I pestered Eddie O'Brien to be interviewed for a LONG time. The first time we ever got to talk for any length of time was after his gig playing bass with The Martyrs at the late Scott Putesky's birthday party in 2007 (RIP Scott, and Kevin MacIvor). The Martyrs were great, Scott had a beverage or two, so I gave him a ride home, then I came back and Eddie and I chatted for awhile. It was really cool, he's a gent, and we actually have a lot in common.
Eddie: ...It's not because I'm a dick, or not just because I'm a dick, maybe partially, but...It's just that...This was such a short period, ya know? For 3 or 4 years, tops. We were a garage band, really, is all. And so many people seem to make a lot more of it than it was, in my opinion. And that's...that's why I was kinda reluctant, nobody wants to listen to some old man sit here and talk about...his glory days. There wasn't even that much glory, and it wasn't that many days! And also, if Glenn finds out about it, he will NEVER stop making fun of me.
Jeff: I know, I asked him for an interview too.
Eddie: Yeah, he told me.
Peppy: Michael was really much more into it (being interviewed, discussing the past)...Right?
Eddie: Well, Michael would remember everything that happened.
Jeff: Well, let me ask you Peppy, because you were as close as anybody. To me, Mike and Eddie were special. In a band together. And they were both really good songwriters...And I think that's part of the reason why, like Eddie said, things get made bigger than he thinks they oughta be.
Eddie: Well maybe.
Peppy: Yeah, but you know what? They both had their own personalities, though. I'll tell you one thing that was kinda unique was that...they were playing together, but really, both of them had their own style of writing, and different things that they wanted to discuss in their music. And Michael was also very adamant about trying to get what he wanted said, and sometimes would get mad if it wasn't.....'Cause Eddie was the more flamboyant one, Michael was more in the background, in the beginning. And sometimes he was a little upset if things didn't come out the way he felt his music should be interpreted as. But they both wrote differently, different types of songs. And of course, being brothers, there was a lot of...arguments and stuff. Like any band, any band.
Eddie: Yeah, just like any other band. I don't think it was anything too special, there wasn't no fistfights or anything.
Peppy: No, just regular things. And the thing was that...like, Chris really added to it (the band). See, I knew Chris forever, 'cause I went to school with him.
Jeff: You and Chris and (sports journalist) Roy Firestone.
Peppy: Yeah, and Chris was a very talented drummer. And then Chris ended up furthering his education, I don't know if you knew that.
Jeff: No, I didn't.
Peppy: He got a master's degree, then he was a guidance counselor in a school for troubled kids...At the Robert Renick Center.
Eddie: Well, he was a teacher for a long time before that too. As a matter of fact, when Chris passed, they had a memorial service for him, like a month after, and it was down in South Miami, and a buncha people were there. And me, Kenny, Glenn, Mike, who else was there?
Peppy: Me. Eric (Moss, EAT manager) was there.
Eddie: But we worked up some songs to play at this memorial. So we went down there, and we played, with acoustic guitars and everything...And we talked about Chris and...the people that were there that knew Chris as a teacher? Not the SLIGHTEST idea that he was even a musician of any kind!
Peppy: He was formidable-looking, but he really wasn't like that at all. Unless he got really mad, sometimes, he could be...
Eddie: Sometimes he'd get mad.
Peppy: You know, he toured with (redneck outlaw singer) David Allan Coe.
Peppy: And he had a house in Nova Scotia as well.
Karen: Who did he know up there?
Eddie: Ah, his mom had it forever, yeah.
Peppy: And his dad died young too. His father was a boat captain, and I remember going to see, and he was heavyset too, but I don't know if it was a...genetic heart condition, because his father was heavyset enough that I remember...
Eddie: Chris' dad died the night we were supposed to play a big show at the Agora. It mighta been the show when they let us BACK in the Agora, after they banned us or whatever, I think. So Chris was upset, and I said, "Well fuck it then! We're not playing this fucking stupid show." He says, "No, we have to. We have to play. We have to play." And we played!
Peppy: Chris always showed up. He was never the one to say, "I'm not going to play."
Jeff: So what do you remember about growing up in New York City?
Eddie: Well, when we were young teenagers, the 4 guys on my block. When the Beatles came out, and all that started happening, the British Invasion, and this and that. We already had a band before any of us owned an instrument. We already knew, "Ok, well, this will be the band." And...as it went along, 2 of the guys got electric guitars, one guy had a Teisco Del Rey, the other guy had a Hagstrom. And my friend Kevin Abe, who I still talk to on Facebook, got a set of drums somehow, and he was the drummer. So that meant I had to be a bass player...So I got some kid to sell me a Domino Japanese bass for $20. $5 a week for a month, 'cause I didn't have $20.
Jeff: Is this 1964-65?
Eddie: A little bit later, ahh...'66-67 maybe.
Jeff: What was the name of the band?
Eddie: Geez, you know, I really can't remember...what the name was. We probably had a different name every other week.
Jeff: Did you play bass before you played guitar?
Eddie: Well, I had an acoustic guitar, and we all played. And the guy Kevin, who was the drummer, was better than ANY of us on the guitar, he was like (last EAT drummer Mike) Vullo, and still is. And he would find stuff out (chords, guitar tricks) and show us.
But after a while the 2 other guitar players kinda lost interest, and it was just me and Abe, and...I got the Hagstrom guitar away from that guy, like on a long-term loan, so I had an electric guitar for awhile. And we played in different combinations, we played birthday parties...and the Masonic Hall type of gig.
And that was about it, and then my family...My dad decided to move to Florida.
Jeff: You were a senior in high school when you moved, right?
Eddie: I was in twelfth grade, yeah, and I didn't...there wasn't any...I said, "Well, I don't wanna go."
He said, "Well, you're going." So in twelfth grade, I started school in New York...
Jeff: When I moved down here during high school, it took me a LONG time to make friends.
Eddie: Oh yeah, definitely yeah.
Peppy: I moved when I was in eleventh grade. Ed went to Woodstock before he moved, though.
Jeff: You went to Woodstock, and you were 17?!?!
Eddie: Yeah, I did do that. The same summer. You know what? I can't hardly remember. Some of the things I think I remember, maybe I actually just saw in the movie, ya know? I know that...we didn't have any food, we didn't bring any food, because we...I dunno, I guess we figured we could get hamburgers or something, but we couldn't.
Peppy: And you didn't have any girls with you either, to prepare anything.
Eddie: Well, John's sister was with us, but she wasn't preparing any food, she was taking LSD, like all of us. We went to this place, the Hog Farm. Have you heard of it? It was these hippies from San Francisco, this guy Wavy Gravy was their leader and everything. They gave us some flyers to hand out, about I don't know, some hippie bullshit.
Jeff: And in return for you handing out the flyers, they gave you food?
Eddie: They gave us oatmeal.
Jeff: It was probably dosed (with LSD).
Eddie: It was pretty fuckin' good, lemme tell ya. When you're 17, and you haven't eaten in 2 days or something, it was some pretty good tasting oatmeal.
Karen: Did you get parking close to the festival? Or did you stop and abandon your car...?
Eddie: Nah...What happened was, my friend John's dad drove us up there in a van. He was a (wall) paper hanger, he had a work van. He drove us all up there, we were all crammed into this paper hanging van, in the back with the wallpaper and shit. And yeah, we were stopped in traffic, dead stopped in one of these...And I remember, we got outta there, out of the van and were walkin' around.....Just lookin' at all the other people, and the traffic jam.
Karen: Was it the first time you'd seen hair that long?
Eddie: (It was the first time I'd seen) that many of 'em, that's for sure, yeah. And...there were some hippies sittin' in the back of a pickup truck kinda near us. And me and my friend Kevin, we were just wanderin' around, and the guy goes like this, (waves him over, then says quietly) "C'mere." So we come over to him and he reaches into a bag, and takes a big FISTFUL of weed out, and just hands it to us!
Karen: Did you have anything to smoke it with?
Eddie: Yeah, well, we figured it out. So then we had weed for the whole weekend.
Peppy: He still has his Woodstock tickets, that nobody ever ripped in half.
Eddie: Nobody even took the tickets!
Karen: Do you remember the music and the bands?
Eddie: Sort of, I remember Creedence (Clearwater Revival), I remember The Who. I remember Alvin Lee and Ten Years After, I was REALLY impressed with that as a kid, yeah.
Peppy: Doing "I'm Going Home."
Jeff: Nobody played that fast.
Eddie: I was amazed.....
I guess it was the last night, we were just so exhausted...My friend Kevin and I got separated from the rest of our gang, I guess, and we were palling around together. We were so beat, we went back and found the tent, we had put up a tent when we first got there. We found the tent and just collapsed in the tent, and fell asleep. And then when I woke up, the other guys were coming back, and they said, "Yeah, we just saw Hendrix." It was in the morning, it was LIGHT when Hendrix played, I guess.
Jeff: That's true.
Eddie: So I said, "Well, fuckin' great! Missed Hendrix!"...Slept through him, but....I remember The Who, that was good. But, again, sometimes I think I remember stuff, and I'm just remembering maybe...You remember Country Joe and the Fish?
Eddie: He was good, he did that whole...
Jeff: Fish cheer thing.
Eddie: Yeah, that was enjoyable.
Peppy: Did you see Santana?
Eddie: I don't remember Santana, but sure, 'cause they were on in the afternoon. Stuff in the afternoon I saw, for sure, yeah.....
After Woodstock, a few months later we moved. I went to school in New York for about a month, but I didn't go very much because I knew I was gonna leave, so...
Then we got to Florida, we lived in Miami Beach in a motel, which was right around the corner from where Peppy lived at the time, but I didn't know. Then I went to (Miami) Beach High (School) for a month...
Peppy: That's where I went to school too.
Eddie: But I caught pneumonia, for some reason. So I was outta school for 2 months. Then we moved up to North Miami, and I went to Miami Northern High School, and finished there. But no, I didn't hardly know anybody, it was tough for a kid, ya know?
But I graduated high school, I went back to New York for awhile and hung out. Then I came back to Florida, and.....my dad got me a job, a part-time job at the phone company. I was answering the phones when people would call in repair troubles. I was makin' pretty good dough, too, for a kid. So I was able to buy a couple of cool guitars, I bought a Gretsch Anniversary, I bought a (Gibson) ES-335 12-string. And I had a coupla cool amps too, I had a (Fender) Pro Reverb, and I had a full-size Bassman. I was living at home and I was making really good money, and I didn't have nothing else to spend it on.
So then...I jammed with some guys in the neighborhood there. One kid was walking by outside my house and he heard me playing, and he came up and knocked on the door. So I got to meet some people in the neighborhood.
So then I answered...you know they used to have those musician ads in the hippie newspaper? "Wanted, guitarist." So I answered an ad from John Levitt. And I went down to his house, and played with him. And he had a Roger McQuinn-style 12-string, (and) he was into The Byrds, The Jefferson Airplane, all the stuff that I loved at the time. So we got together. Then Chris also answered the ad, so it was me, Chris, John, and...
Eddie: Oh yeah, Mike was the bass player, another loony, Mike Perryman.
Peppy: He lived in Miami Lakes.
Eddie: And then various different girl singers, we always had a female singer, always. 'Cause that was what John...It was John's band, and we just...And we did...a whole buncha stuff that nobody wanted to hear. We did (Jefferson Airplane song) "The House At Pooneil Corners", and...a lot of John's originals, he had a ton of originals.
Peppy: Did you ever hear of him?
Jeff: Only from Eddie.
Eddie: So then we played in that band for a coupla years.
Jeff: Are there any recordings?
