by Mike Corrigan

They had to fight for the right to party. Last Thursday night, five local bands -- the Creeps, Rebecca's Tragedy, Scatterbox, Warmer and the Weirdhurt -- went one by one out onto the stage at Fat Tuesday's to do battle. The prize? Nothing less than the opportunity to open for those Northwest punk legends, the Supersuckers, who are appearing at the very same club (along with Camarosmith) this Saturday.

"That's totally killer," laughs Supersuckers frontman Eddie Spaghetti upon hearing the news. "But there had to be some other prizes that went along with it wasn't there? We couldn't have been the grand prize."

Ah, but they were (incidentally, Scatterbox was the winner). And for many of our Inland Northwest brothers and sisters, the Supersuckers fairly embody the blood, guts and glory spirit of rock 'n' roll. The band (Spaghetti on vocals and guitar, Ron Heathman on guitar, Dancing Eagle on drums and Dan Bolton on bass) specializes in brief, three-chord assaults that take the path of least resistance into your skull. A Supersuckers show is a guaranteed hard and fast good time that doesn't overstay its welcome. Wham, bam (thanks) and they're outta here. Now based in Seattle, they've compiled more than 10 years' worth of road stories that way, along with a half-dozen proper albums, including such genuine '90s classics as The Smoke of Hell, The Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers and their notorious curve ball, the more or less straight-faced country album, Must've Been High.

And it doesn't look like they're about to hang up their hats anytime soon. Their new record, Motherf----s Be Trippin', just arrived. Spaghetti says it's the same old hellacious fun in a gory new package.

"This is straightforward rock 'n' roll record," he says, "another one in the series of records that we started with our last one [1999's The Evil Powers of Rock 'n' Roll]. It sort of picks up where that one left off -- like a sequel to a movie. That's kind of been the goal, to not really do anything different when we make these rock records. I like them to be very similar so that when you pick up a Supersuckers record, you know what you're gonna get.

"Unless it's a country record," he quips. "I guess I have to qualify everything now."

But some things have changed. If not in the music, then certainly in the group's personal lives.

"We've grown up in that we're doing the stuff you'd expect from regular old guys in their mid-30s," Spaghetti agrees. "In any other job, people think having a family is great, but in rock 'n' roll it's supposed to be this huge handicap. It hasn't affected the music or made us soft or anything. If anything, it's made us want to do it that much more. And in the big picture, it's the same. Your sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll turn into -- in our band's case -- sex with your wife, beer and pot and then rock 'n' roll. It's the same stuff, just slightly different."

The Supersuckers have successfully kept the fires of hell lapping at their feet through more than a few changes in wind direction all by sticking pretty close to a very basic formula for fun. Spaghetti notes that bands -- all bands, really -- are defined not so much by what they can do, but by what they can't do.

"Bands are defined by their limitations. The things that a band is incapable of doing, on a technical level or on an ethical level, defines how they sound. That's what makes rock 'n' roll so kick ass. It doesn't have anything to do with virtuosity. Yngwe Malmsteen sucks for a reason -- and so does any band that progresses too much. Of course there are exceptions. But when people tell me we've put out six of the same record, I like to be able to tell them 'Well, no, it's seven, thank you very much.' "

Eye of Jupiter -- This Saturday night at the B-Side, the members of Jupiter Effect will take a break and crawl out of the studio where they've been feverishly completing the mix-down of their widely anticipated second album to give their loyal Spokane fan base a sample of their well-rehearsed sonic wares.

The show was originally scheduled to be the band's CD release party for Mosquito Bites, their new long-player. Ah, but in the 11th hour they pulled the plug on the CD release aspect of the party so they could spend a little more time on the product. But why nix a perfectly good live gig all because of last-minute obsessive fussing? That's right, no reason under the stars. And now is always the right time to let Jupiter Effect's good time gravity pull you in.

Jupiter Effect's slippery sound is hard to nail down. It's jam rock with a heavy infusion of funk delivered by a trio of seasoned Spokane scene vets: Dan McElfish (vocals, guitar), Derek Neu (drums) and Armando Arguello (bass). The band's songwriting approach is people-oriented (read: danceable) so even when the musical explorations start to get a little dicey and start veering into psychedelia, ska and hard rock meditations, the band always remains ever mindful of the most important component of any live music happening -- the audience.

Joining Jupiter Effect for this "we don't really need a reason to throw a party" party will be Seattle-area indie rockers, Spanish for 100, and an alt-rock quintet from Stockton, Calif., called Paradigm. Opening the festivities will be none other than the comedic musical stylings of the performer known only as Dawson.

Publication date: 04/24/03

Northwest Winterfest @ Spokane County Fair & Expo Center

Fridays, 5-8 p.m., Saturdays, 4-8 p.m. and Sundays, 3-6 p.m. Continues through Jan. 1
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