Nashville Pussy’s Ruyter Suys, Blaine Cartwright talk ‘Up the Dosage,’ a night in a Tenn. jail

Posted on January 21, 2014


Ruyter Suys, lead guitarist of Nashville Pussy. (Photo Provided)

Ruyter Suys, lead guitarist of Nashville Pussy. (Photo Provided by Fernando Yokota)

Russian punk band Pussy Riot’s imprisonment and frequent appearance in international news has unintentionally loosened the societal nuance of the word in America to a less abrasive and normality in common speech even in tight-lipped cultures.

“Pussy’s not a dirty word” was written by rock n’ rollers Nashville Pussy independently of Pussy Riot’s revolt, but their protests became a catalyst for a newer relaxed ideology among Americans and taken some apprehension away for Nashville Pussy’s new album “Up the Dosage,” released via Steamhammer/SPV today.

The Atlanta band formed in 1996 warranted the ownership of the band name by viciously opposing everything subtle, appropriate and quiet in the music world. Their creative vision through the eyes of Southern hillbillies pumps strength to sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll in a catchy, humoristic vulgarity that makes AC/DC’s lyrics seem conservative. The formation of Nashville Pussy assumingly started a trend, with bands popping up in recent years like Pussy Riot, Pussy Driven and Black Pussy.

Five years after their last album release “From Hell to Texas” in 2009, Nashville Pussy has kept busy with band co-founders and husband and wife guitarists Ruyter Suys and Blaine Cartwright entrepreneur-ing their record label Slinging Pig.

Suys and Cartwright recorded with Cartwright’s other band Nine Pound Hammer, he formed a new band called Kentucky Bridgeburners and released a gospel album called “Hail Jesus.” Suys also joined a comedy metal band called Dick Delicious and the Tasty Testicles, all while touring relentlessly in Europe and other locations around the world with Nashville Pussy.

Nashville Pussy also recruited a new, female bass player, Bonnie Buitrago during the gap between “From Hell to Texas” and “Up the Dosage” after Karen Cuda’s departure, in tradition of keeping the half-and-half balance of testosterone and estrogen in the whiskey and Coke-drinking cocktail with Suys, Cartwright and drummer Jeremy Thompson.

“Up the Dosage” moved past the cartoon art album imagery to a basic, unornamented lightning bolt signifying a more mature movement in the band. The music, however still encapsulates punk speed, instrumental consistency and the most diverse stylistic song composition to date.

“Rub it to Death” hails Motorhead’s thrashy speed; “Till The Meat Falls off the Bone” is one of many that weaves Cartwright’s southern Baptist upbringing with sexual innuendos in true, unadulterated blunt Nashville Pussy style; Adult Swim and Dethklok’s animation “Metalocalypse” gets a boisterous and humoristic tribute with Suys on vocals covering character Murderface’s 47 second song “Taking It Easy;” and in the attitudes of “The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia” and southern devil country of Hank 3 brings the untraditional Nashville Pussy song “Hooray for Cocaine, Hooray for Tennessee’ based on an actual band member’s night in jail.

Assigning the position of lead guitarist is historically male-dominated, but a brick house like Suys disproves that stereotype with her Angus Young-riffage, her aggressive lust for stage slides and dives, and dual body/guitar hypnotism over the audience that reinvents the definition of the female gender and musician.

In an interview with Suys, she talks about “Up the Dosage,” her relationship with Blaine as the backbone of the band and the “drug bust” arrest in Tennessee.

Cartwright also answers a few questions on his Southern Baptist upbringing, how Nashville Pussy first got airplay in Indiana and how his modern views weave into writing lyrics.

Question: Your last release “From Hell to Texas” was in 2009, so what has Nashville Pussy been up to in the last 4 to 5 years?

Answer: We tour incessantly, as you may know. On top of constant touring, Blaine and I have a little record label called Slinging Pig Records we put out in the last four years and also put out four records.

