The Nervous Eaters
From Issue #15 - 1978
This is the introduction from the issue.
This interview was done in late December of '77 before The Nervous Eaters had made a definite
decision on their new rhythm guitarist…they have since decided on Steve's childhood friend Allen Headwitch.
The pictures were taken after the decision was made so Allen is shown but not heard…other people there during the interview are Kevin,
"The 5th Nervous Eater" their sound man, his wife Carol and the BGN photographer Gaspar Tringale.
BGN - Your name, The Nervous Eaters, did Willie make that up?
Jeff - Naw, my mother did. We used to have this little table and she'd dump all kindsa food that didn't necessarily belong together on it. All us guys would come in like seagulls and eat it in seconds. So she said "You guys are a buncha nervous eaters." And then like six years later it sprung from the recesses of our minds.
BGN - The other day I saw in BGN#2 "Some of The Real Kids are in a band called the Nervous eaters." What's that about?
J - I moved to Boston from the North Shore and I wanted a group so Alpo sang lead and he was tremendous. Rob played bass, Borgioli played rhythm and we had this kid named Juliano doin' lead and I played drums. So the Nervous Eaters happened for a few months but we broke up 'cause we were kinda wretched. Then Steve moved into town, this was after Paley and The Mezz were happening and we got a little more into the scene so we said "Hey, that's a good name. It definitely is a name with motion, it suits us."
BGN - So the three of you were in The Rhythm Assholes together, right?
Steve - Yeah, the three of us were together then.
BGN - And The Rhythm Assholes were on Willie's 'Kerouac' single?
J - There were two Rhythm A's. The first one backed up Willie, the second was on a single.
S - When we did "Kerouac" there were no headphones. It was just somebody's living room, "Moon Studios".
J - They had a sign up they made themselves, they didn't even have playback. You couldn't hear anything, so we left and thought "This is a joke." Next thing we know it's a record.
BGN- He's too much. You got any weird Willie stories?
S - He used to carry a red rubber lobster with him.
J - Yeah, when we recorded the songs he was nervous and he'd say "Well, I'm not ready. I have to change my shirt." He'd put on a Hawaiian shirt then he'd say "Where's my lobster?! Where's my lobster?!" Then he'd get it together "Ah, this is weird, we'll just leave Miranda on the violin." And it turned out really good!
BGN - How come you guys can't hold onto another guitarist?
Rob - It's been our history.
J - The only guys who fit in have been scared 'cause of the way we live with no money and really hardcore and we play these songs that look like they're gonna go nowhere and all that other shit. Makes guitarists a little scared of leaving their secure positions and playing with these idiots.
R - We're just gonna have to run into somebody who's gonna be attracted to the group 'cause we want them there and they understand us. That's what's got to happen to solidify this band.
BGN - So what's the story with you having Matthew McKenzie with you now?
J - Well Matthew's in Reddy Teddy and dedicated to that band but he suits our band perfectly.
S- Another good point is we've been playing with a kid I played with in high school. His name is Allen Headwitch, he's got great rock'n'roll sense.
BGN - So what's the problem now?
J - The problem is we need the other guitarist and to get him going.
S - And practice.
J - We don't have a consistent thing, ya know? If a job would come up we'd practice for three days when we hadn't practiced for two weeks. But everyday is like a turn of the page. Like one day Lou Reed wanted Steve to play guitar for him. Lou Reed says all lead guitarists should be put in a bag and shot and sent out to sea and he realized Steve's a great rhythm player and he wanted to help him work.
R - Steve probably would have had a good shot of playing with that band but he tried to drag along Jeffery and me and Stanley…it was loyal. It really showed his colors. He even recorded the phone call. It was something.
BGN - Lou recorded it?
S - No I did. But I'm sure Lou did too. Lou lies a lot so sometimes what he says isn't really what's happening. Not that he's a big liar, he just does it unintentionally.
BGN - How'd he know about you guys?
J - We had a tape we did in the basement and we gave it to him at a concert, we had front row seats. The next morning he calls up and I knew it was his voice and he said "Where's Steve Cataldo?" He called ten times looking for him so then Steve went to New York. And you know what happened?? Steve comes out of the elevator and Lou is standing across the hall and he holds out his hand to shake, so Steve puts his hand out and Lou pulls his hand back really fast and says "Don't ever do that."
BGN - What about you guys record-wise?
J - We've got a second record coming out that we did a long time ago that's really good. It reminds me of The New York Dolls and The Damned combined. It's called "Get Stuffed" and "Just Head". All we gotta do is mix and press it. It's gonna take a couple months 'coz of money mainly.
