Interview: Eyehategod

It’s just a passionate expression of who we are as people and us just expressing our feelings.

Over the past thirty years, Eyehategod, whether it is on record or in the live environment, have always done things on their own terms and show absolutely no signs of stopping. The band have just released their new album A History Of Nomadic Behaviour and it is everything you love about Eyehategod. With a seven year gap between this new record and their self-titled album (and a fourteen year gap between that album and 2000’s Confederacy Of Ruined Lives), it always feels special when a new album drops. To celebrate A History Of Nomadic Behaviour’s release, Gavin Brown caught up with Eyehategod vocalist Mike IX Williams to hear all about the new album and its creation as well as his other musical projects, touring with Napalm Death before the pandemic, his book and the possibility of a follow up, the impact of punk rock and hardcore on Wiliams and Eyehategod and how the band are still going strong after over thirty years.   

E&D: Eyehategod’s new album A History Of Nomadic Behaviour history is out now. Were you all looking forward to unleashing this album on the world?

Mike: Yeah, we were, of course. We’re excited, you know, it’s our first album in seven years, first full length so yeah, we’re happy. We’re excited.

E&D: How did the creation and recording of the album go, Was it done before or during this pandemic that we’re in at the moment?

Mike: The music was actually recorded, it was either late 2018 or early 2019. I can’t remember. That would be a question for the other guys in the band, but that was recorded before the pandemic. We had just been on tour. We started touring in April of 2017 and there was a little time there for them to record that, but as far as the vocals go, I mean, we didn’t stop touring till March of 2020, so we didn’t have really time. I wanted a good bit of time to go to the studio to do the vocals, so it took me a while to get in there to do that, but I did it last June or July. I went up to Chicago and my friend Sanford Parker, who I’m in a band with called Corrections House, we did the vocals up there and it was cool.

E&D: You’ve got the song ‘High Risk Trigger’ on the album, is that a song about police brutality, an issue that has come up more in the last year?

Mike: We’re not a political band at all, I’ve said that a million times, those lyrics just happened to be there. Those lyrics were written before 2020 even happened, those are some lyrics I had from whenever, like way back. The songs not directly about police brutality, but I could see that there’s kind of a reference to what’s here and there but that’s how that’s also about life in general. I mean there’s always been police brutality since ages ago, so I guess you could find that in there.

E&D: Do you feel that Eyehategod have always used your songs to tell fans about your reality?

Mike: No, we don’t write songs about things at all, the title sometimes has nothing to do with the lyrics a lot of times. They’re all just words that sound good to me or words that look good on paper, you know, it’s just art to me, it doesn’t have to mean anything. It’s just an expression and a passionate expression of who we are as people and just expressing our feelings.

E&D: Obviously, you’ve got the album that you’ve been working on, but how else have you been keeping busy during this pandemic?

Mike: I mean, I did three other projects last year. A band called Dead End America with Nick Oliveri and Steven Hanford also known as Thee Slayer Hippy, rest in peace, he passed away, we did a little project with that band. I sang with the band Ho99o9, I sang on a song on their record. There’s a tribute cassette that’s industrial experimental noise covers of Eyehategod and other bands that I’m in so I just try to keep busy. I write all the time and I read, stuff like that.

E&D: Have you got anything else coming up and would you do anything else with Dead End America, for example or Corrections House?

Mike: Yeah, I mean, we we’ve talked about all those things. It’s just a matter of getting everybody together. There’s some new Dead End America stuff that’s been written, but like I said, my friend, Steve, who kind of organized the whole thing passed away, Steve was in a band called Poison Idea, some people may have heard of, of course, he was a great guy but he passed away, so I don’t know if that band will do anything, but Corrections House has talked about doing some stuff in the future and I’m always looking for new projects and new things to do. I’ve got a lot of ideas.

E&D: When the return of touring becomes a reality, have you got plans to hit the road or is it too soon to say with Eyehategod for the new album?

Mike: I mean, it’s too soon to do anything obviously, but yeah, we want to hit the road soon as we possibly can. We’re a live band. I think we are at our best onstage live in a small club with a packed house of drunken, sweaty people. That’s how we feel most comfortable! We want to get on the road soon as possible, but right now it would be very irresponsible to do that. We’re going to wait until things are safe.

E&D: Before this whole thing hit you toured with Napalm Death and Misery Index. How did the tour go and what were some of the highlights?

Mike: It was fantastic, Napalm Death, they are good people and good guys, that was a great tour. It was fantastic, we’ve been friends with some of those guys for a while and being able to tour with them was excellent. There was also a band in that tour called Bat, its some members from Municipal Waste. I thought they were very good. It was the first time I’d heard them there. They were kind of a Venom/Motörhead type of thing, which I like, I enjoy that type of music.

 

E&D: When you were on tour, was there any indication, not of what was to come, I don’t think anyone could have predicted that but was there any indication of something incoming as regards to bands touring?

