by Jon Sarre with viva las vegas and mick altamont
"They're not here yet, it's probably the rain and traffic and stuff. You can hang around if you want, but if I were you, I'd come back later" were the words spoken from the friendly and oh-so-helpful weasel employed at LaLuna, Portland, Oregon's largest rock club (if a big building with lousy acoustics and police state atmosphere, courtesy of the omnipresent jocko
security can be described as a "rock club"). We (that is, me, Jon Sarre, your humble reporter, my personal assistant, Viva Las Vegas, and my legal advisor/fact checker, Mick Altamont) were already late for our interview with Amphetamine Reptile's answer to Motrhead, those cockrockin', Ted Nugent-loving, all-American fun kids, NASHVILLE PUSSY (now on tour, supporting their new record, Let Them Eat Pussy).
The whiskey at the nearest bar turned out to be a pretty good diversion and luckily, we remembered to check back in to see if the band had turned up. They had and we found ourselves directed to the dressing room they shared with the Makers. The usual pre-gig chaos ensued. Nashville Pussy had shown up late, sound checked and were working real hard at not doin' much of anything. Guitarist Ruyter Suys was on the phone, singer-guitarist Blaine Cartwright and bass player Corey Parks were sorta bewilderedly improvising the lighting for the show with the house lights guy. Jeremy, the drummer, unfortunately (for him), had just stepped out of the bathroom and we caught him, deerlike, in our award-winning (it could happen) investigative journalistic klieg lights:
Viva: What's the funnest place to play?
Jeremy: Funnest...? I don't know if I could narrow it down to just one...
Viva: How 'bout the best titty bar?
Jeremy: I don't know...
Viva: You don't know? Don't you go out?
Jeremy: I haven't got on the Mtley Crue bandwagon and hit the titty bars...
Jon: We were gonna try to do this interview in a titty bar...
Jeremy: It's frustrating, you walk outta there all broke and horny...
Viva: You don't like titty bars?
Jeremy: Don't get me wrong... Are you guys gonna make me go to a titty bar?
Deciding we'd let him twist a bit on the whole titty bar question, we hit him with a real curveball:
Jon: How've the show's been on this tour? Is it like this [LaLuna], all ages venues?
Jeremy: Yeah, our booking agent is putting us in places like this now. Big clubs.
Jon: Are the kids coming out?
Jeremy: Yeah, we're rich, too... As a matter of fact, we're retiring.
Jon: Give the rest to charity...
Jeremy: Yeah, the next million all goes to cancer research so I can keep smoking.
Jon: Are the younger kids coming out... Are they into it?
Jeremy: Are they into it? They're buying our shit... T-shirts and stuff...
An abortive question posed to Scotty, the band's merchandising guy, whose answer essentially warned me off asking him any further questions, coincided with Blaine and Corey's conclusion of business with the lighting dude. They got hit with a toughie right off the bat:
Jon: How long have you guys been out now?
Blaine: This just started, but we've been out for like a year straight. The time between tours is gettin' smaller and smaller... We had three weeks off in January... We thought we'd go crazy. It seemed like two years...
Mick: What did you guys do? Just practice...
Blaine: No, we practice like two days before we go.
Corey: It was hard for a while cuz like even into the first year with the band, we lived like 500 miles apart... So we picked out a house in Georgia next to a chicken farm.
Blaine: Chicken plant. Tyson shit...
Corey: Chicken plant, sorry. We all live there in this huge house, [but] we can kinda get into our own corners. It was built in like the 1880s by the Grand Dragon of the K.K.K.... He was also the county sheriff.
Blaine: We didn't seek out this house for that reason, fuck no.
Mick: What's goin' on in Athens these days?
Blaine: Athens is nothing, nothing's goin' on. It's not a bad place to live... but the stuff's stuff we're not even aware of.
Corey: You can see Michael Stipe all the time... He's a notoriously horrible tipper.
Mick: He's a notorious drunk, too, right?
Corey: No, I've never seen him drunk.
Viva: So, is he gay or straight?
Blaine: He's gay as hell, man.
Jon: Can we quote you on that? You're outing Mike Stipe?
