Archive for January, 2015

Two Minutes With The Ruiner

Friday, January 30th, 2015

We spend a couple of minutes with Jason Fuller of The Ruiner and find out what’s new…

Describe your music in five words or less.
Heavy. Pop. Doom. Songs. Big.

What’s going on in the world of The Ruiner?
We are planning our first proper release early in the new year. It’s been slow as projects besides The Ruiner encroach on our ability to get as much done as we want. Hopefully this changes early in the new year after the new Goatsound studio is built. We have the EP early next year and an album to follow mid next year. We should be busy and you could in fact see us around a little more.

What motivates you to make music?
I think we all really just get off on playing and writing new stuff. It’s all about the creation of new music and always has been. This thought carries through all of our previous projects too. Christbait, DernRutlidge, Blood Duster, Pillow… etc, all these bands have really just wanted to output material, that is the fun side.

What have been the high and low points of your musical experiences so far?
Touring and meeting people, playing great shows… all these things are highlights that I have loved.
We have had pretty good lives within a relatively small scene, and I don’t think there have been too many lowlights. We’ve been ripped off and all that shit the same as every other band, but that’s life. It’s always better to concentrate on the good and let the music bring people down.

What music are you listening to at the moment?
I have been listening to lots of ELO, specifically the Time album. ELO were always one of those bands I never gave any real attention to, but the Time record is fucking great stuff. Pretty much just that as well as helping other bands make their records fills my listening time. The new record by The Kill is pretty killer and so is the new Watchtower EP we just finished up.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which member of the band would get eaten first?
Probably our guitarist Adam, because he is so fucking weak from years of weed abuse we could take him pretty easily, and probably because the rest of us would contain too much fat to cook well. We would still be trying to watch our weight in the hopes that we are rescued. We would want to look our best.

Here’s an opportunity to bitch about something, whether music related or not. What really pisses you off?
Fuck there is so much stuff… People who vote Liberal but have no money and therefore no reason to vote Liberal. Liberal voters who have money but refuse to say greed is what motivates them above all else to vote Liberal. Also people who are so apathetic that they yell loud about it. If they only used that apathy anger for something good instead of trying to bring everybody else down. Like people on Facebook who yell stuff like “I HATE THAT YOU EXPRESS
OPINIONS” — I wish those people would fuck off. I guess these are only my opinions, I don’t really know who the others vote in this band… fuck ‘em anyway.

You’re putting together your perfect gig featuring Australian artists. Who would you get to play and where? Feel free to include acts/DJs/bands/venues that no longer exist.
Mass Confusion, Hard-Ons (to hear Ray’s rants), Christbait, Abyssic Hate, Damnatory, Renegade, Sadistik Exekution, Depression (with Smeer on vocals) Rancor and Massapeal. This would be an all day fest at Bell St. Rock. Yessssssss.

Anger Management: Death

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Every fortnight, we check in with all things heavy on RTRFM’s Critical Mass show.

In 1991, grunge had taken a firm grip on Seattle and the world in general. While we were Neverminding with a Facelift and a Badmotorfinger, Brandon Florida’s Death were busy carving their own screaming, bloody, gory niche of their own with Human. This album almost saw the end of the band, when Terry Butler and Bill Andrews defied Chuck Schuldiner’s rejection of a European tour for Spiritual Healing a year earlier. Terry and Bill did the tour with “stand-in” members and were swiftly fired shortly after.

This is where Paul Masvidal, Steve DiGiorgio and Sean Reinert joined, and a new, more philosophical, introspective, experimental approach to their bread and butter death metal begun to take shape.

Human was not as raw as its predecessors for early 90s recording standards, and was a huge notch on the belt for Jim Morris’ Morrisound studio in Tampa, which had some unholy alliances of its own with Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Morbid Angel and Obituary all churning out some ground breaking USDM.

Human has eight tracks of death metal wizardry including an instrumental track “Cosmic Sea” and the Japanese version had a cover of Kiss’s “God Of Thunder”. Buy this album if you want your own piece of DM history, or drag it out of the back of the CD rack at home to re-live its power and glory.

RIP Chuck Schuldiner.

