Hard Rock Pawty
Danny Nick, bassist and vocalist for the New Orleans-based heavy metal band Suplecs, laughs when asked if he minds talking about Hurricane Katrina and the storm's effect on the band. "Not at all. Katrina and everything that happened is pretty much at the forefront of our lives," he says. "Heck, right now I'm talking to you from a FEMA trailer."
Nick left New Orleans before the storm hit, watching the disaster from a friend's home in Austin. A year later, he's finally home, but the storm continues to loom large. "In my neighborhood, it still looks pretty much just like it did the day after the storm. We had a house, that was ruined. That first month afterward was a month of hell. We finally got to go to Shreveport, but in the back of my head, I was thinking, 'Okay, this means I can't do the band.' There were people like Clutch, who called us and said, 'Come out on the road with us. You can play right before us and you can use all our equipment.' But Andy [Preen], Durel [Yates] and me were all in different cities, in different circumstances; we couldn't do the music. Even though everyone was willing to try to help us with the loose ends, we couldn't. We had to provide for our families, we had to get things straight here. And so we knowingly shelved the music for a year."
The third Suplecs CD, Powtin' on the Outside, Pawty on the Inside, a collection of ten hard-hitting rock tunes, was released mid-summer 2005. The three-member band was on the verge of launching a national tour when Katrina hit and put a stop to their plans. Without a promotional tour to support it, the CD languished and sales slumped.
"The CD was just something that had to wait," says Nick. "I can say, 'Yeah, poor me, my CD has been held back a year,' but I look around me and there are so many levels of loss. I've got two people that died in the storm. One of them was the original lead singer for the band Soylent Green; he drowned. Another guy was in the hospital, and when [they] came and took the generators, he died. The CD? That just got real unimportant. And besides, we knew we could come back to it, that that wasn't going to be the end of the band."
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Suplecs (the name refers to the suplex, a wrestling move popular with the WWE crowd) decided to make Houston the first stop of their tour. "It's only appropriate that we would start our tour in Houston," says Nick. "Houston has always been like a second home to us, because it's just five hours down the road from New Orleans. Being here has always been like being home. And now with all the New Orleans people living here, it's going to be even harder to tell the difference.
"We're calling this tour The Heads Above Water Tour," Nick says with a laugh, "because really, that's all we're trying to do, is keep our heads above water.
"I think it's going to be a very intense tour. People are going to get a really good show, because we've got a lot pent up inside us, a lot to get out. But you're not going to get any sobbing from us; we're not going to go on stage and say, 'Feel sorry for us, please, please, feel sorry for us.' We're gonna make jokes about it, poke fun at our city government a lot. Maybe you're going to see a more political side to us. We've never been a political band. This time there might be more of that in our music. In typical Suplecs style, we'll be sarcastic, laugh at ourselves, but of course we'll say something about the storm.
"Still, it won't be the focus. That's the thing: A lot of musicians around here are doing that. They're all putting out albums themed around breaking levees, rising water, things like that. We make reference to what happened in the title of our tour, but that's all. Some of the other bands are doing Katrina everything. Katrina songs, Katrina titles, Katrina everything. It's getting to be clich.
"Everybody's sobbing, and man, I gotta tell you, I'm real ready to stop being depressed. I'm ready to move on. Not to ignore what happened, by no means should any of us ignore it. But it can't be the center of everything we do from now on. It's easy to fall into that 'cry a river for me' mode.
"But it's come full circle, just like everything does. It's almost exactly a year from when we would have gone out on tour if the storm hadn't hit. And we're right back where we left off, like this whole last year didn't even happen.
"We want to show people that the storm didn't stop Suplecs. For a while we were getting a lot of messages from our fans, saying, 'Wow, will you be able to recover from this?' and 'Is this the end of Suplecs?' We want to show everyone that we're 100 percent hurricane-proof. This ain't stopping us at all."
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