Released in 1978, Peer Pressure the first and only album from Baltimore, Maryland’s Ebenezer & The Bludgeons is a classic example of early American new wave and punk.
Songs such as “Gerti” (about an albino girl) and “Weekend Nazi” which aggressively mocks the Nazi chic fad that was entering the US from some UK punk circles, are well played 77 style punk with strong melodies and a slight rock feel.
The band led a short but interesting career that included playing local film director John Water’s birthday party, to having Washington DC punk legends Bad Brains (in their first ever show) opening for them. “They weren’t very good," explains Bludgeons guitarist Paul Landsman. “They got better.”
Though tracks from Peer Pressure featured on three different Killed By Death compilations, originals copies of the album, released on Primal Stomp have become prohibitively rare and expensive.
Thankfully Peer Pressure is getting the reissue treatment on Windian records
Have a listen to “Gertie” below and read a short interview with Paul Landsman.
Noisey: Did your singer Dennis "Ebenezer" Davison throw pieces of Octopus into the crowd during shows?
Paul Landsman: Yup. His father was a butcher at a grocery store, so he had the highly coveted raw dead creature connection.
“Gertie” is an interesting song. Was it based on a real person?
Yes. It was someone from Dennis' hood. That’s all I can remember about that. I don’t think most of the band liked it and we didn’t play it all the time.
What was the Baltimore punk scene like? Who were your contemporaries?
Back then if you were into anything punk you were a total social outcast. If you were lucky enough to find ANYONE who was into The Ramones, New York Dolls or The Stooges, you either formed a band or started dating them, or both!
There was a very small local “scene” but we felt like outsiders. Some of these people STILL hate us! There we guys 10-years older than us coming from a kind of metal background, and the art school intellectuals as well as the John Waters contingent mixed with assorted commies, leftover hippies and freaks. There was one venue, The Marble Bar, that was our CBGB’s (it was a hellhole, the way all good rock clubs should be!) Every weirdo band played a show there at some point. I’m not going to mention any band names because they would do the same for us! People liked us, we had a following, but we never seemed to be the cool kids. We were always “the other” for some reason. I always thought we were the only true “punk” band because we got together from nothing just to do this kind of music. We didn’t jump on the bandwagon or morph from something else.
Did you tour much? Did you play NYC?
We played any place we could, but a lot of places we didn’t belong! We were gigging before college radio was a thing. There was no DIY circuit of clubs. We did sporadic out of town gigs. And we didn’t know what the hell we were doing anyway. When we played at CBGB’s we stayed at The Essex House, because the singer wasn’t into roughing it! I’m pretty sure he wasn’t going to climb into a van and drive around the country. No one even though that was an option at the time.
Who was behind the Primal Stomp label?
The money was put up by a guy from England our other guitar player Tim knew. I think he worked for The Who. I think we kicked Tim out of the band before the record came out for using drugs! Last I heard he was on the methadone program. Thanks Tim!
Primal Stomp was our philosophy and what we called our brand of music. We never actually considered the band’s sound or approach “punk” in the traditional sense. We were against drinking, drugs, blindly following trends and apathy according to our Manifesto. Yes, we had a manifesto. This was way before Ian McKaye, Minor Threat and straight edge. We really stood out from the other local “punk” bands of the day. We are unknown, misunderstood and underappreciated for our major accomplishments!
You were a favorite band on the KBD series of comps. Did that help the band in profile?
I think it’s fantastic that someone, somewhere enjoyed what we did, even after the fact. I had absolutely no knowledge of the KBD comps until the early to mid 2000’s.
'Peer Pressure' is availabe for pre-order through Windian now.