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This Is Eyehategod: Metal Legends Set For Long Awaited Return

Tuesday, 08 April 2014 Written by Alec Chillingworth

Eyehategod have copped their fair share of shit over the years. Since forming in 1988, the band have battled with heroin addiction, vocalist Mike IX Williams' imprisonment in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and, last year, the tragic death of drummer Joey LaCaze. A lesser band would have just called it quits and trundled home.

But not Eyehategod. Using drum tracks laid down by LaCaze prior to his passing, the band convened at Phil Anselmo’s home studio to put the finishing touches on songs that would form their self-titled fifth album, which is expected on May 26.

A beast in every sense of the word, the record justifies the 13 year gap since 'Confederacy Of Ruined Lives' was released. We sat down with Williams during a stopover in London to learn a little more about the new release, their take on the sludge metal tag and their plans for the future.

Your latest album features Joey's drumming – that must be pretty special, right?

The great thing about the new record is that Joey made it onto the album. His legacy lives on through the music, as obviously he's not gonna be around to see it. We haven't recorded with Aaron [Hill, current drummer] yet – we have new songs written, but no recording as of yet.

It's been 13 years since your last album and expectations are high. Did you feel any pressure while recording this album?

There was no pressure because we're just not that kinda band. I mean, we started Eyehategod because we wanted to play stuff that we wanted to hear. That was back in 1988, so there was no pressure about having to sound like something specific. We sound like Eyehategod – this is Eyehategod. You put five people in a room and they sound like Eyehategod – it's not like we've progressed and started writing psych-rock or surf metal or something like that. We just knew that we were gonna go into the studio, play what we wanna play, play what the fans wanna hear and that's all we needed.

There's little things that are different, like the vocals – they're more prominent and you can actually hear what I'm saying this time around. It's not so incomprehensible, because there's been songs in the past where you couldn't understand a word I was saying. I like the way that sounds, but the vocals on the new album are a little more understandable. There's more of a bluesy element on a couple of the songs, but overall we just stuck to what we know. It's like Ramones, AC/DC or Motörhead  – why would you change it?

Have you got any favourite songs from 'Eyehategod' yet?

I like the whole album because I'm just so excited to have it come out and finally have a new record. I like the song Nobody Told me, and Medicine Noose. That one's probably one of my favourites, but all of the songs are special in their own way. Without bragging about my own music, I do think the new album's great. We're so psyched with it.

What are your plans once the album is released?

After the record comes out, we're doing a huge tour in June that basically covers the whole of the USA We're doing that for a month, then after that I'm not really sure. Jimmy [Bower, guitar] is going out to play with Down in May, and in July I have some shows with my other band, Corrections House. At the end of July, I think Eyehategod's going to the Czech Republic to do the Obscene Extreme festival. But after that, I'm not too sure. I know that we're trying to get some European and UK dates in there, and we want to go back to Australia and Japan. I'm meeting with a booking agent about Europe and the UK – we'll see what happens.

Can you tell us a little about the scene Eyehategod comes from in New Orleans?

It's amazing. It's just like any other major city, though, there's certain cliques, and this band will hang out with this band and whatever. New Orleans still has those cliques, but they all kind of cross over into one another. You've got the punk rockers and the death metal guys, the hardcore kids and all that stuff. As far as our scene goes, it's just one massive family.

Phil [Anselmo, vocalist of Down] runs Housecore Records, which is the record label we're putting the new album out on in America. Everyone in Eyehategod have always been fans of each others' music and we always support each other. It's never been a competition or anything – I'm just speaking for myself – maybe someone else has gotten pissed off about something [laughs]. But not me. I remember when Jimmy started touring with Down and he thought I'd be mad or something. I supported him. It sucked that it meant he couldn't tour with Eyehategod but people do what they do. I've always had a second band, so when Jimmy's out with Down, I have something else to do musically.

What are your thoughts on being labelled as co-creators of the sludge genre?

I can't stand it when people label us as 'sludge'. It sounds so silly. If people think that we listen to bands like that, well...that's just not true. We don't listen to whatever that is – I don't even know what sludge is. It's a stupid word. We play rock 'n' roll. Eyehategod is a rock 'n' roll band. It's modern blues. If John Lee Hooker listened to Black Flag, then it would sound like us. With Mitch Mitchell from the Jimi Hendrix experience on drums, or something like that. Labels are silly – it's all just music.

What are you most looking forward to doing with Eyehategod in the future?

Just continuing what we're doing. Hopefully we can get another album out and it won't take 14 years; we've already got some new songs written. I forget how many Jimmy told me, but it's happening, and Aaron's contributing to that. I can't wait to tour and go places we've never been – we've been touring non-stop since 1993. There's been some lulls where something's stopped us from touring, but playing live is our main thing. That's where we do our best.

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