Eddie: There are, but I don't have 'em. But (former south Florida radio legend) Neil Rogers used to play this version of John's song "I Wanna Die In Florida", he used to play it all the time. But we made some recordings, and we did a TV show, there was a...John was very aggressive about getting gigs, we always had tons of gigs, and...the TV show, and...
Jeff: What about the first gig at the cripple ward? (at Jackson Memorial Hospital)
Eddie: Yeah, I think it was the first one, it was at the hospital. And we played this horrible music, that nobody wanted to hear but us.
Peppy: Which band did you do the "Be A Beacon" with?
Eddie: That was Helyous, John's band.
Peppy: It was on PBS.
Eddie: One year they decided to leave Daylight Savings Time on all year round (1974). And so when the kids were going to school in the morning, it was dark. So this was a show to try and teach kids to be careful in the morning, and to carry lights. And the show was called "Be A Beacon", and John wrote a song called "Be A Beacon" that we performed.
Peppy: It was on TV.
Eddie: And I wore one of Peppy's glitter shirts with a bare midriff. It was kinda glam-rock period, almost.
Jeff: So were you a baseball freak even when you were a little kid?
Eddie: A little bit, yeah. I got more interested in it as an adult, really. But you know, it was different. At that time, baseball was really the ONLY sport, where I lived, the only sport that anybody was interested in. Pro football was kinda like a minor sport, like hockey or something. And pro basketball, nobody really cared about that. It was all baseball.
And I remember when we moved to Florida, and like I said I got sick, I caught pneumonia for some reason, I had to stay home from school. That's when we were in Miami Beach, in the apartment. That was when the Mets went to the World Series, and it was all day games in those days. I watched every one of those games, laying on the couch in the apartment, nobody else was home, my brothers and sisters were in school, my dad was at work. I guess my mom was around, but...I was able to watch the amazing Mets.
Jeff: So Walter Cz (#1 EAT fan) talks about Bill Kirchen, the guitar player from Commander Cody, and how he influenced your guitar playing style. Who else do you think influenced the way you play?
Eddie: Well, I try to play like Jorma (Kaukonen, Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna guitarist). On guitar, yeah. And whatever I could pick up.....You know what was interesting? I remember listening to The Faces back then, and I liked 'em, and I had their records and everything. And then when that "Live At The BBC" (bootleg) came out, kinda recently, like 10 years ago. I listened to that, and....I had stole so much stuff from Ron Wood! Yeah! Everything I heard him play, I said, "Oh yeah, I play that!" So yeah, I stole a lot from him too, apparently.
Jeff: You just didn't realize it until much later.
Eddie: Yeah, you just try to steal whatever you can, ya know?
Jeff: So what do you wanna say about Catholicism? Was it really strict on you when you were a kid?
Eddie: Yeah, yeah. But by the time we got in the band, it was just kind of a jokey thing. I didn't believe in it anymore, or anything.
Peppy: Your mother had that big cross, though, when you came in the house your mother had that big cross over the TV.
Eddie: Wellll, a lot of Catholic families had that.
Peppy: And when I walked in the house that one time, and the cross fell down, remember? And I thought, "Oh my god!" (laughs)
Jeff: You're goin' to HELL! (laughs)
Karen: Are you Catholic?
Peppy: No, (laughs) I'm Jewish.
Karen: I knew that.
Peppy: I'm not religious either.
Eddie: I remember Michael saying how great a religion it was, 'cause he said, "What other religion has leaders that look like they stepped off a deck of cards?"
Peppy: But your parents went to church a lot.
Eddie: My father stopped goin' a long time before...I think he stopped goin' in New York.
Karen: What did he do for a living?
Eddie: My dad worked for the phone company.
Peppy: But he originally was gonna be a priest, right?
Eddie: Wellll, I don't know how serious that was.
Peppy: But he did go to Catholic college, right?
Eddie: He went to Fordham University for a little while, after the war.
Peppy: His dad was super-smart.
Jeff: Mike said you thought it would be cool to write a papist pop song when you wrote "Catholic Love", but that's not what jumped out at me about that song, what jumped out at me was that it was a song to Peppy.
Eddie: Yeah, but not really....Wellll, that was part of it, right? But it was really supposed to be a joke, and that's what it was.....
Peppy: He never wrote any songs about me.
Jeff: It's a little bit about you, it says, "I know you wish you weren't Jewish so that you could have this feeling too"...
Eddie: (trying to play it off) That's an obvious joke line, right? So....
Peppy: -Well, just like "Communist Radio" wasn't really about communism.
Eddie: You know, when we played with The Cichlids....Debbie and Bobby were pretty friendly (to us). And we got along. Allan and Susan, not so much.
Karen: But maybe (Cichlids manager Robert) Mascaro told them to be that way to you.
Eddie: I didn't find that out until later. But I remember Allan sayin' to me, "So I see you have that song called 'Catholic Love'?"
"Yeah, yeah, we do."
He says, "Dontcha think that's kind of an overdone thing?"
I said, "Well, no, I don't think so."
He says, "Well, we have the song, 'Lookin' for a good Jewish Girl'"
And I said, "Well, it's kinda similar, I guess." It's not really the same thing at all. (Cichlids drummer) Bobby's song was a good song, but it was just kinda like a Henny Youngman joke, right?
(Cichlids manager) Robert (Mascaro) saw us play at Tight Squeeze (club), and liked us a lot, and called us over to talk to him.
Karen: But he didn't ask to manage ya?
Eddie: Eventually he did. But we didn't really need career guidance-type management, 'cause we had our own ideas.
Peppy: And (EAT manager) Eric (Moss) wasn't really that kind of manager.
Eddie: We got Eric 'cause we thought that he could maybe talk to normal people.
Jeff: Right, so you wouldn't have to.
Eddie: Yeah. And he could, and he did.
Peppy: Eric is a great talker.
Eddie: But he didn't get involved in the music part of it too much.
Karen: Or your persona or anything, he didn't tell you...
Eddie: Yeah, we already had ideas about what we wanted to do with that. And a lot of times, we weren't all that great musically, I always said, but...we had good ideas.
Jeff: And didn't wanna be told, you know, like Mascaro TOLD The Cichlids what to do.
Eddie: Right. right, yeah, that was out of the question.....I couldn't even tell Michael myself, Michael wasn't gonna get told. And Glenn certainly wasn't gonna get told, or Chris.
Jeff: Did you and Mike fight a lot when you were growin' up? My brother and I used to fight like cats and dogs...
Eddie: A little. I was a lot older. But we both ended up in Florida....And we didn't know anybody else, that's when we probably got closer.
Jeff: He was playing guitar already?
Eddie: ...And I taught him how to start out. And plus, I was bringing in records, he didn't have a job, he couldn't buy records. He was listening to mostly stuff that I decided we would listen to. And we had a lot in common then, ya know?
But he got a little bit older, and he started.....goin' in a different direction musically. 'Cause I was interested in roots music, right? What they call roots music now...
Jeff: Or Americana.
Eddie: Americana, they came up with that name for it. Mike started gettin' interested in David Bowie, Mott (The Hoople), Sparks, Gong...
Jeff: Cheap Trick.
Eddie: Yeah. But I liked that stuff too, eventually. At first I said, "Oh, this is no good, they don't have a steel guitar!" (laughs) But eventually I came around.
Jeff: Were you writing songs back then?
Eddie: Yeah, but it was terrible.
Jeff: But did you show Mike what you were doing, songwriting-wise, not just how to play guitar?
Eddie: Nahhh...I'd just come up with it, whole, and then show him. Yeah.
Peppy: Well, Elio (Garcia, aka Eli Smith) was in the band then, right?
Eddie: Later on, Elio was Mike's friend, and that was the first version of The EAT. With me and Mike, and Elio...
Jeff: The Fire Ants.
Eddie: The Fire Ants. Was Chris in that?
Jeff: No, Mike was on drums, you and Elio on guitar, and Glenn on bass.
Eddie: Ah, really? (To Peppy) See, he even knows...
Chris played in Helyous, and we played together...My friend Kevin came down from New York to here, and we got a house together, and we played in a buncha different bands, and some of them included Chris, some of them didn't. But then Chris moved to Canada. And he got a job in a legit touring covers band, and he did that for a few years, and they went all over Canada playing gigs, so he was used to touring.
Jeff: And your job at the phone company was part-time to start, but you ended up staying there for awhile, right?
Eddie: Eventually I went to full time, yeah.
Peppy: That was the only company you ever worked for, right? In Florida.
Eddie: Yeah, I wasn't there that long, though. Only 44 YEARS! (laughs)
Peppy: You know, I worked at the phone company too, for awhile.
Jeff: A lot of people worked for the phone company. Kenny didn't but Glenn did.
Eddie: Charlie (Pickett) did.
Jeff: Mike was directory assistance, wasn't he?
Eddie: Yeah, he worked for awhile, quit, and then came back again.
Jeff: Debbie from The Cichlids, her sister Ana worked there.
Peppy: His (Eddie's) sister worked there too. I was there for about 5 years as a customer service rep, but I left when I had little Eddie.
Jeff: So when did you and Eddie meet?
Peppy: Through Eric (Moss).
Eddie: It was around the time when I was living with my friend Kevin, in north Miami. We had various bands, and then he got the idea...
Eddie: ...We knew Eric through Chris. Eric went to college at FSU.
Peppy: And I was friends with Eric.
Eddie: And we got the idea, "Let's go to Tallahassee and visit him at college." So we did. We brought our guitars and mandolins and everything we had at the time...
And Eric said, "Well, you guys wanna meet some GIRLS, some sorority girls?"
"Fuckin' A!" (Yes)
Peppy: Sorority girls, I lived in a sorority house. So I asked my roommate to come with me, 'cause Eric said, "Hello, do you wanna meet my friends?"
And I said, "Ok, we'll see." 'Cause me and Eric were friends from Beach High (School). Me, Eric, and Chris. I wasn't that friendly with Chris as much, but Eric and Chris had grown up together. They were friends from when they lived on Sunset Island.
I only went to Beach High for 2 years, 11th and 12th grade. And I met Eric, and I really wasn't that friendly with him, but then, that summer before I went to FSU, I was working at the Food Fair on 71st Street, and Eric was living near there, with Chris. And he started coming in there, and he said, "Hey, I'm going to FSU!" I said, "I go to school there." And then we started being friendly again.
Jeff: What do you remember about The Pecos Brothers Band?
Eddie: Well, it was me and Kevin Abe...
Peppy: It was the phone company band.
Eddie: ...And this guy that Abe worked with, 'cause Abe worked at the phone company too, for awhile....(This guy) who was his boss, maybe, or a manager, a guy named Bill Linderman. We had a few different drummers, maybe 3-4 different drummers...
Peppy: You had that Jewish guy...
Peppy: ...Yeah, whose girlfriend had the gambling parties at her house.
Eddie: Yeah, that's another story.
Jeff: TELL IT! TELL IT!
Eddie: Jeff's girlfriend's mom used to run these mafia card games. Remember the card game that was in "The Sopranos"? That type of card game. And I was a fuckin' idiot, I said, "I'd like to get into that game."
They said, "No, you don't. You don't wanna be in that game."
Jeff: Yeah, you don't get up and leave until everybody gets up and leaves.
Peppy: They wanted me to come waitress at that, you know, serve drinks. And I thought, "Nah, I don't think I'll do that."
Eddie: And that was Jeff, he was a drummer for us.
Peppy: Jeff Nassy.
Eddie: Yeah, I looked him up somewhere on the internet, later, and he was out in California somewhere, he was still playin'.
Peppy: He was a good drummer, wasn't he?
Eddie: Yeah, he was good. And we played a lot, Bill would get the gigs.
Jeff: Did you play mostly covers?
Eddie: Covers and Bill's originals. And 1 or 2 originals I had at the time.
Jeff: How'd you get that gig at Miami Marine Stadium?
