It’s been about 13 years since the public has been graced with an all-new full length studio album from New Orleans’ heavyweights EyeHateGod, but of course the group isn’t just sitting idle. “People think if you don’t have a new album out you aren’t doing anything,” says vocalist Mike IX Williams via the telephone before following up with “EyeHateGod has been more active in the past 13 years than we’ve ever been.” And he’s right; they’ve released a number of 7 inch singles, the compilation “Preaching the End-Time Message” in 2005, and toured the world over several times, including their first visit to Australia this last November. During each of these tours and appearances, the band has played with no new album to support, yet fans still flock to see them and “the crowds have even gotten bigger,” IX Williams explains.
More surprising is that EyeHateGod have functioned as a working band for a number of years now without any label support. With such a long running career and a well-known name, the band certainly has label offers, but continue to remain gun-shy about them with good cause. After two well reviewed cassette demos, they recorded their first album on a small fly-by-night French label called Intellectual Convulsion which would subsequently be re-released via Century Media Records in ’90 and a love/hate relationship between that label and band would continue until the release of the comp collection “Ten Years of Abuse (And Still Broke),” whose title is supposedly directed at the label, perfectly highlighting the band’s feelings on their relationship, and thus ending their contract. Mike IX does stress however, “The people working at Century Media in the early years had not a clue, but the label as it stands today is a totally different beast, more folks there are fans of the music not just hired hands to wrongly promote us.”
Any notoriety and visibility focused on EyeHateGod can most assuredly be connected to their own gumption and hardworking ethic, and not necessarily on their home label. As Williams explains, the band’s unique sound left them in a spot where Century Media was clueless on how to market them, in addition to the band getting the short end of the financial stick. “It’s mainly our fault for getting taken advantage of,” he elaborates. “We signed contracts at a naive young age, not having a clue or even a lawyer to walk us through the complicated language written in those binding documents.” Furthermore, EyeHateGod was met with a lack of support on part of the label, namely in advertising and promotion, but also would release un-mixed compilations without the band’s input as well as what Williams sums up as “general disagreement on how we should run OUR creative visions.”
With these past experiences in tow, EyeHateGod certainly take no chances when it comes to their music and name. Mike IX perhaps sums it up best when he states full-force “Non-trust of record labels is the bottom line. However, non-trust of the music business in general is the statement of the days for EHG. Besides all of that, I come from the punk & independent underground anyway, where we preferably want to manage our artistic control to the fucking bone, and we are NOT comfortable letting other human beings play kindergarten art class with the stuff we created.”
Instead of letting these woes affect their well-being, the New Orleans heavyweights continued to soldier on through touring and releasing the occasional split EP or 7” single. Recently though, they have buckled down and started work on a new batch of 15 songs ready to be released in the near-future that can arguably be their most important release in quite some time. “Obviously I want to have new fans all the time, plus keep the older fans that grew up on this band, and I think this album will oblige that service,” Mike explains. “We’ve been getting that for years now, the mom or dad who show up with their 12-13 year old kid and the kid is hugely into EHG. It’s great and so cool to be part of a generation of musical changes and fighting the system!”
Unfortunately for the waiting public however, this new, self-financed album has no set deadline to reach the streets as of this writing, as currently the band is strictly concentrating on getting the new material completed, then choosing which label will release it, hopefully in numerous batches. “We have got different people and different labels that want to put it out, but we’re kind of making people wait for it for now,” says Williams. “We decided ‘Fuck having a label pay for it, if we’ve got the money, let’s pay for it ourselves,’ then whoever has the best deal after that can buy the recordings from us and they can do the manufacturing and stuff. That’s one way to avoid us owing any cash out after the fact. Not many people understand us when we say we don’t trust record labels. We never have and we never will. If you’re going into business, you want to find the best situation for yourself, not just sign something and go ‘Oh they said it was going to be cool.’ No, it’s a business deal.”
So what does this new material sound like? “Well, it sounds like classic EyeHateGod, because a lot of these songs have been with us for a decent few tours,” says Williams before further explaining that he believes the newer material is “More bluesy and at the same time more aggressive.” In terms of what songs Mike IX himself is excited about; “‘Robotussin and Rejection’ came out really good, as well as a suicidal ode to the local pharmacy called ‘Medicine Noose’, a few of the ones that we’ve been doing live here and there, but were never quite finished.” Additionally, the recent “New Orleans is the New Vietnam” and the popular “Age of Bootcamp” are being re-recorded, and sound “sicker than the originals.”
Mike IX’s plate is quite full at the moment. Following his darkly negative “Cancer as a Social Activity” book of poetry, he has two more books in the works, along with a forthcoming narrative of his experiences during 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, as well as a coffee table biography of EyeHateGod. Musically, he maintains that his priority is EyeHateGod, but his creative flow is also visible in the new The Guilt 0f… album “Isolation Room” and the eventual full-length from Corrections House, his project shared with members of Neurosis and Circle of Animals. As for the rest of 2013, chances are that you will find Mike IX at a venue near you, with EyeHateGod storming Europe, as well as the USA, and many more international destinations. “I’m somehow addicted to the misery of the van,” ponders Williams. “I just wallow in it, when I’m riding in it and its freezing outside and my shoes are wet and I’m starving and have a hangover, I seem to be in some sort of alternate reality bliss. All I know is that I’m heading to another show and John Lee Hooker and Black Flag or is on the tape deck. That’s all that matters.”