The next month, I dropped out of college for a year, and in June 1981 Dave, Eric, and I moved to a new apartment in the East Village. This is when I met Rebecca (R.B.) Korbet, in the usual hangout of punks on St. Marks Place. She was a New Yorker working on the block as a shampoo girl, and her look, zany attitude, smarts, and insane laugh captivated me. So I asked her; how would she like to sing in my band? She had the personality for it! Soon after she joined, she got thrown out of her midtown hotel flophouse, so she came to stay with all of us. In R.B., it was clear Even Worse finally had a natural frontperson. Unlike Pouridas, who rarely sang, and Berry, a hilarious madman, she learned the words and wrote her own, too. And I don't think she's been given enough credit for being the only female in a NY Thrash band, in that otherwise inclusive scene, other than The Beastie Boys' drummer Kate later. Straight off, the four of us co-wrote, "Jesters in the Courtyard," which later became "Emptying the Madhouse" (inspired by Bobby's dad always throwing us out of his room in Summit), and Bobby delivered a song about driving a Nuclear Waste truck he'd written for his old band, "Contaminated Waste."
Suddenly we were constantly gigging, throwing our puny, battered equipment into Checker cabs since we couldn't afford a van (only Bobby had a car, a tiny '67 Austin Healey Sprite, of which he now says "really shouldn't have been on the road"). After two more 171A appearances, one a Damaged Goods fanzine benefit, our holy grail was attained: our first Max's gig, July 30, 1981, with UXA and The Undead (for three years, it had been my life's goal to play there!). The Bad Brains let us borrow their gear and play some songs at the end of their sets at Max's, and the Electric Circus on St. Marks. We played another wild party in Summit, at Nick Dingle's house, where we were received as if we were returning champions. The scene was exploding everywhere! Kraut played their first gig with The Clash at Bonds. Later they opened for us and Heart Attack at the gig recorded here, ironically.
The live portion of this CD represents a typical Even Worse experience. R.B.'s rapid-fire wit; a band playing with undeniable excitement; and an even mix of obscure covers most thought we'd written ourselves. Bobby for some reason mounted a Playboy centerfold of Miss October on his amp, leading to some hilarious exchanges between R.B. and the audience on the subject of sex with her (and me)! To top it all off, Eric played in his boxers that evening (as he often did), rounding out the carnival-like atmosphere. Between songs you usually found me putting back together my falling-apart, poverty-stricken excuse for drums; eliciting cracks, put-downs, announcements, and good-natured heckles from our friends. Hope you enjoy this genuinely revealing scene document - it best captures what that time was about, more than anything we could record without the audience interaction we reveled in. I still marvel at R.B.'s way of working a crowd. She'd make up different self-disparaging words for "We Suck" every night, as per the tradition (don't miss this live track!). Our shows felt more like parties; check out the mass audience sing-along on Legionnaire's Disease's rare "Rather See You Dead" - everyone screaming "Baaaaahhhhhhhhh" like psychotic sheep on the choruses.
Damaged Goods' editor Lyle Hysen (of The Misguided, later Das Damen) introduced me to Tim Sommer outside our first Max's show. Sommer wanted to cover the scene for Trouser Press and English national weekly Sounds. He'd also started a weekly slot on WNYU, called Noise the Show. We became fast friends, and he helped Even Worse with all this exposure tremendously. In tandem, Laura Levine's striking photos included here were taken in my bedroom (dig those period flyers and homemade posters!) for the exhaustive Sounds article-photos which also appeared with Stephen Graziano's lengthy feature in New York Rocker. What a rush! I gave Sommer the board tape of our August 27 Max's show, and he played a cut from it every week on the air - especially "We Suck," after the whole metro area punk collective started calling to request it! As a result, the crowds doubled at punk shows with new kids from the suburbs coming in, just like many of us did before. Gigs became plentiful for the first time. One night in September with The Undead at the Playroom (formerly Trudy Heller's), Bobby played in drag for the second set. Everyone thought we had a new guitarist! Next we hit The Showplace in Dover NJ, September 27 (with our pals Jungle Rot), where we'd seen Iggy, Ramones, Dead Boys, etc., years before. And marvelous Max's was jumping for the shows that Peter Crowley booked, when other established clubs like Mudd and Hurrah were wary. We played there monthly to ever-increasing crowds.
back to top