Eddie: I don't remember how we got it, probably Bill got it.
Peppy: He had a lot of contacts, he was a BIG boss at the phone company.
Eddie: And we played there twice, we played 2 different shows. It was cool, that stadium was full!
Jeff: And they were diggin' it?
Peppy: They played here in Cooper City too!
Eddie: Yeah, we got a gig at the rec hall, a party at Cooper City Rec Hall. And I remember drivin' out here and thinkin', "What the fuck is this? Where is this fuckin' place? In the Everglades?" I don't even think this area was even BUILT at the time.
Jeff: I'm guessing you didn't come up to Broward County too much back then?
Eddie: Nah, Broward was like a place for RUBES! (laughs) To me...
Karen: When you drove up to Palm Beach County back then, was I-95 already built?
Eddie: I think so. At one time, there was a big hole in I-95.
Karen: Right, from Palm Beach Gardens up to Ft Pierce.
Peppy: And when he came up to Tallahassee at that time, the Turnpike didn't go through either. It ended in Kissimmee.
Eddie: No, when I used to drive to visit her in Tallahassee, I couldn't afford to take the Turnpike, because it was $4. And I didn't have $4. I used to take (highway) 27 all the way to Tallahassee.
Peppy: You stayed with Eric when you were up there, right?
Eddie: After a while, I stayed in my van, I had a van. You stayed in the van too, you might not wanna admit it now, but...
Peppy: I remember that. Do you remember that night when we were driving around, and we went to that bar? And the guys let us into that bar?
Eddie: Yeah, we were drivin' around, me and Peppy and Eric, and Kevin, and Lira. And we were drinkin' and....partyin'. And we pulled up to this bar, and there's a few cars in front of it. And we went in, sat down...And there was a couple guys behind the bar. We ordered some beers, and they said, (hesitantly) "Ok, yeah." Something didn't seem right. And then the guys were pourin' beers outta the tap, and sliding 'em down the bar, like they do in the cowboy movies, right?
And we had a couple beers, and then we said, "I don't think these guys own this bar."
They said, "It's all free, and any food you want, just take it."
Peppy: They had broken into it.
Eddie: So finally we said, "We gotta get outta here, these guys don't own this, the cops are gonna come!" And we just RAN outta the place! The bar that nobody owned.
Peppy: Before that we were driving around. And he was a little bit drunk already, and he hit a fire hydrant on the sidewalk, smashed into it, and I'm like, "Gee, this is fun! This is the guy for me!" (laughs)
Jeff: Talk about what the music scene was like in Miami before punk rock happened.
Eddie: Well, Abe went back to New York, so now I didn't have a band. So I auditioned for 2-3 regular show bands, but it didn't work out. So I stopped playing for awhile.
I was in another band...This guy Mike Perryman who played with me in Helyous, called me up and says, "Ya gotta help us, we got a gig tonight....And we need a guitar player, you have to come."
I said, "Alright." And it was this bar called the Calypso Lounge, on NW 7th Avenue. I get there, it's a topless joint, right? And I don't even KNOW these other guys, except for Mike. And he says, "We're gonna do this, we're gonna play 'All Right Now.' Or whatever, just whatever we could come up with that I could play. So we played, and it was actually not that bad, they were songs we all knew. And the girls were over on the stage while we were doin' it, ya know?
And then one guy comes up to the bandstand and says, "I'd like to sing with you guys. I'd like to sing a song by Ray Charles called 'I Got A Woman.'"
And the leader, whoever he was, the guitar player, says, "Ok, we'll try to work you in a little bit later in the set."
And the guy says, "No, I wanna do a song by Ray Charles called 'I Got A Woman', and I wanna do it right NOW!" The guy CHARGES the stage, he jumps up onstage and starts beltin' the guy. All his pals jump up and they start beltin' (Eddie's bandmates).....And I jumped off the stage behind the back, and I'm HIDING back there. The bartender pulls a gun out from under the bar and starts firing shots into the ceiling. That broke it up, the gunshots, and the guys left the bar. And then the other guys in the band were PISSED at me because I wouldn't...
Jeff: ...Join in the festivities, really? You helped out this band one night, and they're mad at you because you didn't wanna fight??
Eddie: YEAH! I said, "You know what? Next time, Mikey, you need to get..."
Jeff: Find somebody else!!
Eddie: I played a buncha gigs like that too, mostly because of Mike, would call me up and say, "You gotta get down here right NOW!" But that was what you had to do, was covers. And you weren't hardly makin' no money, and people were beating you up, and people were shooting at you.
Jeff: So how long were you not playing?
Eddie: I don't know, maybe 2-3 years. But then Mike (O'Brien).....I guess Mike and Elio started saying, "Let's jam." So him and Elio came over, and...we started workin' up shit that we were interested in, covers...I can tell you one thing we did, was "Bring Back The Spark" by Be Bop Deluxe.
Jeff: That's true, we have tape of that.
Eddie: (laughs) I forget what else, The Cars...
Jeff: That's right, you did "Just What I Needed."
Peppy: How old was Michael then?
Eddie: I dunno, he was maybe 19, 20.
Jeff: Did you see the band he had before that, called Total Darkness?
Eddie: No, I never saw them. I knew about them, but.....Weren't they mostly Sabbath?
Jeff: That's what Mike said, they were a Black Sabbath cover band.
Eddie: And then we had a falling out with Elio...and eventually Chris...
Jeff: (to Peppy) Weren't you involved in that?
Peppy: Yeah. Sort of, not really. My friend was. Why, Michael told you about that?
Jeff: I heard something about it, I don't remember who told me.
Peppy: Yeah, it was a domestic quarrel, it was due to.....My friend Nancy had a little fling with Elio, and Elio was married, and his wife found out about it, and so.....That's what happened, and then Elio was forced to quit the band. It was mutual, kinda.....
Eddie: I think we were kind of a little fed up with Elio at the time....He's good, he is very good, he's just kinda hard to get along with.
Jeff: And Elio went on and played in The Rubber Thongs?
Eddie: Yeah, eventually he did.
Jeff: And they played with The EAT.
Eddie: I'm not sure, did they?
Peppy: We made up with Elio later, 'cause he got divorced anyway.
Eddie: Yeah, we made up with Elio, but they lived next door to Chris! The 2.....Lynn, who was the drummer, I think, and John, who was the guitarist of The Rubber Thongs, lived on the other side of the duplex from Chris.
Peppy: They rented Chris' duplex, he owned that duplex, it was his mother's duplex.
Eddie: Yeah, we used to see 'em all the time. As a matter of fact, John gave me the first cassette of The Beach Boys "Smile" that I ever got, that I ever even, you just heard about it, (frantically) "There's a record called 'Smile', nobody's ever heard it!" And somehow John came up with it, and gave it to me, so I'll never forget him for that.
But...what was I saying...Chris came back from Canada.
Jeff: And Glenn wanted you to teach him how to play bass?
Eddie: Glenn wanted to play, yeah.
Jeff: Were you good friends before that?
Eddie: Yeah, we worked together, and then we started talking, and found out we both liked Chris Hillman, and...we became friends. He played guitar, a little bit. I said, "We don't need no more guitars, but....we could use a bass."
Peppy: But Michael, after we got married, I think you guys got closer, he hung around with us a lot, he came to our house almost every day, weekends and nights, he was always with us, I was good friends with him.
Eddie: Chris and I were telling Glenn and Michael, "We can't do too many of these original songs, because we'll NEVER get a job. Listen to us because we're older and we're smarter, and we know all about the music business, and we can't waste too much time with these original songs, because...it's goin' nowhere. Let's concentrate on getting these covers worked up good." And Michael didn't like that.
And then we jammed with this other friend of mine, Harold Spewak, he played with me WAY back when I first moved to Florida, in a jam....band of kids in the neighborhood-type of thing. As a matter of fact, I traded my Gibson ES-335 to him for a (Fender) Precision bass, which later got stolen. So we kinda kept in touch, and I asked him to come over and play with The EAT, I thought maybe we could use a keyboard. So he came and played, and he actually gave us some tips on arrangements and shit, he's an incredible musician. But finally at the end of the night he said, "Look, I don't think I could join you guys, but, you're wasting your time with these covers. Your originals are good enough, concentrate on doin' those."
That's what Mike and Glenn were saying, but I wouldn't listen to them because I knew it all. But then when Harold told me, I thought, "Well, this is a legitimate guy tellin' me this."
Jeff: You had written 'Jimmie B Goode' by then, right?
Eddie: We had a BUNCH of them, yeah, yeah.
Karen: Were you thinkin' it was just a hobby?
Eddie: Yeah, 'cause you couldn't, you couldn't.....It was impossible to play a gig playin' originals. There was nowhere to do it, it couldn't happen!
Peppy: Michael always thought more of it.....Michael had higher aspirations.
Jeff: And Michael hadn't had as many bad experiences, with strippers and guns and stuff.
Peppy: And he was unencumbered, and he was younger, you know.....
Eddie: I found out about The Cichlids. Somehow. Maybe John Marlowe in the newspaper. He said, "There's a band, they're fuckin' punks, and they're playin' originals." So I went down to see 'em. A coupla times, once was at Rollo's.
Jeff: Z-Cars played there too.
Eddie: We had been there to see the Z-Cars a buncha times, because they were the closest thing to a legit (punk band), I don't know if they had some originals, but they were mostly covers. But they sounded like The Who, and they were....Ray is good, and Chris is good, and Peter was good, and the drummer (Bruno) was good.
So I went to see The Cichlids, and I thought, "Fuck!" And people were DIGGIN' IT, ya know? And I said, "Maybe we could do this."
And then I talked to Robert and Debbie afterwards, I went up to them, and they were just kinda blowin' me off, I guess 'cause I looked like a hippie at the time, and they said, "Fuck this fuckin' guy."
But then later, after that, they had the Tight Squeeze club. And The Cichlids were playin', and it was punk rock night. So I don't know how we got (on the bill), maybe we just called up and asked, but somehow we got on that show. And we played there, and Robert was there with The Cichlids, and Robert saw. And Robert was really INTRIGUED. And he pulled us over, and was grilling us with all kindsa questions. But people kinda liked it! I said, "Well, maybe we could do this."
And things had started opening up, because of punk rock. That's all. People were interested in punk rock. We weren't even really punk rock, really.
Jeff: Mike told me that The Cichlids were an inspiration for him, but in the opposite way, i.e. They would piss you off enough to MAKE you want to get your record out before they did, and do your 'Fake National Tour' after their tour collapsed.
Eddie: Yeah, maybe. I guess. Michael was a little more competitive than me, as far as that went. But yeah! I wanted to piss anybody off I could, that was the point of the whole band! But, like I said, if I hadn't gone down and seen them, we would have never played out, we woulda still been in the cellar. Like I said, Debbie and Bobby were friendly. The other two (were) not so friendly. And later I found out Robert was telling them, "THIS IS THE ENEMY!!" So I can see why maybe they weren't so friendly.
Jeff: So where did the idea for the dreadlocks and the priest clothing (you wore) come from?
Eddie: The dreadlocks was just because I knew that long hair was uncool. But I didn't have the impetus to get a short haircut yet. So I musta figured that was...a bridge. That didn't last long, after awhile I just went and got a haircut. Short hair, like all the other punk rockers who knuckled under.
I don't remember how we came up with the idea for the priest suit. But I know that I was too scared to go in the priest joint to buy it. So Peppy went.
Peppy: It was downtown Ft Lauderdale, I got it.
Eddie: It was a store called 'Clerical Apparel'. I sent Peppy in to buy the priest shirt and collar and everything.
Peppy: They didn't ask me what it was for! A nice Jewish girl comes in to buy...
Eddie: Yeah, yeah. After awhile, we had robes and everything!
