The Electric Eels
Dave E. - Vocal (lead)
John Morton - Guitar, Vocals
Brian McMahon - Guitar
Dan Foland - Drums
Nick Knox - Drums
Dave E. and I were driving around one day. You know . . . just to drive around . . . like a joy ride like. Out of utter boredom, we picked up a young couple hitchhiking and Dave insisted that they tell a joke. The guy told a horrible jape about rubbing your dick with lard to make it bigger, the punch line of which was "I said lard . . .not shortening!" Dave grimaced, paused, then asked, with a great straight delivery while I am driving in my hulky scariness, "Did you hear the one about the two hitch hikers that were found murdered?" He scared the piss out of them.
In the aforementioned (or perhaps aftmentioned, I am not posting this story) emerald doored eels enclave, there was always a red plastic dishpan full of soapy water in the kitchen sink on the theory that when a various eel would use a plate to eat (and yes we used plates to eat, sometimes) said eel could then dip it into the soapy water, rinse and voila! A clean dish! Fait a-fucking-ccompli!
The de facto was, the dishpan was always full of soapy water and dirty dishes. (I always thought Dave E. would get to them seeing as he was a professional)
One very very very fine proto-day, Brian had cause to usurp the sink (I think he dyed his hair) so he took the dishpan (full of course) and placed it on the back porch. When he terminated his task, he dutifully went to retrieve the dishpan and was met with three thirsty neighborhood dogs, hideously grinning at him from over the dishpan. Very scientifically, he evinced the curs were rabid, as foam was issuing from their mouths I later found him cowering in the kitchen where he related me the tale.
And oddly enough this incident is not where he got his nickname.
The Broken Hand - by John Morton
'Twas the eve of the first Electric Eels gig ever. August ( I always hated that month ! ) 74, ( I always hated that year ! ) Columbus Ohio at "The Moonshine Co-op" ( formerly "Positively 4th Street" which I thought was way-better name because the club was actually located on 4th Street, I mean, think of the implications! ) We opened for "Hard Sauce" with Jamie Lyons.1
Dave had written a new song, the lyrics went, "I see a monkey, I see a monkey, out in the audience, I see a monkey." But it had somehow metamorphosed that night into, "I see a nigger." The only way to describe the audience was "mouths agape" and in many cases with drool. Columbus was even more of a shithole than Cle.
After our smashing première gig, Dave and I forewent a ride home with Paul because, A.) It would have meant riding in a Volkswagen van and, B.) we had not quite finished drinking every fucking thing in the bar.
So it was two (when the bar closed) in the AM whence we found ourselves on the street trying to hail a cab. What pulled up instead was a van with two of Columbus' finest.
"You are drunk. Walk that white line," Cop #1 says to me.
At this stage of my drinking, I could go at it all night and still walk the pansy fucking white line. So I did.
"Doesn't matter . . . You're still drunk boy ! " and then the cuffs put on extra tight at the wrists so your hands go numb. 2 And too make things extra special nice, I hit my head on the side of the van when they tossed me and Dave in.
Oh yeah, did I fail to mention that we were still in our stage cloths? I had on a safety pin jean jacket and Dave was wearing a trench coat covered in rattraps.
In just a trice we found ourselves behind the Columbus Jail waiting for the special jail elevator to come down and get us to whisk us off too the pen. We were joined by two other morons who decided to opt for a job where you get to wear a uniform and carry a gun. It was a Fucking Pig Foursome.
Cop B. handled the introductions. "This here is Ratman !" ( My guess is he said this because of the traps on Dave's coat. ) "Yep, we captured us Ratman and Bobbin!"
I took extreme umbrage3 in being relegated the sidekick. IT WAS MY FUCKING BAND AFTER ALL ! ! So I did the sensible thing. I kicked the fucking sadistic moron in the balls. In retrospect, perhaps not the wisest choice one could make while handcuffed and in the midst of four cops, but hey! I was a lot younger then! (In 1994, I actually put a knife to the throat of one of nine vigilantes4 in Madrid, but that's another story.)
Then in a transpiration that was to be oft repeated in my ensuing life, the four cops beat the fuck out of me with their billy clubs as I lay handcuffed and face down on the pavement. They broke a bone in my finger of my musical left hand.
Dave was a lover not a fighter . . . well at least, not a fighter and looked askance on the assignation with resignation and a fey puckish smile.
Our charges were drunk and disorderly and resisting arrest, including Dave E. who did not resist his arrest in the slightest.
I pled not guilty and Paul bailed me out, but Dave pled guilty (as the good catholic he was) and was sentenced to three days at the county workhouse.
Dave E. later regaled Paul and I with tales of his wonderful dalliance in workhouse. He had three toothsome squares a day and got to play basketball with his new found felons. He told of this kid who kept to himself the three days reading "Listen Little Man" by Wilhelm Reich. What a gala ! Dave truly belongs in a Dickens's novel.
At the next gig three weeks later at "Mr. Browns Descent" we were on the bill with an ignominious5 Steely Dan / Doobie Brothers cover band. I taped a slide to my broken finger and crescent wrenches to my arms.
The owner actually pulled the plug. Show Biz. It is the fucking best !