We’ve done a bunch of recording for Nine Pound Hammer, which is the band he had when I first met him. They are a country punk band. Blaine started a whole new band called Kentucky Bridgeburners, and we put out their debut album on Slinging Pig, which is called “Hail Jesus.” They toured Europe for about six weeks and then toured America.

Also in this time, I joined this crazy metal comedy band called Dick Delicious and the Tasty Testicles. I think we had a few months off and these guys asked me to play on their record and I said “yeah” because they are one of my favorite bands. I joined them just to record a couple of songs and they were like “holy sh*t, this is great” so they asked me if I wanted to join the band. The band never does anything, they never tour. I just said “yeah, I’ll join your crap, great, stupid band” and then wanted to tour and got all excited.

They put out a record and got me on the entire album and we did two tours with D*ck Delicious. So we got crazy busy. This was one of the many reasons why we took our time recording the new Nashville Pussy album.

Q: How did you end up choosing Nitrosonic Recording studios in Lexington (Ky.) for this album?

A: It’s kind of a home away from home. Blaine is from Kentucky. The guy that runs the studio is the ex-Nine Pound Hammer drummer. We’re recorded two Nine Pound Hammer albums there, we recorded the Kentucky Bridgeburners album there, we recorded a bunch of singles there and all sorts of projects in that place.

We also store all of the Nashville Pussy gear collection there. We used to store it at our house, but then piece-by-piece we started bringing it all up there. They use it on all sorts of recording. I had three keyboards in my dining room; my house was being taken over by instruments!

I had a cool 1970s Rhodes in my dining room, an old Rollator and a Baby Grand all cramming around the table which never got used for dining on. Our house was a gear graveyard. We also have a bunch of Marshalls, old kits and amps and a bunch of guitars that would otherwise be under our bed. It feels like our own little private studio. It’s Kentucky, so there’s stuff to do, but not too much to do so it’s a good place to go and focus.

Q: The album art for “Up the Dosage” seems very different from all your other albums. Why did you decide to go this direction kind of the solid image of the lightning bolt?

A: I guess part of it is that we’ve already done that cartoon thing a couple of times and I think we’ve been out there long enough that everyone knows what Nashville Pussy is all about. Visually, we’re kind of an over-the-top, party band. Most people already know that so we didn’t need to stick our faces on it anymore.

I hate to use the word “serious,” but there is something a little more serious about this album. We’re still singing about partying and having a good time, but there’s something a little more “mature” about it.

Jeremy Thompson, drummer for Nashville Pussy. (Photo provided)

Jeremy Thompson, drummer for Nashville Pussy. (Photo provided by Fernando Yokota)

Q: Who did the vocals on “Taking It Easy?” Why was the song so short?

A: That’s me. It’s a song from that cartoon Metalocalypse and it’s a song that Murderface and Toki play. The characters wanted it on the new Dethklok album and they bring it to the band. “Check this out” it’s only 46 seconds long in the cartoon and of course the band hates it. Murderface says “This is going to be the new Planet Piss single” and storms out of the room.

Me and Bonnie, our bass player, are massive Dethklok fans and we were playing it with our sound manager in sound check and were just screwing around. When we got in the studio, we were trying to get our drummer Jeremy to play it and he didn’t really want to do it. I got him to play it and made our manager hit record and that was about it. Unlike the Dethklok version, my version actually got to be on the record. In your face, Murderface.

Q: I loved “Hooray for Cocaine, Hooray for Tennessee.” It’s very non-traditional Nashville Pussy. It sounds like it would fit in with “The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia.” What was the inspiration behind this type of country rock song? Will you perform it live? Were any of you actually in jail in Tennessee because of drugs?

A: We borrowed Andy Gibson’s steel guitar for that one. We actually go way back with Jesco and the whole White clan.

I don’t know if we will perform it live, it would be a lot of fun.

That song comes more from Blaine’s other bands Nine Pound Hammer and Kentucky Bridgeburners, and more along their lines with adding mandolin. It sounded natural when we did it in the studio for Nashville Pussy to add our own distinct twist to it. Blaine is constantly coming up with outrageous lyrics. I don’t know where he gets it.