Jeff: Was it every gig, or only certain gigs, that you wore it?
Eddie: Nah, I think it was every gig for awhile.
Karen: People liked it?
Peppy: Not his mother! (laughs)
Eddie: I doubt she even knew about it. I remember when we played in New York, David Parsons (who had moved to NYC) asked about the priest thing, and I said, "Nah, we don't do that no more."
"Well, why not??"
But we were gettin' into a thing where we didn't want to be 'new wave'. The new wave guys were dressing up and shit, and we did too for awhile, and then we said, "Nah, we're just wearing jeans and t-shirts." Like Black Flag or whatever.
Jeff: Did the whole band decide which covers you were gonna do? I mean, other than "Wooly Bully".
Eddie: Yeah, we were probably doing that from day 1.
Jeff: But what about all the other covers you did?
Eddie: They were in and out. The thing is, we're playing for the same people every week. Or every weekend. And there's new people showin' up...But it's mostly the same people. So...you can't come out there with the same show. It's different when you're a touring band, you're playing to a different bunch of people every night, they've never seen ya, they don't know what you do. But (if) you play for the same people, you better come up with something, and you can't come up with new originals every week, right?
Eddie: So every week we had to come up with 3-4 intriguing covers.
Peppy: It was Michael that wanted to do 'LA Woman', right?
Eddie: That was probably Michael's, yeah.....
Peppy: 'Cause I remember you were unsure about it, but he wanted to do it.
Eddie: That was one reason why we finally ended the group, because people had seen all this shit already, and we went out of town a couple times. And people...people (had) already seen us!
Karen: Were they complaining?
Eddie: Nah, but you could kinda see it was droppin' off a bit. In my opinion. Mike didn't think so, but I thought so. There wasn't the enthusiasm that there was earlier.
Jeff: Do you remember playing the Irish House in Miami? (September 1979)
Eddie: I do. And do you know who was there? Elaine and Billy (Weasel)...
Jeff: From Crank?
Eddie: And this was kinda before any of that shit. And Elaine showed up there, and was talkin' to us and everything.....One of the few people that were interested in what we were doin'. We played like 5 sets, too. I don't know how we did it. We padded it out with every cover we could DREAM of. We had enough originals for MAYBE one set.
And then the guy passed us the note that said he wished we would die...
Jeff: Yeah, of all the live tapes, that's the only one where the audience were not digging it.
Eddie: No, they didn't care for it. It was just the usual, a Friday night bar crowd, right? They were playin' pool and shit, and we were just...kinda ANNOYING them. There was a tape of that?
Jeff: Yes there was, you got a cd-r sitting in your house somewhere.
Eddie: What did we do? Do you remember?
Jeff: You did 'Cretin Hop' by the Ramones. 'Anarchy In The UK', 'Uncontrollable Urge'. You did 'Bring Back The Spark' by Be Bop Deluxe, you already mentioned...
Peppy: Michael wanted 'Communist Radio' to be the theme song for Pompano Fashion Square (shopping center).
Eddie: Yeah, well, it was mostly a joke, but it was a good one. (Starts chanting like Mike singing 'Communist Radio') POMPANO FASHION SQUARE! I WALKED DOWN SOMETHING SOMETHING BURDINES..."We can sell it to 'em!"
Jeff: So you played with Chris for a lot of years, Mike said he was really helpful with arrangements of the music. Can you talk about that?
Eddie: Oh yeah. Well the arrangements were by all 4 members of the band, everybody jumped in on arrangements. And when we brought an original song in, we would have chords.....and lyrics, maybe sometimes not many lyrics, and we would just whack it out. A lot of bands do it like that, don't they? I guess.
Peppy: And they practiced in the basement of our house, we bought a house after we got married. On Ives Dairy Road. And these were some of the only houses in that area that had basements. Not too many houses (in Florida) have basements. So they practiced in the basement all the time, that was their studio, Eddie had it all hooked up. If you went down there when he wasn't there, to try to listen to something, you could never do anything, 'cause everything was hooked up with all kinda switches, I could never listen to anything. It was hot in there too, 'cause they didn't have any air conditioning down there.
Eddie: Yeah, we didn't really wanna open the windows, because the neighbors...But we never had any problems.
Peppy: Nobody ever complained, but we thought they might, because near us lived some real southern types. His name was Red. (laughs) (Another coincidence, I also had a neighbor named Red.)
Jeff: Do you remember the first EAT recording session? Where you recorded the slow version of 'Catholic Love' that was on the 'Scattered Wahoo Action' cassette? Mike said it was recorded before you played any gigs...
Eddie: Yeah, that was.....some guy Chris knew....that was settin' up a studio, and Chris finagled it for us to record for free, so that he could test out his studio, supposedly, right? But I don't remember where it was, I don't remember who the guy was. I know we did the slow version of 'Catholic Love'...
Jeff: You also recorded 'Living Like A Pig'. Real slow.
Eddie: Yeah, after that we picked everything up. (Started playing faster)
Jeff: The band started out playing more slowly, and didn't really start playing FAST until the first single.
Peppy: Michael really liked to play fast.
Karen: Did you ever have stage fright?
Eddie: You know, to be honest with you, I used to drink.
Peppy: He used to always drink a lot at that time.
Eddie: So yeah, I was always half in the bag once I got out there.
Karen: What about the rest of the band?
Eddie: Michael didn't drink much.
Peppy: He was more of a 'smoke pot' kinda guy.
Eddie: Glenn would drink with me. Chris was another pot smokin' guy, he'd have a beer.
Peppy: And Glenn was dating that girl Tammy at the time, that worked for The Cichlids. She was doing some kinda.....I don't know, Robert (Mascaro) had her doing.....
Eddie: I don't know. Robert always had a slew of people doing different things.
Peppy: I was friendly with her for awhile, she was really nice, and then she moved and became a WITCH. I mean a real witch! In Massachusetts or Vermont or something.
Jeff: (To Peppy) How did you get involved with Sheer Smegma?
Peppy: Oh, I was just hanging around with Sam and everything, and they just said, "Oh, we're gonna start a band, and you can play drums, because you got drums at your house." (laughs)
Eddie: They would practice after the EAT rehearsal, 'cause all the stuff (equipment) was there. And then they played gigs after the EAT finished, they got up and used the equipment.
Peppy: We were always arguing...(laughs)
Eddie: It was kinda just a joke thing...and then Pam and Fish got more serious about it, that's when Peppy said...("I quit!")
Peppy: Pam was involved with Isaac (Baruch, guitarist for the Reactions) at that time...and she was a debutante, she came from a wealthy Palm Beach family.
Jeff: So she was the one you were talking to me about? That (jokingly) introduced the band at the Agora (as "the only punk band in Miami with no Jews and no queers"), and caused the band to get kicked out of the Agora?
Eddie: Well, I don't know if she got us kicked out, but it didn't help.
Peppy: I don't know what happened to her though, I heard that she gone to California and became a nurse, but nobody's ever heard from her. And Sam is where, Montana?
Eddie: North Dakota. Kenny keeps in touch with her. Cookie? I don't know what happened, she just dropped off the face of the earth.
Peppy: She was Pam's friend. And then they got involved with Sam, and that was that.
Eddie: They were funny, all of 'em, they were really funny girls. They were a lot of fun.
Peppy: Yeah, they were.
Jeff: Were you surprised when Alternative Tentacles re-issued the Sheer Smegma record?
Eddie: Well, when it got re-issued, by that time I already knew that.....they had become a cult...thing, so yeah, I wasn't too surprised. I was surprised when it came out the first time!
Peppy: Well, I was surprised when that girl from Jeannie and the Tits, and she wanted to meet me so desperately at your gig that time, the reunion (2008), she was dying...
Karen: To meet the Smegma...
Eddie: To meet a real member of Smegma.
Peppy: She was such a fan of Smegma, I don't know what happened to her, but she was such a sweet girl, really.
Karen: Yeah, they (Jeannie and the Tits) were fun. I remember.
Jeff: Smegma might have been a joke band, but they were also pioneers.
Eddie: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Fish was...really a poet. She wrote "Mouth of the Rat" (magazine). David.....She wrote practically all of it, I think. And she was...really good with words. She wrote the words to all of those (Sheer Smegma) songs, pretty much. Cookie and Pam maybe contributed some, but...
Peppy: I contributed some!
Eddie: And you contributed some, but it was mostly Sam.
(NOTE-- SHEER SMEGMA members:
Cookie Mold--real name Tracy ?--vox
Fish aka Poisson d'Avril--real name Sam Parsons--bass and main songwriter
Spam Ax--real name Pam Axley?--guitar
Joesaphine Dupont aka Joey Maya from the Reactions, played drums on the record
Peppy Gestapo--real name Peppy O'Brien--early drummer)
Eddie: We played a gig with The Cichlids at this....some place in Palm Beach county (FAU campus in Boca Raton), it was one of our first gigs, we still had long hair and everything, most of us. And they did a write-up in 'Mouth of the Rat'.
And they were mostly talking about The Cichlids in this article. And they said, "Yeah, there was some other group there called The EAT, that fuckin' sucked, with long hair, and a buncha hippies..." And then Peppy got on the phone and FOUND OUT how to call David Parsons at home, and found him and called him up, and just MOTHERFUCKED him SO BAD over the phone...
Peppy: I always do that. (laughs)
Eddie: ...That they (MOTR) said, "Well, then why don't you guys come up and meet us, and we'll straighten this out and whatever?" And then when we met them, we liked each other....They realized we weren't that bad. (laughs) And so then they kinda got behind us, after that, and...It was a fanzine, but it was kind of a big thing, at the time, in the scene.
Peppy: I remember they were very coarse in their review, and I was pissed off about it. You know, I was working at the phone company at that time, 'cause at that time it wasn't that easy to find phone numbers 'cause we didn't have the internet. But I had access to a lot of records 'cause I was a customer service rep, so...
Eddie: Imagine poor David Parsons gettin' a phone call, and getting motherfucked...
Jeff: (Speaking as somebody who has been told off on the phone by Peppy O'Brien) Hey man, you gotta think about the CONSEQUENCES of your ACTIONS, right? (Jeff and Eddie laugh)
Jeff: And what about Ted Gottfried and Leslie Wimmer of Open Books and Records? Do you wanna talk about them?
Eddie: Sure I do. Besides the obvious fact that Ted and Leslie were good people, knowledgeable and fun to hang around with, and the store provided everyone with the hard-to-find records, fanzines, etc. Open provided a sense of community, where you could meet likeminded people and keep up with the bands, gigs, records etc. Without Open and MOTR none of this would have happened.
Karen: When did you meet Charlie Pickett?
Eddie: I think Charlie told me he saw us play at New Wave New Year's (Sunrise Musical Theater 12/31/79), I think he said that was the first time he had seen us.....I think. But it was when The Premier Club started up that we started playing with Charlie a lot.
And a lot of the guys in other bands....were assholes. I mean, maybe there was 1 or 2 good guys in a band, there was a lot of fuckin' stiffs. But Charlie's band, I liked everybody in that band, they were all good guys. And then later, when The Reactions came, all 4 of those guys were good guys to talk to, and fun to be with. They weren't ultra-competitive, or....Some of those bands, I'm not gonna say who, but some of those bands were just super-competitive, and they would.....They'd bad-mouth you when you weren't around. All 4 of those guys were smart and funny. And Charlie was great to talk to, and still is. Kenny (Lindahl) was in the band, and we started talkin' to Kenny, it was like.....we found a lost soul here. And Barry (Seiver) was a nice guy too!
Jeff: Did you get into a sexual relationship with Charlie right away?
