By Andrew Plotkin
The Pink Spiders came into glorious existence in 2003 in Nashville, Tennessee, as the brainchild of singer/guitarist Matt Friction. While their music could easily be lumped into the “pop-punk” genre, closer listening showcases not only Friction’s remarkable talents as a songwriter, but also his extreme affinity for the melodies and vocal harmonies of Motown and Doo-wop, as well as many other of music’s finest genres. Three weeks after coming together, Friction, bassist Jon Decious, and drummer Bob Ferrari released an EP, The Pink Spiders…Are Taking Over. A full-length album, Hot Pink, followed in 2005.
The band then signed to Geffen Records, a label whose roster of Rock ‘n’ Roll bands was like a who’s who of the ‘80s and ‘90s (Guns ‘n’ Roses, The Pixies, Weezer, Nirvana). Geffen hooked the band up with Ric Ocasek, former frontman for The Cars, who had also produced Weezer’s “Blue” and “Green” albums. Coinciding with the 2006 release of their major label debut, Teenage Graffitti (which contained new tracks, as well as 5 re-recorded tracks from Hot Pink), The Pink Spiders were one of Alternative Press magazine’s “Bands You Need to Know.”
The video for their first single, “Little Razorblade,” debuted on MTV’s Total Request Live on April 11, 2006, ultimately peaking at #12 on the highly influential (at the time) countdown show. The song was featured on MTV’s reality show “The Hills.” The Spiders toured with Fall Out Boy, Good Charlotte, and 30 Seconds to Mars, among countless others.
Then, the band came face to face with the harsh realities of the record industry. Geffen pushed the band in the wrong direction, with poor marketing and wholly inadequate publicity. 2008 was truly a shit year for the band.
The release of their follow-up album, Sweat It Out, originally slated for Spring, was pushed back multiple times. On March 13th, the school bus the band had just bought for the tour burned to the ground, incinerating laptops, clothing, iPods, passports, song lyrics, and just about all the rest of the boys’ worldly possessions. Decious and Ferrari left the band in the summer, upset about not receiving any royalties from Friction’s publishing deal. (Side note: the way music publishing usually works: You don’t help write the songs, you don’t get no money, sucka.)
Tougher than a $2 steak and refusing to let The Spiders go the way of the white buffalo, Friction recruited longtime friends from Nashville to keep the band going, finally releasing Sweat It Out on his own terms.
The Pink Spiders continue to tour relentlessly, and TheCheapPop sat down (and drank a lot) with them at a recent tour stop in Philadelphia.