Ruyter Suys of Nashville Pussy Interview

January 24, 2013

Interviewer: Ruben Mosqueda

You’ve read the review of the latest Nashville Pussy opus ‘Up The Dosage’ on the website — and once again, it’s a great record. Released on January 21st via SPV USA, grab a copy because you won’t be disappointed — it is possibly the best thing that Nashville Pussy have done to date. Sleaze Roxx got a chance to catch up with lead guitarist Ruyter Suys to talk about the new album and share stories from their tour with ZZ Top in the summer of 2012. While nothing is currently set in stone for North American tour dates, rest assured that Nashville Pussy will play extensively whether headlining clubs or on package tour — and you’ll get the same explosive performance.

Sleaze Roxx: There’s always a certain amount of excitement when I get a new Nashville Pussy record. Like with a new Motorhead album, you know what you’re getting but its always exciting. Having said that, you’re doing a number of different things on ‘Up The Dosage’ — for instance, you incorporate keyboards on “When The Drugs Wear Off”.

Ruyter Suys: Yeah it’s the piano and we haven’t broached the subject of whether we’ll use keyboards live (laughs)! I think it might be a technical impossibility to incorporate mandolin and piano in the live setting but I’m not against it. I think this might be something that can only be done in the studio.

Sleaze Roxx: How does a band like Nashville Pussy put together a song like “Hooray For Cocaine, Hooray For Tennessee”? That’s a departure from what you typically do.

Ruyter Suys: Those two songs were the loose cannons of the record. They were the last songs that we recorded because we didn’t know the direction that we were going. They were both Blaine (Cartwright)’s brainchild as usual and they weren’t fully baked like the rest of the shit.

When we head into the studio we like to go in with 80% of the material in our pockets — by that I mean that we like to know exactly what we’re doing. 10% will be mostly completed and the other 10% we leave up to the Gods. We leave that to the wind as to which direction we blow in. I think that “Hooray For Cocaine, Hooray For Tennessee” and “Before The Drugs Wear Off” are indicative of that. We didn’t know what the fuck we were doing at all (laughs)!

Sleaze Roxx: “Hooray For Cocaine, Hooray For Tennessee” goes into bluegrass territory. I don’t know if you’re fans of Steve Earle, but that song is reminiscent of something that you could find on his ‘Copperhead Road’ album.

Ruyter Suys: Yeah we love Steve Earle. Are you familiar with “When I’m Blue”? It’s got that solo on there that is one of my favorite solos of all-time, it makes me cry in its simplicity and beauty. And as you know Blaine is from Kentucky so blue is the color of his grass — you can’t escape it. I’ve had a mandolin in the van for years and I’ll jam along to anything on it. I jam on anything from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Black Sabbath — I don’t care what is playing, I’m going to play mandolin along to it. I’ll play along to Iron Maiden if I can, it’s just fun! It’s like speed metal playing mandolin, it’s a challenge. It’s got a beautiful sound and it captures the southern aspect of Nashville Pussy. My heroes play mandolin — Jimmy Page, Faces and all of my idols. I’ve been fortunate enough to play it on a couple of albums and going into this album we wanted to try a lot of different stuff and on those two songs we added piano, slide and mandolin. It was a crapshoot and it fucking worked.

Sleaze Roxx: With ‘Up The Dosage’ being such a strong record it’s going to be extremely difficult to draft a set list I imagine?

Ruyter Suys: Yes it is (laughs)! Right now we’re playing “Everybody’s Fault But Mine”, “Rub It To Death”, and “Up The Dosage”. We want to do more but we haven’t figured out what else we can work into the set yet. I think our first couple of days in Europe will be spent finalizing our set list.

Sleaze Roxx: I’d love to hear “Hooray For Cocaine, Hooray For Tennessee”, “When The Drugs Wear off”, and “Till The Meat Falls Off The Bone” — that one has a killer groove. I think “Hooray For Cocaine, Hooray For Tennessee” could be snuck into the set much like Motorhead did with “Whorehouse Blues” after a blazing set.

Ruyter Suys: I never thought that. I’d love to play it like “Whorehouse Blues” — it was so much fun to record. I mean Jeremy (Thompson) was hitting the snare and went percussion crazy on this album — I have video on my iPhone to prove it (laughs)!