Eddie: (laughs loudly) Well, Charlie always tells this story that after a show at the Premier (actually the Balkan Club, which dates it somewhere between 10/80 and 4/81), there was a jam session. And he says it was me, Michael, and Johnny (Salton). And he always says, "Eddie was on drums, and Michael played bass, and Johnny was playing guitar and he was really fuckin' great." There's no way, I couldn't play drums for 30 seconds! But Michael could play drums. So that's the way it really was, it was probably me playin' bass, I'm sure.
Jeff: So Eric Moss knew you and Peppy and Chris, and then later he was The EAT's manager. Was he involved with the band from the beginning?
Eddie: I don't know, I don't think so. You know, again, once we found out The Cichlids had a manager, I said, "Well then I want a manager!" (laughs)
But...The Reactions had a couple guys that were their managers.
Jeff: Yeah, that's right, I think his last name was Schindler?
Eddie: The Schindler brothers. And...I'm pretty sure it was Paul Schindler that talked Chris into shootin' off that shotgun out the back of Sync Studios that night (1982). It was a party at the studio, a buncha bands played, I can't remember who. Maybe Charlie played, maybe The Reactions. And so Kenny was in the band, and I called him up and said, "Kenny, we have this gig." And he started carryin' on...Kenny was always hot and cold, sometimes he was into it, and sometimes he wasn't.
So anyway, he ended up quitting, over the phone. Said, "I quit!"
"Fuck!" And I had to go to Glenn, who had already quit, and when he quit, we just said, "Aw fuck you, who needs you? Go ahead, get out!" 'Cause we were idiots, right? And so now I had to call Glenn up and say, "Do you think you could..."
Peppy: "Would you do me this favor, Godfather please?"
Eddie: So luckily he agreed to play, right? And so we played...it was pretty good. And afterwards everybody's hangin' out in the parking lot. And at that time Sync Studios was on Biscayne Blvd just about 3-4 blocks south of 79th street. And that neighborhood, back in there, was still kind of a pretty exclusive neighborhood, you know?
Jeff: So when he shot off a gun, that attracted police activity RIGHT AWAY!
Eddie: Yeah. He shot the fuckin' gun off, and then...the cops were there practically instantly. People, I think, were calling the cops anyway, 'cause there's all these punk rockers out in the street.
So they take Chris away...leave his car there. So me and Gena, the girl that's on the cover of Charlie's single, get in my car, we gotta go get Chris outta jail. So we go down there, and we find the jail. I don't know where the fuck the jail is! So we find it, and we go in, and say, "We're tryin' to find out about our friend."
And they say, "Well, what did he do?"
I said, "He shot off a gun and he had marijuana."
They said, "No that's.....that's this other building, that's for people that did really bad stuff."
So we go over, and find this other building. And they say, "No, he's not in here."
And then we go back to the first building, and now Chris is walkin' out, on his own, right? He got himself out somehow. I said, "What about the marijuana?"
He said, "Nobody said shit about the marijuana. I just got a ticket for the firearm." So we drive back to the studio, where his car's still at. And he opens up the trunk, and there's one lid layin' on the spare tire. Fuckin' Miami cops stole the pound.
Peppy: Well, that's why he got out, probably.
Eddie: Yeah. Typical 1980s Miami police.
Jeff: Ian Hammond remembers coming and playing bass with The EAT at a rehearsal.
Eddie: After Glenn quit?
Jeff: Nah, after Kenny quit.
Eddie: Oh. I don't remember. He might've.
Jeff: And he said it was close to the time The EAT stopped playing (October 1983), so instead of him joining The EAT, Mike joined The DT Martyrs.
Eddie: That sounds about right, 'cause....Glenn played a few more gigs with us (after they asked him to rejoin), but he wasn't that into it. We were just pissed at Kenny, and we weren't about to ask him to come back, "FUCK YOU!" Ya know? Like I said, that was when the band, to me, seemed to be winding down. Mike, I don't think (he) really wanted to...he didn't wanna stop. So that's how he ended up going into the DT Martyrs with Ian.
Jeff: Jeterboy indicated that the whole "FUCK YOU!" thing was pretty much normal band relations for The EAT. Do you agree?
Eddie: Maybe, I dunno, but I'm still not even sure why Glenn quit.
Jeff: I asked him, and he told me, "It got too safe, too predictable."
Eddie: Well, ok, makes sense I guess.
Peppy: I thought he was mad.
Eddie: He was mad about something. And instead of saying, "Well, look, what is it that you're unhappy with? We'll resolve it." We just said, "Fuck you! We don't need ya!.....You wanna quit? Go ahead! Who the fuck needs ya?"-type of thing. Right?
And we got Kenny, and Kenny was good, and he added a lot, he wrote songs and everything. But he didn't always wanna.....play gigs. And that's what we did, was play gigs, so..... Glenn did too! Glenn wrote a song originally that we used to do...
Jeff: "Centerfold Lover."
Eddie: (laughs) You know about that? And then one time, we just thought it wasn't that great...We used to drop songs all the time, songs that I wrote, songs that Mike wrote. So we told Glenn we wanted to drop it, and then he was pissed, and would never write another one after that. So he wouldn't write.
So otherwise it was pretty seamless (switching bassists). His playing was maybe a little better. Glenn was better onstage 'cause he was.....Glenn-like, right? Kenny was kinda sneaking back into the shadows-type of thing, you know?
Jeff: Mike said Glenn used to dress as femininely as possible.
Karen: Plus he was super cute.
Eddie: Right, yeah, he was the only good looking guy we had in the band. And then we went out there with Kenny, and that was the end of that, any appeal we had.....But you don't think about that when you're starting a band.
Karen: Who's cute?
Karen: Really? But you know The Beatles, like that was part of their appeal. Maybe because you're a guy...
Eddie: No! No! It never occurred to me that any of The Beatles were good looking or anything, it never.....And, I mean, unless you were talking about.....Peter Frampton, or David Cassidy, or something like that, but just regular bands.....And it wasn't 'til I was finished with music that I realized.....that it was important for a band.
Jeff: Kenny said that once he got in the band, the way band decisions were discussed and decided, it usually ended up being you and Chris on the same side, versus Kenny and Mike on the other side.
Eddie: Probably, yeah, 'cause Chris and I were old school, still.....And Michael was Mike.
Jeff: I was told that at one point the cassette label ROIR in New York was interested in The EAT.
Eddie: Really? It could be, but I don't remember. Yeah.
Jeff: I was told that the band never contacted them back.
Eddie: Ok, maybe they never even told me. But yeah, we did get bites from a lot of things, that we just said, "Ah, fuck this!" Yeah. We were assholes.
Jeff: So, you spoke about how people like Mascaro cultivated rivalries between bands, did you feel any rivalries with other bands?
Eddie: A little bit. Yeah, everybody's a little competitive. Sure. If somebody else gets a gig, and you don't get it...
Jeff: There were other bands that regularly got gigs opening for touring bands coming through town.
Eddie: Yeah, we never got anything like that. Nobody ever asked us to open for any big bands, but a lot of the other bands did. The Cichlids did, The Reactions opened for somebody big.
Jeff: Yeah, they opened for 999, and The Ramones.
Eddie: And didn't somebody open for The Clash?
Jeff: Yeah, Larry Joe Miller, I was at that gig. In Orlando. 1984, after Mick Jones had left the band.
Peppy: Ya know, Eddie's sister Laura used to work for Larry Joe years before that, at his jewelry shop in Himmarshee Village.
Eddie: I knew Larry for a long time. I knew him for a long time before I even knew he played guitar! (Back to competitiveness in the scene) But yeah, it was definitely competitive. I remember there was a big argument at the John Lennon Memorial Concert, with The Kids, over who was gonna go on next, or whatever.
Jeff: I think there was some folks in the crowd that didn't like the punk rock.
Eddie: I think Glenn was kicking people in the head from the stage.
Jeff: So did you become friends with Charlie Pickett right away?
Eddie: Well yeah, we were friends...and it got to where, when he was between guitarists, or bass players, they would ask me to fill in. And so, yeah, I played with him a lot then. And we played for kind of a long time with me, Charlie, Johnny (Salton), and Sticks (Galway).
Jeff: That's when you were actually in the Eggs.
Eddie: Yeah, I guess so.
Jeff: The story goes that you left The Eggs because you wanted to stay home and watch the World Series.
Eddie: I don't know. Who said that?
Jeff: Jimmy Johnson, the guy who took your place.
Eddie: Oh yeah? That I wanted to watch the World Series?
Jeff: That you wanted to stay home and watch the World Series, that's what he claimed.
Eddie: It could be, yeah. But later, when Charlie would come back to town, a lot of times he was missing players, and if he wanted to play around town, I'd play with him. I played with him at the Cameo (Theater), I remember playing with him at Club Banal with him...
Jeff: Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth saw your EAT sticker at the Cameo, right?
Eddie: No, you know who it was? It was the bass player. Mike Watt. He saw it, and I had a discussion with him. He was makin' fun of my bass, which wasn't even my bass. Not really making fun of it, but he says, "You got flat-wounds (strings) on this!" 'Cause flats were out of fashion at that time, but now they're back.
I think it's the first time I saw a bass player that had a.....rack-mounted rig, with a whole bunch of different stuff. Before that, everybody had either an Acoustic 360 (bass amp), or they had an (Ampeg) SVT. He had a thing he made himself.
I was pissed at that show 'cause the promoter wouldn't let us go backstage. Only Charlie (was allowed backstage). Me and Johnny and Clarke Martty weren't allowed backstage. And I was kinda pissed at the promoter, you remember Bob Slade? He had a radio show or whatever? And my equipment was backstage. And then when they had the big all-star jam at the end, fuckin' Mike Watt had my bass, that he took out of the case, and was out there playin'. It was Glenn's bass, actually, my bass was out of commission, so I borrowed Glenn's bass for that show. But I was so pissed, I missed Sonic Youth 'cause I was sulking out in the lobby with Debbie Rage, who HATED Sonic Youth, because...that was one of the many things she hated. So the both of us just stood out there saying, "It sucks, they fuckin' suck." (everybody laughs) So I didn't really get to see them, but a little bit. I don't think Charlie was that nuts about their style either.
Peppy: But you were sayin' something about people recognizing The EAT. One time (Eddie and Peppy's son) Dennis went to the Apple store, and couldn't exchange his iPod for some reason, 'cause they said, "Forget it, it's out of warranty..."
So I went back there to fight with them, and I had an EAT t-shirt on, and the guy knew who The EAT was, and he said, "Ok, I'll exchange it for ya."
Eddie: Dennis told me he was walkin' around the campus at Florida State with an EAT shirt on, and people were comin' up to him and sayin', "Ah, good band!" or whatever...
(Other O'Brien son) Eddie went to see a punk rock band at Churchills, I wish I could remember who it was. And went to talk to the guy afterwards, and the guy said, "So, do you ever run into any EAT records?"
And he said, "Yeah, that's my dad and my uncle."
And he said, "What?!?!" (laughs)
Jeff: I remember you telling me about the difference between you and Mike's songwriting, and you said Mike never stopped, the music just flowed out of him like a faucet. Whereas you, if you took some time, and needed to write a song, you could put a song together, but it wasn't a compulsion...
Eddie: Well, I wanted to be in a band, and I knew if you were in a band, you had to write songs. So then I said, "Well, I guess I'll have to write a song!" Right? Mike was writin' songs even when we didn't have the band, he was still writin' songs when he did that second Drug Czars. He was writin' songs all the time, ya know?
Peppy: He was really into it, and he also had more time to do it.
Eddie: Well...I had plenty of time, I just didn't wanna!
Peppy: One thing you didn't know about Eddie, a long time ago, he wrote a review of an Alice Cooper concert, what was the name of that newspaper? And they gave him $75 for it!
Eddie: I dunno, some hippie newspaper.
