Friday, January 28, 2011
Interview with Mike Williams of Eyehategod!!
Phone interview conducted on May 21, 2010.
WULF: So hey man, I just want to start by saying it's an honor to be able to talk to you and to do this interview.
MIKE: Cool, man.
WULF: I've been a fan for a long time, and actually when I first started getting into metal I was like, I don't know, 16, I'm 24 now, and you guys were one of the first bands I was introduced to as far as the sort of like, sludge--
MIKE: Extreme (music/metal), yeah.
WULF: Yeah, yeah, anyway, so I think that my 16-year-old self knowing that I'm talking to you now would probably just...shit his pants.
MIKE: (laughs) Well I appreciate that, man. That's cool. I'm always glad to hear from people that enjoy this mess (inaudible).
WULF: Alright man, just a personal kind of question, I don't know-
WULF: Awhile ago I read in a metal magazine that you were living at Phil Anselmo's home...or at least on his property. I was just kind of curious, are you still living there, or where are you at now?
MIKE: Yeah, I'm actually still here.
WULF: Right on.
MIKE: He lets me stay here, I take care of the animals and stuff too (when Phil's on tour). When I'm on tour, they take care of my animals, so it's kind of like a little commune here, you know?
WULF: Yeah, that's cool. That's real cool man. Sorry, I was just kind of curious about that. OK, so I'm gonna start off with just kind of a general question...you guys have been playing some live dates and I'm just kind of curious how has that been going so far?
MIKE: Oh, amazing! I mean, better than we could ever imagine!
MIKE: We don't even have a new album out, we haven't had an album out in...well we put out "Preaching the End Time Message" in 2003 (I think he meant 2005), but it wasn't like an official release or anything...but for not even having a record out it's just insane man, I mean, the crowds are all sell-out shows, people driving from miles to see us. It's really been overwhelming, to be honest, you know? It's been awesome.
WULF: Well that's awesome man, because, you know, when I was coming up with questions for this it wasn't difficult but I was just looking (on the internet) and was like, man, it's been a long time since you guys put something out that wasn't like, a split, or a "best-of", which is cool, but I know that you guys have been going through a lot of shit also. So there's a lot going on with Eyehategod right now, but what I'm kind of curious about as far as what you're doing...what's going on with your other bands, like Outlaw Order and Arson Anthem?
MIKE: Arson Anthem, I'm actually working on that as we speak. We're trying to get the artwork together and stuff. It was supposed to be out this June but due to Eyehategod just getting back from Europe and Phil just got back from Romania or somewhere so we're trying to work on the artwork and get this Arson Anthem album out.
MIKE: So it should be out pretty soon, in the next few months I hope. Cross my fingers.
WULF: Yeah, the The Guilt Øf..., I saw that, the "Øf", the "o" has a line through it, or whatever?
MIKE: Yeah, yeah, The Guilt Øf... we have a split coming out with Merzbow, which is this Japanese noise guy-
WULF: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
MIKE: Just something I've always wanted to do, something on that side of things, I've always been into that type of music, if you want to call it music. It's experimental stuff, you know?
WULF: Yeah, no, I got you man! That's cool man, for sure!
MIKE: I try to keep busy, you know? I try to keep busy...I'm writing too, I'm writing books, I'm just doing as much as I possibly can. Stayin' out of trouble, you know?
Well, that's actually one of my questions later, I was going to ask you about your writing. We'll get to that in a second. Really fast, I saw that you were in a band called Drip...is that still going on, or what's up with that?
MIKE: No, that was something we did back in the (early 90's), that was like '91 or something.
MIKE: It was just a project that was just me, Jimmmy (Bower), and this guy Ross. Ross actually played keyboards in (The Mystick Krewe of) Clearlight, which is Jimmy's other band.
WULF: Uh-huh. Mystick Krewe of Clearlight.
MIKE: It gets confusing, man. It's a lot of a mix of band members going on.
WULF: Kind of incestuous scene.
MIKE: We don't do Drip anymore. (It was) something we just recorded, and now it's floating around and I kind of think it sucks, I don't even like it.
WULF: (laughs) Well, you know, I just read just read on the metal-archives.com page for it, it was talking about how you guys jammed from time to time or something...I don't know. I don't know if that's really old. Alright man, so I saw an interview on (Eyehategod's) Myspace that you guys just got done playing in Europe not too long ago...is that right? Or was that like, a while ago?
MIKE: We've been home about a month or so, I think. Yeah, that was fantastic. We did like, three weeks over there, which was insane. We haven't been over there in a long time, you know? It was really great, man.
WULF: Well that's good, man! And you know, I'm just kind of curious, I don't know if the Eyehategod shows are different than (regular extreme metal shows), but is there a noticeable difference to you between European and American Eyehategod fans or shows?
MIKE: It used to be like you could tell more a difference. I don't know, it used to be that the crowds in Europe were more polite, I guess you could say? Like, they wouldn't go nuts, like stagediving and slamming and all that stuff, but they would just like...politely clap, you know? For like, every band.
