Nashville Pussy. The name says it all really. Save for a few naïve grandmas who might presume it’s a new line of cute country themed feline collectables, Nashville Pussy is one of the most unequivocal band names in rock and roll. Their album titles are equally, ahem - direct. Their 1998 debut was titled ‘Let Them Eat Pussy’ while their new live DVD is called ‘Keep On F*cking In Paris’.
Equally blunt is their lead singer and guitaristRuyter Suys (pronounced ‘Rider Sighs’). She’s an extremely likable ‘how ya doing’ gal with a penchant for ending virtually every sentence with a throaty chuckle or full-on laugh.
Sitting in a diner in Ventura California waiting for her pancakes to arrive, Suys tells the tale of how three Americans from the deep south fronted by a Canadian became one of the most ferocious rock and roll bands tearing up bars coast to coast. “It came out of me and Blaine (Cartwright) wanting to play together because were a couple. It also came out of sheer desperation.”
The problem for Suys and Cartwright was that nobody in their hometown of Nashville was playing rock and roll. Not real rock and roll. And not by their standards to say the least. “In Nashville they’ve got the most talented musicians in the world.“ Suys says in amazement. “And they don’t know how to perform at all. They’re all used to playing in studios.“she says matter-of-factly. “You want to be entertained when you go out. I want to be entertained. I want to get turned on. I want to fall in love and want to fuck the guitar player!” She chuckles adding, “Nothings changed since high school!”
Although Cartwright had laboured in Nine Pound Hammer for about ten years Suys had yet to be in a band. She and Cartwright realized that they just might have to take matters into their own hands. “I assumed there’d be some other hot chick guitar player out there just rocking it up making me jealous but it never happened. It never fucking happened. Both of us were like, I guess its up to us now. Like shit! I guess we’re the rock band!”
Since their late Nineties bow, Nashville Pussy have wowed both critics and fans alike with their balls-to-the-wall rock and roll. Oh sure the name has helped. But it has also caused some confusion. “There’s definitely a problem with people thinking it’s a full on porn show” Suys laments, “and that were out there deep throating our guitars or something. But generally if you’re into that kind of thing, you’ll put up with the show and then go to a strip club or something. The lovers of true rock stick around and come back for more.”
A band with a name like Nashville Pussy seems almost entirely like an American invention. Their very existence seems to be a defacto reaction to Midwest America’s conservative religious values. And the most part that seems apparent. So it’s a little odd that Suys is 100% north of the border Canadian. “You know the rule 25% Canadian content rule?” she laughs. “That’s me. Born and raised in Vancouver, educated in Saskatoon and then I got the hell out of here. I had my redneck training in Saskatchewan. I worked on a farm for years. That bible belt stretches all the way from San Diego to Halifax. That’s one big pair of pants its holding up.”
Despite the seeming incongruity of a transplanted Canadian fronting a uniquely American rock and roll band Suys insists that only a Canadian woman could do the job.“I know that I couldn’t have done this if I hadn’t come from Canada” she insists. “If I hadn’t been raised thinking that I was a complete equal, if not slight superior in my sexuality to the rest of the world, then I don’t think I would have been able to do this. I don’t think I could have been born in the States and pull this one off.”
One would assume that Suys would get some flack from card-carrying feminists and in fact she does. “There are people who try to do that but they do that before they even see us play“ she notes. “And as soon as they actually see the show they eat their words” she adds with not a little pride. “I was raised by a classic fist waving feminist bra burning hippie mom!” she adds by way of explanation. “I could not be the woman I am onstage without my extreme feminist upbringing. I truly do believe that me and (bassist) Katie Campbell represent the newest and most boldest wave of feminism out there.”
Further complicating the gender issues is the sexually varied demographic of their audience. Suys admits that their audience is predominantly male. But there are also fans of the female gender who like to watch Suys in action.“Most definitely” she agrees. “Lesbians and wannabe lesbians. There are a hell of lot of cool chicks who come to our shows. I would say that the women who come to our shows rank among the coolest females I’ve even met in my life.”
But back to the name. Why the name? I mean it certainly makes things fairly clear that the band means to grab you by the lapels and not let go but it could also cause a few problems. Why ‘Nashville Pussy’? “Besides that it kicked so much ass?“ Suys laughs. “The reason behind it besides us thinking that it was a great fucking name is that it’s a line from a Ted Nugent song” she explains. “Its like one of those one percenter things like one out of every hundred people know what the hell you’re talking about and the other 99 percent just think its cool. Well I don’t know about the ninety nine…but ….okay maybe five percent are pissed off and vocal about it.”
The ‘pissed off and vocal’ non-fans are the usual gang of puritanical zealots that the very band was formed to irritate. “We had a preacher turn up at a show one time in Chattanooga Tennessee.” Suys says bemusedly. “I swear the guy was just going home and he saw our sign in the window of a club and decided, ‘hey my work is not done’! He just stood outside the club and told everybody going into our show that they were going to hell” She laughs at the memory and adds, “I think people thought we hired the guy. It was a great idea!”
But surely the name must limit any ambitions for mass appeal. This is after all a band whose repertoire includes the gems ‘All Fucked Up’ and ‘Go Motherfucker Go’. It wouldn’t seem too likely that you’d be able to pick up a Nashville Pussy album at your local Wal-mart. And in fact that’s true but not the reason you might think. “We were on some compilation that came out in Wal-Mart” Suys explains. “They edited the word ‘motherfucker’ twenty six times. It sounded like the cd was skipping. So we told the record company that put it out that we didn’t want to have anything to do with it and they had to pull all these records from Wal-Mart.” Suys chuckles at the absurdity of it adding“Not because Wal-Mart didn’t want it but because we didn’t want them!”
We’ve been talking for about twenty minutes now and Suys’s pancakes finally make it off the griddle and onto her plate. But before she slathers them with syrup and butter she’s determined to let me in on the most shocking thing about Nashville Pussy. “You know what, I swear this is true” Suys says quietly. “People are shocked… by our ability to truly rock.“ She pauses to let it sink in. “That’s the most shocking thing about Nashville Pussy. People come out and they really truly expect that we’re going to suck. Cause we got such a great fucking name and its all about shock or whatever but the truly shocking thing about us is that we get down and fucking rock! That’s what we get after the shows: ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe you guys actually rocked!’ We get it from everybody. We get it from the chicks, the boyfriends, everybody.“ Satisfied that she’s made her point, she growls out another guttural laugh.“That’s the shocking thing about Nashville Pussy!”