Jeff: Do you have a copy of it?
Eddie: No, I don't think so.
Peppy: He wrote the review, and they published it, and they sent him $75, which was a lot of money back at that time. It was like 1971.
Jeff: So you tried some journalism, what did you think about it?
Eddie: Yeah, it was good! Well, I studied journalism during my short life at college.
Jeff: Yeah, I meant to ask you about that, how long did you go to college?
Eddie: Ahhh.....2-3 years, until the (military) draft ended (January 1973). (laughs) Miami-Dade Junior College.
Peppy: And also, when I came down to see him one weekend, and I had a paper due, on Plato's "Republic" for a philosophy thing, and I didn't fuckin' feel like doin' it. So while I was sleepin', Eddie wrote the paper, typed it up, everything! And then I turned it in, and got an A! And then the worst part of it was, the guy came up to me afterwards and said, "Really liked your point of view on this." And I didn't know what the fuck the point of view was...
Karen: You didn't even read it!
Peppy: No, I didn't.
Eddie: It's like the first autobiography that Brian Wilson 'wrote'. They asked him about it, and he said not only did he not write it, he never even read it!
Jeff: Charlie always talks about, as an example of how friendly and supportive the scene was back then, about how if you or Mike broke a string, Charlie would loan you his guitar, take your guitar, put a new string on, tune it, and give it back to you. And we've got pictures of you playing Charlie's guitar, Mike playing Charlie's guitar, Johnny Salton playing your guitar...
Eddie: Yeah.....we always helped each other. I remember one time Charlie broke a string, and we went into the kitchen, it was me and Ian, and we said, "We'll put a new string on for him."
And we got one of Charlie's strings, and I told Ian, "You know what's a good thing to do? When you put a new string on, take it and YANK it a little bit." Because I used heavier gauge strings. So I put the new string on, I took it and yanked it, broke the new string (everybody laughs)...Well, Charlie uses really thin gauge strings. So we had to come up with another string, "Better not yank this one."
Peppy: We one time had an experience with Johnny and Denise, they somehow ended up at our house, for something after a gig, and then wouldn't leave. And we went back to work, and they were still there, and then we were tryin' to get rid of 'em...
Jeff: So they moved in?
Peppy: And then our neighbors were complaining because he went out there and was fightin' with the neighbor about something...(laughs) And we were like, "How are we gonna get rid of 'em?" I think Denise was maybe living in Homestead at that time.
Eddie: Yeah, south Dade (county). I remember we had to bring 'em back to south Dade, eventually.
Peppy: And we didn't see her for years and years, and then after Hurricane Andrew, we saw a picture of her in the newspaper. And she was on the news because.....she had lost everything in the hurricane, and she was homeless.
Eddie: It was a story in the Jewish Floridian (newspaper), and the story was written by John Leavitt, the guy I used to be in a band with. And it was about Denise, so...
Jeff: Wow! Small world. Your past was closing in on you!
Jeff: So what do you remember about the first single? It was recorded at a video shoot...
Eddie: Yeah, ahhh, there was a guy, somebody Chris knew. And later on I figured out that....he was a dope dealer, 'cause later on him and his brothers got busted in a big bust in the Grove (Coconut Grove). And that was during that period of...dope. And he bought a mobile recording studio. And he had a soundstage...somewhere, I can't remember where it was.
And Chris knew him from the Grove, and got us that. And we went, and Fish came, I remember, and you (Peppy) and maybe Pam, I forget who-all went. That's who you hear yelling at the end of the record.
Yeah, we did the 2 songs, and.....we had that, and we thought we could put out a record, seems like a lot of punk rock groups do. So we figured out how.....to get it mastered, and found some Latin pressing company that would do it for us. I forget how we did the covers, though. Glenn handled a lot of it.
Jeff: What I heard was that you had the cover, that ended up being the insert, with the picture of Hitler giggling, that was originally gonna be the cover. And then David Parsons came up with the collage that ended up on the cover...
Eddie: Yeah, well, he was an artist. And I'm not. (laughs) You know?
Jeff: ...And the giggling Hitler picture ended up on the inside.
Eddie: Yeah, which was...I'm embarrassed that we even did that now. I mean, at the time, nobody thought Nazis were.....you never really....You didn't think there was gonna be any in the White House.....
Peppy: Yeah, even I didn't feel that much about it, and my parents were both Holocaust survivors.
Eddie: It was just trying to be as offensive as possible, and...Do you remember the Nazis in "The Blues Brothers"?
Jeff: Yeah, "I hate Illinois Nazis!"
Eddie: That's the way people thought about Nazis, that they were just a pathetic joke. Nobody thought they were serious. Nobody DREAMED that, what we have today, that there's real Nazis all over the place, would ever happen.
Chris got it mastered (The EAT single). And he did something in the mastering....
Jeff: Yeah, he said it sounded so good in the studio, with those high-quality speakers, that he kept telling the engineer to make it louder, brighter, until it overloaded the sound.
Eddie: ....So that's one of the reasons it came out so lo-fi, right? And also because we were a lo-fi band, let's face it. And then we mailed the records out all over the country, to every college radio station, every punk thing that we could find, and gave tons of them out, and nobody fuckin' played it. (laughs)
Jeff: And now they're worth thousands of dollars! (laughs)
Eddie: They played it on WSHE the last night before they changed the format. It was gonna be the last night of punk rock.
Jeff: And it was officially released at the New Wave New Year's concert. Which brings us to this guy Eric David, who put on New Wave New Year's, and wanted to manage The EAT. What do you remember about him and his proposal?
Eddie: I don't remember too much about Eric David. He wanted to be our manager, but we decided against it. He was a nice guy, but I think we thought he didn't really have enough show business experience to help us, and he really didn't get our music. Plus we were probably prejudiced against wealthy guys in general, which Eric definitely was. I remember him giving us a management contact to sign, but we didn't sign it.
Jeff: So talk about Jesus Mary and Joseph studio, which was in your basement. And the "God Punishes The Eat" ep got recorded there, except for the vocals.
Eddie: Well, we bought, Michael and I went halfsies on a Teac 3340, which was a 4-track machine (reel-to-reel recorder that recorded 4 separate tracks on 1/4 inch tape). And we made a little patch bay, so we could dump track to track and all that (combine separate tracks into one single track, to facilitate more recording on the same tape). And we just used regular Shure microphones, SM58, SM60s, that's all. And that was it! We just recorded most of the tracks live, and then went back and overdubbed certain things, guitar solos, vocals and shit. Actually, to tell ya the truth, I don't think we did any vocals. We took that to Tony...
Jeff: Yeah, you took it to Music Labs (studio).
Eddie: ...And we put the vocals on over there. Tony Mancino, he was a good guy.
Jeff: Were you happy with the way "God Punishes..." came out?
Eddie: I guess, yeah. It was the best we could do. I was always unhappy with all of our records, none of them really sounded the way I thought they should sound.
Jeff: Mike said that too. Who is Jimmie B Goode? Was that written about a specific person?
Eddie: Nahhhhh....Well, just a little bit, but not really.
Jeff: That song was written before The EAT existed, right?
Eddie: One of my friends from New York, Jimmy Hurley. But not really.
Jeff: So Richard Barry was listed as associate producer on "God Punishes..." What did he help out on?
Eddie: Everything. He built that patch bay I was tellin' you about. He was a roadie on every gig we ever did, and he was a good friend of ours. All of those flyers we used to make, he and I made 'em together, he built a silkscreen for us to do it with. And he came with us to New York, and everything. And then we had a falling out, because he had a girlfriend, one of the punk rockers. They broke up. She came to one of our shows, and I wasn't as hateful to her as he thought I oughta be. So he got pissed, and that was pretty much it.
Peppy: And he took up with Elio's ex-wife, who had previously started another domestic problem in there. And he was kind of an eccentric guy, and he went back to New York...
Eddie: But he was a great guy to have around while we were doin' it. Ricky Barry. And he is the brother of Kevin Abe, who I talked about before.
Jeff: Is he still around?
Peppy: Who knows?
Eddie: He lives near Glenn, up in north Florida. But I haven't contacted him.
Peppy: But he's kind of a real big gun (freak), you know, before that trip to New York, (EAT tour) he wanted to make sure we had enough GUNS to bring!
Eddie: I think we had to stop, and turn around and go back because we didn't have enough guns. We needed more guns for the trip.
Jeff: The "Fake National Tour" you did in 1980, everybody in the band took time off work at the same time, was that the closest the band ever got to trying to 'make it' playing music?
Eddie: Yeah, I guess. Well, I told 'em, "If we had quit our jobs, and.....dedicated, and tightened everything up and all this, maybe we coulda been as big as the Dead Milkmen. SO WHAT??" (laughs) We weren't gonna be crackin' the charts anyway, right? It (the tour) was fun.
We had 2 vehicles- Michael's station wagon (which had a front license plate with "The Spirit Of God" on it when he bought it and which was referred to always as The Spirit Of God) and a Hertz rent a van. We had the band, Ricky, Dave Fun, Peppy and Nancy, Mike's girlfriend. I remember leaving late at night and then having to turn around and go back briefly because someone had forgotten their gun or we didn't have enough guns or something. Eric Moss and Dave Parsons had set up the shows for us. We did two shows in NC- Raleigh and Chapel Hill. We knew some punks there via MOTR so they took us out to dinner and back to the house for drinking. First show was pretty well attended- 2nd show in Chapel Hill not so much. Somewhere around here someone put The Spirit Of God in a drainage ditch. Can't remember how we got it out. They were pissed in North Carolina 'cause we played one set. They said, "Well, nobody plays one set."
We said, "Yeah, well, we do.".....I guess we coulda played 2. I think Chris flew up there to meet David Parsons (who had moved to NYC) and get things ready helping Parsons give out and post flyers etc . The rest of us drove up and stayed in a "theatrical hotel" on Broadway that Parsons advised us about, full of old time show biz types. We had a gas in NYC of course, Parsons brought us around and introduced us to the NYC punks, hung out in St Marks Place, saw David Bowie in "The Elephant Man." We played 2 gigs , played good at both but not like we were blowing anyone away, although there were a few folks at each show that already knew about us and came up and talked to us. Playing the gigs was pretty much an excuse to be in NYC having fun.
We drove to Atlanta after NY and stayed at the Georgian Terrace Hotel, built in 1910 and kind of shabby at this time but cool. We played the 688 club to about 6 people - kind of an anticlimax after NYC- shot off some fireworks we bought in S Carolina and headed home. It wasn't really any kind of a "tour"- we only went to 3 places- more like a vacation with guitars and amplifiers.
Peppy: And Kevin came to see you in New York, and he was a little bit...'cause it wasn't his style of music at all.
Eddie: And I went to see his band, they were playin' at the Lone Star Cafe up there, sort of a country and western place. I went to see them, they were good.
And the "God Punishes..." record, we didn't sell them all, we had tons of them hanging around. Years later, some guy got ahold of Chris, and said, "Do you have any of those? I'll give you 20 bucks apiece for 'em!" And we thought, "What a fuckin' sucker!" Ya know? So yeah, we sold a shit-load of them for 20 bucks each.
Karen: To who?
Eddie: Some guy, I dunno. Some collector.
Jeff: So you said Glenn was mostly responsible for the cover art of the first single, and Chris was responsible for the mastering, so the whole band participated in all these details, right?
Eddie: Yeah, it's like, "Whaddya think of this?"
"Yeah, that's good." But you know what Jeff? It was so long ago, I can't even hardly remember, ya know? I remember somebody told us we were supposed to have a "C" in a circle, and a "P" in a circle, to copyright....We didn't have that on the label, so Glenn had rubber stamps made, with a "C" and a "P", and we all sat in Chris' living room, stamping Cs and Ps on 1000 records.
