Last time I saw you was at The Middle East in Boston and Eyehategod was playing with Negative Approach and Sheer Terror. There were some Outlaws in the crowd, the place was packed and the party was going hard that night. You must have had a blast touring with those two bands?
That was a good night! We did the tours with Negative Approach and Sheer Terror on the east coast and the west coast, and then we went out with The Accüsed, Negative Approach and Final Conflict. I love touring with those old hardcore bands. That’s where my roots are, ya know. All those people are super cool and we all have the same mindset.
That’s what people say—that John’s frightening, live. He just likes to have his beer and his cigarettes and he’s happy. He’ll talk about The Stooges, the MC5 and Alice Cooper. He texts me and sends me weird Alice Cooper stuff from Youtube. I love it man. They’re great people and cool as shit. I’m glad they’re still doin’ it. When I was a kid in like 1981/’82, Negative Approach was one of my favourite bands, so to end up touring with them years later, is really strange and kinda surreal.
Eyehategod was on the road and all over the world for about 3 years—from 2017 to 2020. Has this little break been nice, and are you itching to get back out there?
All that touring was fun and a great experience. We don’t seem to ever get tired of touring, ya know. Give us a couple weeks in between two big tours and we’re ready to go. We did plan to take off the rest of the year except for a few shows in 2020. We had Psycho Fest and some other fest we were going to do. We had planned to take off after that so I could do the vocals for the record. So ya, we had planned to take time off then all this stuff happened and we had no choice. We’re just waitin’ for the word now.
The new album drops March. 12 on Century Media Records, and it’s been cool see see so many variants of the vinyl up fro pre-order!
Ya, it’s coming out on March. 12, which is strange because it's exactly a year since the lockdown started, to the day. We were in the Ukraine and we had to come home and postpone some shows.
I think there’s eleven different colours of the record. Revolver did one, Century Media did their own, and ours is smoke purple, I think. There’s a whole bunch of variants. I see people on Instagram saying that they only need to get one more and they will have all eleven. It’s awesome to see younger people collecting vinyl.
We’re not signed to Century Media Records, ya know. We did a deal for like one album and we licensed it them, which basically means that they promote and distribute it, but we still own the rights to the songs, which is a big deal! In the old days; in the 90’s, we were on Century Media, but we were actually signed to the label for some ridiculous 6 album deal. We were like 19 at the time, and we signed a record contract ‘cause they promised to send us to Europe, and we were like, “Ok, that sounds great!” But when you look back at the contract, it’s terrible. They basically just screwed over a bunch of young kids. The Century Media that exists now is run by completely different people, compared to the early 90’s. The people that are there now, are cool, and they run the whole label differently.
Eyehategod | A History of Nomadic Behavior 2021
I like the title of the new record—A History of Nomadic Behavior. You've lived a nomadic way of life since you were a kid, haven't you?
The name kinda came outta nowhere, but I knew it meant something to me. I was born in North Carolina, moved to New Orleans and not long after that I ended up running away from home and going to Texas and California. I also lived in New York, and with all the travelling the band has done, it’s just been non stop for my whole life. I like that kind of lifestyle.
In 2019 we went to South America, Taiwan, Israel, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and there’s scenes in all those places. That was exciting! For the most part, every show was packed with this huge scene of kids that love heavy music and American bands. Travelling is education, and it’s a way to learn about other cultures and other people.
That means a lot to those fans because those places aren’t common stops on tour.
That’s another reason why I like doing it, because it does mean a lot to them. You have kids coming up, thanking you and almost crying!
The French Quarter was an old haunt of yours back in the day, and you used to crash above Big Daddy's strip club, didn’t you?
Ya, for a minute I did. I had gotten kicked out of my house by a girl, and I had a friend who was staying up there and they said I could crash. It was filthy, to put it mildly. It was flea infested and smelled bad. I stayed there when we were recording Take As Needed For Pain, ‘cause it was right around the corner from the studio.
Mike IX | New Orleans | Photo by Jason Steger
You owned an ambulance around the time, right?
Ya, I bought a used ambulance from an old girlfriend’s parents who were selling it for like $500. I never paid them in full and I had to give it back. I drove that thing for a few months and I’d sleep in it every now and then. We would just pack it with a bunch of people and go cruising around the city. I’m surprised I didn’t crash that thing.
When did you start doing LSD? Any memorable or traumatic experiences that you can recall?