Critical Mass airs every Wednesday from 9PM (GMT+8) on RTR FM 92.1 in Perth, Australia.

Merdarahta — As The Dark Clouds Swept Away We Could See The Sunset

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Merdarahta is a collaborative noise project formed by guitarist Topon Das from Canadian grindcore guns Fuck the Facts. The project already has a number of excellent releases to its name, rendered from the improvisational efforts of core members and musicians to whom Das has extended the invitation to participate. This past week, Merdarahta unleashed its latest sonic nightmare: an album called As The Dark Clouds Swept Away We Could See The Sunset. Alongside Das on bass, the record features Fuck the Facts’ vocalist Mélanie Mongeon, Leigh Newton from The Sun Through A Telescope on drums, and Seb Choquette from Mekhaya taking care of guitars.

Merdarahta’s new record is a confronting and focused beast of absolute darkness, from head to tail. The listener is initiated through wailing drones trembling and cackling over a cold husk of noise. “Dirt Bodies” patiently sets this cold and ominous tone before the explosive second track, “The Dark Clouds”, billows forth as a radioactive blast wave. Like Margaret Chardiet and Stefania Pedretti, Mélanie is utterly blood-curdling with the power and intensity of her supernatural vocal delivery. The song blends the experimentation with some more defined riffs amidst the swirling spirit of noise. Every moment is a savage psychological blow, taking savage delight in driving the listener into a pit of torture and despair.

“Their Blank Stares” approaches something many black metal bands would dream of achieving in terms of atmosphere. Guitars ring like death knells over cycles of noise infused with pure malevolence. Voices whisper and rasp like ghastly hallucinations, shadows of the once living on the scorched concrete of a nuclear wasteland. Across the album, the blistering and haunting gales of feedback and delay are masterful in their evocation of a meditative state, tapping a well of violent and abrasive psychedelic noise to transport one’s consciousness to despair along a tremendous, irresistible journey.

At its denoument the album morphs briefly into something particularly interesting that flirts with melancholic post-rock. “Poverty Will Spread” evolves from this initial somber and mournful lament played out between guitars infused with hopelessness and vocals of such sincere sorrow into a crescendo of percussion before finally lashing out again in one last frenzy of rage.

It could be said that this is not an album that will uplift you or that will bring you any peace. It could be a soundtrack for being waterboarded with the blood of your children, for dry drowning on the purest misanthropic vapours of scorn you may hold for the very worst of humanity. However, for those who find catharsis in such magnificent and sincere expression at its darkest and most confronting, born from the most unfettered impulses of artists’ imaginations, this is that brilliant form of emotional resonance that one simply cannot do without.

The Black Captain hosts RTRFM’s Behind the Mirror at 11pm Perth time (+8 GMT), January 28, and Brain, Blood, Volume at 1am, February 8. You can livestream RTRFM here.

Antennas to Heaven: Viet Cong

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Your biweekly submersion into new and experimental music.

Rising from the ashes of defunct Canadian band Women, Viet Cong have emerged reconfigured, pushing their earlier, jagged post-punk towards hazier pop spectrums on their self-titled release, with sculpted melodies penetrating the seemingly impenetrable grit of the instruments.

“March of Progress” lingers on echoed drums and non-effacing drone for its first three minutes before cutting out to a charmingly oriental arrangement of eastern instruments that dive bomb into a slew of caterwauling guitars and a gorgeous vocal melody, like the finest moments of a Deerhunter record.

The gloriously jaunty “Bunker Buster” leads with an adrenaline-fuelled one-two-response guitar riff, reshaping throughout but never losing the incredible potency of its initial appeal. At times, Viet Cong sound like the perfect rock band, teasing and prodding before unleashing torrents of wailing noise and emphatic vocals, of which the album is littered with — namely “Continental Shelf”, the best bet for anyone craving a Pixies pre-reunion kick. A roaring debut from an excellent new band.

Viet Cong is out now through Jagjaguwar.

A Minute With Leeches

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Before they support Eyehategod at The Rosemount on January 29, we spend a minute with Leeches and find out what’s new…

Describe your music in five words or less.
Ridiculous. Noise. Fast. Tapas. Punk.