Mike: No. We were in Europe at the time like you said, and we were watching the news and seeing that this thing was spreading and getting bad, but that’s happened in the past with other viruses and things like SARS or whatever, and it’s never gotten any further than a certain stage but we noticed it was getting bigger and bigger but we didn’t think it would be a lockdown or anything. We had no idea. We were in Kiev in the Ukraine at the time and heard the news that the borders were being closed so we had to postpone the Kiev show and then two shows in Russia and those were headlining shows after the Napalm tour. We had to postpone those, but we didn’t know, it would end up like this a year later. I wanted to say this, our album came out exactly a year after we came home, we came home on March 12th to go into lockdown and it came out on March 12th of this year. So it’s been exactly a year.

E&D: Did it feel cathartic having the record coming out, obviously you did it before, but actually bringing it out. Do you think this would be like a new chapter for the band?

Mike: Yeah. I mean, it’s exciting, you know, we’re not an album band really, we’ve got some albums out, obviously, we also do split seven inches or seven inches in general and things like that, but we’re a live band. I’ll always say that, you know, we’re always a live band, so putting out an album is great and it’s a good thing to have out and to continue the legacy and all that, but touring is where we shine

E&D: What’s been the most enjoyable or memorable tour that Eyehategod have done and what made it so memorable?

Mike: That’s impossible to say. I mean, there’s been tours that have been miserable and tours that have been great, you know, but we’ve done so many tours. We have been touring since 1992 or 93, it’s been a lot of touring and it’s been a long time, so I couldn’t really pick out one tour. We’ve had fun with other bands on tour like Chaos UK, the Napalm tour was fun. We toured with Negative Approach here, Corrosion Of Conformity. Theres been so many bands that we have toured with, we even toured with Pantera and White Zombie back in the nineties. That was like an arena tour, so that was pretty memorable, there’s a lot of stories about that, I guess, but yeah, they’ve all been great and they’ve all been with friends of ours too. The bands are always our friends, so it works out great.

E&D: You mentioned the split releases and you’ve just done one with Sheer Terror, now you’ve played shows and toured with hardcore and punk bands like Discharge, Cro-Mags as well as Negative Approach and Chaos UK that you mentioned. As a hardcore and punk fan, was it fun to mix it up and play with bands like those?

Mike: Of course. I mean, we chose those bands and it was our idea to tour with these bands. We don’t consider ourselves metal or anything, we’re not like metal head dudes or anything. We don’t really listen to metal, of course the old stuff, old Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, Slayer and things like that but we don’t really consider ourselves a metal band. We can tour with anybody really and it seems to fit somehow, like we’ve toured with Black Label Society, and then we go tour with, you know, Negative Approach. To us, I think those smaller shows are funner though, because it’s just that the people are very passionate about it.

E&D: What was it about punk and hardcore that appealed  to you, from when you were younger onwards and going to shows?

Mike: I’ve been into punk since 1978, it’s just an outcast music, you know? It’s obviously gotten bigger over the ages, but when I got into punk in the late seventies it just appealed to me, being an outcast teenager, a runaway. I was in a boys home, all these things, and it was this music that spoke to me.

E&D: What was it like when Eyehategod played with GG Allin?

Mike: We did one show with GG Allin and yeah, it was a crazy show, just like all of his shows were! I’d seen him a few times before that, but the night we played with him was wild. There was lots of fights. A lot of people got hurt.

E&D: You’ve written your book, Cancer As Social Activity. Have you had any plans of writing another book at all?

Mike: I’ve got other books written, in the style of that book, like the dark poetry type thing, I just need to get them together and organize things to put them out. I plan on doing that as soon as possible. We’ll try and get that together. We’ve always talked about getting together to do a biography of the band or I’ve been approached to do a biography myself so I don’t know if I should write that or have a ghostwriter or whatever with me to help me, but those are things that are possibilities in the future.

E&D: What was the last book you read?

Mike: I was just reading the Jeffrey Lee Pierce book. Jeffrey Lee Pierce was in a band called The Gun Club, it’s good, it’s just all his writing and stuff from traveling to Japan and stuff about Los Angeles in the eighties and stuff like that. So, yeah, it was great.

E&D: What have been some of the high points in Eyehategod’s thirty year plus career?

Mike: I mean, just surviving this long is a high point. You know what I mean? The idea for Eyehategod started in 1986 with me and Jimmy talking about doing a band that we heard in our heads. We heard this band that took all of the influences in bands that we like and kind of put them all together. So that was 1986 then in 1988, the band actually became a band, with me and Jimmy and some more members that stayed together for a while. I dunno, there’s been so many, there’s been so much, just surviving though, we’ve been around 30 years now, 30 plus years so that’s a highlight in itself.

E&D: Did you ever think that Eyehategod would not only be going still going after 30 years, but be stronger than ever and still releasing new albums and touring?

Mike: Well no, I had no idea, those are things you can’t predict. At the time of Eyehategod, we all had other bands, we were doing other bands that we thought would put records out and tour and some of those bands didn’t at all. So with this band, people started getting interested in Eyehategod and they either like this or hated us, you know, either way they’re paying attention to us. It got us attention and it survived this long.

E&D: Well, Mike. Thank you very much for the interview and hopefully we’ll see you over in the UK, on tour at some point with the new album.

Mike: We can’t wait to get back over there. As soon as things are safe, we will definitely be coming back, nice talking to you, man.

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