In the early days we kinda fancied ourselves as straight edge, ‘cause we had seen what they were doing in DC with Minor Threat, but as we got a little bit older we started trying beer and enjoying that. We’d still wear the X on one hand, and we’d have a beer in the other hand, ya know. I had a band called Suffocation By Filth and that was Champ LaRocca, Mike Johnston on drums and this guy named Joel Webb on bass, who was this super hippy dude that liked punk rock. He had long red hair and wore a red afghan shirt. It was kinda cool, ‘cause here’s this weird punk rock band with this hippy guy on bass. We all started experimenting with LSD. We’d do it every weekend and then it would be like the weekend plus Wednesdays, and then it got to the point where we were taking it everyday. I did acid hundreds of times. There was never anything traumatic. I think anytime you have a bad trip, you can’t wait to take it the next time to make up for the trip you had before, that wasn’t like you planned. After we took acid, we’d go wherever the wind took us and do all kinds of crazy shit. We used to hang out in Audubon Park. There’s a giant tree there, called the Tree of Life, where all the hippies used to hang out. Taking LSD definitely changed our lives—it opened up our minds.
Eyehategod | First show in Canada | Montreal, Quebec 2017
When I was in New Orleans, you took me around to some of the old venues where you'd seen legendary shows in the 80's—places like The Rose Tattoo, Tipitina’s, Jed’s and Jimmy’s. What can you tell me about those spots and some of the shows you saw back in the day?
The first time I ever went to a punk show was at Jed’s. I went to see a band called The Normals and I was like 12 years old. My brother used to work there and he knew I was gettin’ into this weird music. That was like 1979, and I’d been buying the records and gettin’ into the stuff for like a year. He said he’d take me, and since he worked there, he could get a 12 year old in. The way Jed’s was, I don’t even know if they would have noticed if I just walked in. The place was crazy. It was just one of those free for all type of bars, ya know. So, I got to go in and see The Normals and a couple other local New Orleans bands. I saw Black Flag at Jed’s when they were on the Loose Nut tour. I saw the Red Rockers, The Sluts and Shell Shock. All the local bands would play there and people would be breaking bottles and tearing the sinks out of the wall. I saw Bad Brains at Jed’s in 1983, as well as the Misfits. The first or second time the Misfits ever played in New Orleans, me and my friend Champ went and recorded their soundcheck. We had the soundcheck on cassette but I lost it. I saw Antiseen, GBH, DRI, COC and Graveyard Rodeo who were a great local band! In the mid 80’s, the crossover thing was happening, so these thrash bands would play there too. Jed’s lasted for awhile and then the name changed to Tupelo’s Tavern, but they still did the same kind of shows. It was a great place to hang out. Those were the days, man.
I saw Black Flag and Dead Kennedy’s at Jimmy’s and Celtic Frost played there with Voivod. I’ve played there with Eyehategod a bunch of times. I saw Mudhoney, Sonic Youth, Wall of Voodoo, Helios Creed, King Diamond, Anthrax—fuckin’ everyone. You’d get kicked out for slam dancing. They hated it, but they’d have punk bands all the time.
"They opened the back doors with their guns on me and said, "Get out!""
Talk about the influence that Dave Turgeon and the Sluts had on you?
Towards ’81/’82 bands starting getting more hardcore. People were hearing Black Flag, Bad Brains and D.O.A. and those influences made their way down to New Orleans. The Sluts were a band that didn’t give a fuck. They were sloppy, all of their songs were three chords and their lyrics were sometimes offensive. They were kinda reckless, always drinking beer and they just seemed cool to me when I was a kid. I used to go talk to Dave after the shows and he was this spaced out, acid casualty dude—that whole reckless attitude just appealed to me. The singer had a hundred foot mic chord and he would go outside the club on the street while he was still singing. There would be cars going by and he’d yell at them through the window. The Sluts had this carefree attitude that I thought was funny and awesome at the same time. They put out a record called 12” of Sluts. The cover’s bright pink and its got 12” of Sluts handwritten on it with a little stick figure drawing of the band. They couldn’t even be bothered to do an album cover. Dave Turgeon was a character. I went to the same school as him and there were always stories of Dave doing these crazy things. He had bleached blond hair with big spikes. People should know about the Sluts! I just like to spread the word about that band and hopefully people will check ‘em out. Oh ya, Dave was asked to sing for Black Flag, but lost out to some other loser guy named Henry Rollins.
