In a way, high-intensity rock and roll is like a bottle of whiskey: good fun while you’re drinking, but maybe not meant for extended use. That’s why it’s especially gratifying that Atlanta rebel rockers Nashville Pussy, led by a livewire husband/wife duo Blaine Cartwright and Ruyter Suys, have excelled beyond their initial explosion, 1998’s Grammy-nominated Let Them Eat Pussy. Collapsing record labels and a total media blackout have kept the ‘Pussy at cult-level status, though the scandalously-named quartet boasts a hearty fanbase in Europe and consecutive classic albums, including the brand new From Hell To Texas (SPV/Steamhammer). [Read the MetalSucks review here.]
Scary on stage and hilarious in conversation, Cartwright spoke with MetalSucks from his Atlanta home about the sound of timeless music, rocking Europe, and the Nashville Pussy civil war movie.
MetalSucks: How’s life, man?
Blaine Cartwright: Great! I’m chillin’ out here in Atlanta – not doing shit, just putting some tunes on my iPod. We’ll be on tour in like 10 days. We’re going out for about a month with The Supersuckers in Europe. We just got back from there, so this is round two.
Hard rock is always big there. It translates really well. It’s easy to understand Nashville Pussy even if you don’t speak the language well. English doesn’t have to be your first language to understand what the fuck we’re talking about.
Oh yeah. Nashville Pussy is one part of America that everybody’s pretty comfortable with over there [laughs]. We come back here, and people aren’t too comfortable with us. It’s a lot easier to get past the big corporate machine over there. Basically, you can just be a band and have a decent-sized record label. It’s a lot easier than banging your head against a wall here. I do like playing here in the States a lot though. Just way more people are into hard rock over there.
Banging your head against a wall? You’re talking about corporate LiveNation-type stuff?
Our big problem in the States is our name and the content. It just seems like we make more progress in Europe. What are ya gonna do?
I love the name. I think everybody loves it.
I think so too.
But you can’t even utter Nashville Pussy in polite society. Any regrets about that?
Hell no. I’m glad we came up with something so cool. I think it’s an easy thing for [industry] people to blame it on — people who aren’t playing us or not getting us on television. They kinda blow us off. People like saying no. It’s really easy. [laughs]
Then they can go take lunch.
Yeah. It allows people to work less. They just can say Oh no the name is a problem. Then they can get back to working on The Jonas Brothers or whatever’s popular these days. [laughs]
Nashville Pussy got a rough start anyway with record labels.
We’ve been on a bunch of labels. We’re on SPV now – a really big label in Europe. I’m really glad we have a home – even if that home gets blown down by a tornado every couple years. I’m still amazed that we’re such an easy sell; there are always a couple labels interested in us. It’s cool. They all make their money back. Except for Mercury. I think I scare people. The Reverend Horton Heat told me that one time. He said they don’t know how to take us sometimes. Record labels might not know what we’re up to or what we’re gonna do.
We’re really easy to get along with. We don’t do shit. I go and hit baseballs. We go out and drink with friends, watch TV, and go to a basketball game. That’s basically it. Really normal shit. On the road we’re different.
We party a lot on the road. Things can get kinda crazy.
So Nashville Pussy lyrics are inspired by what goes on when touring then.
A lot of stuff is that. A lot of it is stories I’ve heard on tour. If we didn’t tour, I don’t know what I’d ever fucking write about. [laughs]
It’s a riot for the listener. You should be happy about that.
Hell yeah! I’m glad people get it.
The new record is hugely entertaining. Do you remember when like Peter Frampton and The Village People were so huge that they actually starred in movies and shit?
Yeah we definitely remember that.
Wouldn’t a Nashville Pussy movie be great? Nashville Pussy in From Hell To Texas. Run-ins with the law, drinking, musical numbers, guest stars …
I hope it’ll happen at some point. We’re in one movie in Holland, Wilde Mossels, which was a independent hit. The only copy I’ve got is a European VHS, so I haven’t seen it. We’re supposed to be in a movie that’s in the works now, but that takes forever. I personally was in Run Ronnie Run, the Mr. Show movie. I had like eight lines and punched somebody and that was it.