What’s going on in the world of Leeches?
We have had a busy year and next year’s going to be busier, however we’re currently working on our summer BBQ strategies.

What motivates you to make music?
My motivation to make music, I have no idea. I just can’t help but be an urban poet. It’s in my blood.

What have been the high and low points of your musical experiences so far?
High point: finding out of rehearsal room does free pizza on a Tuesday night.

Low point: getting there a bit late one night, intentionally skipping dinner… Only to find out the other bands had beaten me to it. Devo.

What music are you listening to at the moment?
I’ve been listening to cosmic psychos as my son loves the digger on the front of the LP. He asks me frequently to put the diggers on.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which member of the band would get eaten first?
If we were stranded on a desert island we wouldn’t turn on each other, we’d hunt pigs. And roast scorpions.

Here’s an opportunity to bitch about something, whether music related or not. What really pisses you off?
What really pisses me off is when you buy a pack of BBQ flavoured samboys and there’s only 12 chips in the bag. Things just seem to be getting more expensive and less valued these days.

You’re putting together your perfect gig featuring Australian artists. Who would you get to play and where? Feel free to include acts/DJs/bands/venues that no longer exist.
I would have The Lime Spiders, The Saints, Hoodoo Gurus, Radio Birdman and Cosmic Psychos all play at The Old Bar in Fitzroy with Con the Fruiterer as MC.

Leeches join Cursed Earth in support of Eyehategod at The Rosemount Hotel on Thursday January 29. Tickets are on sale now at

Sleater-Kinney — No Cities to Love

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Sleater-Kinney return this month with a new album after a nine year break from performing and recording. Forged in the revolutionary fires of the riot grrrl scene in Olympia, Washington, the band grew from the punchy feminist punk rock of self-titled debut album to the swirling psychedelic hard rock of The Woods before breaking up in 2006. The band released seven critically acclaimed albums during the first twelve years of their career, earning them the title of “best American punk band ever” from the Rolling Stone, and a loyal, passionate fanbase. But nine years is a long absence. Does their latest album live up to the hype?

Sleater-Kinney were a band of constant evolution. Not content with boundaries of riot grrrl or punk, they experimented with classic rock, hardcore, goth, and even indie pop, leading to a sound which changed dramatically between releases. It would have been difficult to come up with a more intricate, layered album than The Woods from 2005, so 2015’s No Cities Left to Love sees the band go in the opposite direction: making a Sleater-Kinney album stripped down to its barest, most consistent inspirations. Opening track “Price Tag” establishes the tone with a simple, single-note guitar riff offset by a big, distorted chord progression and pitched, driving vocals. The noise builds throughout the song, giving way to a heavy, punk rock chorus. “Fangless” takes a jazzy 4/4 drum beat, adds parallel guitar riffs and a strident vocal melody to create a subtle sort of pop song, while “Surface Envy” mixes Television’s buzzy American post-punk with a familiar riot grrrl aesthetic: “We win, we lose. Only together do we break the rules,” Tucker and Brownstein shout, a rallying cry that effortlessly asserts itself over clashing drums and discordant guitar.

There’s a skilful sort of minimalism to the album, straddling the line between melody and noise. We hear the urgency of punk and the angularity of post-punk, pressed into the structure of a pop song and driven on by Corin Tucker’s intense and commanding vocals. This is the basic design on No Cities to Love, and nothing makes this structure clearer than leading single “Bury Our Friends” where a high guitar line riffs above a growling low, and a drum beat rumbles in the background in a sign of the storm to come. They drop behind the vocals in the verse, coming back together for a huge chorus, lead on by the dual melodic vocals of Tucker and Brownstein. The sound is consistent and studied, but entirely unique — driving punk and post-punk, leading to a sensory overload in the more melodic choruses. It’s careful, subtle songwriting, harking back to the sound of popular mid-nineties albums Call the Doctor and Dig Me Out, while representing an evolution for the band. It’s simultaneously a continuation of the stadium rock-ish sound of The Woods and a return to the scrappy punk rock of their origins. It’s a clean, melodic rock album with a razor post-punk edge, a satisfying and addictive combination.

