Every one who has heard the Spits loves what they do. Their brand of simple yet driving punk rock has lead them to have been called a “Retarded version of the Ramones”. I have been lucky enough to see them live four times (I never thought they would tour to begin with) the first time was in Kansas City and the second time was the very next night when they played to a stunned crowd in my very own dining room. The Spits were interviewed on November 11, 2002 in the basement of a gay bar in Kansas City. All photos by Party Dude Ottawa. Interview by Mike Fungus.
FB: Tell me who you are.
Erin Wood, bass
Sean Wood, guitar
Tim Tim The Robot, keyboards
Jason, I'm the tour manager (actually the drummer for the Epoxies, at the time any way he has since quit the band).
FUNGUS BOY: Are you the original Tim Tim or the new Tim Tim?
S: This is our new Tim Tim.
TT: Version 2.0.
S: Version 2.0, speak a little louder.
TT: (Yelling) I said version 2.0. (laughter)
FB: I just can't see how anyone would get intimidated by having to wear a robot suit every night at the clubs?
S: A suit? Who said anything about a suit?
FB: A cardboard box.
S: It's not a cardboard box, this is the real thing.
E: It's a manned robot by Joe here, Joe Phillips.
TT: If I had feelings you'd be hurting them by now. (laughter)
FB: I know little about the Spits other than that you're from Seattle, you have two albums out, and from what I've read you started in 1992. Is that correct?
E: That is correct.
FB: Give me some of the background on the band.
E: Sean and I are from Kalamazoo, Michigan and we started there in ‘92 and moved out to Seattle. Originally with another friend who is from Michigan as well, who quit to pursue martial arts and uh, like start a family. We found Wayne from New Jersey.
W: I use to spend summers in Kalamazoo and Lance Phelps taught me how to play drums and told them about me, and I eventually moved on and played with the Spits by his recommendation.
FB: Any other history moments you'd like to talk about?
E: Well Joe is number nine on keyboards, ten actually on keyboards.
TT: Lucky number ten.
E: I think he's gonna be the last.
FB: I stumbled onto the Spits through Disgruntled Music mailorder. I read a good write up and bought the album and loved it.
E: The Nickel & Dime (album)?
FB: Yes, I enjoyed it very much.
E: How much did you pay for that Mike?
FB: It was ten dollars, it's a good place (Disgrunted Music).
E: They ripped us off (Nickel & Dime Records).
S: Yeah they ripped us off.
E: They're going down, in flames, in pain.
FB: I take it thats why you moved to 702?
S: 702 slash Dirtnap Records. Thats where we kinda joined up--we kinda stole our tour manager from the Epoxies, the band the Epoxies. He's a hell of a guy, he was playing drums for them for a little while and he would come our to van after shows when we'd go on tour with them and realized the potential and said, "I wanna be a Spit". We made him at first and honorary Spit member and now he's full fledged class C Spit.
Jason: The Epoxies are kind of a novelty act, I was ready to bolt from there. (laughter)
FB: I was kinda of curious as to--I know you have a few seven inches out, you've got a split with The Briefs you've just released your second album and have been around since '92, have you just been honing the skillssince then?
S: It's a--we put out singles too, a lot of singles. We have like four...
E: To keep the mystique, you know, most bands they just keep pumpin' shit out and it becomes routine and you get overlooked. When you throw something out and then five years later you throw something else out and it's equally as good or better, well then you know, gosh you're doing good as far as keeping people's interest.
FB: To contradict that though, your second album came out fairly quick...
E: Yeah, and our thirds coming out even quicker, it's gonna be out uh...Well, we're gettin' old, we're into our late 30's now and um, it's do or die at this point.
FB: It's pretty much go until the expiration date.
E: That's right. I'm giving it another year, if we don't get any huge corporate interest then we're gonna quit the game and go into the culinary field.
FB: How do you feel about the attention that your counterparts The Briefs are getting now? I mean they're on a major label, they're getting a lot of attention...
S: It's good for them...
