The metal community is rallying around one of its own, and a legend at that. Mike IX Williams is seeing many bands from the New Orleans scene come together to support his plight to help him get a a life-saving liver transplant as soon as possible. A concert has been booked for this winter to raise more money for the cause. Continue reading
Mike IX Willliams, sludge metal frontman, author, and legend of such bands as EyeHateGod,Corrections House, and Arson Anthem needs a liver transplant to save his life. His wife has launched a YouCaring account to collect monies for medical care.Continue reading
There are few voices in metal, either lyrically or sonically as unique as Mike IX Williams. Best known for EyeHateGod, Mike has been a music lifer and pioneer for the sound of several sub-genres of metal for thirty years now. Although he is a performer that leaves his mark on all those who see him, it is his gift for words that really sets him apart from all others. If metal had a Poet Laureate, it would undoubtedly be Mike, although he might not accept the title, because he’s not in this for awards. Rather, it is about creating a body of work, whether it be on stage with EHG or other past projects such as Arson Anthem or more recently, the explosive super-group, Corrections House. We chatted with Mike, calling in from his home in Louisiana, on the eve of the release of the first new EyeHateGod album from in 14 long, hard-fought years.
The new self-titled album has been a long time in the making. Now that it is done we asked Mike for his perspective on the process and the finished product:
“I think this is the best record we’ve done. I love all of our records. I love everything we’ve ever done, but this one is just special to us. It’s got a different kind of sound on it. Some of the best songwriting I think we’ve done too. We’re all very proud of it. It’s awesome. We had tons of titles we could have called the record. Lot’s of those “Take As Needed for Pain” type of titles, you know. We don’t like to be predictable. Throwing this type of thing in there confuses people and I love to confuse people. Besides that we had talked about ,these lists and lists of titles we had. We all sat around and discussed them. This is before even Joey died. Then it was kind of a no-brainier. I don’t even think we had a real discussion about it; just “Let’s self-title it”. We just called it EyeHateGod. It seemed like a logical thing. His drums are on the record, but it’s also like a new beginning. There is a new start with a new drummer. This album is definitely a tribute to him, so it seemed like the smart thing to do.”
Obviously the loss of Joey LaCaze looms over this album and his playing was immense. We wondered if it was painful to hear these songs, and perform them under the circumstances: “Of course we miss him. We’re not going to bum out about it. He wouldn’t want us too. Joey would not want us to be like that. We’re not gonna dwell on him being gone. We’re gonna keep moving forward because that is what we do. We’re not gonna drone on and be sad. There was never a thought of not doing this anymore. Our first thought was “ok, who are we gonna get to play drums”. Joey wanted it that way. He told us he wanted it that way.”
In addition to the album releasing on Housecore records, Phil Anselmo was apparently a big part of making the album: “We proud to be working with him as well. As far as signing to the label, there was a question that was up in the air. What we were weary about was just how would it be to work with our friend, because he is such a good friend, and such an old friend. And we are just weary of working with a friend, because it could end up badly. Sometimes it does. Phil helped out with the vocals here at Nosferatu’s Lair, where I am speaking to you right now from, because I live upstairs. I live right upstairs from the studio so it was easy for me to walk down the stairs and take a left at the bottom of the stairs, and I’m sitting in in the studio. And we’d wait every day until it got dark and then he’d say, ‘do you want a drink’ and we’d get out the wine and start recording. It’s rock n roll time! He helped me a lot with the vocals, giving me ideas and coaching. Of course, it’s all my lyrics and I wouldn’t change that ever. He always gives me some tips and pointers coaching on the vocals, maybe how to put the parts together. Of course he is one of the most successful metal vocalists ever, so I would be a fool to not work with him. I would never pass up the chance to work with the guy. We had worked together before on Arson Anthem, which was the same thing, just me and Phil putting everything together for that record. We worked with him before, but this was really special because it was for EyeHateGod.”
After originally starting the sessions with Billy Anderson, but ultimately to Stephen Berrigan took over the controls and finished the album:
“It was basically made at three separate studios. We started with Billy and it just fell apart due to some personal things. There was a documentary crew their making a film about Billy and they were really in the way. And that was a mess. We felt really rushed and we were unhappy. So we scrapped everything from those sessions, except Joey’s drums. And I know Billy is really proud to have recorded Joey’s last drum session. After that we went up to our rehearsal room, to a place called the “Riff Room” and that is where we worked out the rest of the music. Then we came here (Nosferatu’s Lair) to do the vocals with Steve and Phil. Steve, man, he’s a good engineer. He hasn’t been doing it as long as Billy, but he is really good with what he has done. He’s done a bunch of the Housecore stuff man. He’s worked on the HAARP record and Warbeast album; just a ton of stuff and we all grew up with him, so that’s cool.”
“The whole Billy thing was just too rushed. We should have waited and planned it out better. We were really excited to do it with him and it didn’t work out. It just wasn’t the right time, but at least we got Joey’s drums out of it.”
We asked Mike if he felt relieved to finally have the album done and behind him:
“Yeah of course. It’s definitely a relief. We’ve been wanting to have a record out, since the last record. Drug problems, personal problems, record label problems, Hurricane Katrina.You name it, it seems like something went on. Something was keeping us from doing a new record. We had some of the songs for a long time, and some were written more recently. Hopefully people really dig it, and we get more recognition from it, so we can tour places we never have before.”