1 Jamie Lyons, if thou don't knowest, sang the mega hit "Little Bit of Soul" with "The Music Explosion." I recall the liner notes saying something like, "The Music Explosion, thundering out of the Ohio Valley!" (Have you ever seen Ohio? It's all fucking flat.) Jamie had one of the best set of pipes I ever heard. He was kicked out of the band when his voice changed and became too low for "Bubble Gum," leaving "The Explosion" (deservedly) a one hit band. (back up)
2 The last time I was arrested, the cops were extra nice, they used two sets of cuffs on me. True. (back up)
3 um•brage ( um ' brij ) n.
1. offense; annoyance; displeasure: to feel umbrage at a social snub; to give umbrage to someone; to take umbrage at someone's rudeness.
2. the slightest indication or vaguest feeling of suspicion, doubt, hostility, or the like.
— Syn.1. pique, grudge, resentment. (back up)
4 In Madrid, the vigilantes are a private police force, they had really way-cool gnarly midnight black uniforms! (back up)
5 ig•no•min•i•ous ( ig ' nê min ' ê ës ) adj.
1. marked by or attended with ignominy; discreditable; humiliating: an ignominious retreat.
2. bearing or deserving ignominy; contemptible.
— Syn. 1. degrading, disgraceful, dishonorable, shameful.
2. despicable, ignoble
There used to be a fantastic radio show during the mid-80s in Santa Barbara called "Strictly Disco" which was hosted by a guy who owned just about every amazing 45 to ever hit the presses. One night he had Henry Rollins on his show to shoot the shit and spin some favorites. That's where I first heard "Agitated", and it was one of those "Holy Christ, what IS that?!!" moments.
Immediately called the show to inquire. Turns out Hank had brought it down to the studio himself, and had long been enamored of the Eels and the raw power of this landmark 45. Who'd have thought? The Electric Eels were a quartet of socially alienated nihilists from Cleveland in the mid-70s. Their inability to neither win friends nor influence people gave vent to a twisted, confrontational take on "art" that had more in common with guerilla theatre and urban psychodrama than with 70s punk. The fact that it was occurring in a cultural near-vacuum adds exponentially to their lore.
Make no mistake, however, these songs are as primitive and high decibel as anything ever released. Obviously semi-live recordings, "Cyclotron" and "Agitated" have been mixed past the point of bleeding and are still a couple of levels in volume above any other records of mine.
Electric Eels gigs often ended in violence, sometimes with imposing guitarist John Morton having beat up an audience (or band) member. The Eels vocalist was a developmentally delayed young man named Dave E., an idiot-savant with a genius sense of the absurd who put it to wise use in his lyrics ("Sometimes I think I'd be better off dead / Just like my cousin Fred"). Later he purported to start a record label called "Christmas Pets". It's also worth mentioning that the drummer on these recordings is Nick Knox, who would soon keep the steady, primitive beat for The Cramps.
The world's indifference to such brilliance initially kept these songs from the public, until Rough Trade released them in 1978 under the moniker "Die Electric Eels" & with all credits in German(?).
A minor bone of contention I have with the outstanding posthumous Eels collections 'Having A Philosophical Investigation With The Electric Eels' and 'God Says Fuck You' is that both say they include the 45 version of "Agitated", while neither actually does. This record will live in infamy as an out-of-time, mindset-destroying masterpiece.
Jay Hinman editor/writer of Superdope 'zine
Master, Master, this was recorded through a fly's ear . . .
When in Columbus, the entrance to the Eels enclave . . .( wait . . . I'll make it better ) . . . When in Columbus, one evinced that egress into the erstwhile eel's enclave, was through an elegant and evocative emerald-coloured door, fenestrated its full length with plate glass in the manner of doors to the "olde shoppes" and "conveyance stores" that one would find along the breadth of quaint North High Street.
One particularly mournful spring morning, Dave E. decided he needed a break from the monotony of drinking infinite long neck Rolling Rocks and watching monster movies on Paul's black and white Zenith with the rest of the eelings. So he ventured out on to the boulevard for a constitutional.
Unbeknownst to us, that very afternoon the totally poncified "Ohio State Fuckeyes" were to engage in a competition with another school (If I had known, I would have proudly held aloft my thyrsus). The game was deemed of such import that the Goodyear Corporation had sent aloft their aerial ambassador, the USS Shenendoah, in order to commemorate the event.
I had just expressed my desire (for the fifth time) to have sex with both Emi and Yumi Ito, the diminutive chanteuses of the cine we were watching, when, after a deafeningly loud crash, Dave E. appeared in front of us covered in blood. thrashing his arms about yelling, "The Blimp! The Blimp! . . . It's the Blimp!" ( it should be noted that there was only one zealous zeppelin in the entire world in 1973 )
In the extreme urgency of his mission to appraise us of the flying behemoth (not to be confused with Crocus Behemoth), Dave had neglected to open the door. And being the stalwart soldier he was, he would not allow us to minister his wounds till we went out and saw the semi-rigid airship for ourselves.
I.Q. 301-Man - by mary shely
In one of his many jobs, Brian worked as a trailer hitch installer (being a spectacular growth industry given the number of nomadic ohians displanted from west virginia that wanted to move to a new trailer park)
This was no slouch occupation, one had to wear a uniform to work! All three of Brian's new blue official trailer-hitch uniform shirts came back with the name tag on the pocket (A nifty affair of a white oval with a red-stitched border and scripted red stitched name) spelled "Brain."
We (the rest of the eelings) were all so proud of Brain; he looked so handsome in uniform.