Blaine did go to jail in Tennessee. We still get real nervous when we drive through this one little town. We’ve written maybe two songs inspired by that event. I wrote “Ain’t Your Business” for the last album, and then this one, which is Blaine’s version of it.

I remember at the time I talked to him while he was in jail and said he could use this as a song. He said “f*ck that, I never want to remember this again. This is never happening again.”

There’s a line in “Ain’t Your Business” where he traded chicken biscuit crackers for a cigarette and that’s actually true. That was some of the bartering going on in the room. He’s definitely used his experience as much as possible.

Blaine has an impressive mug shot and he looks angry as hell in it. The whole arrest was total bullsh*t. He had gone to sleep in the van that was being driven by two roadies. I think he had a gig with Nine Pound Hammer and they were driving to a gig. They may have been carrying something, maybe, or maybe not, but they never saw it. The cops swore that they found cocaine and Blaine said “there is nothing in this van” and they pulled him over.

We never saw it and never got a straight story from anyone so it was this total mystery. It like was an “Andy Griffith” story. Like someone knew his judge and the judge’s brother was the court clerk and basically money was exchanged and everyone was happy and they just went fishing.  Like “OK, it’s done.”

Blaine: I had never even been to jail, and luckily those charges were dropped. It ended making me cautious and cost about $6,000. It made me calm down; it wasn’t my drugs or anything. Going to jail was not that big of a deal, but untangling everything and getting out of the situation was just horrible. It was not my fault in the least.

It happened in June. Me and Ruyter had an extra $10,000, more than what my bills cost. We had the whole summer off and it was great to go party and go to baseball games. That arrest happened in the first week of summer. I made the best of that experience.

There’s an old song called “T for Texas” by Jimmie Rodgers and that’s what I was singing in my head and wrote that song on the acoustic guitar as a joke. I emailed the members of the band and Eddie Spaghetti from Supersuckers, and Eddie finished it and put a pause and a bridge in it.

Q: In “Till the Meat Falls Off the Bone” the lyrics “whether I’m praising Jesus or chasing pussy there’s one way I’m going to be.” I know Blaine also has another band – the Kentucky Bridgeburners – that produced a gospel album. Since a lot of Nashville Pussy songs have a wild humor to them and those lyrics seem so morally contrasting, are the Christian references actually true to belief, or true to Blaine’s beliefs or is it just satire?

It’s a combination. Blaine was raised southern Baptist, but there comes a time when you have to take your own stance. I think he was really young and I think he was into reading the bible for himself and not the Baptist interpretation of it.  He had his own reason for believing in Jesus, but he’s not a Bible thumping Christian. He has his own beliefs and admires him as a human and as a man with a message. He does believe a lot of it. He’s a good Kentucky boy.

The whole Kentucky Bridgeburners album is gospel. It’s his own version of gospel like Jerry Lewis and Ray Charles did it.  Every one of our Southern heroes has done some form of a gospel album. Blaine wanted to do that with “Hail Jesus.” The next Bridgeburners album won’t be all gospel, but it’s just something he wanted to do. It was definitely something close to his heart.

Blaine: I did a gospel record and I was now smoking weed and I was flirting or being a pig or whatever, and over the years I’ve been pretty stoned. That’s one consistent thing I would say and calms me down. I just wrote that about myself.

No matter what stage my beliefs are in, I should probably just smoke and calm down whether I’m chasing pussy or praising Jesus.

Q: One of my favorite songs of yours is “Go to Hell.” The lyrics for this particular song are definitely a nightmare scenario for a couple.

A: Yeah, Blaine’s is following the great country tradition of writing a song about catching your wife and killing somebody. Luckily this one is completely fiction, and I swear when he wrote that line “guilt runnin’ down her chin” it made my skin crawl. That’s gotta sting.

