As the summer turned to autumn, however, and Even Worse played to increasingly wider audiences, its members began to fall out with each other. The band started to unfold at the seams and to break apart.

EK : I was at my happiest when our audiences were basically made up of people from other bands and other people that we knew from the scene. Then we started to get press and the audience started to grow and our expectations changed. We started to take it more seriously and for me that wasn’t nearly as much fun. It was really great when we were standing there on stage and everybody in the audience was somebody you knew or wanted to talk to. It spiralled really very quickly though into a whole different scene. That was to me a huge part of why the band broke up.

RK : Once we all got used to each other and started expressing our views and musical tastes and ideas about what the band should do, we ended up having some major personality clashes. We ended up arguing even about flyers at one point

We were just young people finding out who we were, and all changing as a group. All of us, except for Bobby lived in Jack’s little railroad apartment on Eldridge Street for a while, and that didn’t help matters either. It was pretty crazy. Earl Hudson from the Bad Brains and his girlfriend were sleeping in our kitchen, and Dave Stein , the original guitar player, was still there so we were really packed in. It wasn’t exactly very liveable at times, and there wasn’t much privacy. Much like the Beatles (Laughs) we all started going in our own direction and we all wanted different things.

EK : We were all in it with the same goal , but we were too young to realise that our differences were very petty. One of the things that we had issues about was the songs. A lot of them we had adopted from the very first version of Even Worse, and I think that Jack, therefore, felt that those were his songs and it was right that we played them. Rebecca and Bobby and I wanted to do more new songs. One particular bone of contention was the song ‘We Suck’. The audience always seemed to enjoy that song, but, everything had evolved so quickly, that we started to object to playing it. I didn’ t think that we sucked anymore. It was a little hard to go out there and a be a goof. I think the fact that everything happened so fast really helped to break us up.

JR : We argued about every stupid little thing that we could possibly argue about, especially Rebecca and I. I was the only original member of the band left, and was doing a lot of the management work, and had l one idea of how the band should go, and what we should be doing,. Rebecca was the focal point of the band, and had a totally different idea of who should be in control. We fought more over control issues, rather than stylistic or creative ones.

She would, for example, write lyrics, and I would write lyrics and she would want to use hers, and I would say that they were bad. She would say that I said that just because she had written them.

Every rehearsal we would end up with her and yelling at each other.. Eric would take her side because they were a couple at the time. For what it’s worth, that’s fair enough because maybe he would have taken her side anyway. Maybe she was right and I was wrong. I am not trying to say that I was right.

I was booking the gigs and I was booking the rehearsals and I was getting a lot of the publicity and I felt like I was doing all the work in the terms of the management side of things, but I felt like I was being out voted when it came to doing stuff on the band side.

We were a bunch of people who weren’t that old yet. We were all 18 or 19 years old. We loved the music and the gigs, but we didn’t have the smarts to sit down then and say “We can’t continue this way. Let’s find a new way to work around these really small problems.”

It was stupid. Really stupid. It is one of the only regrets that I have in my life, that I was too young and they were too young. I was too stubborn, too obsessed with getting things my own way because a lot of the time I had real convictions that I was right. It was a stubborness out of conviction rather than a stubborness out pettiness. Rebecca has also said since that she could sometimes be obnoxious . We can look back twenty years later and see where we went wrong. I wish that we could have done that then.

The group stayed together long to record ‘You’ve Ruined Everything’, which they recorded at their rehearsal room, 171A, with producer Jerry Williams over the course of two sessions, one in November, and one in February. The end came abruptly a few weeks later on the 27th March 1982 , when Korbet , Weeks and Keil all left Even Worse directly after playing their biggest ever show to date with the Misfits and Kraut to an audience of 700 at the Irving Plaza in New York.

RK : It was completely premediatated. We are all great friends now, but at the time we hated Jack. He was in the wrong place at the right time, a little target for all our post-teenage venom. He was the reason for all our problems. We all quit on him the minute we got off the stage at the Irving Plaza.

JR : I was totally surprised. We had gone through a lot. I felt that somehow we could survive anything. If people try to shoot you for eight months. You suddenly start to feel like you are James Bond. No way are they ever going to kill you. I had this weird sense of invincibility.