W: Yeah, they're good at what they do, they deserve it, absolutely.
S: We love 'em, they're our brothers, you know, but then again I kinda think that it doesn't seem like many people are bitin' on it, you know? I doesn't really seem like it's bitin'--I mean I don't know, it seems like it would have hit by now if it was gonna take off, you know what I mean. Which I hope it does for them but for some reason I just don't see a large take off like a Limp Bizkit or something...
E: I think it has something to do with them being such pusses. (laughter) But I could be wrong.
FB: Can we expect the next Spits
album on Dirtnap?
S: Well, I don't know. We were told that we were gonna get this signing bonus and we left with fifty dollars in our pocket. (laughter) [In background: Bonus?] And, uh, I mean, yeah, It's either we break legs or....
E: And we haven't hit the West Coast yet where all the action is so we might, you never know. Capitol fuckin' records here we come!
FB: My brother made the comment that he was surprised that you guys were actually touring.
S: We're surprised too actually.
E: Yeah really.
S: I kinda pushed them to go on tour.
E: And we have our own van.
S: I kinda pushed it and pushed it and pushed it and got everybody off their ass a little bit you know.
W: Sean's the coach.
FB: You said, "We've been around for ten years, we've got to tour".
S: We gotta tour man.
W: We usually do the West Coast, it's easy.
FB: You've got all the hot spots there, Portland, Seattle...
E: It's all right there in one shot down the five. This is our first and maybe our last, no, but extensive tour. I'm into the two week tours, you know, the shots like takin' the 90 out to Chicago and back versus, you know, but we'll see.
FB: I will say that in doing my research on you guys I only read one negative review.
S: I give myself credit for that.
E: Who was that Mike?
FB: It was some crappy internet...
S: Orange County Beach, yeah radio out of Orange County, that fuckin' cunt.
FB: Yeah she said, "I don't like it", but everything else said, "they're retarded but I love them".
E: That's what happens.
S: I'm proud to be in a band thats fuckin' only gotten one fuckin' bad review.
TT: It's because they're too busy wearing clothes instead of fuckin' listening to good music.
FB: I did read a good quote though where you said that you guys play the type of music that you would want to hear. Something that's fun, that you enjoy but you didn't take seriously.
FB: There's too many bands that are so serious.
S: Yeah they are and they're tryin' for a specific--they're trying to be liked, you know what I'm saying. 'Cause we're trying to have fun and play music that we think somebody would like. Where it's entertaining--I think we struck fuckin' oil and I want to share it with everybody, that' the kinda thing.
FB: Lets talk about some of the comparisons that you guys constantly get, first of all you always get the Ramones because of the simplicity...
S: That's all right, I love the Ramones.
E: Yeah, my personal favorite but I mean I don't really hear it myself.
S: I can see it with an anthemy kinda drive, one key, you know but...
FB: I think another thing that a lot of people really like about you guys is fact that the type of music that you play really reminds them of a time in their life. You know the skateboarding, talking about video games and stuff, it was a past that was so classic where everybody can remember back to that instead of the total bullshit that goes on now.
FB: I think that's part of the appeal to your music really.
TT: It's still relevant, there's nothing retro about this at all, this is 2002.
S: Tim Tim, he's a thing of now.
TT: I'm a real robot dammit. (laughter) There's nothing retro about a real robot.
FB: The Cold War songs, the song about living next door to a Nazi, it's all classic, classic stuff.
S: Yeah, that means nothing you know. I mean everyone else has to write songs about fuckin' bitches and hotrods, and on, it's like Jesus---or get drunk and pukin', it's nothing man. You know I can go out and do that but you can't really go out and fuckin' become part of a Cold War or live next door to a black car drivin' Nazi right? Correct, so it makes your song a little more interesting, because people are like, "Wow, I wonder what that's like", I know what it's like to go get drunk and puke on a dumb bitch, All right, Woo! Fuck that. It's like the Epoxies, the other day....(laughter) No I'm not gonna talk about that.
J: That's top secret.
S: Sorry TM, sorry.
