Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The lost Spits Interview: Part 1

Andres and I interviewed The Spits back in the Summer of 1999 for what was to be 10 Things issue #23. This issue never came out because I began working on Tablet instead. The Spits were still a recent phenomena in Seattle at the time, their first 7" had just come out... it was before they had put anything out on Dirtnap or had become very popular, but they already had a core following in Seattle.

When The Spits play live there are a couple things you can count on: they usually play in costume and they always put on a fun show. In these days with indie punk bands acting like rock stars, The Spits seem like a breath of fresh air, but really they are a flashback to the ‘70s punk scene with a raw garage sound, goofy antics, and they add in a keyboard (which most modern punk bands wouldn't do.) The result is great! Strip off the pretentiousness and strip down the music and you have pure punk rock. After seeing these guys a bunch of times live, hearing their great 7", and running into them at shows and parties, I figured it was about time 10 Things sit down and chat with them. The Spits are Sean Wood on guitar, Erin Wood on bass, Lance on drums, and Nicholas on keyboards.

10: So let's get some background info. When did you guys start out?
S: 1987
E: Was it '87?
L: Are you gonna tell them the secret?

10: Now that was in Michigan, right?
S: '87 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

10: Did you guys play a lot of shows there back then?
S: Oh yeah.
L: Until we discovered time travel.
N: Tell 'em about the time travel, they gotta now know.
S: We pretty much got barred from
Kalamazoo and East Lansing.
L: The whole western
Michigan area.
S: So we had to move out here.

10: Now Sean and Erin are brothers… but when you started out was it the three of you?
L: Well, me and Nick are brothers as well. It's like a double-date kinda thing.

10: Lance, you are also from Michigan, did you guys go to the same school?
L: We did. Sean's like four years older than me, but we were in the same grade. We graduated together. So we were hanging out, and I was playing in high school with Sean when he was 18 and I was only 14. So thanks to Sean, I got a little jumpstart on the scene.

10: Did you guys ever play at a high school or anything like that?
S: No, no…
L: We did play at a party on this pontoon boat on the lake with some chicks one time.

10: Did they have a generator on the boat?
S: No, we were just singing our songs and doing mouth guitar.
L: One of the chicks was Nick's cousin, we were out there with her and a lot of her friends. We were telling them how we were in this band and stuff.

10: So, does the "We're in a band" thing really work for chicks?
L: Well we all have girlfriends, so obviously it works. And we've been using that for a long time.
E: A long time!

10: So when did you guys move to Seattle?
E: '93.
L: The thing was… we weren't doing so good back there.
E: Well in the early ‘90s, but in '87 we were pretty hot when we took off.
N: Let me mention again that these guys were time travelers. They introduced me to it, I'm from
L: All you have to do is take methamphetamines and head into the setting sun.
N: Let me tell you about the set up these guys have going on here. I don't know if they found it or if they built a time travelling machine…
E: We acquired one, let's just leave it at that.
N: So, they went in to the future and they seemed to like The Spits there, they like that kind of rock music. So they brought it back to the past, the stuff that they listened to in the future.

10: So you're saying The Spits are actually a futuristic band?
N: It is, it is.
L: No, no.
N: The material is futuristic.
S: Well, we're not from the future.
E: We're from
Alagan, Michigan.
N: There is no
Michigan in the future.
E: But the material IS pretty futuristic, if you think about it.

10: A lot of people would say you guys harken back more to the ‘70s "Killed by Death" kind of sound.
S: Well, we went back there, and we fit in pretty good with the other bands.
L: But we didn't do so well…
E: We tried it in the ‘70s and it didn't really go over.
L: People throwing fucking beers at us and shit. So we said let's go to a time when this kind of music is gonna be big. The thing was we miscalculated. We're here after the fact now and everyone's already done it. So we come on the scene with this sound and it's like...fuck! Great, it's passe now.

10: So if you guys have been around since '87, how come you only have one record out? E: Well, we just got HERE, in this time.
S: If someone wants to pay for the fucking thing, we'll put out twenty. Let me just say that I went into the future with Nick, to the year 2025. And let me tell you something, The Murder City Devils, they were no more. People never even heard of 'em. I didn't bother back-tracking a few years and find out what happened to them. But I can tell you, in 2025, they're gone. But when I was there, I saw fliers for the Spits.

10: So back to reality. Picking the name The Spits...
S: Me and Erin came up with it. We were on a road trip from Memphis to Michigan.

10: You knew people were gonna start spitting at your shows when you picked that name.
S: Well, we were trying to think of something cool.
E: And what's the coolest? A little spit.
L: That was pretty much at the top of the list right there.
S: It was either spitters or smokers.
E: Smokin' and spittin' is kinda cool. There was already plenty of smoke bands out there at the time.
S: Didn't Ozzy say smokin' and spittin' is all that I do?

(Confused looks on people's faces, followed by laughter)
L: I love that tune!

10: So does it piss you guys off if people spit at your shows?
S: No, but I hate it when people take a whole beer and just spit the whole thing.

10: I only spit a mouthful of beer.
S: Hey, fuckin' A, I've done it too.
L: Yeah, I hate it when you do it! Like, this interview's fucking over!

(Lance spits beer towards us)
S: I don't mind it if chicks spit beer, you know some pussy spit. But guys, man, fuck, I don't want you're nasty shit up on my ass.

10: But didn't you think about that happening when you picked the name?
S: Yeah. Matter of fact we have a little conflict with this arcade in Capitol Hill because of that.

10: I thought what they wrote about you in their paper was pretty funny. (Basically they played at the Hi*Score and then wrote this piece about how immature and unpunk The Spits were acting by spitting.)
E: That was good. That was good press, it was probably the best press that we've ever had. And maybe the only…
N: Well they did say we were a mediocre party band!
S: We were kind of mediocre that night.
E: That's kind of what we are! There's no denying it.
N: A mediocre party band that travels in time.
E: How old is that lady from Hi*Score anyways?

10: Probably around thirty.
L: So she's been around and seen party bands. And she knows when one is good or when they're mediocre.

10: Maybe she just didn't want bands spitting in her place like that.
N: But we don't spit, they spit on us! Girls especially.
S: Well, he let that girl spit on his keyboard so everything I hope is resolved.
E: Well she sounded a little hot…
S: Well, I went in there to play games, and got some evil looks.
N: No, no it's all good, she spit on my keyboard and it's all good now.
L: Nick ended up hookin' up with her later that night!
N: I told you not to say anything else! Goddamnit! I said quiet about that! It was just some guy who spit on me I said... it was a guy.

10: Have you guys toured much around the Northwest or the West Coast?
L: All over Portland
S: We've played
L: We've also done Jack and Jills out there in
Lake City. And Bremerton.

10: What was your worst show?
N: Bremerton.
L: There was a show a long time ago where Sean and the bass player beat the shit out of each other at the Rendezvous. Sean punched him.
S: He kicked me in the back, man.

10: Was this you Erin?
E: No, I quit the band for a little while.
S: I ended up beating the shit out of that guy.
L: And I walked off stage and I was not gonna play anymore, but then Sean came back and got me and we went back on stage. Sean and this guy were kicking each other and he threw his bass down. And we were supposed to have all these big pyrotechnics and they were all wussy.

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