Rabid would soldier on alone with Even Worse, putting together one last line-up of the group, that featured Tim Sommer on bass, and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore on guitar, and which released two now highly collectable singles, ‘Leaving’ and ‘Mouse or Rat’. Much of the band’s impetus had, however, gone and he disbanded the band in 1984. He toured with the Leaving Trains in 1986, and then formed Springhouse in 1988, who released two albums ‘Land Falls’ (1991) and ‘Postcards from the Edge’ (1993) on Caroline Records before breaking up in 1994 . Springhouse has recently reformed, and a third LP is on the way. Last Burning Embers, Rabid’s other band, has also recently finished recording its debut LP. The Big Takeover meanwhile continues to go from strength to strength, and currently has a circulation of 19,000.

Bobby Weeks took a break from music for a few years, but then played in various 80’s and 90’s New York bands including Drizzle, Woozy and Chia Pet. A computer programmer and a photographer, he is the part owner now of a digital media company in North Carolina. He and his wife became parents of a baby boy last year.

Eric Keil played bass in various line-ups of the Spineless Yesmen, before moving to Pennyslvania with his wife in 1990 to undertake the renovation of his great-grandfather’s mountaintop farmhouse. He now runs a custom furniture business from there, and is the father of a small boy and girl.

Rebecca Korbet is a graphic designer and a writer. She has lived in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and is presently based in Boston. She has played in various groups including King Missile (drums), Big Stick (bass), Missing Foundation, Pussy Galore, the Wharton Tiers Ensemble , Sloth and Hit by a Truck (all guitar) and Hellvis (guitar and vocals). She plays bass and sings in her current band, Verona Downs.

The Even Worse story, however, was far from over. A compilation album, ‘NY Thrash’, which featured live versions of ‘Emptying the Madhouse’ and ‘Illusion Won Again’, was released shortly after the Korbet-fronted band broke up in the summer of 1982 and has since been through several reissues, selling thousands of copies in the process. It kept the band partially in the public eye, and eventually lead to ‘You’ve Ruined Everything’ being finally released.

JR : We didn’t speak after we split up for a couple of years. Things were really bad for a while, but then eventually we buried the hatchet around about 1984. I went over to Rebecca and Eric’s apartment. We had a good time and just forgot all about it. That laid the groundwork for us 15 to 20 years later getting back together.

The one thing that kept our name with the public all these years was the ‘NY Thrash’ compilation. It has been selling ever since it came out . We still get royalty checks now and then for that, every time it gets reissued in a new format. It’s been out now on vinyl, cassette and CD.

That is why the guy at Grand Theft Audio called me. He’s been reissuing a lot of bands who maybe didn’t have a lot of material out there, but whom maybe there’s still some interest in, especially perhaps in Europe where they take a much greater interest in the American alternative scene.

I had kept in touch with all the band across the years,. Every time we got a royalty cheque from the ‘NY Thrash’ compilation I would send them their quarter share. When this CD idea came up I was, therefore, able to ask them if this was something that they would be interested in.

I was really surprised when Grand Theft Audio got in touch because we weren’t really that well remembered in some regards. The problem was that we had recorded this album, and we really thought that it was great and then bang a month late we broke up, which is why I regret it so much. If we could have hung out for even another couple of months and got the record out and then broken up people would have said “That is a really good record” or “Those guys were really doing something good. It’s a pity that they broke up”. We could have been able to come back earlier.

RK : It was one of those things which I had assumed was water under the bridge. I thought it would never rise its head again, and then boom there it was.

EK : I can’t say I was completely shocked. I periodically go into record stores and see Reagan News CDs. You read articles about Kurt Cobain, and you see the Bad Brains mentioned and then you see the Beastie Boys getting lifetime achievement awards. These were people that were not only our contemporaries, but were also our friends. Earl from the Bad Brains lived with Jack and Rebecca and I for a while. We used to hang out with the Beastie Boys as well. I was actually more shocked that the recording still existed. We weren’t sure that we still had it., and Jerry Williams, the sound engineer, found it difficult to locate. I was surprised that it hadn’t been lost.

