Parting ways with Amazonian bassist/firebreather/tattoo canvas Corey Parks after High As Hell, the popular touring band has returned to the road invigorated, says Suys, who, among other things, explained by phone the band's intention of finding "a label with the balls to put out the pussy." Hide the children and other impressionables.
Creative Loafing: All the band members are from different places, and you're from Canada. How did you guys settle on Atlanta?
Ruyter Suys: We were living in Athens, so that helped close the deal. (laughs) Athens is like really boring. You know, I swear, every time we'd finish a tour, we'd drive past Atlanta and it'd always look so big and exciting, and then we'd drive another 40 minutes, and I swear the longest 40 minutes of your life is the road between here and Athens. I guess we have to thank Athens because it got us on the road -- we detested living there so much that as soon as we got home, it was like "Let's get the hell out of here." So we'd book another tour: "Get us out, get us out please!" Eventually, we were all just like, "Fuck it," and all three of us moved to Atlanta. And it was great. Still like it.
Is it still very much an R.E.M. town down there?
Oh yeah. And we thought they were joking, you know? We didn't think it would really be like that, but it was and it still is; it's like me and Blaine moved from Nashville there. All our friends were bugging us. I mean, Nashville is just crawling with has-beens and wannabes, and it's just like everywhere you look there's someone who's more famous than you'll ever be. It's a very humbling place to live because regardless of how big you think you are, the guy next to you painting the same house has already won a Grammy, and this guy plays sax for B.B. King, and you're all sitting there, painting houses together, or whatever your shit job is. So everyone was bugging us about moving to Athens -- "Aw, you're gonna be hangin' out with R.E.M." -- and it's like, "Man, we'll never even see those guys, those guys are out gallivanting with Courtney Love and shit like that."
Sure enough, the first day we move there, we go into the bar you're supposed to go to and there's fucking Michael Stipe and we're like "Goddamn!" It's a very small town. The R.E.M. influence is prevalent. And I don't think it's necessarily a good thing. It's not very rawkin', at least for us. Atlanta has a much greater appreciation for rock guitar, a good history for guitar players, like Black Crowes, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers -- they all have a big history here. Just kind of made sense to us.
You guys have been around for a while now. Do you still get much flak over the name?
Believe it or not, we still get fuckin' flack over that damn name.
Do you ever hear anyone over the radio use like a sanitized version?
Oh, totally. (laughs) They call us Nashville P., and Nashville Meow, like they'll put a cat sound in there or something, or Nashville Pussycats. Luckily, America is only a small populace of who we play to, and there's the whole rest of the world who doesn't give a damn. All of Europe, they don't give a shit. Japan, they don't know what the hell it means. Australia laughs, Canada thinks it's cool. America, man, fuckin' puritanical bullshit. Even when we were at the Grammys, they announced our name, and the woman who announced it was like, "There has to be something done about that name." And her name was Deborah Cox! What the hell are you talking about!? Your name is Cox! (laughs) She was Canadian, too, so I was totally pissed.
What was it like being sandwiched between the likes of Slayer and Sepultura on the Tattoo The Earth tour?
(We) were the only band who played rock & roll out of two stages and 18 bands, and we're the only band with chicks in it. As soon as we started playing, the crowd was insane, they didn't know what to do. It was like touring for the first time, when no one had really seen us live. It was like total virgins in the audience -- and literally virgins. This was like the youngest crowd we'd ever played to. These were pre-sex kids -- they're getting all their angst out by going to see Slipknot, so I think we're giving them a taste of what they do after Slipknot. Eventually they'll get laid, and then some of that angst will recede and they can start listening to Nashville Pussy and start having a good time.
Do you think the group is being seen as more of a band now, and less of a spectacle, minus the flame-spitting and all that?
Completely. I have to give the audience credit for that. They picked up on it before we thought it was even possible. We just wanted to get the best bass player we knew, Tracy. We've coveted her for years. We always wanted to hang out with her, because she was so cool. She's multitalented, and has played drums since she was five years old. We sort of forced her to play bass, because we wanted her to be in the band. Some people say we traded in our KISS schtick for AC/DC. Which is fine by me. Those guys are still amazing. It's a great description.