NOLA sludge legends EYEHATEGOD have to be one of the most enduring Metal bands ever willed into existence. In their 25+ year career, group has unrepentantly served up one of the most caustic and aggressive musical personas in the underground. But the sudden passing of drummer Joe LaCaze, wielder of one of the loosest grooves ever, abruptly put an end to several scheduled appearances in late 2013. Many, myself included, speculated as to what would become of the group following such a tragedy, but EYEHATEGOD marches on.
Back with their first album in 14 years and proudly featuring Joey’s final recordings behind the kit, EYEHATEGOD’s self-titled latest is a blistering, pissed off masterpiece if I’ve ever heard one. Dropping on May 27th, Vice’s Noisey deemed the release to be “The record EHG fans have been looking for,” and I would have to agree. It’s been a long fucking time coming, but it’s here and does not disappoint.
With Aaron Hill taking the reigns on drums, EHG is also hitting the road for a month-long run of dates starting May 28th, and they’re bringing Cleveland heavyweights Ringworm and Enabler in tow. Undoubtedly, EYEHATEGOD will attract every Southern groove-loving psycho from behind their rock and into a densely packed room to witness the magic.
Without further ado, here’s a little phone time with Mike IX Williams prior to the album drop and run of dates.
G- Mike IX how is it going and thank you for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today. How is everything going?
M- No problem, man. Everything is going great! The weather is actually nice down here (in Louisiana) before it gets unbearably humid and hot, so it’s beautiful.
G- Right on. Very good!
Now obviously, first things first, we have to talk about this record because, with the exception of “New Orleans is the new Vietnam,” this is the first EHG in a very long time… And it is out of control! You assembled and financed by yourselves as a band… How do you feel about the accomplishment?
M- We fucking love it, man. We’re super proud and excited about this record, man, and to actually do it the right way, too. We’re not the type of band to do the business side of things. We just want to play, so that’s why we paid for it ourselves… We own the record, but we licensed it out. That way, these labels can take care of all the work. They can do the distribution and the promotion and all of that, but in the end we still own our own music.
That’s something that is hard to do these days. When you work with a label… You can put it out yourself, but it’s just a shitload of work and we don’t want to do that. We don’t have the time… We want to just play. So, we’re super stoked on this record. I think it’s one of the best records we’ve ever done. All of our albums are different and there is a different flavor there, but it’s all still EYEHATEGOD.
And we’re really proud of this and we’re really glad that these tracks made it, you know? We did that whole session and we ended up scrapping everything, but we kept the drums and I’m glad we did and that they ended up on the record like they should be.
G- And that brings me right into the next question because you were in the studio with Billy Anderson, who recorded DOPESICK in 1996, but things just didn’t work out the way you had anticipated and you went in a different direction.
What did Steven Berrigan, who produced Down, bring to the table that made you approach the record in a different way?
M- Well, Steve is an old friend of ourselves. We’ve known him since we were kids hanging out, you know. So, when he was doing another career, somewhere along the lines, he decided to do engineering full time, and we were like “Cool.” It’s cool to work with people you know, of course.
Bill is a great, dear friend of mine, The Great Billy Anderson, but it just didn’t work out at that time in that space. We were trying to rush the album, you know. We were really trying to force this record and put it on tape. People were having some personal issues and things were going on and, like I said, we were trying to rush the record and record it just to hurry up and do it, which is a stupid thing to do. I don’t know why we did that.
And then Billy, there was a documentary crew filming some stuff about Billy and his life story or whatever, and it all kind of collided. We’re still great friends with Billy, of course… I saw him the other day. But finishing it with Steve was just a no-brainer after everything came apart.
But the great thing is Joey’s drums are on the record. Billy is very proud to have captured that. We saved that. We could’ve scrapped the entire record. I mean, we had no idea, obviously, what was gonna happen. We could’ve scrapped the whole thing, done this 6-week tour and come home and record the drums and everything, and thank goodness we didn’t… We saved the drums. Because, you know, we didn’t know that 2 days after coming home from tour that Joey would pass away.
M- So, we’re thankful for that.
G- Yeah. Well, it’s DEFINITLEY Joey on the record! As I said earlier, Joey has one of the loosest grooves around and it’s always worked. Every time I’ve seen you guys, it’s always had that typical NOLA swagger to it…
G- And it always works!
M- And that’s the influence of the city, too… New Orleans as a city, and the music. We’re all big fans of these bands like Dr. John and the Meters and stuff like that. Everything’s got that groove to it, and that definitely shines in Joey’s drumming.
G- No question.
And staying with the studio for a second, your vocals produced by longtime fan and friend Philip Anselmo (we all know who he is) at Nodferatu’s Lair… How did his expertise and approach to recording either change or maintain your sound on the album?
M- Well, Steve recorded it, so Steve was the engineer for the vocals, and we did them, like you said, out here at Nodferatu’s Lair, which is where I’m at right now. I live upstairs.
G- (laughing) Ok right on!
M- So, Phil was in the studio while we did the vocals and, like you said, he’s a longtime fan and longtime friend, so obviously I’m going to take advice here and there on vocals. We had worked on the Arson Anthem record, so we had put that record together… Guitars, vocals, everything. We had worked together before, and we work really well together, so it was just an obvious choice when he was like ‘I want to come check out your vocals.’ I was like ‘Please do.’
If there was any little things he could add, like ‘Maybe you can repeat that line’ or something, I’d think about it for a minute and, of course, I’d be ‘That’d sound great!’ So, lie I said, it was an obvious choice.