Writing a follow up release to a musical career as illustrious as Sleater-Kinney’s is a daunting proposal, even more so after almost a decade away. But the result defies expectations — No Cities Left to Love is a powerful, fantastic album, able to stand alongside their finest old material while sounding unlike anything they’ve done before. The band have matured, but they haven’t lost their edge. It’s a little like they never left at all.

No Cities to Love is out now via Sub Pop.

Craig’s List: Dan Shake

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Every fortnight, RTRFM’s Craig Hollywood brings us a little taste of what to expect from Tuesday’s Full Frequency…

It’s no surprise that the Black Acre label are pretty damn excited about starting 2015 with a 12” from new sensation on the circuit Dan Shake. He is the first artist outside of Detroit to cut his teeth on Moodymann’s Mahogani Music, winning plaudits here and across the Atlantic for his catchy groove laden 3AM Jazz Club EP. Now with much anticipation, the Tony Allen & Fela Kuti acolyte returns with two crunchy Dilla-eque takes on soulful club music.

“Out of Sight” is a carefully constructed dance floor number packed with low-end theory and seductive vocal stabs. Low-slung fuzzy bass swinging perfectly between ghost-horns and driving drums.

Make sure and jump onto this one, it’s released through Black Acre on Feb 2.

Full Frequency with Craig Hollywood airs every Tuesday at 3PM (GMT+8) on RTRFM 92.1 in Perth, Australia. You can livestream RTRFM right here.

The Silent World Return

Monday, January 19th, 2015

The Silent World were always one of those post-rock bands that fit the label without fitting any of the cliches. They were instrumental and atmospheric but steered clear of the tremolo/delay abuse schtick. They structured their songs around slow builds and cathartic crescendos but you couldn’t predict where the next four bars would take you. Their krautrock tendencies kept things a little grounded and a little off-kilter, and their penchant for math rock was subtle enough that the music was listenable yet complex, like they were less interested in odd time signatures than trying to locate some golden ratio of riffage.

After five years of activity, things slowed down, people moved interstate and The Silent World were functionally retired, but they’re back — at least for a little while — to launch their latest effort, a four track self-titled EP and the follow-up to 2010’s An Eye for an Ear. Distance and time has honed the quintet’s songwriting craft, and it helps that they’ve apparently upgraded their recording setup, giving the songs on The Silent World appropriate sonic space to breathe the same way they do in the flesh.

The notes on opener “Grim Trigger” ring out with a surgical precision, as though the pluck of every string is a weighty act of religious piety requiring the exact amount of pressure. It’s evident early on that this isn’t the cinematic post-rock of so many instrumental outfits. The Silent World seemed less less interested in painting a picture with sound and more concerned with that nebulous concept of feel as layers are built upon layers and riffs are as important to melody as they are to rhythm as an ocean of tension ebbs and flows like the tide.

“I Go Satellite” forgoes the immediacy of its predecessor in favour of plodding build-ups but struggles to find resolution, while “Shortbus” gets a little closer to the mark, unfolding like an energetic and wordless ballad with flurries of clean and barely distorted guitars playing out with perfect subtlety. Subtlety is something The Silent World do better than most and on this track abounds with understated moments of brilliance.

Closing gambit “Kepler Fever” is the real kicker. I didn’t know it was possibly for a song to kick my ass softly until this. The tremolo picking is kept to a minimum and the crescendo creeps up a little after the halfway point, but it’s never over-bearing and never obvious. This is music for contemplative road trips and elevator epiphanies.

The Silent World aren’t standing up and telling you when to rock out and when to sway back and forth with the rhythm; instead, they’re sitting comfortably, perfectly content to let you figure that out for yourself. Check them out while you still can.

The Silent World launch their self-titled EP at The Rosemount Hotel on Thursday, January 22, with support from Lanark, Race To Your Face and The Ron Pollard Quintet.

A Minute With Hideous Sun Demon

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

On the eve of their first interstate jaunt, Perth psych-freakout quartet Hideous Sun Demon spend a minute shooting the shit about busted amps, wine tours and Cool Band.

