Music Interview

Blaine Cartwright (Nashville Pussy)

By Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Nashville PussyPicture The Exploited or the Cockney Rejects with a backwoods stomp and you might get an idea of what Nashville Pussy is all about. Putting the rebel into rebellious punk, Nashville Pussy slams the listener with its relentless, downhome hardcore fury then invites one to join them in a brew afterwards. I had the opportunity to catch up with singer/guitarist Blaine Cartwright as he was dropping his wife (and Nashville Pussy lead guitarist) Ruyter (pronounced “rider”) Suys off at yoga. What follows is perhaps one of the most memorable interviews of this writer’s career thus far.

RV: Okay, let’ s talk about your sound. With your Ramones and GBH influence and the country boogie in there, you guys have a balls-out sound I think people should know about. I mean, a lot of people do know about it. I guess a lot of people consider you psychobilly, but you’re actually more hardcore than psychobilly.

BC: Um, it’s kind of like punk rock, AC/DC, it’s like a Motorhead delivery or something, you know? I think one of the reasons we might get…I guess to someone who’s into metal it might sound a little psychobilly because it’s kind of riffy.

RV: Oh, yeah.

BC: But we have kind of a spectacle going on, so I don’t know, we’ve been called just about everything.

RV: (laughs) That’s cool. Why don’t you talk about your live performance, because I mean, your albums are just relentless, that’s why I love them so much! It’s like one song to the next, to the next, to the next, I’m sure the show is like that?

BC: Always! Ah, when I was a kid, there was a Ramones album called It’s Alive…

RV: Yup!

BC: And it went from one song to the next and I think a lot of it was in Nashville Pussy to do the same. I never played, I never sang before, so I was nervous. We go from one song to the next, plus we’re so loud in between…if you have any silence between songs, it’s weird, so we try to keep the energy going, especially as crazy as the shows were at the beginning…we didn’t want to give anyone time to go for a beer or to catch a breath or think. We’d just go from one thing to another, just bam bam bam, you know?

RV: Right. When I recently saw Southern Culture on the Skids, they were like that. They didn’t let up at all, either.

BC: Yeah, those guys wear you down…they got it down pat too. Yeah, they’re old friends…Nashville Pussy kind of formed in basically the living room of Southern Culture, as far as the people getting together.

RV: Oh, cool!

BC: Yeah.

RV: Yeah, I know they got a new album, but I saw them with the Reverend Horton Heat and that show was just so frickin’ cool!

BC: Oh cool! On tour with the Reverend, that’s great.

RV: Yeah, I love the Reverend, he was awesome.

BC: Yeah, we toured with the Reverend for about seven months straight, about a year-and-a-half ago. It was great!

RV: Cool, man! Well, what were the crowds like for you then?

BC: Man, Reverend Horton Heat fans are fucking great! I was like…they’re my favorite fucking crowds. You can talk between songs and stuff and they listen to you. I mean, one of the reasons our songs are bam bam bam, one to another live, is because punk rockers, man, they don’t give you any fuckin’ break, you know?

RV: (laughs)

BC: I mean, they could think you’re great and they’ll still flip you off and throw shit and you know…and they’ll think you’re amazing and they’ll still yell crap, like “Yo, play “Freebird!” or whatever, anytime there’s a moment of silence…

RV: (laughs)

BC: And then we got on with Reverend Horton Heat, man, and his crowd, they really dug us because the music is well-played. They didn’t expect us, especially with a couple of chicks in the band, they didn’t expect us to be so…I think they thought we were a novelty, but they’re highly mistaken. They’d hear about the show and some shtick or all the clever stuff that goes into our name and everything. So they think, you guys probably can’t play, but we’re very good musicians, so, they really dug it. I mean, I got to make jokes between songs, I actually said stuff that was cool and they responded really, really well and they all bought t-shirts and they were ex-punks with jobs and stuff, you know? They bring their wives to the show!

RV: Yeah.

BC: And it was packed, too, fucking packed every night, I mean, it was really, really fun.

RV: Cool. Because when I saw him (RHH), what I was really fascinated with was, half the people were from the 1950’s crowd, they were doing fifties dancing and as soon as they got out of the way, the slam-dancing would start, and they’d kind of just take turns with each other. Very respectful of one another.

BC: That’s great, I mean, he works his ass off for that, yeah. There’s a lot of people I know who are into metal and into punk and they still go see that guy.

RV: Now, as far as the name Nashville Pussy, you got that from The Nuge (Ted Nugent), right? From Wang Dang Sweet Poontang?