In 2017, you guys (Eyehategod) played your first Canadian show in Montreal, Quebec Canada. That show almost didn't happen, Black Label Society had an issue, and there was a venue change, but it was cool to see you and COC in a smaller, more intimate space.
I’m happy the way that first show turned out. We got to play on a smaller stage at Foufounes.
That Black Label tour was cool and we got to play in front of a lot of people who didn’t know who we were, which was sometimes a good thing and sometimes a bad thing. We came back to Montreal with Black Label a second time and played a short set at a really big hall (MTelus), which was not the same, so I’m glad everybody got to see us before, in a more intimate space. We also did Heavy Montreal which was cool. We got to hang out with Voivod and Power Trip, later that night.
Was there anything intriguing about Canada that you came across?
Vancouver was a sight ‘cause we played right there off of Hastings. We stayed at this hotel like a block or two away from the club, so I was just lookin’ out my window constantly ‘cause it’s just a free for all there. There’s people shooting up and smoking crack and the cops just drive by. It’s like an open air drug market. I’ve seen those things before in Athens, Greece and Philadelphia. It was like a few blocks of people living in tents, on the street. I know it happens, but seeing it was interesting. I kept walking up and down the street and checking things out. It was surreal, but I felt bad for a lot of those people, of course.
What's the story about the customs agents pulling you guys over at the border and looking up Eyehategod online?
There were two difference incidents that happened going back to the US from Montreal. The time you’re talking about, they pulled us over and said that there was some guy named Michael Williams who was wanted. It turned out he wasn’t the same race as me, but they still brought us inside and searched the van. We went in, they took our passports and we saw them googling Eyehategod, and then they started cracking up laughing. We were like, “Oh shit… well, at least they’re laughing.” One of the guys slowly walks over and goes, “Lemme ask you a question… is there any need for “Sisterfucker Part II?” That time we all ended up laughing, it was a relief and they let us go.
The other time was coming back from Heavy Montreal. We pull in, they asked for our passports and the next thing you know, they’re surrounding the van with their guns out and telling our driver, Zack, to give them the keys! They said, “Which one’s Michael Williams?!” It was the same issue with some guy being wanted that had the same name as me. I was in the back crashed out and still drunk from the show. They opened the back doors with their guns on me and said, “Get out!” They took me outta the van, slapped the handcuffs on and brought me inside. I didn’t know what was goin’ on, ya know. I knew it would be fine, because I didn’t have any warrants or anything like that—not that I knew of. The funny thing was, I had a rusty razor blade in my pocket that they didn’t really like. They thought it was a weapon, but they gave it back to me and let us all go.
Mike IX Williams & Keith Morris | Detroit 2017
I know you're a hip hop fan and you come from a city that had a major hip hop explosion in the 90s—No Limit Records and Cash Money Records. New Orleans rap always fascinated me, especially the No Limit stuff. Who are some of your favourite New Orleans hip hop artists?
Juvenile has gotta be my favourite, and BG. To me, Juvenile is the top guy in that whole scene. In New Orleans they call it bounce. Mannie Fresh, Birdman, the Big Tymers, the Hot Boys, Chopper City Boyz—all those albums are good too. They’re local super groups. No Limit and Cash Money were totally in competition at one time, and they would each buy billboards downtown on Canal street. One more group that I love a lot is called U.N.L.V. If you can look up that stuff; it’s fuckin’ great man. There’s also a guy called DJ Jubilee who we actually played with once at a wedding party, which was really cool.
That reminds me of a story you told me about when Eyehategod was recording at The Egyptian Room in New Orleans and you found some handwritten lyrics in the studio.
I remember we were doing some demos that ended up being called the Southern Discomfort demos. One day we came into the studio, which was called The Egyptian Room, to do some work on the recordings and we saw all these pieces of paper laying. They had lyrics on them and it turned out they belonged to Juvenile and BG, who had been in there working.
"The Fuck-Ups were always my soundtrack to injecting tons of cocaine."
Who are your favourite MC's and hip hop groups?
I like Wu-Tang Clan. Everybody’s gonna say, “Oh, that white boy likes Wu-Tang!” All the spin off records, like the GZA—it’s all good stuff. It stuck with me from the 90’s. NWA, of course… another white boy choice. There’s a lot of underground stuff too—we’ve talked about Non Phixion before. Somebody sent me studio recordings from Non Phixion and I really liked that. There’s some guys called Black Sheep that are good. I like Kendrick Lamar and Gang Starr, too.