But now it seems...like, this time there were people going insane over there, I've never seen it like that. And it's different in different countries, like Holland, I think they're a little more stoned (laughs) so they kind of...watch you more, but they really love it too, though. (inaudible) is always a bunch of crazy nuts too though, you know?
WULF: Yeah, yeah, for sure. I saw that also you guys have played in Tokyo? And maybe other parts of Asia? Is that right?
MIKE: Yeah, yeah, we did a Japanese tour in--
WULF: There's a DVD for it, right?
MIKE: Yeah, yeah, we put that out ourselves. That was back in 2000-something. Yeah, we went to Japan, man. I'm ready to go back there, too.
WULF: But that was a lot of fun too?
MIKE: Yeah, it was great, man. That's an amazing place.
WULF: I'm kind of curious, as far as your own personal preference, do you have a favorite city to play in, like, in the world? Is there any place that you really really look forward to playing?
MIKE: There's so many I couldn't pick just one. I mean, Europe's great, like, everywhere. But the best places over there were like, in England...anywhere in the UK, people just went apeshit, you know? Copenhagen, Denmark, was insane. We played there, the crowd was crazy. And there's a few places like that, here and there. But I like playing everywhere, man. Even if there's no crowd, even if there's, like, three people there, which is how it used to be in the old days, we'd still get into it and play a good show, you know? Or try to.
WULF: Yeah, yeah, for sure, man! Every place is different. That's cool, man. OK, so speaking of that DVD, I'm kind of curious, I'm assuming that you've got a new Eyehategod album coming out. Is that correct?
MIKE: Well, it's not even recorded yet. I mean, I know we've been saying this for years, man, we've been trying to get it together...Katrina screwed a lot of things up down here as far as bands go, and also we were having record label troubles...like right now we're not even on a label.
WULF: Oh, you're not on Emetic (Records) anymore?
MIKE: Well, we never were officially on that, he just put that ("Preaching the End-Time Message") out, you know? He runs his label and just puts stuff out for people, we're not signed to him or anything. So a lot of different things were happening, Jimmy was touring with Down and stuff too, so it's been hard to get together and to write, but we've got probably six new songs, we'll just hopefully go into the studio after this June tour. That's what we're hoping for.
WULF: Well awesome man, whenever it does end up getting recorded, however long it takes, I can't wait to hear it. I think it's going to be awesome.
MIKE: Yeah, it's going to be good.
WULF: And so I guess it's going to be too difficult to say, then, if you guys are going to put out, like, a new DVD of you guys playing all these past shows...has that even been talked about yet?
MIKE: We've talked about it, but we travel pretty sparsely...we don't have a whole lot of people in our entourage, or whatever you want to call it. So we should have had somebody videotaping this whole Europe trip, you know? I mean, there were certain shows that were videotaped, I'm sure it's already up on Youtube and stuff...I mean, I don't know, do people even buy DVDs anymore?
I mean, what's the point?
WULF: Well you know man, I know that music sales have definitely declined with downloading...I have no idea about music DVDs.
MIKE: Yeah, I haven't seen many good ones out. I mean, I don't know, I just go to Youtube if I want to see somebody good, it's got all the rare stuff on there anyway.
WULF: Yeah that's true, that's true. Alright, well OK so as far as touring goes, you guys have had a reputation in the past, I'm certain for now too, as being kind of crazy dudes. But I'm kind of curious, who, would you say, is the craziest band that YOU'VE ever been on tour with?
MIKE: Craziest band?
WULF: Yeah, like, besides you guys, you know? You guys, in the past at least, were like, really crazy. Who would YOU say is crazy?
MIKE: I mean, we still put 1000% energy into (our shows), and shit happens sometimes on stage...fights and things happen in the crowd...involving us, probably.
But I mean, we don't go looking for that type of thing. None of us can fight. I can't fight. The craziest band we've toured with? God, so many come to mind, from Pantera...those guys were completely out of their mind, to...Anal Cunt, the guys in Anal Cunt, or at least their singer...Chaos UK were a bunch of nuts- a punk band from England...Buzzov•en, those were wild shows. There's been so many, man.
WULF: Yeah, yeah...well you know, it's funny, I was talking to the dude from Lair of the Minotaur and he said Anal Cunt also. At least Seth Putnam.
MIKE: Yeah, at least Seth...I don't know, they had this guitar player named Josh (Martin), I think he's still with them...he's been known to smash his guitar and stuff. But we never put on any kind of act, we never were going up there to do this stuff on purpose. I mean, we play shows where it's perfectly normal, you know? I mean, you get up there, and maybe you start drinking before the show and the crowd's drinking, and sometimes things get out of hand, but it's just part of the energy. Violence is sometimes part of the energy, you know?
WULF: Yeah, oh yeah. For sure. OK, so I also want to ask, because I know we're running out of time here, but I'm curious about your writing. I've been actually meaning to read your book for a long time and unfortunately I haven't yet, but I'm curious, man, but you say you're writing new stuff now?
