In an era that relies so heavily on quick-hit bands, there are very few things that are truly part of the subculture and not just the passing zeitgeist du jour. Closing in on three decades, The Spits have signified the crossroads between punk mayhem and well-honed songwriting, creating some of the most unhinged and anthemic tracks in underground music while standing tall enough to be uttered in the same breath as names like Jay Reatard, Dead Moon, Ty Segall and more.
The Spits are readying their highly anticipated VI, due May 1 via their own Thriftstore Records imprint. Recorded by Erik Nervous on cassette four track, the band’s new LP VI is ten hummable tracks, shrouded in chainsaw punk that mesh the wild showmanship of party-rock legends Van Halen and the leather-clad toughness and songwriting chops of the Misfits. Marking a “return to roots’’ approach for the LP, the band decided to record and write VI in the basements of Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids, Michigan over the course of several spurts of activity, each yielding a few new songs from a terrible drum kit with a literal thrift store guitar. “We’ve only been into an actual studio like three times,” admits Sean Wood. “I don’t think we’ve had one record that was recorded all in one place, this may be the closest thing. And for these songs we’d record a couple tracks, step away and go back at it later– sometimes weeks later. You know, take our time.”
Originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan, brothers Sean and Erin Wood formed The Spits with Lance Phelps in 1993 after realizing rock had gone limp, hated partying and just plain wasn’t fun anymore. And even though they didn’t even know how to play, the self-professed deliquents who grew up with New Orleans–style jazz and bluegrass “got cultured” and formed a band dead set on reminding the world how to have a good time. The Spits didn’t fit in with the punks or the garageheads when they landed in Seattle two years later, but carved out their own path with a series of empty open mic nights and parties under a bridge in the University District. Things started snowballing a year or two later with a good word from Mudhoney’s Steve Turner and a reputation for livewire gigs.
By the late 90s/early 00s, The Spits were almost as famous for rowdy shows and outrageous costumes as they were for their acid-fried melodic rippers. Releasing five LPs over the next decade-plus, in addition to EPs and 7-inches, the gospel of The Spits spread far and wide, expanding the band’s live legend further and further while giving more fans the chance to hear their uniquely catchy songwriting and punk mayhem. And while several band members have come and gone since their formation, including Wayne Draves and Josh Kramer, The Spits have never lost their edge, never lost their live chops and most importantly, never lost that sense of beer-soaked chaos.
The Spits have taken their time on this record and that’s meant a long, cold nine years with no new material. Legions of fans are frothing at the mouth for VI, and clocking in at 17+ minutes, The Spits are back and things are the same as it ever was. Yet this time, the brothers Wood and Co. are adamant about letting the fans know that VI is a return to their roots– more deceptively simple punk from these instigators and legends in their own time. For fans of the band, to-the-point melodicism and good old-fashioned rock ‘n roll, VI isn’t just the name of the Spits’ LP, it’s also the number of instant-classic records in a row.