Jeff: Around that same time, you cut a cover of "Radio Radio" at Jesus Mary and Joseph studio. That's another EAT tape that's gone.
Eddie: The tape's gone, as far as I know. That was all me, (it was an Eddie O'Brien solo recording)nobody was that nuts about it. (laughs)
Jeff: The sound isn't as good as "God Punishes..."
Eddie: Yeah, since it was all me, there was, like 8 generations of dumping, so...I played guitar, then had to come back and play bass, had to come back and play organ, then had to come back..... I also made a solo version of "Communist Radio", you ever heard that one?
Jeff: Yes I have, and I've heard your cover of "When I Grow Up" also.
Eddie: Michael HATED that version of Communist Radio. (laughs)
Jeff: Do you remember the gig at the disco in Miami, where the cops arrested David Parsons?
Eddie: Sure, yeah. That was a gig that Eric got us, and it was a stupid gig for us because.....It was at a disco, and the band that played before us was a disco band. And David Parsons came, and we played, and nobody liked it.....And David got so worked up, he grabbed a picture off the wall, and smashed it, and said, "You people are fools!" (everybody laughs) And then I think we all had to just RUN.
Jeff: So talk about being banned from the Agora Ballroom.
Eddie: Well, we tried to make it look like we were banned because we were too radical, and all that. But I don't really think that was it, they just didn't like us! A lot of people didn't like us, MOST people didn't like us! But we were able to spin that into, (angrily) "We've been banned because we're too radical!"
We also had a Ted Kennedy poster that we put up (onstage), that said "Drown the hostages!" That was pretty offensive, right? That didn't help, I guess. I think they already didn't like us, and when they saw that, they said, "Get the fuck outta here!"
So I went in there with him, and I tried to show the guy, "Look, we're not...We're just regular guys, we're not..."
And he says, "Well, the night after you guys got fired, somebody came and smashed the windows of all the employee's cars! And I'm pretty sure it was you!"
I said, "I never smashed any...It wasn't us!" So I dunno if he believed me or not, but it wasn't us. None of us smashed anything, ever. When David (Parsons) was with us, maybe that was the only smashing that went on. Yeah, so they eventually let us back in, but they still didn't like us that much, but we got let back in. It's not like we were a regular act in there.
Jeff: So when I was preparing for this interview, I found this quote from John Cleese, about something he called The Oxonian Code of Effortless Superiority, which states that "To be seen trying really hard to achieve something is in many ways worse than actually failing."
Eddie: Exactly. Sure, I'll go along with that. If you give everything you got, then.....when you fail, now what? You can always say, "Nah, I didn't really try that hard. (We) coulda been like the Dead Milkmen, but fuck it, who needs that?"
I don't think it was true of the whole band. Maybe I held back, maybe, but not Chris and Michael and Glenn.
Jeff: Did you ever give any serious thought to quitting your job and turning pro?
Eddie: Yeah, I did! Sure! Absolutely. But it just, nothin' ever seemed to.....
Jeff: Chris said you guys would go back and forth about it, that when he'd want to go for it, you'd say no. And when you decided to try it, Chris would say fuck it.
Eddie: Well, Glenn and I had pretty GOOD jobs, ya know? Chris was workin' in a convenience store, Mike was workin' all kinda, he worked for the phone company for awhile, but he was in and out, doin' all kindsa shit, so.....They were a lot more ready to dump it than we were, right?
Jeff: You would have to give it more thought.
Eddie: Yeah, well, I mean, I wanted to. That was the goal. That was the goal, but, ah.....I never got any indications, nobody seemed to like it that much, really Jeff. The whole time we were doin' it. I mean, there was a handful of guys who liked it a lot, but.....we weren't packin' places. A few times, a few times we were, but.....not regularly. So, I didn't have any indication that this was gonna.....
Karen: But you never toured except that one time.
Eddie: Well, that's true.
Karen: It coulda been different.
Eddie: Maybe. But, you would have to quit to do that, right?
Jeff: Do you remember what you thought when you got back from that tour?
Eddie: Yeah, I wished I was still on it. Sure, yeah.
Jeff: And then when you got back from the tour, you played at Open Books and Records at Progresso Plaza, when you had a wet t-shirt contest that consisted of you taking a t-shirt on a hangar, and dipping it in a bucket of water, and holding it up for all to see.
Eddie: Michael and I got skinhead haircuts prior to that, and Mike was unhappy with his skinhead haircut, he said he looked like a retard. Which he did, which we BOTH did. So yeah, that was cool, it was fun. We didn't play that long, 'cause I think the cops broke it up, right?
Jeff: That's correct. And Kenny talked about that Halloween, you played the Balkan Club, and all 4 of you dressed like Fidel Castro.
Eddie: That was cool, yeah.
Jeff: Whose idea was that?
Eddie: I can't remember whose idea it was, but, communal, another communal idea. And we were playin' with The Reactions, and I remember when (Reactions drummer) Joey saw us, and he was sayin', "WHAT?!?! You guys can't do this!" (laughs) He was kiddin', he knew it was a joke, but he was PRETENDING to be OUTRAGED! (adopts Cuban accent) Me padres Cuba! (laughs)
Jeff: And then on New Year's Eve, it was the debut of The Yee-hahs, where Charlie Pickett played a set with The EAT.
NOTE--Eddie fast-forwards his memory to the SECOND Yee-hahs gig, which was at FAU in April 1981
Eddie: Ah, yeah. It wasn't that great because we got into a fight with the sound guys. It was at a college, and they had a college sound crew, and we came out, and I played the first chord, and the guy said, "You're gonna have to turn that down." In a real snot-nosed way, ya know? And just, generally not a good thing to tell me.
Jeff: And Charlie's not known for turning down either.
Eddie: So we played, fighting with the sound crew the whole time, and got banned from that place.
And then, a while later (9/11/81), I went back to that place with Charlie, playing bass for him. And the guy took Charlie aside and said, "Is that asshole gonna start any trouble with us? We had a lot of trouble with that guy last time he was here."
And Charlie said, "No, he'll be ok..."
Jeff: So you started recording "Scattered Wahoo Action" around that time, at Music Labs with Tony Mancino, and Glenn was still on bass. And then you changed to Sync Studio, with Charlie Pickett producing, and Kenny was on bass for those sessions. Is there a lack of forward momentum in the band at this point?
Eddie: Yeah, I guess it was windin' down because when we got done with the recordings, we didn't really feel like puttin' the money into makin' a record of it. We didn't have a lot of gigs, or maybe we weren't even playing any gigs at the time. Yeah. So we just gave it to Joe (Harris), and said, "Here. Do what you want with it." And he put out the cassette version. The artwork on the cassette cover, I forget where we stole it from but yes, it is the plaque from the exterior of the Pioneer spacecraft with a baseball diamond superimposed over the radial pattern to illustrate to the extraterrestrials that baseball is the governing force of the universe!
Jeff: There's some autobiography in the lyrics to "I Led 2 Lives", do you want to say anything about that?
Eddie: It's pretty self explanatory, wouldn't you say? I didn't talk about the band at work much, I didn't think my colleagues would understand punk rock, but after being in the Miami Herald and Miami News as well as the yellow magazine it came out. Most of my co-workers were Cuban so they wanted to know what all this communist shit was about. I tried to explain that we weren't really communists and it was mostly a joke which they sort of accepted but I definitely got the idea they didn't think communists were very funny.
Jeff: Mike mentioned in his gig diary about a gig at 27 Birds (club), where it says "EAT gets on tv show". Do you remember anything about that?
Eddie: Well, I think so. Richard (Shelter) got us that gig, and somebody came to tape stuff for a tv show. It might have been John Robson and them, 'cause he had a show. Was this maybe near the time of the John Lennon Memorial concert?
Jeff: It was after that.
Eddie: But not TOO long after, right?
Jeff: No, not too long after. (NOTE--actually, it was almost 2 years after, but I'm not letting that get in the way of a good story.)
Eddie: 'Cause the guy was interviewing me, and he starts saying, "You know, you did that thing for John Lennon?"
I said, "Yeah, yeah, we did."
He says, "Well.....You were fighting with the other bands about when it was time to go on, was that really in the spirit of peace that John Lennon (talked about)?"
And I said, "You know, I might blablablablablablah."
It was like a "60 Minutes" attack interview! (Severe journalist voice) "Weren't you fighting at the concert, Mr O'Brien???" But then we were on tv, 'cause my dad saw it! And so that was pretty good.
Jeff: I wish we had a copy of that.
Eddie: I don't know if they taped us playing? I guess so. But I can't really remember too much else about it.
Jeff: So talk about "Nixon's Binoculars" and the funk experiments the band did.
Eddie: Yeah, that's what we wanted, we got the idea that we would try and do funk. Michael wrote a bunch of funk songs too. So the song, Nixon was on during the playoffs, he was watching the (California) Angels, and he had a pair of binoculars, watchin' the baseball playoffs. So that was the impetus for that.
And then Mike wrote a bunch of funk songs, and.....that was when hardcore was startin' to happen. And we said, "Well, we're not hardcore, so that aint happening." So we thought we'd just branch off into punk-funk, ya know? Which we did for awhile...Unsuccessfully, mostly.
But Dirk Bill played on that record, he's GREAT on that song. I remember Walter saying something like, when we put that out, that was the end of the line for us, that we were circling the drain when that happened.
Jeff: Yeah, that song really drew a line in the sand, it seems. Charlie hates it too.
Eddie: But we didn't wanna do regular punk rock anymore, at the time. It was passe, and it had moved on to hardcore, and we weren't gonna do hardcore, that wasn't our thing.
When Michael later did The Drug Czars, it wasn't hardcore, but it was like, even worse! It was some type of....angular noise-rock or whatever.
Jeff: And he affected this more monotone vocal style also.
Eddie: Yeah. It was punk rock, I guess, but it was not thrash or hardcore or anything like that, right?
Jeff: It was closer to hardcore.
Eddie: Yeah, it was closer, but it wasn't.
Jeff: And your first son was born in 1982, Mike suggested that was a factor in the band stopping.
Eddie: That's what Mike always THOUGHT.
Jeff: You don't agree with that?
Eddie: It (the band) was startin' to wind down anyway, it wasn't because of havin' kids. I could still play gigs and have kids, a lot of people did it. But maybe I wasn't as enthused about it anymore. That's a possibility.
I feel like Trump in front of Robert Mueller.
Jeff: And you did the "Open Man" video right around the time the band stopped in 1983.
Eddie: It was something that Eric and.....Louis De Priest was workin' at the college at the time, and he was an instructor or whatever. So we got to use their soundstage, and all of their stuff, their cameras.
I remember we did one show at the end with The Gay Cowboys In Bondage, Milo (GCIB vocalist) had asked us to play. And I said, "Look, this group's really broken up." And then he just kept after me, so I said, "I'll get 'em to do it."
"There'll still be amps there."
I said, "Ok." So we get down there, and there's these shitty Crate amps. So I'm already pissed. So we play our set, (we're) terrible, in a bad mood, and cursing into the microphone and what-not, insulting people, so that's how we went out, with a whimper. And that was the last one.
Jeff: And you didn't play again for 5 years, then you reunited at Churchills, the big "I Love The Devil" reunion gig. (Eddie was fixated on the phrase "I Love The Devil" at the gig, and repeated it endlessly....)
Eddie: That was a good one.
Jeff: That was a very good one. And right around that time, Hal Spector invited the band to record at Sync Studio.
Eddie: Yeah, Hal at that time, was kinda part owner of Sync. And so he got free studio time, so he gave it to us, more or less. So we went in there at night, and we did that. (Hialeah) And we did some good stuff, and we did some horrible, awful stuff, that I hope never sees the light of day. But the stuff that was on the record was all pretty good. And Mike wrote all of that, if I'm not mistaken.