JR : We were able to track down the tapes from Jerry Williams, and afterwards everything was voted on by all four of us, every single thing. It is truly a group effort. Every single thing about it, right up to the reunion gigs and our reformation, has been completely democratic. We have argued about nothing. If someone didn’t like something really badly, the other three would accommodate them.

RK : It was an amazing experience, incredibly diplomatic. There was this real attitude in which everyone considered everyone else’s feelings. All these e-mails were going back and forth-I was in L.A at the time .; Bobby was in South Carolina; Eric was on a mountain in Pennyslvania and Jack was in New York-and we still managed to come to an agreement about the way it was perceived. There was no bickering and there was no arguing,. There was just this beautiful circle of love across the country (Laughs).

As part of a weekend of celebrations last year to commemorate the 20th anniversary release of the ‘NY Thrash’ compilation, Even Worse was invited shortly before “You’ve Ruined Everything’ was released to play two shows on June 21st and June 22nd at CBGB's in New York . The reformed group met for a week of rehearsals first at Keil’s farm in Pennyslvania before playing the shows.

JR : When I pulled up the car for the first rehearsal, and I saw the three of them standing there, I hadn’t seen Eric in maybe 10 or 15 years. I hadn’t seen Bobby in 5 or 6, and I hadn’t seen Rebecca in around about 10. I was really grateful to see them there, because we had broken up on such bad terms. That whole week was a blast. We spent the whole time, when we weren’t rehearsing, hanging out by the bonfire, drinking beer, and laughing with each other.

EK : We cleared out my wood shop and soundproofed it and played in it. That was another unique experience in itself because we plugged in and played the first song and it all sounded so much better than before, simply because we were all so much more evolved as musicians. Rebecca also played the guitar which she didn’t do on the CD.

RK : Jack sent me all the tapes, and I learnt the guitar parts because we weren’t sure if Bobby could do it at first because his wife was having a baby. When we got up there, we were already quite well rehearsed. At least Eric and I were. I got there a few days before the rest of the band and then Bobby and Jack came up. It was amazing how quickly we sounded like a real band . We all plugged into the collective and went ‘1-2-3-4” and there we were.

JR : It was just smiles all around all week. We were having such fun we almost didn’t want to go to New York and to the big bad city and to play the gigs. Once we did that though that was fun too.

It was kind of a stacked deck in a sense because there were so many old faces there. Those shows brought a lot of people out of the woodwork. All four original members of the Mob were there. Natz from out of the Undead came down, and one of the Beastie Boys was there. A couple of the guys from Reagan Youth, and people from the Fiends were there. I think that every band was represented on the stage or in the crowd, and all for New York Thrash. The Mad and the Bad Brains were the only two bands missing, plus there were all these people who weren’t old enough to have seen it for the first time, but who had always wanted to. It was really nostalgic .

EK : It was very positive. We got a lot of feedback from Peter Crowley who organised the shows and Adam Yauch of the Beasties was there, and he told me that he really enjoyed the set. That it was great. There were just a lot of familiar faces in the crowd. That meant as much to me as how wild the applause was.

Even Worse has provisional plans to play further gigs later this year, but, rather than simply be another nostalgia act, its members hope to maintain, even after all these years, the band's contemporary edge.

EK : There’s the possibility of some gigs in the spring and summer. Jack is obviously still connected with that kind of thing. It was great. I would do it again.

RK : Verona Downs is taking up a lot of my time, and I am very serious about that.I would definitely take off from Boston and go to New York or DC or wherever to do some Even Worse shows though. Absolutely. No problem ! I am always open to doing more stuff.

JR : Rebecca came down to stay with me in New York about a month ago. She and I snuck into the rehearsal place while she was here with a guitar and some drums and she showed me some new songs that she had written

Our plan is really to get a set of new stuff together, and the next time we do a reunion gig to have some new material to throw in there as well. One of the great things we did was when we did these reunion gigs was to throw in a cover of Elastica’s ‘Stutter’ , just to remind people that we werent’ just a nostalgia act and that we were doing the same thing that we were then, finding great songs that would fit our style of music.

We weren’t a ‘77 punk rock band. We were and are a rock ‘n’ roll group that has kept up its interest and love for music ever since.













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