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When you least expect it, expect it. That seems to be the career plan of The Supersuckers, one of America’s most incendiary live rock & roll bands, who also like to throw country & western curveballs from time to time. Must’ve Been Live is an in-concert sequel to the last instance when Eddie Spaghetti and the boys went suddenly twang, 1997’s Must’ve Been High. By now, long-timers won’t be surprised, but recent converts through 1999’s ballistic Evil Powers of Rock & Roll and three years of subsequent hard touring might be expecting the first-ever Supersuckers live album to be more along the lines of Kiss Alive, not Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison.

As it is, Must’ve Been Live could stand proudly with either. “The first time around, it took awhile for everyone to get used to the country stuff,” says Spaghetti, calling from his home in San Diego. “But now, this record came about because people have grown to love the country side of us, and they’ve been asking for more. We found these live recordings—we weren’t even aware we were being recorded—and they sounded pretty good. Since we’re in control of our music now [with their own Mid-Fi Records], we can put out whatever we want: we decided to put this out.”

Featuring revamps from Must’ve Been High and a guest-list of musicians that includes harmonica player Mickey Raphael (Willie Nelson’s band), singer Amy Nelson (Willie Nelson’s daughter), guitarist Audley Freed (Black Crowes) and more, Must’ve Been Live proves Supersuckers fan Steve Earle right: “Great rock & roll and great country are, at least on a spiritual level, exactly the same thing.”

“We’re not joking with this—we really love country music and we want to represent it properly,” Spaghetti says, adding with a laugh, “We don’t have any illusions of winning a Country Music Award, though. The only award we’d want would be the Hardest-Working Band In the World Award, anyway.”

Not surprisingly, The Supersuckers’ country meets with more resistance from rockers than cowboys. “The rock audiences are kind of holier-than-thou, they think they’re better than everybody,” he says. “They think country is all just Garth Brooks and stuff like that. Rock and country cover the same ground, just in different languages.”

The Supersuckers won’t tour until after Must’ve Been High’s March 16 release—they were invited to Utah to provide some rawk during the Olympics. “Once the new album comes out, we’ll do a full-fledged country tour,” Spaghetti says. “The shows we’re doing in Salt Lake will be rock shows—that’s what we really do, it’s our forté. While we’re there, we’ll be the alternative for people who keep their ear to the ground and embrace rock & roll as their personal savior.”