W: Sorry boss.
FB: Actually one of my favorite
songs is Remote Kontrol, it's just a great, great tune.
E: Thank you.
FB: There is a definite difference between the new album versus the first one.
FB: Not only in the songs but the way it was recorded.
E: Oh yeah.
S: Yeah, that first album was recorded by...
E: By some fuckin' hippie.
S: Hippie in a Goddamned basement. It was mastered like twenty fucking times and we didn't like it, we didn't want it to go out but we signed--we were tricked into signing a contract so it had to go out no matter what we thought about it. And then we're like, "We're fucked", and then people like it, I think it's because it's the only thing they've heard. But then this new album...
A: The songs, you know the song content (on the first album) is pretty good, so it makes up for the lack of , I don't know, anything thats going good in that fuckin' thing. I don't know, I think it sucks, but the second one we had a friend do on a digital four track. So it's pretty much all four track, my friend's digital four track and my analog four track and we just kinda mixed and matched. We kinda did it in like three hours, the first one, and this one we recorded once in a studio and didn't like it...
S: We recorded three of the songs in the Epoxies' motorhome. Which is a pretty unique thing to do.
E: Yeah, but it's four track versus big studio production.
FB: What's your song writing process like?
W: Drum beat first without any guitars.
S: Or guitars and then drums.
W: Sometimes, but most of the....(gets cut off)
S: And vocals we usually improv vocals, even at live shows, until we have to record it. And that's when we'll sit down pound some beer and write vocals in about five minutes for the song and then shout 'em out. That's the best way to do it, and the way we write vocals is we come up with the song title and try to revolve it around that title. So it's like spur of the moment, bam bam bam, I think that's what gives it it's spunk. Instead of sitting there trying to write with your guitar man, trying to write a song, "Baby leave me alone, I've got to write a song man. Baby leave me alone I can't right now" You know, fuck t hat shit man!
FB: How do you feel about the last year and a half, two years there has been a big increase in the number of bands utilizing keyboards.
S: I swear to God we were the first.
FB: I actually like a lot of those bands.
S: A lot lot them are good, oh yeah. A lot of them they throw it in there because it's like a new thing to do to right to spunk your band up, to give it some...
E: It's just like guitar rock, it's...
S: "Now we've got keyboard!", and it sucks, sometimes it just doesn't fit. They don't utilize it right, you know what I mean?
FB: Who are some of the bands that you think do it good?
S: Do it good? The Epoxies, uh fuckin A, there's a couple of them.
TT: Lost Sounds.
S: The A Frames do it pretty well, uh, shit.
E: I guess the Cripples.
S: The Cripples.
FB: What about the ones that you hate?
S: Murder City Devils. (FB2 is wearing a Murder City Devils T-shirt while sitting in on the interview)
W: Yeah, period.
TT: The poser city pussies. (more laughter)
E: That's about it, Murder City Devils, big one.
S: What else?
E: Who out there has a fuckin' keyboard?
S: All of them do.
FB: There is a lot of them that do.
E: I think garage bands that have keyboards suck. I don't know, any one of 'em, and surf bands that have keyboards, God they fuckin' suck too. Yeah, that's about it, that's about it.
S: And uh, who was I gonna say?
E & S: New Wave bands with keyboards fuckin' suck!
S: Campbell's soup, it's OK.
FB: Lets talk about the live show, talk about the costumes that you wear during the live show. What inspired that?
S: Something new man, something good.
E: Growing up in the Mid-West, that was kinda the big thing growing up, was not only did you listen to a band you watched 'em. Today people get real crazy and jump around it's like "Whoa he's on a chair", (Laughter) "Oh my God, he's on the ground now. man he's really blazing", you know.
TT: Try to do that when you're dressed like a chair. (bursts into laughter)
E: Exactly, and more interesting.
FB: The big thing use to be when I would go to punk shows (at the Outhouse) was they would throw something into the audience. The best thing I saw thrown into the crowd was bags of potting soil. That was the best thing and there was just mud everywhere.