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Nashville Pussy's Ruyter Suys: “Simple is not my playing style. Most of the time, my erratic side gets the best of me”

Ruyter Suys Nashville Pussy
(Image credit: Nicolas Liponne/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

As one of rock’s most explosive live acts, it certainly makes sense for Nashville Pussy to compile standout performances from several recorded Euro dates for a new live album, Eaten Alive. 

Issued via the band’s own label, Slinging Pig (an homage to one of the best known concert LP bootleg labels of yesteryear, Swingin’ Pig), the double-disc Eaten Alive includes all of the band’s expected southern rock meets biker metal anthems – Go Motherfucker Go, Struttin’ Cock, Go to Hell, I’m So High, and Pillbilly Blues

Guitar World caught up with lead guitarist Ruyter Suys – one half of the band's guitar duo alongside husband Blaine Cartwright – ahead of the album's release to talk gear, their approach to recording and what the future holds for the band.

Is there any difference between how the band approaches a live recording and a studio recording? 

“For the most part, our studio albums are done live, but it just doesn’t capture the spirit and the mayhem that ensues when you’re on stage, playing in front of people. It’s hard to record – but I think we got it on this one. Eaten Alive is a ‘warts and all’ performance.” 

The album starts with a kick-ass cover of AC/DC’s Kicked in the Teeth

“That’s been part of our repertoire for a long, long time. It’s such a perfectly executed, dramatic song. I like using it almost as a template for how you want the dynamics of a song to be. It’s just got so much bombast. To come out of the gate with that, it really sets the tone for the show for the night.”

What are some of the most fun songs to play live? 

“These days, I really like ‘Til the Meat Falls off the Bone. It’s kind of funky – it’s got a little Zeppelin meets ZZ Top in it. That gets people really rocking. Go Motherfucker Go is just always completely insane – I go fully ‘Iggy Pop’ in that song, that’s like… the end of the night. [Laughs] I’m fairly sure you can hear me ripping my strings off one by one on this recording.”

Which solo are you most proud of? 

“I really like my incredibly simple solo in Pillbilly Blues. As far as I’m concerned, it’s got a little ZZ Top in it, and Steve Earle is one of my favorites. Copperhead Road is one of the best albums out there and there’s a song on there called Even When I’m Blue, and it’s got a really simple solo – that sounds like you could play it on church bells. So, I’ve tried to get a little bit of that in Pillbilly Blues

“Simple is not my style, but I really like it when I hear other people doing it. So, I’m trying to be a little more deliberate in the sound. But most of the time, my erratic side gets the best of me, and I just want to spaz out. But that song in particular, I slowed it down and was more specific in my choices.”

What's your current guitar setup?

“I play a classic SG, with the neck pickup removed. I only play with a bridge pickup, and the tone knob is hardwired on 10, and I just have a volume knob. I did it the first time 23 years ago, and it’s stayed exactly the same ever since. I do it to all my SGs. I kind of do a ‘Malcolm’ [Young] – because it’s always the bridge pickup. 

“And I use an MXR distortion – on 10 – and a tuner. And all we have is classic 100-watt Marshalls from about ’69 to ’73. The Plexis, essentially – but there are a few Lead 100s in there. Recently, Marshall has hooked me up with the ’59 SLP reissue, which is basically the copy of my amp.

Go Motherf**ker Go is just always completely insane. I’m fairly sure you can hear me ripping my strings off one by one on this recording

“The main SG I’ve got right now I think is a 2012. I think the most vintage SG I play is probably an ’84. They’re a solid piece of wood. And I use the Dirty Fingers pickup from Gibson – which is fuckin’ awesome. Once I got my hands on that thing, I wanted it in every one of my SGs. And I’ve been using Graph Tech for my nuts, bridge, and tuners.”

Whats Blaine’s setup?

[Hands the phone to Blaine] “My amp situation, I just got one amp built by Allen Amplification. I was trying to get a replica of a… we have a ’63 Fender Bassman with a presence knob. 

“It’s very rare – it’s what Brian Setzer has. And we record with that – and we don’t want to take it on the road. So, I found the best replica of that. I looked online, and everyone was raving about Allen Amplification. That thing is amazing. I just had my own cabinet built. 

“I always pretty much play a Gibson Les Paul. I had an Explorer, but [the] Les Paul is great. I’ve got a ’57 Les Paul TV [Yellow] model – that stays in the house. But I’ve got an all-purpose one for the road that is just great. I think it’s a 2004.” [Hands phone back to Ruyter]

Ruyter Suys of Nashville Pussy

(Image credit: Nicolas Liponne/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

What are the band's future plans? 

“This is an interesting little tale. We just did 10 shows [in the south of the US] – they went really well… except we had to replace our drummer halfway through! Which was a challenge, to say the least. Our drummer cut his finger about four days before the tour. He didn’t just cut his finger… he lopped off the top of his ‘fuck you finger’ – on his left hand. He’s missing the whole nail – it’s a huge hunk of his finger. And it cannot be reattached. 

“He wanted to do it and try – he was a trooper. We did four shows, and we were like, ‘Dude. You’ve got to go home. You’ve got to heal this finger, man.’ [Laughs] So, we had to replace him. We pulled in a ringer – Dusty Watson, who has played with the Sonics, Agent Orange, the Del-Tones, the Supersuckers, and Lita Ford. 

“He learned our songs on the redeye, on the plane – flying into Mobile, Alabama. And then he had to basically learn the songs live in front of an audience – because we didn’t have an opportunity to practice. 

“The next six shows were very animated, even more than we normally are. Because we were pretty much directing Dusty with our heads, our arms, and our body language. It was a total challenge for all of us. 

“What lays in the future for Nashville Pussy? We hope our drummer heals his finger. Otherwise, Dusty says he’s willing to come back out again with us. Basically, we’ve got some time off. I’m just waiting for Judas Priest and Uriah Heep to give us a call, and say that we have to open for them in Belgium…”

  • Nashville Pussy's new live LP Eaten Alive arrives December 24.

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Greg is a contributing writer at Guitar World. He has written for other outlets over the years, and has been lucky to interview some of his favorite all-time guitarists and bassists: Tony Iommi, Ace Frehley, Adrian Belew, Andy Summers, East Bay Ray, Billy Corgan, Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee, Les Claypool, and Mike Watt, among others (and even took lessons from John Petrucci back in the summer of ’91!). He is the author of such books as Grunge Is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music, Shredders: The Oral History of Speed Guitar (And More) and Touched by Magic: The Tommy Bolin Story.