The Nervous Eaters, one of Boston's first punk/new wave bands, debuted in early 1977 with Steve Cataldo on vocals and guitar, Robb Skeen on bass, and Jeff Wilkinson on drums. They had used the name some years earlier, but had not performed live under it. They made their debut at the hub of the city's alternative music scene, the Rathskeller—known as the Rat—in January 1977. Their first single, "Loretta", appeared that year on the club's Rat label.
Along with DMZ and The Real Kids, they were considered among the scene's "punkier" bands. Centered on Cataldo's "great rock & roll voice" and "jangly guitar", in the description of Allmusic's Joe Viglione, they were the "Rolling Stones of Boston...hard-rocking, riff-blasting, tongue-in-cheek". By 1978, they were one of the most popular acts in the city.