BC: Excellent! Yeah, most people don’t know that! I mean, we put that in every interview and still, the most-asked question, I’d say is, “Where’d you get that name?” Yeah, it’s from Ted Nugent. We had a name we first started off that I didn’t like very much, I mean it was okay, but it was called Hell’s Half Acre. But we found out there’s three bands called that!

RV: (laughs) Sheesh!

BC: And after that, I was just walking out after we practiced one night, down the street in Kentucky and all of a sudden I was like…I started remembering the time I used to play the intro to that song, Wang Dang Sweet Poontang, and try to freak out my little sister and her friends.

Nashville PussyRV: (laughs)

BC: And I started thinking about it, ahhhh…Nashville Pussy! And I came in and was half-joking, you know, so I was ready to call it a joke if they shot it down, and I was like, “We should call ourselves Nashville Pussy,” and everyone laughed their asses off!

RV: (cracks up)

BC: And then it was kind of like, why not, you know? So yeah, what the fuck? I think it’s kinda cool.

RV: Yeah, definitely! You know what’s fascinating to me with Mercury, is that when they bought the rights to Let Them Eat Pussy, they actually left Corey Parks’ (former bass player) boobs hanging out (on the cover and foldout)!

BC: That’s because you couldn’t see that until… You couldn’t see there was a nipple on there until it was on vinyl, man, and we were like, Holy fucking shit! There was totally…that was a total fucking accident!

RV: Oh really?

BC: We didn’t know it, yeah! (laughs) And we’re like, Oh, shit!

RV: (laughs)

BC: Yeah, we didn’t see it until we got the vinyl, you can’t really see it on CD that well, and we got the vinyl and was like, Oh, shit, look at that! Ha ha!

RV: Yeah. Well, even the foldout has it too. You can even see it more. Again, I’m surprised that Mercury let it get by.

BC: They were cool. Mercury was very cool, and that foldout got pulled from under the rug, pulled from under us within two to three months, and it had nothing to do with us. There was the corporate takeover and all of our people…

RV: So they just let bands go left and right then?

BC: They let all the bands go, but we still were on there. We survived the cut.

RV: Oh, cool!

BC: But when we came there, it was like a hostile environment. All these people didn’t get it, but they realized they were stuck with us, and tried to work with us a little bit, but it wasn’t…wasn’t like a bad relationship, they just wouldn’t work it out. They knew we knew (about the takeover atmosphere). But the initial three months was pretty nice, it was just like (you imagine) when you get signed. We got a bunch of money, and we got the guy who was Nirvana’s manager, who also worked for Zeppelin in the seventies, and Kiss.

Nashville PussyRV: No kidding?

BC: Yeah!

RV: Cool!

BC: He was a real smart guy, and a big fan of the New York Dolls, and raw stuff, raw rock and roll. And the A&R guy was the one who discovered Motley Crue and Guns ‘n Roses and had really cool taste like the MC5, so we were all having a good ol’ time, we had it all set up, you know? (laughs) And we were like, cool, this is going to be great, and we’re spending corporate money, so there was a lot to go around at times. But then, within three months, man…all that got fucking…everyone walked out or got fired, etcetera, etcetera, so… Yeah, so Mercury was very cool at first. We had a bunch of options, we made it very, very, very, very clear that yeah, we’re not calming down and they were like, We don’t want you to, so…

RV: Sweet.

BC: Yeah, it was. Like I said, they were great for three months, and then everything got fucked and after that…it was just no more.

RUYTER: (in background) (indecipherable)

RV: Is that Ruyter with you?

BC: Yeah, I’m dropping her off at yoga.

BC: Yeah.

RV: (to Ruyter) How’s it going, man?

RUYTER: Cool.

BC: Cool. Hey, ah…

RUYTER: (indecipherable)

BC: Her yoga teacher used to play for the Black Crowes…bass player.

RV: Oh, really? When she gets back in, tell her I think she’s a badass guitarist!

BC: Oh, I will, I will! Yeah, she is, she’s fucking great! She’s gotten better, everybody’s gotten better, the band’s gotten better, the last album was really good, and, you know, the next album should be even better, so it’s a lot of fun, you know? It’s a really cool band.

RV: Oh, no doubt, I mean, you guys just…what I love about you, man, is I listen to you in the truck, and again, it’s like non-stop energy, you know, to just carry you from one place to another.

Nashville PussyBC: Well, thanks, yeah, it’s planned that way, man, I’m still kind of a…you know…I’m going to be forty years old in like four weeks, and I’m still kind of a pent-up dude, you know?

