-octane rock’n’roll attack, it was a courageous career move. “I think we totally alienated our fans when that record first came out,” Spaghetti says. “We thought we’d buried our career with that record. But it’s gone on to become our most popular record.”

Spaghetti has gone onto release three solo records – The Sauce, Old No.2 and Sundowner – each of which comprise a combination of original tracks and covers of classic and obscure country tracks (Dean Martin, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Steve Earle). “They all sound like they’re cut from the same cloth,” Spaghetti says, when I ask to identify the common thread in the tracks he’s covered. “The main criteria is that they’re fun to play, and that I can pull them off.” Spaghetti acknowledges that it’s sometimes tough to find the right emotional space to play a country track that’s laden with emotion. “I did Always On My Mind, and that was really hard to pull off,” Spaghetti says. “With sentiment, that’s not really somewhere I usually go.”

Spaghetti has gone on to forge a deep friendship with Willie Nelson, playing alongside Nelson in the studio and on the road. “Willie taught me to just be yourself,” Spaghetti says. “If you’re comfortable with who you are, then that’s what matters.  Willie’s just the coolest dude – he’s perfect.”

It’s the depth of life experience – generally painful – that tends to come through in the great country music songs, presented in a simple, attractive format. “You have to have a melody, a simple chord progression,” Spaghetti says, “and you have to have words that people can relate to – stuff like drugs, murder, women and killing.” Surprisingly, Spaghetti nominates a faux country act – Ween – as composing his favourite country track. “I love Ween’s Piss Up a Road – that’s one song I wished I’d written!” Spaghetti laughs. And there’s also a celebration of Spaghetti’s favourite Australian band, AC/DC. “I did a cover of this obscure AC/DC track called Carry Me Home, a B-side,” Spaghetti says. “That song really works as a country song.”

Johnny Cash demonstrated the causal link from country to gospel; Spaghetti doesn’t rule out releasing a gospel record, but does suggest it’s an event at very long odds.  “I’m a devout agnostic, so it’s not something I’ve really thought about doing, but if the dollars are right, then you never know!” Spaghetti laughs. “But some friends of mind – Nashville Pussy – just put out a gospel record, so maybe I’ll do the same.”

Spaghetti’s charitable side has demonstrated in recent years when, alongside other musicians including Henry Rollins and Eddie Vedder, Spaghetti lent his support to the cause of the so-called West Memphis Three, three teenagers convicted of murdering a group of boy scouts over two decades ago. With the convicted trio challenging the voluntary nature of their confessions, and the appearance of new DNA evidence, the trio were released last year under an Arkansas Supreme Court order – albeit without the convictions being overturned. Spaghetti is elated about the turn of events. “I had one of the guys over from dinner recently,” Spaghetti says. “It was incredibly good to help out, and it gives you hope in the power of possibility.  You may be only one person, but you can tell another person, and another, and the next thing you known you’ve got a whole movement.”           

With a new Supersuckers record in the production line, Spaghetti is in Texas, where he’ll be opening tonight in front of the colourful, gun-toting Ted Nugent, a man whose staunchly conservative politics run counter to Spaghetti’s more liberal views. “I haven’t talked politics with Ted yet,” Spaghetti laughs. “But I’m waiting to tell him just how good I reckon Obama is!”