Blaine: I wanted to write a classic country song based on a song called “Knoxville Girl” and also “Banks From the Ohio.” I actually saw Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash sing that song in a club and it was amazing. “Banks From the Ohio” song is about a man killing this woman because she’s so pretty; it’s so weird. There’s a lot of country songs about some guy having to smash his girlfriend in the face with a rock and throwing her around.

I wanted to have a song about some guy killing his wife or lover and I wanted to give him a good reason. So he catches her with his two best friends, and that’s his reason for using his gun. He needed to be really pissed off. It puts you in the mind of the guy.

From left: Bonnie Buitrago, Blaine Cartwright, Ruyter Suys of Nashville Pussy. (Photo provided)

From left: Bonnie Buitrago, Blaine Cartwright, Ruyter Suys of Nashville Pussy. (Photo provided by Fernando Yokota)

Q: Almost 20 years later, you and Blaine continue to be the backbone of the band, with drummer Jeremy Thompson. Working with a spouse is extremely challenging, especially as it seems with such a creative-driven path as rock musicians and the on-edge, life on the road. An inner relationship dispute could cause derailment of the band and therefore also the careers and paths of the other band members. How have you both manage to keep both your personal relationship steady alongside working together. Have the other band members ever brought concerns to the table?

A: I think we’re just really lucky. We get along really easily. The band is a bigger priority than anything. It’s our baby since we don’t have any children. The biggest arguments that we ever get in are all creative and about Nashville Pussy.  We’ll get into huge arguments about arrangements of songs, but we don’t really argue other than that.  We’re excellent parents in taking care of Nashville Pussy. I’m still his biggest fan and he’s still my biggest fan. We like watching each other on stage. There’s no secret to it I think we’re just lucky.

We allow each other weird and creative outlets. He let me join that stupid metal band and I let him start that whole new band, it’s kind of cool.

Q: Sounds kind of romantic.

A: (Laughs) It’s our version of romance. He writes a novel about Jesus and I join a band called Dick Delicious.

Q: I still think it sounds romantic.

A: Well if you think that’s romantic than you sound pretty f*cking cool. Your boyfriend is pretty lucky.

Q:  I read that it wasn’t until after you met Blaine when he convinced you to form a band with him. A lot of musician stories start with bands from their teens. Did it feel like appropriate timing for you to form a band at that time? Maybe people also start early to get the feel and learn to counter the initial stage fright or nervousness of playing in front of a crowd.

A: When I met Blaine, I was 23 and the band didn’t really get going until I was 27. I had pretty much given up on my chances to be in a rock n’ roll band by the time I joined a university. It was me throwing in the towel. I will not be a rockstar so I might as well get my degree, which I got in bronze casting. It’s not easy to do either. I don’t know why the more responsible alternative to being a musician was being an artist.

Then when I met Blaine, he had come over to my house. We had been together for a little while, but had never heard me play guitar. He saw one sitting in the room, but he didn’t want to ask me to play. I picked it up one day and played circles around him. He said I was a way better guitar player than I was an artist.  I was like “What the f*ck dude. I’m selling my art and making a living out of this and you’re telling me I’m a sh*ty artist.”

Years later, I was helping him out with Nine Pound Hammer for awhile and we just played around the house. We basically wrote the first Nashville Pussy album sitting around in our kitchen in our spare time.

By the time his band fell apart, we were ready to go and didn’t really know we were going to start a band for other reasons. It was kind of a happy accident. At that point, I was like ‘What do I have to lose?’ I was 27, way too old, and it just worked. Everything we do we don’t think about, we just do it.

Q: When you first started, did you have a lot of stage fright?

A: First show we ever did was in Athens, Ga., and I’m wearing leopard skin shorts and fishnet stockings and a little short pink top. I think I thought I was going to be more like Poison Ivy from The Cramps, she was an icon as far as visually.

I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest. I couldn’t move, I was nailed to the floor. I was concentrating on playing everything properly that I was terrified.

After that show was done, the very next show, I dove off the stage into the audience with my guitar. Stage fright was gone forever.

