There are plenty of ways to spend 17 minutes in this town. You could wait for an off-peak bus in Ballard while the local drunks hit you up for cigarettes and pocket change. You could sit on a curb on Broadway and count the white belts. You could even get into a nice shouting match about Iraq with one of those freaky LaRouche acolytes camped near the University Bookstore. One of your best options, though, is to grab a disc by the Spits--the new self-titled one, or an old one, whichever, they're all 17 minutes long--and treat yourself to some good ol' raw, scuzzy, catchy punk-garage rock.

And please, it's not anything close to the current dressed-down-millionaire-rock bullshit everyone seems to love--that kind of "garage" might as well be filled with Ferraris and attached to a house on Lifestyles of the Rich and Lameass. Naw, you'll find the Spits lurking somewhere behind the decrepit Camaro on blocks, the beat-up lawn mower, and the rusty, three-legged foosball table. They're the rats chewing on that musty stack of old porno mags and lapping up the half-dried puddle of Schlitz from the can you spilled on your way back to the rec room. They're a little bit Ramones (okay, a lotta Ramones), a little bit Screamers, and a little bit Devo. They're a musical dive bar--the aural equivalent of sticky floors, ripped vinyl booths, reeking alcoholics perched on rickety stools, and bathrooms even Trainspotting's Renton would be afraid to use. They're sloppy, loud, juvenile, demented, and fun. They're totally fucking brilliant, and they're a band you really need to check out.

"One thing we got is that we're true to what we do," says Spits frontman Sean Wood. "We're not tryin' to sell you nothing; we don't take shit too seriously. The way we look at it, it's like all I'd wanna do is rock my head, be able to dance, maybe laugh a little bit, and have a good time. That's what we're about."

As anyone who's seen the Spits can tell you, their shows are a practically guaranteed good time. And it's been that way ever since their debut "gig" in front of Seattle Central Community College back around 1992, when they rocked the baffled locals with battery-powered amps and a snare drum until the cops came and busted it up. Ten years, a handful of singles and albums, and a lot of rotgut later, the foursome is finally getting their due here and around the country--not only for their music and attitude, but also for their hysterical costumes and unpredictable antics.

"It's usually real spontaneous," Wood says of their ever-changing stage attire. "We've been the Murder Spitty Devils, 24-7 Spits, Bloody Mummies, Tin-Foil Men, Drunken Aliens... sometimes we like to go with current affairs. I mean, even if you suck, at least people will laugh. Everyone's doin' the whole Stooges/MC5 shaggy-hair, tight-jeans, scream-and-rip-your-shirt- off thing, and that's boring."

It was a beef over the costumes, though, that led to yet another personnel change at the keyboard position not long ago. Wood says that while it's hard to find and keep a good punk-rock keyboardist, the Spits won't put up with dissent in the ranks.

"We had this guy [Nick Markel], and we told him that no matter what we do, you're gonna be Tim-Tim the Robot," Wood explains. "We made a robot suit out of cardboard boxes and made him wear that. We all changed our costumes, but he always had to be the robot. And he started taking offense to it--I guess chicks couldn't see him or something, and he thought we were making fun of him, but it was like, 'Sorry, you're Tim-Tim the Robot, bro.' So he ended up wussin' out."

Luckily, Wood, bassist (and brother) Erin, and drummer Wayne Draves recently managed to rope a buddy, the enigmatically named "Joe from Portland," in to man the keys. And not a moment too soon, because the band is itching to keep juicing up a city they feel has gone totally limp.

"This place was really cool for a while, and then every fuckin' yuppie in the world moved here. I think Seattle's kinda comin' back, but then again it's kinda pussified. We go to Chicago or Austin and they go nuts, havin' a great time, but here, man, I dunno. It's like with KEXP, they fuckin' blow--they're a bunch of worldbeat, rainy-day-music pusses. And I'm sick of this emo crap. Play some fuckin' rock! I still like it here, but this town needs some toughness. It needs Shittyville to roll in and run all these assholes outta here, and hopefully Seattle will turn back around for the better."

That'll probably take more than 17 minutes, but you can always put the Spits on repeat play until then.