Sleaze Roxx: You handled the vocals on the track “Taking It Easy”, how did that come to be?

Ruyter Suys: That was kind of a joke that we played on Jeremy. Bonnie (Buitrago) and I would play that at sound check — just fucking around. I had the engineer hit record when we were in the studio and it turned out great. I don’t know if you know the story behind that, but it’s a song from the cartoon Metalocalypse. This is the song that Murderface and Toki wrote and they wanted it on the Dethklok album. Murderface comes to the band with an old school jambox and a cassette of the song that they’ve done, he get everybody comfortable, makes sure everybody has their copy, and gets interrupted a few times. He finally gets through the 40 second song and asks, “So is this getting on the album or what?!” And then Nathan Explosion simply says, “No.” So this is me being Murderface — but I did get it on the album (laughs)!

Sleaze Roxx: With this being your first lead vocal performance on a Nashville Pussy album will it open the door for more vocal opportunities from Ruyter Suys?

Ruyter Suys: We’ll have to see (laughs). I think keeping this at 40 something seconds could leave people wanting more (laughs)? I really don’t know, I guess we’ll have to wait and see?

Sleaze Roxx: Last time we talked you were opening for ZZ Top. You were having a blast and now that you’ve had time for that to sink in what was that experience like?

Ruyter Suys: I’d like to say that it was a challenge but it was a fucking cake walk. It was like shooting fish in a barrel but it was even easier than that because they were all sitting down (laughs)! It was fucking great! I think that most of the time the audience was more afraid of Nashville Pussy than Nashville Pussy was to play in front of them (laughs)! I think we came to terms with the audience quickly — maybe one or two song into the set? I think once they realized that we were just another blues band and we weren’t out there to fuck them or kill them it was alright. If you can believe this, we received our first ever standing ovation in the history of Nashville Pussy while on that tour opening for ZZ Top. Then we realized that the reason we’ve never had a standing ovation is because we’ve never played to an audience that’s been sitting down (laughs)!

Sleaze Roxx: I that that’s accurate, people didn’t know what to think and some even looked fearful.

Ruyter Suys: Of course they should fear us — they put us in a position of power (laughs)!

Sleaze Roxx: I think Nashville Pussy was against the grain of what ZZ Top usually has as an opening band. As a huge ZZ Top fan I’m not happy with who they have opening, especially from 1994 forward. I think this worked well because the chemistry was there and it made for a brilliant pairing.

Ruyter Suys: Yeah, I mean ZZ Top’s core audience are these hard core old bikers — they’ve been rocking for 40 fucking years. So their audience is made up of a bunch of fucking miscreants — and that’s the ones that didn’t die (laughs)! That audience might be old, but they’ve got many more years of debauchery under their belt than we do and I truly believe that we reminded them of why they liked ZZ Top in the first place. It’s dirty fucking sexy rock ‘n’ roll and I agree with you, it was a perfect pairing. I think that we lit a little fire under ZZ Top too and gave them more reason to work a little harder on stage.

Sleaze Roxx: I’m sure you have tons of great stories from that tour — care to share one?

Ruyter Suys: There are tons of them but I have one that really stands out — I don’t recall if told you about this one back then. One day Billy Gibbons asked, “What kind of strings are you using?” I responded, “I use 10s?” He replies, “Why you wanna work so hard girl?” I said, “What?! What kind of strings you use?!” (laughs) So he said, “Check this out.” I’m wearing my guitar and then he puts one of his over mine. I play his and I’m like, “Jesus Christ Billy Gibbons, what kind of strings do you play?! They’re like spider webs or something — they’re like silk!” It was like playing air, it was the easiest thing I’ve ever played in my life. I asked him, “Are these 8s?” He says, “They’re 7s.” I was like, “They don’t even make 7s Billy Gibbons!” He replied, “Well they make them for me and I’ll give you a couple sets.”

I remember days later he told me that B.B. King said the exact same thing to him years ago. Billy said he was playing 11s, these impossible fucking strings! B.B. said to Billy, “Why do you want to work so hard?” He did the exact same thing to Billy Gibbons (laughs)!