Corey: For sure!
Blaine: Of course.
Mick: You got a scoop!
Jon: Do you guys play out in Athens ever?
Blaine: We've played there once... It's not a rock'n'roll town.
Corey: Now Atlanta, we had our CD release there, it was fuckin' unbelievable. It was a blast!
Corey: Yeah, with Gaunt.
Jon: You played with Gaunt?
Corey: Yeah, we were just on the road with them.
Mick: How was that? Gaunt is one of the bands I think is one of the coolest things going these days.
Corey: We played one of the last show with them in San Francisco and Jerry [Wick, Gaunt's front man] went up to Haight Street and bought one of those portable bars. It had martini glasses, this big Dylan sticker on it.
Mick: They're not coming up this way, I guess... who knows...
Blaine: We played with 'em two nights ago... then they split off from us, they just wussed out... That's Jerry for ya.
Jon: They're just kinda flaky, huh?
Blaine: A little bit, not too bad.
At about this point, Ruyter, who was on the phone in another room, returns.
Jon: Here's my throw-away end-of-interview question. Would you rather drink until ya black out with Lemmy Kilmister or go bow-hunting with Ted Nugent?
Jeremy: Can't I do both?
Jon: No, it's on the same day.
Jeremy: Well, what if me Lemmy and the Nuge all got drunk together while hunting?
Jon: Isn't Nugent sober?
Blaine: He's totally sober... Ted called our house. Ted interviewed Ruyter about two weeks ago... and Ted talked a long time about being sober.
Ruyter: He snuck it in, like you know how a Christian'll do it...
Jon: Didya ask him what that whole Damn Yankees thing was about?
Corey: All Ruyter said was "Okay, Ted, whatever you say, Ted."
Blaine: I think if I got drunk with Ted Nugent... I might get up the nerve to ask him about Damn Yankees, but if I go bow-hunting with him, I sure as fuck ain't gonna ask him. I think he likes Damn Yankees.
Jon: So the consensus is, drink with Lemmy while bow-hunting with Ted...
Ruyter: Man, I wanna go out and hunt pianos with Ted. Shoot fuckin' electric organs and crappy synths. "Enemy of the rock guitarist!" Blam!
Blaine: We have his guitar instructional video where he does that.
Ruyter: Then he goes, "Oh, it had babies!" and he shoots this tiny Casio with a handgun.
Jon: So there's a Ted Nugent guitar instructional video?
Ruyter: Yeah, when we first go it we wanted to throw our guitars out the fuckin' window though, man. He's such a dork!
Blaine: We both had our guitars, ready to learn something and here's Ted Nugent yammering for an hour...
Ruyter: He didn't show us nothing, except, "If ya wanna rock ya gotta do this." [Ruyter imitates Nugent in heavy-duty wank mode]
Blaine: It's a lot different from the Brian Setzer instructional video, he showed us what to do. Ted didn't show us nothin'. We were pretty pissed off, but then we watched it a few more times...
Ruyter: For entertainment.
The talk shifts to Nugent's radio station in Detroit and the morning show he does from his basement.
Jon: He's doin' like a Rush Limbaugh?
Blaine: Yeah, but more of a redneck, more a rock'n'roll Limbaugh... He gets more into conspiracy shit, man, like right wing conspiracy shit... He's really into that... I think it's his main interest now.
Jon: Do ya think he's gonna do a Sonny Bono maybe?
Blaine: I don't think he'd be elected to anything.
Jon: I'd vote for Nugent...
Ruyter: I'd vote for Ted.
Blaine: Yeah, he's supposed to be a real stand-up guy.
Corey: He's a parachute-in and stand-up kinda guy.
The discussion then shifts to Nugent's fight against Muzak, a pan-flute orchestra tackling "Great White Buffalo", how to order a pizza, the ? and the Mysterians reunion, Paul Burleson, Johnny Burnette, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and finally, "where can we get a drink around here?" So we did, besides, the Makers wanted their half of the dressing room back.
*Nashville Pussy plays LaLuna on May 17th. Super-cool Gaunt opens with Murder City Devils. What a bang for yer buck!!*