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.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Spiffs - Don't Waste Your Money On This Garbage

A1. Here Comes Trouble

A2. Kill You

B1. Wink Tonight

B2. Space Age Laser

B3. Time To Go

THE SPIFFS (Phoenix, AZ)
Don't Waste Your Money On This Garbage
Industry Insulting (II-001), 1980

This record came as quite a refreshing surprise when I picked it up on my travels through Arizona last year. While one respected website gave it a less than flattering analysis, I contend that this is one hell of a great EP that shows versatility and promise. Despite the band's humility in naming their "mini LP" Don't Waste Your Money On This Garbage, released on the ever-so-confident Industry Insulting label, the songs are actually quite endearing, toying the lines of pop punk, power pop and even showing a mysterious dark side on "Kill You." Sure, the sleeve and foldout poster leave a little to be desired, but I give two thumbs up to what lies in the grooves.

Front man, Glenn De Jongh, went on to play in a flurry of bands after the Spiffs before ruling the casino and cruise line scene.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Teds - The Eighties Are Over...

A1. It's My Crisis

A2. Telly Surviellance

B1. Modern Guy

B2. Digital Doris

TEDS (Phoenix, AZ)
The Eighties Are Over EP
Placebo (PLA 201), 1981

Greg Hynes and Bob Peterson began playing together in 1978 in a project called D├ętente. The band later became the Teds, which started out as a four piece. They practiced at their second guitarist, Slim Corless’ house. But Slim had a meltdown one day and kicked the guys out. So Mark Bycroft, who had hung out and listened to them practice, approached Bob and told him that he could play guitar. Mark, who they coined Bekins because he worked for Bekins movers, solidified their new three piece line-up in 1980.

Drawing influenced from the Stones, Beatles, Talking Heads, Devo, Clash and Sex Pistols, they were looking for a modern take on the early British invasion of the 60’s, as well as the rockabilly sound of the 50’s. They started gigging regularly, playing halls, vacant churches, VFW’s, condemned buildings and bars such as Friar Tucks, Mason Jar, Star System and Mad Garden. They built a small but loyal following while sharing the stage with fellow Phoenix-area bands like Blue Shoes, The Feederz, Meat Puppets, JFA, and Sun City Girls. They also opened up shows for touring acts like the Blasters, The Waitresses, and The Alley Cats.

By the summer of 1980, they were ready to go in the studio to record. So they flew out to LA to lay down tracks with their manager Tony’s brother, Eddy Beram, who was a drummer that toured with the Everly Brothers. Eddy recorded and mixed eight songs in one day, then the guys picked out four of them to be released on their EP.

At the time, there were no labels in Phoenix putting out records. So Greg, Mark and Tony formed Placebo Records in order to put out the Teds EP. 500 copies of The Eighties Are Over were pressed with the first 50 being hand numbered and signed by all members. Having no connection to national distributors and receiving little press besides local reviews, most of the copies were sold locally.

By 1983, Greg had started Mighty Sphincter. He intended on keeping both bands going but Bob wasn’t agreeable to it, so the Teds broke up. Meanwhile, Placebo Records was blossoming because there was such a vibrant music scene in Phoenix. Besides a series of compilation LPs that showcased local talent, individual records were released by JFA, Sun City Girls, Conflict (US), and of course, Mighty Sphincter, amongst many others. The label stayed active through the late 80s.

Greg now works for the United Transportation Union and is a railroad safety expert. Mark went on to be a rocket scientist (seriously). Bob unfortunately passed away about 10 years ago.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Windbreakers - Meet The Windbreakers EP

Meet The Windbreakers EP
Big Monkey (007), 1982

A1. Young Republicans

A2. The Girl For Me

B1. That Girl

B2. Black & White

Tim Lee and Bobby Sutliff met in Jackson in the late 70s while they were both playing in cover bands at a time when no one seemed interested in hearing original music. Bobby eventually quit his band, Oral Sox, right around the same time that Tim's band, The Occasions, were falling apart. So the two decided to join forces and form The Windbreakers. With Jeff Lewis on guitar and Eric Arhelger on drums, they started working up original material and gigging the local Jackson scene.

It was difficult to make headway (or any money) playing their own songs, so they'd occasionally pick up well-paying gigs doing cover sets under the name Headhunters to keep them afloat. On New Years Eve 1981, they were invited to play at the Port Gibson Country Club in South Mississippi. They spewed out crowd favorites from the 50's all night long, which earned them a considerable pay day. So naturally they rushed to a recording studio a few days later to lay down four tracks for their debut EP.

Following three long afternoon sessions with producers that didn't comprehend their direction, the tapes were sent off to Larry Nix for mastering (chosen because he worked with Big Star). They pressed up 500 copies of the Meet The Windbreakers EP which they released on their own Big Monkey imprint. Jeff worked at a printing shop, so he ran off the sleeves that they all folded and glued together.

Not long after that Jeff decided to leave the band because he had a different vision. While he began Radio London, The Windbreakers pressed on as a three-piece. Meanwhile, Tim and Bobby would read NY Rocker to keep up with what was going on in the underground music world. Having seen Mitch Easter's name on several different projects, they decided to call directory assistance in Winston-Salem to get his number.

After discussing their ideas with him on the phone, Bobby, Tim and Eric drove 700 miles to Mitch's studio, The Drive-In, which was located in his parents garage. They quickly recorded two tracks and headed right back home. Bobby and Tim ended up going back a few months later, this time without Eric. Mitch filled in on drums as they recorded four more songs. They subsequently released the Any Monkey With A Typewriter EP in 1983 with all six songs that Mitch had produced. The record brought them some notoriety. Favorable reviews started coming in, college stations began playing their songs, and before they knew it, they had a booking agent and record labels calling them.

They signed with Homestead and in the winter of '84 went on tour with Mitch's band, Let's Active. Hitting the east coast and midwest, they got to open up some shows for X in front of 1,000 people. After the release of their Terminal album in 1985, they started headlining their own tours and would do well in the major markets.

Following the release of their next LP, Run, which was on the DB label, Bobby left the group. Another Windbreakers record came out, but it was essentially a Tim solo record under the guise of The Windbreakers. Bobby went on to release his own solo record, the acclaimed Only Ghosts Remain before regrouping with Tim to continue The Windbreakers. A couple more albums surfaced before they decided they had reached a plateau and called it quits. The two have continued to play on each others projects through the years.