MIKE: Oh yeah, I've got like 20,000 words, like in the computer here. It needs to be edited, but I think that's at least another couple of books, you know?
WULF: Damn! Wow, man!
MIKE: It's just stuff I've been writing, I've been writing every day, or I try to, you know? I write for a couple magazines too, like this Argentinian magazine called Jedbangers, I've got a column in there. Yeah, I write for Paranoise, which is a local magazine here in New Orleans, an Australian magazine called Unbelievably Bad, I've had stuff printed in there.
WULF: You used to write for Metal Maniacs I know, like, a long time ago.
MIKE: Yeah, yeah, back in the mid-90's.
WULF: I wasn't even into metal back then. I'm kind of young.
MIKE: No, I hear ya. That's cool. I want to say, that's one thing we've been seeing at these shows lately is that there's a whole another generation of people that seems like they've got into Eyehategod. People will tell me, "yeah, my son likes you guys". And they bring their son to the show and it's awesome, you know? It's great to (see that), that we can stick around like that. It's cool.
WULF: Well yeah, it's definitely timeless music, for sure. I think, probably, if I have children ever I hope that they really like it too. I could see them getting into it.
MIKE: Yeah, I just think kids today, they seem more open-minded to a lot of (things)...like with the name of the band and the artwork or something, it's pretty extreme stuff to some people, but I think younger generations are getting into it.
WULF: Maybe it's the internet, everybody's just so desensitized now to everything.
MIKE: Exactly. Yup.
WULF: Well hey man, do you have time for one more question or do you have another interview to do right now?
MIKE: No, this is actually my last one today.
WULF: OK, well then I have one more question if you don't mind. It's a little personal, so I don't know how you feel about answering it, but I've heard or I've read that you guys are not heavy-drug users anymore or anything, for the most part...
WULF: Well, I was curious, I'm sure you get asked this a lot. Has this had any noticeable effect, positive or negative, on the band's music, live or in the studio?
MIKE: Well, I think in the past it had a lot to do with why we would be inactive for periods of time. Everybody was pretty messed up. Everybody in the band was doing their own thing. And yeah, in the past, it definitely hindered us. But today, now that everybody's clean, for the most part, like you said...
I mean there's still alcohol, and a few things here and there...not like it used to be at all. And yeah, I think all that stuff in the past can only make you stronger, you know? I think we're all stronger for having been through all that, and I don't know man, you find out that the drugs aren't making you creative, it has always been there. At least, that's how it is with me, and I'm sure with the rest of the guys too.
WULF: Well cool, man! I just want to say thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me...again, it's an honor, and I wish you guys the best of luck. I know you guys are playing a bunch of dates coming up here in the US--
MIKE: We're doing a whole US tour coming up in June! Well, I'm sorry, I shouldn't say that, we're doing a whole East Coast of the US...like, a three-week tour coming up on June 3 we leave, and we're playing Maryland Deathfest, and we're playing this Thursday, coming up, in New Orleans with Pentagram.
WULF: Oh, that's going to be awesome! Have you ever played with Pentagram before?
MIKE: Yeah, we've played with them a couple times.
WULF: Oh man, I've never seen (Pentagram)...I've never seen you guys live, actually!
MIKE: Oh, really?
WULF: Yeah, and it sucks, because I guess you guys weren't playing very much, I guess like, a few years ago, or something, I don't know.
MIKE: We were playing locally, we've played local shows since Katrina, but we haven't been out of town really, that much.
WULF: Yeah man, and I'm in Kansas. Kansas City-area, and so not a lot of bands come through here. I was actually going to give you a hard time for you guys not coming around here--
MIKE: I do feel bad about that! People are always like, "why don't you come to Spain?" or "why don't you come to the Philippines?" or Kansas! We've played Kansas before, we've played there a bunch of times.
WULF: Oh, really?!
MIKE: Yeah! We played Kansas, we played probably...Kansas City, we've played Wichita, we've played there many times in the past, on different tours.
WULF: I see.
MIKE: I wanted to mention a book that's out now, the one that you were mentioning earlier, it's called "Cancer As a Social Activity", and you can get it at Housecore Records. Phil's (Anselmo) label.
WULF: Yeah, it was Arson Anthem, I got that for my radio show, and I saw (the label) and I looked it up, and thought "yeah, this is badass, it's Phil's label, and he's putting out this stuff!"
MIKE: Yeah, it's pretty cool, man. It's starting to pick up, too. There's a lot of new stuff coming out, and you should go check out the website, you know?
WULF: Yeah, yeah, for sure man! Alright, thank you again for taking the time to talk to me, and hopefully we'll take a road trip and see you guys in St. Louis or something on this upcoming live date tour you guys are doing.
MIKE: That would be cool, man! Bring a bunch of people and come out! We'll have a drink!
WULF: For sure, man! Alright, take it easy Mike! Take care!
MIKE: Take care.