Q: A friend of mine that has seen you live told me you took a couple dude’s faces while on stage and shoved them up next to your pants, so maybe you were born with pure lust and confidence for the stage.

A: He might not have been that close and didn’t know how long I was wearing those pants for. If he was, he may have been like “Oh God, girl take a bath.”

Q: Do you get a certain number per show?

A: (Laughs) It’s not like I’m playing audience dingo or anything. “How many guys did you get to lick your pussy tonight Bonnie?” That’s kind of a fun idea, maybe we’ll have to do that on the next tour. Audience dingo. I used to grab their faces and stick them up next to my crotch, like you said, give them the chance of a lifetime and let me see what you can do.

Sometimes they wouldn’t know what they were doing and I’d give them the thumbs down in front of the entire audience. Other times they would try and I’d give them the thumbs up, I’m sure they got dates that night. One time a dude bit me right on the pussy ‘What the f*ck.’ Both Blaine and Jeremy both said ‘You can’t put that out there anymore; it’s dangerous.”

Q: Did you kick him?!

A: Yes! I kicked the sh*t out of him, it was terrible. In retrospect, it was my fault but it was also his. Nobody said bite first; work towards the bite. You have to start gentle and then work up towards the bite; that’s always what I say. Giving people crash courses in pussy eating.

Bonnie Buitrago, bassist for Nashville Pussy. (Photo Provided)

Bonnie Buitrago, bassist for Nashville Pussy. (Photo Provided by Fernando Yokota)

Q: When you’ve had to deal with the situation of finding a new bass player, has it been the band’s intention to always hire a female? Keep it the 50/50 balance in the band?

A: Totally. Nashville Pussy definitely needs the perfect balance between estrogen and testosterone otherwise we’d be a whole different band. We actually toured with Eddie Spaghetti from Supersuckers. It was great and a lot of fun, but the dynamic was just so different on stage. It just changes. There’s something important to have two and two. I think the girls give the band balls, to tell you the truth. Every single woman that has been involved in this band has been a phenomenal representation of the female gender. They have all been outstanding in their own way.

Q: Eighteen years after forming Nashville Pussy, what is most challenging to you as the lead guitarist?

A: I guess just staying alive. Not drinking myself to death. Still finding it entertaining on the road. Thank God, once you start playing it’s the greatest thing ever what I do. My favorite thing to do in the world is that hour that I spend on stage and there is nothing like that in the world. Other than that it’s just getting through the day. We just came back from Brazil and had so much f*cking fun. Before we left to go on tour, I really didn’t want to do this, and as soon as the plane hits the ground I remember how much I love it again.

Q: I see your European tour is going to start at the end of the month. Who is going to be on this tour with you?

A: I have no idea. I think we’re just hooking up with bands everywhere we go. I don’t think we have anyone for any duration. I think it France we might have somebody for a little bit. Other than that it’s just a Nashville Pussy headlining tour.

Visit Nashville Pussy’s website to snatch their new album “Up the Dosage” and for upcoming tour dates.

Blaine Cartwright, vocalist and rhythm guitarist for Nashville Pussy. (Photo provided).

Blaine Cartwright, vocalist and rhythm guitarist for Nashville Pussy. (Photo provided by Fernando Yokota).

Blaine on Indiana:

I’m from Kentucky so I know where Lafayette is. I actually went to track camp when I was 14 in Bloomington and IU. I saw my first concert in Indiana. I saw Kiss in Evansville, and that’s where I used to go and get records.

When we first came out, Indiana was one place and Indianapolis was actually one market that put us on the radio.

We also played this venue called The Patio a few times and then things kind of went south for us in Indiana for awhile. We opened for Marilyn Manson in Indianapolis and people were screaming, “We want Nashville Pussy” when we came out, and it just kind of faded and we don’t play there much anymore. We would love to get back there.

Mattice is a producer  and music journalist for the Journal & Courier. She can be reached at or on Twitter @RachaelM_JC.

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