When the Useless Eaters hit the Siberia stage in New Orleans on Mardi Gras, the crowd will hear the driven determination of band leader Seth Sutton to not be ignored, even during Carnival madness.
“I like to be aggressive. Some of the songs I’ve recorded are a little slower, but I like to speed those songs up and make it exciting to make sure there’s a lot of energy present,” said Sutton. “You don’t want to be some band playing in a corner. You’ve got to step it up.”
Sutton, a 23-year-old punk pop rocker from Nashville, Tenn., has made three Useless Eaters albums and more than 10 7-inch vinyl EPs/singles in just three years.
“I recorded all of the other records in my room on a four-track cassette recorder,” Sutton said. “This is the first LP that was recorded in the studio, and it’s got a higher fidelity sound. Those other records have all had the same feel, but this one is touching new ground.”
The new ground for him is the “Hypertension” album that could be considered a “best-of-so-far” LP, because some tracks are from prior Useless Eaters releases re-recorded in a studio setting.
“All of the other records I’ve done have been me playing all of the instruments, and ‘Hypertension’ is half of me playing everything and then half with two of the guys who played in the live band last year,” Sutton said.
While Sutton liked sharing the load with others for the latest recording, he deeply appreciates the personal approach of the iconic “power pop god” Todd Rundgren, who has the talent to write, play and produce his own records.
“Todd Rundgren is a big influence on me,” Sutton said. “He recorded so many records in his house, playing everything. I’m striving for that, to make records all the time. He’s a really good example of what I’m trying to go for, in how he made stuff.”
Another person who had a big effect on his music was Sutton’s father, a U.S. Air Force veteran.
“I remember my dad playing records by the Clash, the Cars and Depeche Mode. That got me into wanting to play guitar and start a rock band. Suddenly, in my teens, I got into the Ramones, the Sex Pistols and Bad Brains,” Sutton said.
Sutton absorbed all of the punk/new wave music he heard as a child and crafted it into straightforward songwriting that shaped his Useless Eaters tunes, which are simple by design.
“I think stripped down and minimal is definitely better than a bunch of noise in your face,” he said. “Basic is better. I don’t want to give things too much thought, especially when it comes to writing music.”
However, one thing that Sutton has put thought into is returning to his own Gulf Coast roots for this particular Crescent City show on Mardi Gras.
“I was born in Biloxi [Miss.], so we used to go to Mardi Gras all the time. Mardi Gras definitely has a nostalgic feel for me because of that. I really like New Orleans a lot, because it’s not like anywhere else in the country and playing there on Fat Tuesday will be amazing,” Sutton said.
Catch Useless Eaters on Tuesday, Feb. 12, at Siberia located at 2227 St. Claude Ave. For tickets go to SiberiaNOLA.com. Listen to Useless Eaters music at: https://soundcloud.com/uselesseaters/hypertension