What can you say about a scuzzy bunch of troublemakers, who used rock and roll as means of venting their seemingly endless frustration, boredom, and hatred upon an unsuspecting public? How about, "Cool, did they make any records?" The Electric Eels might well have been the biggest bunch of low-lifes to come out of the late pre-punk scene in Cleveland, which is saying something for a scene that contributed antisocial snotballs like the Pagans and substance-fueled art-punks like Rocket From the Tombs. They played a total of six gigs (all of which ended in violence and/or arrest) and recorded a handful of crudely played (and mostly bass-less) garage-punk that predicted the angry, fuzzed-out and revved-up sound of the Dead Boys and Rubber City Rebels. So it is safe to call theElectric Eels an influential band, but in a warped, disturbing kind of way.
They formed in 1972 after hulking John Morton and suburban Cleveland friends Dave E and Brian MacMahon saw a terrible band, with a recording contract no less, open for Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band. Convinced that they could suck as much as said opening act, the Electric Eels became a reality. The problem was that Morton and pals were prone to violence (generally among themselves), and this became a part of their approach to recording and, more notoriously, performing. TheElectric Eels never employed a full-time bass player, and as a result their sound was fuzzy and grungy, but trebly and, at extreme volumes, capable of being quite irritating. So too was Morton's voice, which was more of a yelp and bark than anything that could be described as tuneful. Their gigs (all six of them) generally disintegrated into shouting matches and fights, especially when Morton would punctuate the songs by hammering a hunk of sheet metal, or start a lawn mower onstage. By late 1975, the Electric Eels' reputation for fighting and unstable (not to mention potentially dangerous) performances led to their being banned from virtually every club in Cleveland, signaling that the end was nigh. Loud, proud, obnoxious, and unapologetically incompetent, the Electric Eels were a great part of the great rock & roll tradition of expressing pure antisocial attitude. ~ John Dougan