Eyehategod's Mike Williams: "I don't like being labeled. I think we're just a rock-and-roll band"
Eyehategod (due Sunday, January 26, at the Bluebird Theater) formed in New Orleans in 1988. The influential band combined its influences from the world of the blues, Black Sabbath and hardcore punk into a unique alchemy that lent itself well to dipping into the dark side of the psyche and projecting it like a sonic exorcism of angst, despair and desperation.
Singer Mike Williams projects an emotional intensity and sincerity that can be unsettling at times but is also incredibly cathartic. We had the opportunity to speak with the gregarious and refreshingly frank Williams about his experimental project Corrections House, how it is similar to and contrasting with Eyehategod and how he always seems to find himself in darkly intense bands.
Westword: What kind of ideas did you discuss with the other guys in putting together Corrections House? It comes across with a very strong aesthetic.
Mike Williams: Believe it or not, it was all very improvised and not that planned when we started the whole project. We were going to tour where all four of us did solo sets, which we did but at the end of the solo sets. We collaborated on three songs that we did. Denver was a weird show because Bruce Lamont wasn't there. We had Chuck French from Wovenhand fill in on bass. The whole thing was kind of improvised. We just called up Chuck, and he said sure he could do it.
The only things we had pre-planned was the fact that we wanted it to be dark. All of our music in our other bands is dark anyway -- Neurosis, Eyehategod, Yakuza and Nachtmystium. We also wanted to be experimental and try new things and not be the typical rock band. I wouldn't be lying if I said that we didn't deep in the back of our minds want to piss off our regular fans a little bit by playing something totally different.
Some rock fans can be lunkheads sometimes. It's kind of fun to see exactly who reads books and who doesn't. Who is smarter than the other guy. I'm not trying to say I'm a big shot and better. But I'm just saying it's fun to see people's expectations because they usually come in thinking, "It's a cross between Neurosis and Eyehategod," or "Nachtmystium and Yakuza meets Neurosis." And it's not at all. It's something completely different. I think it's really original, but it wasn't pre-planned, really that much.
It's interesting you say that because sometimes a band will put out an album in which it challenges itself to do something a bit different or completely different and some people go along with it to see what kind of interesting stuff the band is up to, and those that want more of the exact same thing they're used to.
It's a whole different band. Corrosion of Conformity changed their entire [thing]. Discharge, back in the day, went glam metal or whatever for a little bit. I think maybe a name change would be good for bands that do something that drastic. It's cool to experiment, and that's why I have Corrections House. I can always go back to Eyehategod, which I love.
Some writing on Corrections House compared it to extreme metal, and maybe that was more the writer trying to convey why it should be interesting to fans of that type of music. But live, Corrections House didn't seem metal at all. More industrial or a more experimental vein of metal than merely the extreme.
No, I did an interview and a guy said -- and I don't know if he listened to it -- "So you're a drone, doom band." Not at all. I hate labels in general. Like with Eyehategod, they say "sludge," and I hate that. I don't like being labeled. I think we're just a rock and roll band playing a different kind of rock and roll. It's more like, with the blues, John Lee Hooker if he was raised on Black Flag and Black Sabbath. That's the way I look at it. People make the obvious comparisons with Corrections House like Swans, which there is an influence from that, we all love that band.
That great video for "Hoax The System" is reminiscent of Death In June.
We get that a lot because of the masks, but not so much the music. I didn't even realize that until later. I was like "Wow, that looks like the guy from Death In June." But that's cool. That's another band we love. Their older stuff, like the stuff they did with Current 93, was more noisy stuff. I like that too and their acoustic stuff as well.