BGN - Well, isn't it out on Rat Records?
S - It's quite possible. Unless someone comes and scoops us up.
BGN - I heard "Just Head" when Oedipus played it on his show right after a Pistols' song and it fit right in!
S - We've always been creating energetic, raw rock'n'roll and Oedi is a really neat guy. We love Oedipus!
BGN - How's "Loretta" doing?
R - It's number 12 on Record World's New Wave chart. The Sex Pistols have the first and second spots.
J - It coulda been done better. We did 6 or 7 songs on a studio tape when we shoulda done 2 and we did "Loretta" fast and said "We'll do another one later." But couldn't.
S - We didn't really know what we were doing.
BGN - Jeff, your foot is unbelievable!! It must've fallen off after hitting that bass pedal through that song!
BGN - Jeff's the original "boomboom" drummer!! Or one of them anyway!
BGN - When I first saw this band it was the rhythm section that really attracted me. Rob, do you pay attention to what Jeff is doing?
R - I try to. Steven made me aware of that. He said you can't only be melodic or stay with the structure. You have to be rhythmic with the drums and stay with the bass pedal. He pointed things out to me that I wasn't really aware of.
J - I wish I was Jerry Nolan or Dennis Wilson.
BGN - I love your drum set, Jeff! Where'd you get it? Out of a Cracker Jacks box? Where's the rest of it?
J - Every one says that but a four piece drum set is me. If I had any more drums I wouldn't know what to do with them.
BGN - Why do you always play the "Get Off My Cloud" riff between songs?
S - It's my root.
BGN - Here's the main point: you're filthy lyrics! Do you really think someone who buys The Carpenters will buy "I'm a Degenerate"?
S - No they won't but we're not out to kiss the ass of the mass media.
BGN - Do you realize you're The Fugs of our generation?
J - I saw The Fugs when I was still a virgin. I saw them 5 times and I got their autographs and shook their hands. Their autographs say "Fuck God in the ass" and "Get the butt Jeff".
BGN - Who writes your lyrics?
S - I come up with the lyrics and we all provide the music.
J - Steve's capable of a lot of beautiful and emotional lyrics.
BGN - You have some really nice ones now. Like "Last Chance" and "Red On White" but you always have to stick something in there….
J - Like rape, death and suicide?
S - That's basically because we love sarcastic, morose people.
J - Steve's like a newscaster. He's not necessarily living the part but he lives among it.
BGN - So, you think the filthy lyrics will get you to a point where you can begin to do things you want to do? I don't see how somebody would sign "I'm a Degenerate" with lyrics like "I'm a degenerate and I like it, stick a stiletto right up your asshole. Fuck you!"
J - Somebody like Kim Fowley.
S - Really you gotta scare 'em. I'm glad it offends people. I'm glad nobody will sign it!!….Ha!!…I hope I destroy myself!!
J - Things may change. There'll be pornographic television and the housewives will be doin' the dishes and will go "Fuck you!" Little kids will be walkin' down the hallways in high schools singin' "Jerk, jerk, jerkin' off." That's another song Steve wrote.
BGN - The other night you had Nikki of The Lazers up on stage doing "Degenerate"…depraved woman!! Next it'll be little kids!
S - Wait a minute! We ARE unisexual! We try to stress that point!
BGN - Yeah, like "You Smell Like Fish", I always thought it was directed from a man to a woman 'til it was pointed out that the last verse is from a woman.
R - Right! You never been with a guy who smelled like a mackerel?
BGN - No I can't say that I have.
BGN - Are you people on the Mickey Clean single that's coming out?
J - "Keys To The Car" yeah, it's like the Ed Burns of the '70's . Its got all of us plus Aca Brebner, Tony Cagnita and Mickey.
BGN - Jeff, I can't believe you were in The Mezz. They were always considered a sloppy band.
J - Well I can't believe it and I can. Mickey is a great entertainer.
BGN - I wanted to ask you about "Nazi Concentration Camp Blues"
S - I've got to say that the song does not glorify Nazi-ism.
Kevin - I took their tapes to Europe and I got to Emi to talk to the big A&R guy there. The tape came to "Nazi…Blues" and I showed him the lyrics. One guy got so upset he left the room with tears in his eyes. Another got up and shut off the machine. That whole memory is so heavy over there but that's the song that impressed them the most.
R - It's about the horror the people were going through.
K - It's strictly from the point of view of someone who is in the camps just waiting for the alllies to bust through.
S - Besides all that, people hear the word Nazi and think "Oh, these guys are into Nazis" But they're not listening to the rest of the song.