I've had the extreme pleasure of seeing your record collection, or at least part of it. I remember you showing me some really cool, obscure shit. Straight off the top of your head, what's one of your most cherished records?
God, I don’t know man. I had to restart my collection. I don’t even consider myself a collector anymore. I lost everything in Hurricane Katrina, and I had like 25 years worth of records that were just gone after my apartment burned down. I had some great stuff back then. I had all the early Dischord stuff that’s worth crazy money now. I had a lot of new wave of British heavy metal stuff, I had some Misfits records that are definitely worth money now, but that's all gone. Some of my records happened to be in New York at someone's house, so they ended up mailing them, and that’s what I have now. I have the early Mercyful Fate; the first 12” they put out. That’s still one of my favourite records and I guess it’s pretty rare right now. It’s just a mixture of old 80’s metal, hardcore and punk rock from every year there is. There’s some other blues and hip stuff in there, as well.
Mike IX Williams | Louisiana 2017
The Fuck-Ups were always my soundtrack to injecting tons of cocaine. They were this band from San Francisco, and the singer was this guy named Bob Noxious. That’s his punk name obviously, not his given birth name. I appreciated the fact that they just did not give a fuck, ya know. Their 7” is called FU82 and it’s some of the most aggressive, I don’t even know how to describe it—like street music, that I’ve ever heard. It’s only like 5 songs and there’s one called “White Boy.” It’s supposed to be reggae or something, but it’s kind of a throwaway song, for me. The other songs are just violent. I’m tryna think of some of the lyrics… “Once I had a brother. One day I’m gonna find him and skin him alive!” There’s a song called, “I think You’re Shit.” Just really violent music and for some reason it gave me this crazy feeling.
I played that record this morning.
That’ll wake you up for sure. You know what I mean about the lyrics? It’s like, “Im’ gonna fuckin’ kill you,” and you believe ‘em too. I don’t even know if he’s alive or not. He’s either in prison or dead. They were part of this scene in San Francisco back then—they called them the Vat Rats. There was a bunch of bands, like Condemned to Death, Verbal Abuse and The Fuck-Ups. They were livin’ in these abandoned beer vats somewhere in east San Francisco. It was this little scene of bands that all practiced at the same place and played together. Verbal Abuse was a band that I actually lived with in Houston for a little while in ‘82, when I was a runaway.
The Fuck-Ups | FU82
If you could bring back any band t-shirt from the dead which one would it be?
There’s this magazine called Negative Insight and they just did a reproduction of an old Discharge shirt. It’s a white shirt with the three skulls and torn banners. It’s from way back in the 80’s. I just ordered one. I had a Dischord Records shirt with the crowd and stage diving on it. I miss that shirt. I had a shitty Manson shirt once and it said “Helter Skelter.” A friend of mine screen printed them in his garage or something and they were just terrible shirts. I miss that shirt for some reason.
You've been involved with some cool projects in the past couple years. You're on the track “Firefly Family” on Ho99o9's latest mixtape, The EHG/Sheer Terror split covering Devo’s “Gates of Steel,” and the Dead End America EP, all of which are very dope.
Ya, we did our own version of that Devo song. Jimmy isn’t a fan of Devo, so he was reluctant to play the song. We had this idea with Sheer Terror when we were planning a tour, and we were like, “Let’s do a split for the tour.” Of course it didn’t come out ‘till like two years later because we’re all a bunch of lazy sods. So the idea was to each do an 80’s cover and we sell them at the shows. I love Devo! Devo was one of the first bands that showed me that you could do totally different things with music and you don’t have to stick to the formula.
Dead End America is a band I did with Nick Oliveri from Queens of the Stone Age and Slayer Hippy from Poison Idea, who has since passed away. He died right before the 7” single came out. I like to make sure people remember him. He was the drummer on Poison Idea’s Feel the Darkness, which is a great album. When we did that tour with The Accüsed, he was the drummer, and he was just a great guy, ya know.
Are there any other projects that you want to mention?
There was a noise/industrial tribute cassette that came out last year where all these people covered Eyehategod, Arson Anthem, Corrections House and Outlaw Order.
People should buy some merch from us ‘cause it’s the only thing keeping us alive right now during the pandemic. Not just us, buy merch from any band!
Check out Eyehategod’s merch store at eyehategod.ee
Dead End America | Bullet For 45 (Straight from A .45)
By Landyn McIntosh | Published: February. 26, 2021