It’ll happen when we least expect it. I’m sure if we lived in Europe, we’d be in all kinds of crazy movies.
Would you ever move there?
Nah, no way. I like it here too much. It’s cheaper too. I go over there to make money and bring it back. [laughs] The places I like there, like Holland, the weed’s cheap but food is way more expensive. I’ve never lived outside of the southeast – grew up in Kentucky, lived in Nashville for a while, and now I live in Atlanta. It’s the best place to live if you’re ’round these parts.
Wow. You actually said ‘round these parts. I thought that was a myth.
You should hear my roommate from Mississippi [laughs]. He’ll blow your mind. [laughs] He’s like five years older than me; if you like ‘round these parts and shit [laughs]… he’s like a fuckin’ cartoon.
When they do film here, it’s always stuff about the fuckin’ civil war. It’s all [period] pieces set a hundred years before Nashville Pussy was fuckin’ even around. If Nashville Pussy was around during the civil war, we’d be in all kinds of fuckin’ movies [laughs]. It’d be great. We’d be entertaining the troops and shit.
[laughs] Let’s talk about recording From Hell To Texas. There’s a Willie Nelson connection?
We were in Willie Nelson’s studio where he did all his classic records. I know he did a lot of his outlaw stuff there, like Waylon & Willie. That record is so fuckin’ good. I grew up with that. So to me, it was a really big deal to sit around where they recorded those records. My dad played the shit outta those 8-tracks.
Wow. So that kind of shit is a big deal to you, too. I remember freaking out being at the Budokan because of its history with Cheap Trick.
What’s changed for Nashville Pussy musically since your first record? Let Them Eat Pussy was an explosion.
The first one was so punk rock. It was a different situation, a different theme. Now, we sound more like we were trying to sound in the first place. We were trying to sound like a heavy 70s rock band when we started, but with [Let Them Eat Pussy] we thought ‘Oh shit. We’re still a crazy punk rock band.’ We just try to document the progress and make sure each record gets better. And make sure people keep playing better.
There are a lot of great backing vocals on the new record. It’s immediately catchy. It’s an instant classic. Was there an intention to be more dynamic?
We were definitely trying to do that. That was something lacking in the earlier stuff. We didn’t have enough of that at all. We should’ve been doing more background vocals all along.
What’s your relationship like with your producer?
Daniel Rey helps with songwriting and arrangement. And he keeps us working, basically. We tend to be lazy. Seriously. It’s nice to have someone to tell us to get going. And he puts little parts in to make songs cooler; he’s really good with choruses.
Whatever it is, it works.
Yeah, I think it does too. I’m not really sure … we’ve done two records with him. I really like writing songs with him. He’s extremely extremely easy to get along with. That helps, too.
I imagine you get asked a lot what you listen to.
I listed to a lot of 70s rock, obviously ZZ Top and Ted Nugent. But a lot of funk and soul: The Isley Brothers, Betty Davis, and The Commodores for fuck’s sake. Funkadelic. Also a lot of basics, like Chuck Berry. I still listen to a lot of mid-’70s punk like The Ramones and New York Dolls. Mostly older R&B from the ’60s and ’70s.
I notice we’re not breaching the year 1980 yet.
Yeah. I know there are new bands I like, but the ones I like sound like old bands. Tokyo Dragons, who sound like AC/DC. Or The Black Crowes in the ’90s – they sounded older too. I know there’s a lot of stuff that sounds cool, but it’s too processed.
Which makes you keep Nashville Pussy sounding really natural.
We want it to sound like people playing. I understand that there’s always the temptation to go with whatever [is trendy] at the time. But you can’t beat the sound of people playing together. It ages well and will sound good 50 years from now. People playing good songs. Seriously.
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