Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Eat - God Punishes The Eat

A1. Jimmie B Goode

A2. Dr. TV

B1. Silly Drug Song

B2. Nut Cop

B3. Kneecappin'

THE EAT (Miami, FL)
God Punishes The Eat EP
Giggling Hitler (002), 1980

Brothers Mike and Eddie O'Brien migrated to South Florida in 1969 from their native Long Island home. They both played guitar in teenage garage bands. While Eddie leaned more in a country direction and played in bands that covered the likes of the Byrds and Flying Burrito Bros, his younger brother Mike gravitated more towards Sabbath and the glammy sounds of Roxy Music and Bowie.

In 1978, Eddie worked with a guy named Glenn Newland who decided one day he wanted to play in a band. So Eddie taught him how to play bass, while Mike tried his hand at drums, and Eddie stuck to guitar. By this time Mike had successfully turned Eddie on to bands like Cheap Trick and Sparks and they wanted to move in that direction. They brought in a second guitarist named Elio Garcia and began working on new wave covers, though they weren't taking it too seriously. Things began to progress when Chris Cottie joined the band.

Chris had played in a cover band called Helios with Eddie back in '72 before moving to Canada for a while. He returned to South Florida in 1977 and jumped on tour as David Allan Coe's hired drummer. When he was let go due to a broken ankle, he called up Eddie to see if he had anything going on. Informed of this new "punk" band, Chris jumped on board right around the time Elio left. Naturally, Chris took over on drums so Mike could switch back to his more familiar guitar.

Initially called The Fire Ants, they eventually changed their name to The Eat. At the beginning, their set consisted of songs by the Ramones, Clash, Devo, and others in that vein, but they quickly started writing original material so they could phase out the covers. Drawing influences from groups of the 60s while adapting the punk rock attitude, what came out sounded like sped up "psychedelic power pop." Each week Mike and Eddie would bring nearly completed songs to the table and they'd touch them up at rehearsal. Chris wrote a handful of songs as well.

At that time in South Florida, original rock acts were few and far between. The Cichlids, who began with a four girl line-up, were one of the first punk-type bands in the area doing a set of original material along with obscure covers. So in the summer of 1979, the Eat boys approached the manager of the Cichlids and asked if they could open up a show for them.

Soon after, they played their first gigs with the Cichlids but they didn't have any pretty girls in the group or charisma, so they didn't go over well. In the months that followed they developed a stage persona which consisted of them shooting off their mouths while drunk and stirring up emotions, which worked to their favor.

By late 1979, the South Florida punk scene was gaining momentum. Bands like The Reactions, The Essentials, Charlie Pickett & The Eggs, and many others had formed. The Eat were playing shows every couple weeks and drawing crowds as big as 300 people. Whatever money they earned they'd put aside to make a record or to buy silly clothes and stage props. Eddie would often be on stage dressed with a priest's collar, Chris would wear a wrestler's uniform, and the whole band even dressed up as Fidel Castro complete with cigars during a Halloween performance.

In September of 1979, they went to Down South Studios. Chris found a couple audio/video production guys who were supposed to shoot a video for them on a sound stage there. Having excessive money for expensive equipment but not the foresight to learn how to operate it, the video footage the guys took didn't turn out. But the raw audio was captured and used for the band's first 7" release, "Communist Radio."

The single was put out on their own Giggling Hitler imprint in a run of 500 copies. While the majority of the copies were sold for a buck a piece at shows or dropped at local record stores on consignment, the rest of the pressing was thrown off stage to the crowd at a big New Years Eve gig they played at the end of 1979 with the Contortions.

Six months later they bought a 4-track recorder and laid down the basic tracks for their next EP in Eddie's rehearsal space, which they coined Jesus, Mary & Joseph Studios. Unfortunately they didn't have a lot of knowledge of how to mic the instruments and were hoping for a better sound than what they got. So they took the instrumental tracks over to Music Recording Labs where Tony Mancino transferred them to 8-track and used his better microphones to record the vocals.

1,000 copies of God Punishes The Eat were pressed. Walter Cz of the Essentials designed the front cover. They liked the idea of Sgt Peppers and The Who's Live At Leeds, which both included a lot of different inserts. So not only was every copy of GPTE supposed to come with a foldout lyric insert, but they would also randomly shove in other stuff as well (baseball cards, stickers, out of focus snapshots, "The Eat Rebate", etc).

All the guys in the band held day jobs, so they rarely left South Florida for gigs. But near the end of 1980 they toured up the east coast and played shows in Tampa, Raleigh, Atlanta and a few in New York. Shortly after they returned home Glenn announced he would be quitting the band. So they brought in Kenny Lindahl who had previously played in the Eggs with Charlie Pickett. Since he'd played so many shows alongside the Eat, he already knew most of the material. After a few rehearsals, the new line-up played its first gig in July of 1981 at the Polish/American Club.

The band began recording songs with Glenn for a proposed LP before he left the band. With Kenny now on board, they re-recorded some of those songs as well as others. But without the finances to release it, the record sat shelved for a while. By this time, hardcore was coming up and a lot of the original bands from the scene had split. Meanwhile, Eddie was starting to have kids and devoting more of his time to his family. The momentum was lost and the Eat were playing far less frequently and to much smaller crowds.

Finally at the end of 1982, Kenny left the band. Glenn rejoined The Eat and played a few remaining shows into 1983. The last thing they did as a band was take acid and make a video for the song "Open Man" near the end of that year.

After they'd called it quits, Jeterboy Records asked to put out the unreleased recordings. 300 copies of Scattered Wahoo Action were released on cassette. The songs were later released on a 10" by Dutch label Wicked Witch.

Mike went on to play with Morbid Opera for a couple years following the break up of The Eat. He also spent time with the Trash Monkeys before getting back together with Chris Cotte in the Drug Czars in the 90s. In 1995 he played in a Psycho Daisies line-up that included Joey Maya and Johnny Salton of The Reactions.

Eddie had several kids and mostly detached from the music scene, though he did play with Charlie Pickett and Johnny Salton in a 2005 reformed version of The Eggs and has continued to play with Pickett a few times a year.

Chris Cottie, who played the bar circuit for decades also had a masters degree in counseling. He was planning to have bariatric surgery when he suddenly passed away in 2004.

Kenny more or less stopped playing music after the Eat, though he did join up with Mike in a mid-2000's version of the Drug Czars that included Chuck Loose of Chickenhead and the Crumbs taking over the drums after Chris's passing.

The Eat played numerous reunion gigs over the years, one of which resulted in a release of new material by way of the Hialeah 7" in 1995. In 2007, long time fan Jello Biafra approached them about releasing a collection of their material. The 2CD/2LP It's Not The Eat, It's The Humidity is a fantastic testament to the legacy they left behind.

Sadly, Mike O'Brien passed away on July 25, 2013 after battling cancer. Read more here.


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