BGN - On the tape we have of you, Steve says "We write all kinds of songs in our effort to stamp out modern love."
S - Well some people in town have been promoting it!!
J - But the word 'modern' itself isn't even modern anymore. It used to be like dishwashers, linoleum….
Gaspar- Do you get complaint about you songs being foul?
J - naugahide…formica…
S - Well Seymour Stein and Hilly Krystal were repulsed but we don't care.
BGN - You've played CBGB's then?
S - Yeah, the first night we played there they hissed at us as we walked on stage. I guess it was because we were from Boston. The second night was the same thing, the band that went on before us was called The Sick Fucks.
J - Yeah, and I got personally spit at in the left eye by Cheetah Chrome. The band wasn't bad but they had an obnoxious leadsinger. So I was breaking bottles and throwing them over people's heads. I was pulling a Jimmy Piersall. I ended up on the bars with two guys trying to pull me down and Cheetah Chrome spitting in my face.
BGN - Tell us about your backgrounds; Yardbirds and The Stones.
S - Them and Manfred Mann.
R - I like the Beach Boys, The Byrds and The Stones.
J - How 'bout The 1910 Fruitgum Company, The Stooges and The Doors? Oh yeah, "Jolly Green Giant" is one of the best drumtracks in the world! The Kingsmen!!
S - The Ohio Express and we can't forget the Black. Howlin'' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Jimmy Reed.
BGN - Steve, you've got a great voice. It took me a while to realize and you've got range, too!
BGN - Another thing about your voice is you scream a lot, too, an awful lot.
S - It's the black music! Wilson Pickett, James Brown.
BGN - And the way you get up get up on stage and do these great leads but you stand there like nothing's happening. The whole attitude of this band is just go up there and play. You don't exert yourself and you're so casual.
S - We could be produced or slick or "come on" here or there but our moods and moves and music is always just what we wanted it to be. If we're sarcastic or morose or we don't move and we're catatonic then at least we're ourselves. For us, we play some place and the audience might sned us the first volt. If they do then we'll just keep recharging it fiercer and fiercer each time it comes around but if they're a bunch of lame ducks then…
R - I'm supposed to go downstairs to Cantone's and see Thrills. This kid Johnny Angel has insulted me since the day I met him and I love him!
BGN - A lot of your songs are old songs like "Gonna Be My Baby" and "Loretta". They're from The Rhythm Assholes, right?
K - Yeah, they are. Steve has a lot of songs that last but every time he writes a new song they get better and better.
BGN - How many songs do you have that you don't use in your live sets? Hundreds?
S - No, not hundreds but at least 3 or 4 albums worth of good material.
BGN - I think you guys have been overlooked!! You never get written up.
S - It hasn't been that long for this group "The Nervous Eaters" which is our official Boston group. We only began earlier this year. The other times we were together, we were down in Rob's basement, we weren't in Boston. Rob's parents would go to work and we would set up a cassette recorder and play all morning. The break for a sandwich and a joint then we'd go back down and play again. We did this religiously for months and months. We'd write 14 songs a day and half of them, or more, would be shit. But we'd pull 3 or 4 good songs out of a session. It got to be a real cool thing then Kevin got us our first Four Track so we could produce our stuff a little more. We started doing things with the songs that we had in our heads but couldn't do with a mono tape recorder. The first prototype of "Loretta" we did in my Ipswich apartment. We had two stereo tape recorders and the left channels on both were out so we had to turn off all the bass and turn all the treble up to hear the end product. But our sound has always been raw and always will be. We're just too dumb to get sophisticated. Allen, the new guitarist has the same influences we've got; "Jolly Green Giant" and "Louie, Louie", which is great.
BGN - The Count knows all the words to the songs…the ones with the dirty lyrics.
S - I never knew what they were but we're thinking of doing porno rock. I saw a porno movie called "Punk Rock", the band in it was a chick dressed in leather and the rest of the band was strictly from the late '60's acid thing. It was just sucking and fucking every 15 minutes though. I would love to play in a porno movie…not that I wanted to get sucked and fucked but I'd really like to play the music.
J - Miss Lyn, did you see Iggy last time he was in Boston? I hit him in the face with my sneaker! It was the only thing that touched him, it was the best part of the concert!
K - He's kneeling on the stage at the end of a song and the lights are on him and the sneaker comes up and hits him right in the side of the face.
J - He picked it up and looked at it, then said "Thank You". It was the only contact he had with the audience! No one grabbed him, no one touched him and I thought "He's so great! What am I gonna do?!" I looked around and there was nothing so I used my sneaker.
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