Since Mike’s lyrics are always so abstract we asked if he wondered what the listeners think of his lyrics and how they are interpreted. “This album for sure, you can tell all of what I’m saying more than other albums. Where as in the past some of the vocals were incomprehensible and you could not understand me. I like confusing people, man. That’s why we are ‘The Masters of Organized Confusion’, EyeHateGod (laughs), which is a song off of Dopesick. And my lyrics are really abstract and cryptic at times. And sometimes people do bring in different meanings and different kings of things. It think its cool when people do find their own meanings in the song. I think it’s cool when people find different meanings in my songs Sometimes people will say “I think it means this”, which is very cool to me. It’s more of a free-flowing, cryptic, abstract, stream of consciousness kind of thing.”
It’s been almost 10 years since Hurricane Katrina. As a resident and a person who had his life forever changed from the storm, we asked Mike to share his thoughts on that turbulent time:
“What happened….everyone has their own story. Every single person that went through it has their own story. And a lot of people left and evacuated, and I stayed. Which looking back on it was kind of stupid, because I got into a lot of trouble and I got arrested and had a lot of problems from it. It definitely changed my life. It was something out of a movie.”
“I have Post-Traumatic Stress from it, not that I didn’t already have it probably. It messes you up when you see dead bodies lying in the street. The hurricane caused a lot of destruction obviously and people lost their homes, lost everything, but what happened with people and their behavior was worse. It’s like you watch The Walking Dead. Sometimes I will watch the show and I will get a flashback and think “That is just like Katrina”. People just became like animals. Fights breaking out and people hurting each other and stealing from each other. It was terrible.”
WORDS KEITH CHACHKES
Most people in the current generation never got to see or hear Pantera live. Even if you did, it’s sadly been over a decade since that band played it’s final notes. Even though their surviving members have continued to make music, some of it excellent, nothing will ever quite duplicate that fury and fun for a lot of people who remember them. Phil Anselmo has continued to make music with the likes of Down and other projects, but outside of some his recent work in the metal masters, fans haven’t had the chance to him cut loose and get back to his brutal musical past. With his recent album Walk Through Exits Only (Housecore) and his new backing band, The Illegals, Phil is back to doing arguably what his does best: crushing stages and having fun on the ‘The Technicians of Distortion Tour’.
Upstairs there was some good support from local bands such as Black Mass and Vivsepulture. Downstairs in the main room, Author & Punisher was up first and you could just feel the “wtf?” in the room with groans and sighs. I love it when an artist challenges a crowd just by being there. A one man sonic and multimedia experience, the room that was waiting for some thrash and groove, guitars and screaming, and they just couldn’t handle it. Tristan Shone is the man behind A&P and you have to give him his props, based on impassioned performance and dgaf attitude. This was an inspired choice to open the show even if barely anybody in the building “got it”. Warbeast was up next and fell more in line with the expectations of the swelling crowd. Playing some Texas sized thrash metal songs, hot off of their recent Anselmo produced Destroy (Housecore) album, the band woke the droopy crowd up with a bang. Playing songs such as ‘Nightmares In the Sky’, ‘Birth of A Psycho’, and ‘Scorched Earth Policy’ really activated the pit. Front man Bruce Corbitt stalked the stage and sang his balls off as usual. Guitarists Scott Shelby and Bobby Tilotson provided the firepower shred-wise. Of course, Phil watched their entire set from the side of the stage and even came out to sing for a few songs, including some old Rigor Mortis jams which was terrific.
Finally, Phil and troupe left the stage, only long enough for them to clear the gear and show a very sparse stage of gear. A massive, simple banner hung as a backdrop: Phil’s visage in a silhouette of his face and head with his band name only. They could tell tonight was going to be a special show. After jamming a bit of ‘Black Houses’ by Portal, the band launched into ‘Battalion of Zero’. It was great to hear Phil just growl it out as he hasn’t really done in years on stage much. He just let it fly and he sounded flawless. ‘Betrayed’ was next and the crowd was just whipped in a frenzy with a chaotic pit happening. It was also cool to hear people had the new album, and were singing along too. His band was as killer as advertised, especially Marzi Montazeri on guitar. The band ended up playing the entire record over the course of the night and Phil gave little explanations of what the thought was behind each song. Phil chatted it up, but thankfully kept his banter short, or short for him. There were also some epic surprises all night long, the first being the late-era Pantera classic ‘Death Rattle’. It was just sick to hear this song live, which has closely followed by Superjoint Ritual‘s ‘Fuck Your Enemy’. Later in the set the band messed around with the opening of Led Zeppelin‘s ‘Dazed and Confused’, which sounded so doomy and sludged out. I appreciated the notion, even if I giggled at the delivery. Even though people cried out for his more popular songs, it was cool to hear most of Phil’s stops in his musical journey represented, such as the Arson Anthem killer ‘Wrecked Like Clockwork’. After playing a nice mash-up of Pantera treasures like ‘Domination/Hollow’ with a little ‘By Demons Be Driven’, and for a second I caught myself thinking it was 1998 again. Closing with Agnostic Front’s ‘United and Strong’, Phil and his band definitely delivered a fun show of new music, old hits and some influences.
Words: Keith Chachkes
Photos: Echoes In The Well
The much-anticipated solo album from Philip Anselmo, Walk Through Exits Only (Season of Mist/Housecore) has arrived, and it is definitely a musical enema for your head. It’s loud and chaotic, brutal, and beautiful to hear all at once. This album sees him returning to the style we had become so accustomed to in the first half of his almost twenty-five-year career in metal. Don’t get me wrong, Phil as the voice of Down is great, and he has added a wizened, graceful quality to that band now. But, if you also love the vitriolic harshness of classic middle-era Pantera albums, Superjoint Ritual, and his other work, you will be thrilled to hear the sound of the Phil of old rise again. This album will speak to a primal place deep within you, and it will have you speaking in tongues. Continue reading