Sex and Booze and Rock ‘n Roll
Hey, its an exclusive chat with Nashville Pussy’s Blaine Cartwright
Nashville Pussy came together back in 1996, when singer, guitarist and songwriter Blaine Cartwright met lead guitar player Ruyter Suys, now Mrs. Cartwright.
His last band had just disintegrated and he was looking for someone to help him add some sex and danger into a rock scene that he felt had become too sedate. Nashville Pussy’s overtly sexual content, on-stage antics and band name may have slowed down their climb to the top of the charts, but they have an international fan base that keeps them on the road most of the year.
Their music has been described as “AC/DC with a female Angus,” although they also incorporate influences as diverse as Gary Glitter and Funkadelic. Their current album, Pleased to Eat You, was cut with the help of bass player Bonnie Buitrago and drummer Ben Thomas.
Cartwright spoke to the Globe about his band from the road, answering our questions with the same over the top attitude that’s made his band a cult favorite.
Are you the main songwriter in the band? What do the other band members contribute?
Cartwright: Songs are built around riffs. Great riffs are hard to come by. You’ve got to put the time in and play. I am the main songwriter, but I’m not the lead guitarist, the drummer or bass player. I bring stuff in and we all jam on it – pretty standard practice. The secret is the quality of the material, not the process. A dumb idea is a dumb idea, no matter how long you work on it, but the world is a pretty stupid place. It’s a nonstop source of inspiration.
How does this project differ from your last album, Up the Dosage?
I like the sound better on this one. Drums are more natural sounding. Also my vocals get better with each record.
What inspired your combination of raunch and humor? Do you think the lyrics keep you from finding a bigger audience?
Probably. But I have to entertain myself; if others like it, that’s a bonus. It’s obviously more important to make my band mates laugh than get on the radio. And that takes a lot.
Can you tell us about the process of making your new album?
We recorded in Kentucky with old friends, ripping off songs from the 1970’s, so it was more about old, than new. But seriously, (producer) Daniel (Rey) is the new Mick Ronson. Everything he touches turns to rock! And we’re both in our mid 50’s, so we wanted to see if we could still rock. We should be on the cover of AARP. One new thing, we had a harmonica on a song for the first time. Other than that, the same old shit. Jack Daniels, weed and barbecuing .
Was the album cut live?
We go live as much possible. All the takes are live. Then we fill in the holes and improve things. But a lot of the solos are live takes. I even kept the scratch vocal on “CCKMP.” It just sounded meaner.
Does anyone play on the album besides the core quartet?
Yeah! Greg Martin from the Kentucky Headhunters plays slide on “Woke Up This Morning.” Keki Andrei plays the Hammond B3 on “Testify.” He’s famous for playing with Whitesnake’s Bernie Marsden and Deep Purple’s Ian Paice. We got a guy named Lee Hammer from Kentucky to contribute the harmonica to “Hang Tight.” All the guest players jumped at the chance to play on a Nashville Pussy album. They really knocked it out of the park
What’s a live show like? How does it differ from the recording?
Live is always more unpredictable and crazy. You gotta make rock n’ roll a bit dangerous or what’s the point?
Recording is always calm and professional. There’s rarely a voice raised. Live, we never stop screaming. It helps to not give a shit about the real world. Totally abandon all the crap that crosses your path and fills your mind. It’s all crap compared to the music.
You got a Best Metal Performance Grammy nomination for “Fried Chicken and Coffee,” a song on your debit album, Let Them Eat Pussy. Did that help your career?
It mostly just shuts people up and impresses the squares. You can always mention that and then people give you an odd look. Saying that you’re a Grammy nominated band gets you respect from almost everyone. Grammy winning would be even better! We’ll work on that.
There’s a bit of funk, soul and Gary Glitter in the arrangements. Ever think of making it more explicit?
I think it’s already really obvious. Sure, we’ll turn it up a notch on the next one, especially with the Glitter.
We listen to tons of funk and soul, but white boys gotta be careful with trying to copy black music too much, or you’ll end up sounding like the later Clash, or worse, The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
You made a gospel album a while back with your band Kentucky Bridge Burners. That seems a bit incongruous given the subject matter of many Pussy songs.
Being from the South, I thought it was my birthright to do a gospel record. It was a project of passion, and compared to my heroes who did gospel albums–George Jones, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jonny Cash and Elvis–I’m a fucking saint.
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