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The Eat

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It was once said that the Florida punk band The Eat became rockers only because they weren't about to join a bowling league. They made music for their own amusement and never cared especially whether or not anyone liked the songs, and this irreverent attitude helped them pioneer Florida's hardcore punk scene. Their music combined '50s rockabilly and punk, and they penned lyrics that were sometimes political but never preachy, providing a darkly humorous biography of their surroundings or what they saw on TV (with topics including power-abusive cops, animal cruelty, football players who dropped passes, and crazy street people). Due to a severely limited distribution, their 7"s became prized collector's items with hefty price tags for original copies of "Communist Radio" (anywhere between $200 and $650). The Eat was formed in 1978 in South Florida by brothers Mike O'Brien (vocals and guitar) and Eddie O'Brien (vocals and guitars). They recruited Chris Cottie (drums) and Glenn Newland (bass) and started playing covers on the local Miami club circuit. The quartet took another year before they were able to record anything. Then, in 1979, pooling the money from their shows, the band put together a rollicking 7" single called "Communist Radio" on their own label, Giggling Hitler Records. It was the second punk record out of Miami (the first being Critical Mass' single "Silver Screen"). Their next record was the five-song EP God Punishes the Eat, released in 1980, which the band recorded in 25 days on a four-track recorder in Eddie's basement. By 1982, the band had saved up enough money to invest in a slightly higher-quality recording, and released the extremely rare cassette Scattered Wahoo Action on Jeterboy Records. Although it carried the same hardcore energy as their first two releases, it was a bit softer and toyed with some typically un-punk instruments like keyboards and saxophone. In 1981, Newland left the band and was replaced by bassist Ken Lindahl. The following year, after Eddie's first son was born, their live appearances dwindled and the band decided to disband and pursue outside interests. In 1996 Jello Biafra, longtime fan and singer for the Dead Kennedys, worked out a deal with Wicked Witch to re-press Scattered Wahoo Action as a 10" vinyl EP. This rekindled interest in the band and they regrouped to record a new 7," "Hialeah," around the same time. Despite the recent time off, the band sounded as tight as before and remained true to their earlier sound and typical oddball topics. They played two more live shows at Churchills before disbanding for good in 1997. Ten years later, in 2007, a collection of more than 30 studio tracks was released to provide an overview of the band's entire career titled It's Not the Eat, It's the Humidity. ~ Jason Lymangrover

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1978 in Miami, FL

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