RV: (laughs)

BC: It’s as good as…well, even though I got it, it’s still not enough, you know? Still crazy, man.

RV: Well, happy birthday in advance.

BC: Thanks, man.

RV: Yeah, no problem. Um, Fried Chicken and Coffee surprised me that it got nominated for a Grammy!

BC: Yeah, well how that happened was, if you’re a voting member of the Academy or, like, the Grammy crap, you get this really long list of things to choose from to shorten it down to the nominees. And our A&R guy, Tom, the Guns ‘n Roses, Motley Crue guy? He got our name added to that, and he just threw Fried Chicken and Coffee on there as a…he said if people see the words “Nashville Pussy” and “Fried Chicken and Coffee,” then it would look funny! It would look cool!

RV: (laughs)

BC: Yeah, and I agreed, and it was like…you could say it was a weak category that year, in metal, I don’t think we’re metal, but…

RV: Right.

BC: I like metal audiences a lot, and they’re my favorite artists in the world, but, ah…so, basically we were on there with Metallica and a couple others off soundtracks and stuff, because it was really a category nobody gave a shit about, so we thought we could sneak in and we did, and it was really, really cool! I mean, it was a fluke!

Nashville PussyRV: So you didn’t go, what the fuck, or anything like that?

BC: Well, we went to the Grammys, but it was really boring, though.

RV: (laughs)

BC: The whole thing was a fluke, you know? So I think that got us in, plus we played to death, Pussy played nonstop, and we were around a lot of music businesspeople for about a year straight and they kept coming to our shows, and we were real nice, we let them backstage and we’d…whatever, you know, I might have a beer…I don’t know…that’s how you win your voting.

RV: Ha! (laughs)

BC: Definitely paid off, though I had no intentions of doing it like that…we’re just being ourselves and ya, man, come on and hang out, you know?

RV: Do you feel that helped you take off a little bit, you know, because people might’ve seen that (the Grammy nomination)?

BC: Ah, man, you know the Grammy nominations, they don’t really have sales or anything, but it helped as far as dealing with our families and shit.

RV: (laughs)

BC: It’s one thing I can always drop, and say I got nominated for a Grammy, even though a lot of shit is nominated for Grammys, man. I mean, the Grammys are the terrible… they’re fucking…retarded, man.

RV: (laughs) Yeah, I hear you.

BC: I mean, there’s nothing…they are so behind the times and shit, you know. It’s something people respect, but a lot of the awards, like the Academys, the Emmys, the Oscars, whatever, the Grammys are probably the…this industry is, like, circle jerk bullshit, but at the same time, the fact that we were (nominated)…it was like getting an invitation by mistake to some rich person’s party! (laughs)

RV: (laughs)

BC: Yeah, fuck yeah, I’m gonna go crash this, you know?

RV: Cool.

BC: But we were definitely out of our element though, man. I mean, there was no one at the Grammys even close to what we were like, you know?

RV: Yeah, but there’s got be something kind of quietly cool about that, like, you know, back when I was…I dunno, about seventeen years younger, we used to go dressed up all nasty looking and walk into Saks Fifth, you know, and…

BC: Yeah.

RV: And piss everyone off.

BC: Yeah, definitely! I went to The Grammys in jeans, so did our drummer, because we couldn’t…everyone was looking for clothes and shit, and all of a sudden it was like, we were looking at these cheesy expensive malls and malls here in Atlanta, and ah…and the girls wore something handmade from…and they were really cool, like Evil Keneval-looking outfits, you know…

RV: (laughs)

BC: …real cool…they’re real cool stuff…they’re just leathers. Actually my wife wore something Britney Spears wore like, three months later on the cover of Rolling Stone. The same designer and shit, it was made for Ruyter first.

RV: Huh.

BC: And the same girl (designer) got famous since then, so anyway, they had cool stuff, me and the drummer were like, man, we can’t compete with all these fucking…you know, people that know what they’re doing as far as fashion. Like, I’m going in jeans, man, they’ll be good jeans, but I’m going with my cowboy boots and jeans and a fucking…you know, jacket, and that’s it, man. I’ll wear a fucking baseball cap in there, I don’t give a shit.

RV: (laughs) There you go! Um, your sound is cock and balls rock ‘n roll, but what’s really cool to me is that you’ve got a split of sexes in the band, you know, two guys, two girls.

BC: Yeah, it works out really well like that, I mean…four guys is rough, man. I don’t know, four guys will stick together through anything sometimes, but it can drive you fucking crazy. Having two women in the band always helped out a lot.