G- Very cool.
Now, as we know, there has been a member switch. You’ve got Joey’s drumming and now you have Aaron Hill. Joey’s drumming made it onto the record, but with Aaron playing now, how has Aaron’s transition into the band been thus far and what do you think of his style versus how Joey approached and attacked the kit?
M- Well, he was a big fan of Joey’s drumming. He was a big fan of Joey. I didn’t even know that until were sitting in a radio station in Los Angeles and we were doing this live interview. They asked Aaron about that and he was like ‘Yeah I’m a huge fan of Joey’s,’ and we thought that was so cool. He’d never mentioned it, so we were like ‘That’s fucking awesome!’
He definitely takes his queues from Joey’s drums and the way Joey played on some of the older songs, but he adds his own style to it as well. It’s not exactly Joey’s style, but that’s good… it’s good to have a little variation in there. We’re already starting to write new music and we’ve got 5 songs.
M- Yeah we’re just kind of on a roll. You know, something horrible like that happens with Joey, and then we get Aaron, who’s a breath of fresh air, and it adds an excitement to it. And he plays guitar as well.
Joey had written a lot of those old songs on guitar, and nobody really knows that, but it’s true.
M- Yeah. A lot of our older riffs Joey wrote. Of course, Bryan and Jimmy too, and a lot of our older bass players and such too. But Aaron plays guitar, and he’s helping us write stuff, and he just works out really well. Like I said, it’s not the exact same style as Joey, but it doesn’t need to be. As long as it’s got that Southern swing, and I think Aaron definitely has that.
We tried out a couple of drummers. I’m not going to say names of anybody, but from some other touring bands down here in the South or different states or whatever, but nobody had that groove, that pocket. So, it’s cool to have Aaron there. He played in like 3 other bands around town and he sits in. You also have to pick a guy who’s gonna be able to sit in a van with you and tour, and he’s easy to get along with, so it all works out well.
G- And speaking of sitting in a van, you guys have quite a run coming up Cleveland’s Ringworm and Enabler in tow…
G- This is going to be a hell of a tour, and a heavy heavy tour. You guys are headlining and are the primary draw, but both Ringworm and Enabler have insane releases out… Have you checked those out?
M- I’ve heard parts of both bands’ new records, but I haven’t sat down and really listened yet. I’ll hopefully have time to do that soon.
G- Right on. I think the shows are going to be pretty wild! I’ll be catching the Binghamton and Rochester shows on June 4th and 9th, along with a lot of people up here…
G- And another thing is EYEHATEGOD is pretty infamous for some of their performances. Everyone has their story, and mine in particular involve the CMJ 2009 boat show with Pig Destroyer…
M- (laughing) Yeah.
G- That was something else, and I’ll never forget it. It was one of the best times I’ve ever had… A little crazy.
M- Yeah that’s gone down in the books as a legendary show.
G- It was one of the most insane things I’ve ever witnessed. I also had tickets for the boat show that was going to happen prior to Joey’s untimely passing. I hope you guys do it again and I wanted to know: Do you guys try to top yourselves with each performance, or do you just roll in and let the crowd do their thing and say whatever the fuck happens, happens?
M- Whatever happens fucking happens. We never put limits on ourselves and we don’t try to do anything really. We’re just 5 guys who like to play music, so whatever happens, happens, you know? There’s never any kind of pre-planned anything…. We enjoy the energy of the crowd, and we enjoy the violence of the crowd. Of course, we don’t want to see anybody get hurt in a bad way, but people do get hurt… Sometimes it’s hard to avoid.
But a good wild show is how Rock and Roll is supposed to be. There’s supposed to be this horrendous energy to the room where people lose their minds. When that happens, and they happens, things just click and everyone seems to go completely off their rocker. Those are awesome!
There’s never any pressure to be a certain way. We’re just humans like anybody else. You wake up depressed or whatever, and you just never know what the day is going to bring, or what somebody is going to bring you and you’re going to take.
But you know, we just go with the energy. We put 10,000% into it even if there’s 10 people there. We might make a smartass comment to the crowd saying ‘What the fuck are you all doing standing around,’ but we still play our asses off.
G- Love it, man! We’re hoping for a healthy, wealthy and rocking good time, Mike.
And after this upcoming run of dates, EHG has fans all over the place just aching to hear the new material live, so do you guys have any touring/travel plans for the rest of 2014?
M- Not right now. We’re in the middle of figuring out a new booking agent in Europe, so we’re trying to figure that out and that probably won’t happen until next year sometime. We are going to the Obscene Extreme Festival in Czech Republic in July, the 17th or 19th or something like that. It’s an insane festival with like 80 bands and all extreme metal, everything you can imagine. So, that’s gonna be cool.
But besides that, we’re just doing this June thing and we’re going to take it from there. Hopefully people love this record and we can take it everywhere, all over the world, places we’ve never been before. That’s our goal.
G- Awesome, and I hope that is the case. Honestly and sincerely, I’ve been listening to the record like crazy and the opening track “Agitation! Propaganda!” is one of the… I can’t listen to it when I’m driving in the car because the foot hits the floor.
I want to say thank you very much again for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today!
G- I can’t wait to see the shows in June. Travel safe and we’re all very much looking forward to it.
M- Thank you man I appreciate it. And to all the people out there, this album will not disappoint you. If it does disappoint you, then fuck you.