Jeff: Except for the lyrics of "Hialeah".
Eddie: "Hialeah" was his song, that I re-wrote the lyrics to. I forget what the old lyrics were, but they sucked, I guess. (Editor note--The song was previously called "Plastic TV Android", but was never recorded in that form.)
Jeff: Mike was talking about how you and Kenny were obsessed with horse racing at that time.
Eddie: Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah. Yeah. Yeah. (Eddie doesn't wanna elaborate on this, so moving on....)
Jeff: Kenny also mentioned that during the Hialeah sessions, that you, Mike and Kenny were alternating guitar and bass.
Eddie: Yeah, it was a real Steely Dan thing, whoever picked up whatever. I actually played most of the bass on it, really. And there's songs that I didn't play any guitar on, just Kenny and Mike.
Jeff: There's so many mixes, there's 3 cds of alternate mixes. Hal said the masters were on VCR tapes (NOTE--they used to record digital audio on VHS or Betamax tapes back in the 80s), and he still had them, but then he became homeless, he lost them.
Eddie: Well, c'est la vie. I don't think Giles Martin was gonna re-master them anyway. We asked him, but he was too busy with the White Album, so.....
Jeff: A lot of the "Hialeah" material had been around a while, not just the title track. "Mr Brown" was around in '82, so was "Dream Of Yogi." "Shoes Shoes Shoes" was a Morbid Opera song, and "Search My Car" was a DT Martyrs song.
Eddie: Yeah, I talked Mike into lettin' us do it 'cause I liked it so much. And I think we did it at least as good as them, ya know?
Jeff: And the incident that inspired "Mr. Brown", that was kind of a precursor of what goes on nowadays.
Eddie: Well, again, that was a joke. And nowadays, it doesn't seem like a very funny joke. But you would never DREAM that anything like that could ever happen again. And this was so unique of an event. And the newspapers and TV were going wild over it, I think that's what provoked Mike. And now it happens, like every fuckin' week, right? So yeah, it's a good song, I feel a little bad now, with all that shit.
Jeff: And the 'Hialeah' ep came out in 1995. I guess there wasn't enough funds to do an album, even though there was enough songs, so you just did the 7"?
Eddie: I guess, yeah. Also, a lot of it sucked, like I said, it was just dopey. Insane covers (songs) that were a bad idea, and were badly executed.
Jeff: Hal (Spector) told me about going into Sync and doing all 15 final mixes on Easter Sunday, because he got fed up with all the mixes and remixes.
Eddie: Yeah? That could be...
Jeff: And 'Scattered Wahoo Action' was released on vinyl in '96.
Eddie: Yeah, I'm not sure, Kenny, I think, engineered that. Kenny got with that Dutch guy...
Jeff: I think Jello Biafra was involved also. He was a big EAT fan from the beginning. So was Kenny the archivist of The EAT?
Eddie: Uh, I would think Michael (was) more. But Kenny did a lot of stuff too.
Jeff: Kenny circulated cassettes and cd-rs before the Alternative Tentacles compilation.
Eddie: Oh yeah, he made the one that he called.....Shit, he had a name for it...
Jeff: 'Slowly I Turn.'
Eddie: Yes. And that was basically the Alternative Tentacles record without Alternative Tentacles.
Jeff: Are you happy with how 'It's Not The EAT, It's The Humidity' came out?
Eddie: Yeah, we didn't need that live stuff, I don't think. That was overkill. Because the live versions were the same as the recorded versions, for the most part. That's not the way we did...We played the record. We didn't do a lot of jamming...
And frankly, Kenny got kind of a kick out of putting in me as a drunk, 25-year old, shooting his mouth off and rambling. It's kind of a little embarrassing now, as a 65-year old man, to hear a drunk, 25-year old version of yourself shootin' his mouth off. But people seem to like it, so who gives a fuck? Right?
Jeff: But the live stuff aside, when the compilation came out, did you and Mike see it as validation for what you had done in the past? The fact that people were still appreciating it?
Eddie: Oh, later, when all of sudden people were interested in it? Yeah, OF COURSE!
Jeff: It was gratifying for ya?
Eddie: Tremendously gratifying, yeah, yeah!
Karen: I'm glad Mike got to see that.
Eddie: Yeah, Mike got to see it, and I got to see it, and we all did, Glenn and Kenny, it's too bad Chris didn't, but.....When it came out I was SCOURING the internet for reviews, to see what people were saying, (and) most of 'em were pretty positive, they were sayin' it was fuckin' the greatest, ya know? There was a handful of people that hated it, but there was always MORE than a handful that hated us. So yeah, it was fantastic!
Jeff: The only thing that I saw that was weird, it wasn't bad, just weird, was there was one guy that compared The EAT to The Angry Samoans.
Eddie: I'm not even that familiar with The Angry Samoans, so I don't know.
Jeff: Well I am, and The EAT are NOTHING like The Angry Samoans. Not at all. That comparison was just dumb.
Eddie: Somebody said something, that The Melvins listened to us, and changed their style at one point, but I don't know. That's just something I read on the internet, (it's) probably complete bullshit.
But Mike Watt knew about us. And the guy from Fear knew about us, 'cause I saw something on the internet, he signed his record, "This isn't as popular as 'Communist Radio', but I'll autograph it anyway", or something like that. So yeah, it was kind of interesting that cool guys knew about us.
Jeff: So some of the stuff you talked about earlier, and Chris talked about it in an interview, he said, "We very rarely got any positive feedback during our existence. It was a struggle to keep going."
Eddie: Yeah, I'd say that's pretty true. You know what? I could TELL you the guys who gave us positive feedback, 'cause I knew them. It was Walter, Ian, Jim Johnson, and even Jim was kinda critical of a lot of the stuff we did. Charlie.....The Mouth of the Rat people, David and Sam. We'd do a gig, and I personally knew all the people in the audience, a lot of times, right?
Jeff: So what did you think of 'Bar Band Americanus'? You've been playing with Charlie for a long time also.
Eddie: Yeah, well all of that stuff was before me. But I've played all of those songs with him. Yeah, it was terrific! I like the new record (See You In Miami) too. I'm all over that.
Jeff: Yeah you are, you even play a guitar lead on "Too Good To End"!
Eddie: Yeah, yeah.
Jeff: What did you think of the out-of-town gigs we did after BBA came out?
Eddie: Yeah, it was great! I never would have got to Boston, or Chicago, or Texas, or any of those places. How would I have gotten there? So it was fantastic! And we played good in all of 'em, I don't remember any bad shows, do you?
PAUSE--RESUME TALKING ABOUT GETTING OLD, AND NOT BEING PHYSICALLY ABLE TO PLAY CERTAIN THINGS...
Eddie: When we played that show at Churchills, The EAT. And we did 'Silly Drug Songs', Karen came to me after and said, "You don't seem to play the solo the same." The solo on the record had about 100 notes, and I played about 9 notes. I can't play that anymore!
And that's what I told Charlie, "If you can't play it, you can't play it. What are you gonna do? It's worse if you try, and it don't work."
PAUSE--RESUME TALKING ABOUT THE CURRENT STATE OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
Jeff: My opinion is that the lack of attention paid to "See You In Miami", which is less than what was paid to "Bar Band Americanus", is more a reflection of the collapse of the record industry, than it is a negative on anything Charlie did on the record, or anything Rich Ulloa did. I mean, CDs are passe now! Hardly anybody buys CDs anymore, they buy vinyl, or even cassettes! And do streaming.
Eddie: Yeah. (Son) Danny's a big Spotify guy, and he came to me and showed me, "You (The EAT) have more plays than your friend Charlie has on Spotify. Screenshot this, and send it to Charlie."
Karen: If I had to pay for the music that I listen to, I'd be spending maybe $200 a month on albums, and I'm spending $9.99 (for Spotify). It is kinda wrong, but I'm hearing so many new great songs, I love it.
Eddie: Somebody was asking me if I ever got any money from Spotify. I never got a dime, and I never got any money from anything else either. Michael used to get checks from BMI, I guess because 'Communist Radio' was so popular. Usually the checks were around $40. I never got anything, and I'm registered with BMI, they send me e-mails all the time. None of the e-mails have any money in 'em.
PAUSE--RESUME TALKING ABOUT FLORIDA BANDS
Eddie: Remember back in the 2000s, when we had that Yahoo e-mail group? (Washed-Up South Florida Punks)
Eddie: Well, at the same time, there was a forum called....Gold Coast....
Jeff: Limestone Lounge?
Eddie: Not Limestone Lounge, a different one. (Michael) Chatham, I think, told me about it, and I used to look at it. And it was the younger folks who had bands in the 90s, like Rock City Angels, and all this. And all of these guys thought as much of their era, as we thought of ours. And never thought that we came before them, or anything like that. And it's like that for every.....
And we don't think about the guys in the 60s, that Jeff Lemlich knows all about, The Birdwatchers...
Jeff: The Nightcrawlers...
Eddie: ...Charlie's cousin (The Jesters), all of them. And The Echo, I saw The Echo twice. Once with The Buffalo Springfield and The Beach Boys, and I saw them later opening for The Chambers Brothers.
Eddie: They were local guys that opened up for all the big bands, including The Doors, but they opened for them the night BEFORE the "dick" incident (when Jim Morrison exposed himself) (By the way Chris was there [at the Dinner Key Auditorium Doors gig] and said Jim Morrison did NOT take his dick out.) But years later, Kenny Ahern, the guitar player, worked for the phone company, and I met him! And I started grillin' him about the old days. But he wasn't that interested in talkin', he would answer questions. But they were a big fuckin' deal, and they were good, really good!
And Chris knew all of these, 'cause he lived here in Florida in the 60s, so he knew about The Echo, and he knew about Thee Image, a place where all these bands played.
But anyways, there was shit goin' on in the 60s that we don't really know about. And there was shit goin' on in the late 80s/early 90s that we don't know about. Every group has its own...And I was telling Glenn about this one time, and he said, "Yeah, but all the other ones sucked!" (laughs)
And Charlie's the biggest cheerleader for it all. He always says that all the bands in South Florida at that time would've blown apart any scene in any other city. And he MIGHT be right, 'cause he went to all these other cities.
Jeff: That's true, he spent time in Minneapolis, and he spent time in Athens (GA) too.
Eddie: So maybe there's somethin' to it.
Jeff: The 2008 reunion gigs were a great success, what do you remember about them?
Eddie: It was really out of sight.... It didn't even rain... No buttons to push... We played pretty good and had a good crowd. The other bands played great. Got to see a lot of people I hadn't seen in a long time and meet some new people. I naturally didn't think it was going to be The Last Hurrah, I figured we'd try it again in another 5 years or so (like usual) but that wasn't to be. In retrospect it was nice to go out with a good show in front of a big (for us) crowd.
Jeff: And Mike Vullo was an awesome replacement for Chris, right?
Eddie: We were lucky to get Vullo not just because he is a great player but a kindred spirit who fit in well with the rest of us. I even think having him in rehearsals made the rest of us slightly less argumentative than usual.
Chris and I met when we were still teenagers (or pretty close) so we went through all kinds of stuff together. Even after we stopped playing music together we still talked on the phone pretty frequently especially during football season so I miss Chris more as a friend then as a musician.
Jeff: And then Mike got really sick, I don't know how much you wanna talk about it. He was so cool to me the first time we met, I was being all fanboy, and he was explaining that "Octopus" was an anti-Jacques Cousteau song.
Eddie: Not much, except to point out that his death was particularly tragic because he had just met and married Margaret and was enjoying his life for the first time in a long time.
Jeff: Thanks a lot Eddie.
Eddie: Thank you.
©2019 Jeff Schwier