Eyehategod's Mike IX Williams: "I Can't Damage Myself Too Much Anymore or I Might Wake Up Unconscious Forever"
|Eyehategod's Mike IX and Satan.|
They don't kill virgins, hang them upside down over a tub, and wash themselves in blood. They don't dance inside circles of fire during full moons at midnight. They don't castrate babies, put hamsters in blenders, or microwave frogs. They don't light firecrackers inside nuns, soak Christians in kerosene, or cut the toes off anyone walking in the Holy Light. They are not a cult.
These guys just love music.
They might shoot dope, eat pills, smoke weed, and hurt themselves. They might have a couple too many drinks and wake up 93 days later in county jail. But basically, they're underground legends who are simple, down-to-earth dudes.
Eyehategod has been together since 1988. And except for a revolving cast of bass players, it's still the same old lineup. Combining hardcore, punk, blues, and metal, this crushingly heavy crew sounds something like Black Flag meets Black Sabbath, chopped and screwed. And after almost 25 years of innovating, the five-man band is finally getting the respect it deserves as a musical force that has influenced artists all over the world.
Now, this Saturday night, Eyehategod is gonna convene at Churchill's Pub for a one-off show organized by killer local promotion company Speedfreek. There is no new album and no tour. It's just a legendary band crashing a Little Haiti dive bar to soak up some whiskey, spew out the classics, and destroy Miami.
Lead singer Mike IX (as in the number nine) was born in North Carolina during the '60s, lost his parents when he was 11, and moved to New Orleans with his brother in the late '70s. He was into Kiss. But then he saw the Clash and Talking Heads in concert. "I started getting into seeing any band," he says. "The big arena shows weren't cool anymore."
By 15, Mike started a group called Teenage Waste. "The only four punk-rock kids at my school," he recalls, "getting together and making some noise." Meanwhile, he began going to all the shows in his city, seeing Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Bad Brains, Dead Kennedys, and the Misfits. "That's where my history comes from. Goin' to hardcore shows is where it all blew up in my face. I realized this is all I want to do for the rest of my life."
And then after the inevitable dissolution of Teenage Waste, Mike formed Eyehategod with a different group of friends, playing Melvins riffs in the living room. By 1990, they'd released their first album, In the Name of Suffering.
It was around that time when the band developed a friendship with infamous shockcore crew Anal Cunt. "Seth [Putnam, the group's late lead singer] would call me from his job at the gas station, scamming long distance. He'd be with a customer, like, 'Yeah, asshole. Pump 7. Uh, what were we talkin' about?'" Mike laughs. "We had the same idea of pissing people off. Except they played fast and we went the slower route."
Still thicker than the Louisiana swamp, Eyehategod's slow, heavy riffing remains a vital force in the New Orleans underground. "People know our city for the jazz and blues. But there's a huge scene for metal and punk and other extreme shit." The HBO series Treme even features a character whose favorite band is Eyehategod. "I guess word got around about us. I wouldn't mind being an actor," Mike admits. "Hopefully, there's more to come."