From the name of their band to the ribald raucous way they play their guitars, Blaine Cartwright and Ruyter Suys (sounds like "rider size") are true chips off the old rock block. They harken back to an age when dinosaurs like Zeppelin and Sabbath roamed the earth and music was more of a pure expression of the Id: loud, raunchy and ready to party.
Their Atlanta-based band, Nashville Pussy, is right at home with the likes of AC/DC and Motorhead, with a leadfoot guitar charge possessing enough voltage to shake the walls, yet full of fun-loving joy. Boise audiences are in for a rocking good time on Saturday, April 8, when Zeke and Nashville Pussy make a tour stop at The Shredder. Local bands Trigger Itch and Break Surface open.
"Me, Lemmy [Kilmister, late Motorhead frontman] and Malcolm Young [founding AC/DC guitarist] were hanging out at the Rainbow [Sunset Boulevard hotspot] and those two together decided that they had done their time and that we should take the lightning bolt and carry on their tradition," says lead guitarist Suys. "I was honored to fulfill their wishes. We were like, 'Thank you for your blessing, gentlemen. We shall take this lightning bolt and use it properly,' and we put it on the front of our record [2014's Up the Dosage]."
If it's not clear how apocryphal that story is, one thing is absolutely true: Nashville Pussy will rock your socks off. Even after two decades of being one of the most colorful bands around, NP still finds room in the box for a few more crayons. Suys broke out the mandolin on several Up the Dosage tracks, and they indulge in Stones-esque Exile on the greasy, organ-driven garage-soul of "Before the Drugs Wear Off." If they're willing to experiment, they never lose track of who they are, as evidenced on the bluesy late-album blowout, "White and Loud" and biting rave-up "The South's Too Fat to Rise Again."
Suys and Cartwright met in the '90s while he was touring with heavy-hitting Kentucky cow-punks Nine Pound Hammer; and she was living in Saskatoon where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a specialty in metalwork.
Suys once said, "When people say not to fuck on the first date or that 'everyone falls in love on acid,' they were warning normal people."
When reminded of the story, Suys laughs and says the warning was from her hippie mom after she told her mother she and Blaine had gotten married.
"My mom was like, 'You always fall in love on acid' and I was like, 'Oh fuck. Oh no. Really?'"
Despite their shared guitar love, Suys didn't reveal her own six-string predilections at first. They'd been "dating" for a while when she showed Cartwright her licks.
"Once he heard me, he was like, 'Shit you're a lot better than me.'" she says. "I was exhibiting and he was the first person I ever met that was not impressed with my art. He told me. 'Eh, I'm kind of disappointed.' What do you mean? I'm selling this stuff. I'm making a living as a fucking artist. And he's like, 'Yeah, but you're much more. This is kind of boring. I thought it would be more crazy like you.' I'm like, 'He's kinda right.'"
That planted the seed. A little later, Nine Pound Hammer broke up, and in 1996 Nashville Pussy formed.
"It's so crazy because it doesn't feel like it at all. We were talking, and it's almost 21 years. So soon we'll be able to drink," she laughs.
While Cartwright and Suys have stayed steady, they've rotated through a number of rhythm sections, always bringing on a female bassist and male drummer. The newest addition is drummer Ben Davis, who joined in 2015.
"He's definitely brought back a certain element that has been missing for a little while. He's hungry and excited about the world," Suys says. "He might have singlehandedly reignited the lust and passion on stage."
It's a part of why Suys is looking forward to getting back into the studio in September, but both Suys and Cartwright have plenty of other projects keeping them busy during NP downtime: Dick Delicious and the Tasty Testicles; and Nine Pound Hammer and Kentucky Bridgeburners, respectively. The time away makes their reunions that much more explosive in a "absence makes the heart grow hotter" way.
"That's my whole approach to playing music," Suys says. "To get really hungry and desperate and pent up. That's my position to perform from--just absolute desperation. It's exactly like sex. You hold yourself back like a monk, and then you explode on contact."