RV: And it helps that you’re married to one of them.

BC: Yeah, that definitely helps our situation. I mean, there’s nothing worse than four or five guys in a band, plus a couple of roadies all trying to fuck the same chick! It causes problems, you know?

RV: Right. (laughs)

BC: Yeah, it’s like no one’s going after…you know…no one’s got their eyes on the same person, so there wasn’t any special problems, we could all party together without anything getting fucked up.

RV: Right on, man. So, being married to Ruyter in the band all this time, there’s not any fighting or any of that kind of stuff? You guys just really click together, right?

BC: We get along better together as man and wife than we do in the band. She does a great job, but like, ah…there’s shit she does and shit I do…we’re good partners, but, you know, we have different encouragement of styles, she’s more technical, I’m more feel, I think. It’s not that I want to say feel, but I’m more rhythm…I’m more punk rock and she’s more…she grew up in metal, I grew up in punk rock, so Nashville Pussy’s where we meet in the middle. If we’re just home hanging out, we never fight, but on the road and stuff, we’re like, not bad, we’re never bad, but we’ll argue over some things here and there. We’re both pretty stubborn.

RV: (laughs) That’s pretty cool. I want to go back to your live act again, it’s like, the motif is live fast, play faster. I mean, you guys are really brutal and aggressive, to your credit, with your sound…

Say Something NastyBC: When you say “live fast, play faster,” where do you see that at?

RV: Well, that’s just my interpretation.

BC: I like that!

RV: (laughs) Because…

BC: I mean, that’s good. That’s really good.

RV: Thank you! But since you’re truly one of the hardest punk, slash psycho…nah, I guess you can’t say psychobilly, but since you’re punk-oriented…you’re one of the fastest and hardest around…

BC: Yeah, I think so. It’s as fast and it’s hard as I can go and still be like, rootsy rock ‘n roll, it still has Chuck Berry, you know, and like you said, there’s the rockabilly, it still has the country stomp in there a little bit, the Chuck Berry element to the guitar tones and stuff like that, you know? The bands that are faster are just straight-up thrash metal or whatever, but we definitely like playing fast, that’s for goddamn sure!

RV: Yeah.

BC: As long as it doesn’t get too fast and chaotic, man, as long as you keep the beat down, I really like going fast.

RV: Right, you’re not setting out to be Napalm Death or anything like that.

BC: No, I don’t really know much about those guys, man, (but because) we play fast, because I scream and stuff, people automatically assume that and they come up and…

RV: Nah.

BC: I mean, every night you hear like, you know… Do you listen to Celtic Frost? and a lot of these really obscure fucking death metal bands or whatever, you know? (laughs)

RV: (laughs)

BC: I mean, we really tried to be Foghat and stuff, I mean, seriously, we were trying to be like that, we were trying to be like, “Slow Ride,” or something like that. (laughs)

RV: (laughs)

BC: And we’re like a punk band, you know?

RV: That’s funny, man. I’ve got a quote from Ruyter that really cracked me up. I know it’s deliberately meant to provoke: “We want to unbuckle the bible belt and suck God’s dick.” I just died when I read that!

BC: That was in Penthouse, right?

RV: Uh, I got that off of your website.

BC: Nah, it was in Penthouse, okay?

RV: Okay.

BC: And it came out a few years ago and well, the thing was, Ruy…I can’t believe she said that, that’s pretty cool…it was something funny, that we all…we had that quote and the quote’s still up, both in bold print and…by itself overtop the picture, you know, in Penthouse, and I was like, well, I can’t show this to my family now!

RV: (laughs)

BC: I mean, first she had the fortitude to be in Penthouse, but saying something like that, and our family drove me…both the drummer and I both were like, shit, our families grew up in church, man, I was fucking…I thought they were gonna freak out, man!

RV: (laughs)

BC: So I didn’t tell them we were in Penthouse, man. I thought it was brilliant, you know?

RV: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I’m a God-fearing man like anybody else, but you still gotta appreciate it, it’s funny as hell.

BC: Yeah.

RV: I mean, it’s just attacking the Bible Belt itself more than God.

BC: Ah, she was just saying stuff to be funny, she’s practically at home in the Bible Belt, you know?

RV: That’s cool.

BC: We live in Atlanta, Georgia and she thinks churches are cool, so if we see an old church, she thinks, oh, it’s great, let’s go in, let’s go to church sometime!

RV: (laughs)

BC: But fuck, I’m not going to church!

RV: (laughs) Thanks for your time, brother! This has been a scream!