Still speeding along on one of the oddest career roads of any modern punk band, skizz-garage gang The Spits, who formed in Seattle in 1996 before dispersing to other locales, have gone from brain-huffed Ramones re-rupture-ers to costumed, revved-up space-drunks, crafting a post–Rip Off/Goner Records underworld of ever-gone party rock. They suddenly stand as highly influential grandpops of wherever garage-punk is going. Their fifth and latest self-titular album on In the Red, The Spits, feels a little heavier and darker, while song titles like “Wanna Be ADD,” “Tomorrow’s Children” and “My Life Sucks” might seem to indicate that the band is perhaps stunned themselves by the incrementally wider swath of blog love. Leader Sean Wood currently resides in Austin, and was just back from a quick tour jaunt (before no doubt planning another) when I caught up with him via email.
Johnny Sarkis (Austin rock honcho and Spits confidant) implored me to ask you what is your favorite brand of fishing lure and fishing style for Lake Erie.
Sean Wood: Well, for walleye, I like a #9 Rapala or a Bomber Long A. I also like Fire Tiger in blue and silver colors, but nothing beats a good old fashioned leech. Fish shallow flats or troll deep weed edges, and that should get you your daily catch of walleye in the great Lake Erie.
Speaking of the rust belt, what’s it been like for Erin (Wood, bassist) to move from the bright lights and big boobs of LA back to Kalamazoo and why did he?
SW: Erin moved back to Michigan because that’s where his blood runs deep. Him and his woman love their new life hunting rabbit, playing rock, and finding cool junk. Now I ask you, can you do that in LA?
You can probably eat rabbit, but I wouldn’t know. The band lives all over the map now. What’s the plan on getting together to practice and come up with new tunes and such? Or is it all mp3 trading and all that Dick Tracey shit that’s Greek to me?
SW: First of all, we’re not a band, we’re a family. Basically, we all write songs at home, then get together once a month and rip them out. But, yes, we send music digitally and stay in contact everyday. It reminds me of the Western Union before they had telegraph or mail: a cowboy would write his song and send it by horseback across the nation to his band of bothers.
Is it me or is the new record a bit darker, more deeply fuzzier and scuzzier?
SW: Yes,the new record is both harder and even more fun. We just wanted to remind people what real rock sounds like.
“My Life Sucks”—ironic or revealing?
SW: Both ironic and revealing. It reveals what lies under the poppy bubblegum crap.
There seems to have been a re-heave of interest in the Spits the last couple years. The crowds I’ve seen at your last couple NYC shows probably heard of you via Black Lips, No Bunny, Cheap Time—bands that formed after the Spits. How are you handling the role of wizened veterans of the garage-rock scene?
SW: Our crowds are unique because you have seasoned punk-rock veterans and 1980s pro skaters on one side, then younger kids on the other side. I think the younger crowd is starting to appreciate good music again!
What do you think the impact of the whole Scion garage-rock campaign has been on the Spits and that corner of the trash-rock world overall?
SW: I think the Scion garage campaign was excellent. It gave bands the opportunity to do projects they would never have done otherwise, like split 7-inch singles and free music festivals. It gave people around the country a chance to see bands that may not have been able to tour. Now, if you really like a band, are you really going to be bummed that Scion put a few bucks in their pocket for busting their ass? If you answer “yes,” than you’re a fucking nerd.
Speaking of which, we all love “garage rock,” but there have been a number of jump-the-shark moments for that term of late, no?
SW: Yes, both the terms “garage” and “psychedelic” have been used way too much. I mean, what’s next? Are The Simpsons psychedelic? I think that there a few psych and garage bands out there, but what gets called that now is mostly a bunch of poppy punk stuff.
Do you still tour in an RV?
SW: Yes, we still have an RV. It’s great because we can pull our boat and take it for a dip on our days off. There’s nothing better than pulling over for the night, busting out the grill, firing up some battery powered amps, and writing that new Spits hit.
Have the onstage band fisticuffs subsided over the last couple years? How’s that sibling rivalry going?
SW: You know when you’re one of the nation’s top 10 bands, it’s hard work and you’re going to fight a bit.