SPECIAL JOHN MORTON EDITION! Below you will find an interview that James, the impresario behind Violet Times did for Maximum Rocknroll in 2011, if you want the authentic newsprint feelings you can grab the issue #337 right here.
Since this majestic interview took place a few exciting developments in eels/mortonia have developed that the psychotic minds that are drawn to such ideals might want in on… x___x have a new record coming out! ON the illustrious SMOG VEIL label… Someone unearthed a live JAZZ DESTROYERS set which you can listen to here, fans of Dave E vocal stylings rejoice! You can also send off for John Morton art via his amazing website. I drink coffee out of an electric eels mug daily and it has increased my satisfaction twenty-fold. You can get a post card set! You can also read a great interview that Alex Ratcharge, MRR columnist and arts issue editor, did with John Morton for Ugly Things here.
There’s been much written about the musical exploits of the early 70’s Cleveland, Ohio band known as electric eels (yes, lower case as per lead vocalist Dave E’s intention) over the years, some of it true even. The band deservedly looms very large in under-the-counterculture sound circles and I strongly encourage anyone reading this to seek out their music, read about their exploits in a pre-punk world if you haven’t already done so. The liner notes to the 3×10” vinyl offering on Scat Records “Those Were Different Times” are a great place to start, w/ plenty of other stuff out there to read as well. One could even be justified in calling them the very first ‘punk’ band, whatever that means- if nothing else they remain to this day one of the most intense sounding and unique. After all of these years, it very much still is artastic.
In honor of his inclusion in the Violet Times curated art show, Foggy Notion, I decided it would be a good time to find out about some of band leader John Morton’s other little-known doings over the years, specifically his visual art and other music he’s done post- eels.
MRR: I’ve been told that only about 100 people total ever saw electric eels, would you agree and care to elaborate on their reaction/s, if any? Especially at the two Columbus, Ohio shows, pre- Extermination Night, where the other performers Mirrors & Rocket From The Tombs would at least be of a non-mainstream music making mindset, also making their own music of a sort not yet known or accepted by the mass ear. What about the non-members of those bands, just ‘regular’ audience members- who the heck were they, why’d they show up and what’d they think? (not presuming you know why they were there, etc. but just saying)
John Morton… 100 sounds like a plausible number. Our fan base, consisted of persons made up of people (who like people) who knew us, such as Bradly Field, Charlotte Pressler, other like-minded band people, such as Dan Didonato and Peter Laughner, at least understood what we were attempting. Family members such as Jill Marotta & Michele Zalopany, well they had to like us.
Our first gig was August of 1974 at the Moonshine Co-op in Columbus. We had the power pulled on us (I’ve heard that that is not a unique occurrence with punk bands, but there were no other “punk” bands at the time.)
We opened for “Hard Sauce” fronted by Jamie “Little Bit of Soul” Lyons. Jamie had one of the best set of pipes I ever heard. Davey and I were arrested that night. I remember every detail. Dave E. wore a trench coat festooned with rattraps, and I wore a safety pin jacket. Jamie bailed Dave E. out of jail. Our career? All downhill after that.
We thought the eels were going to be a huge success on a par with David Blowie (meant affectionately). WE WERE NOT!
I am gratified that we’ve had a modicum of post mortem success.