Not Even, described by the Washington Post in 1988 as "one of the bounciest pessimist-pop bands this side of the Georgia-North Carolina new wave South," was formed in 1985 by guitarists Ted Ayers and Dave Murphy; bassist Phil Rosenthal; drummer John Greenberg; and singer Jeff Chamberlain. Murphy left the band in 1988 to pursue other opportunities and was replaced by the talented Paul Flynn. They soon became stalwarts in the DC/Baltimore music scene and traveled to many Southeast and Mid-Atlantic colleges and universities.
June 1987 saw the release of their six-song mini-LP, Pant Sale. Contemporary critical reaction was mostly positive. Most critics appreciated the "anthemic songs with pure pop flair." "The twangy guitars and solid beat are optimistic and uplifting." Their lush harmonies add a dimension that distinguishes the band in a crowded field." Lyrically, the reviews were more mixed. While one writer felt that "you'll hear pointed, perceptive lyrics that set Not Even apart from most struggling bands . . . . (lyrics) that might easily have dripped from Elvis Costello's poison pen," another felt that they "sometimes strain at earnestness." Another wag went to far as to say that the words were "so trite that I can't believe they printed them on the album sleeve." Take your pick.
Their sound acquired a harder edge over the years, especially after Paul joined the group, with a hint of alt-country twang lurking in the mix. Gradually, however, the grind of rehearsing, writing, touring, and drinking with little or no financial reward, along with differing ideas of future career direction, began to wear on the close-knit group. They agreed to disband in the spring of 1990.
They remained close friends and in September of 2015 performed a triumphant reunion show at Jammin' Java in Vienna, Va. This was repeated in 2016 at the same venue. In the meantime, they were inspired to begin writing songs together again and in March of 2017 recorded Peeling in the Rain. Produced by Steve Berns - the band's former manager - at his Fitting Room Studio, the album consists of ten rockers (six old, four new) about lost love, failed ambition and political frustration. The album was released on September 15, 2017.
Although the members of Not Even currently live in three different states on two different coasts, their next show will not be called a "reunion." The boys have gotten the band back together. Kind of.