Describe your music in five words or less.
Super angry new wave kinda.

What’s going on in the world of Hideous Sun Demon?
We released our first album Sweat a few months back, going to Melbourne this weekend, launching a video in February, recording another album in April hopefully. Gigs also.

What motivates you to make music?
We’ve been doing it for ages so it would be a shame to stop.

What have been the high and low points of your musical experiences so far?
Winning $10,000 and a WAM award felt pretty good. Having an album out is pretty cool.

I think the lowest point was the time my amp blew up mid song. It wasn’t that bad though coz we just grabbed another one. Happy days.

What music are you listening to at the moment?
I’m not that great at keeping up to date with current music so I looked at lots of top release polls in magazines and have been checking that stuff out. War on Drugs and St Vincent’s new albums are both so good. So is Tobacco’s new one. Apart from that, I’ve been getting more into the classic Dunedin sound, bands like The Clean and 3Ds and The Bats. Also more synth punk/new wave revival like NUN, Com Truise and Miami Nights 1984. Oh and that Low Life band from Sydney are dope.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which member of the band would get eaten first?
I like to think we could organise some diplomatic arrangement where we would rotate sacrificing body parts. Like having Jake’s foot one week, then mine the next. Ergonomics I think that’s called.

Here’s an opportunity to bitch about something, whether music related or not. What really pisses you off?
This isn’t music related, but I give free brewery tours where I work. You get shown how beer is made and then given free beer. You think people would be appreciative of that, and most are, but seriously some of them just look at you like they hate you the entire time and make no effort to even look like they’re listening. You’re just shouting shit at people who don’t like you and don’t care what you have to say for an hour. Some of them don’t even like beer! Why do they sign up? How bored do you have to be to go on a tour of something you have no interest in? Why the fuck are you bringing your kids along? A four year old isn’t going to give a shit about Phelonic Yeast or Dry Hopping. I don’t understand it.

You’re putting together your perfect gig featuring Australian artists. Who would you get to play and where? Feel free to include acts/DJs/bands/venues that no longer exist.
Cool Band at the Palais Theatre, St Kilda.

Hideous Sun Demon play Melbourne on the following dates:

Friday January 16 — The Gasometer (Mangelwurzel launch)
Saturday January 17 — The Evelyn (w/ Peter Bibbiy)
Monday January 19 — Northcote Social Club
Wednesday January 21 — The Old Bar (w/ Lalic)
Saturday January 24 — The Tote (New Pollution Launch)

Interview: Mike IX Williams of EYEHATEGOD

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

You’d be hard pressed to find a band out there that is as engaging as EYEHATEGOD. If the emotional boilover that their sound embodies isn’t enough, certainly the character and gritty nature of the musicians’ stories are as powerful as they come. When you know the energy and words of songs bear a sincerity that only the roughest ride in life can provide, the music becomes that more amazing and vital an experience. I was lucky to chat this morning with the band’s frontman, Mike IX Williams, in anticipation of their forthcoming tour of Australia in early 2015.

Black Captain: Hey Mike, how’s everything with you today?

Mike IX Williams: Everything’s fine, man. Just doing these interviews, a couple so far, and hanging out. I just got home from being on tour, but leave again in a couple of days to go out with my other band, Corrections House. So, I’m exhausted. But, besides that, I’m good.

BC: The EYEHATEGOD album has been out for about half a year now. How has the response to that and your feeling about it been, particularly given the amount of time since your last LP?

MW: I’m super-excited, man, of course! The whole band were really excited. I mean, we’ve been active this whole time, for the past 14 years. We’ve done some 7-inches and done things like that, recorded some demos here and there, but never got as far as putting out the whole record and doing it all right. So we’re excited that it has all been happening. We’ve been touring. There’s people who think that just because we didn’t have a new record we weren’t together. I’d see articles that are like, “EYEHATEGOD’s back together!” But we never were away. We’ve toured Europe, and America. You know, we were in Australia like maybe three or four years ago, I’m not sure. We’ve just constantly toured. It was just a matter of putting out that full-length that people want to see.

BC: As you say, you’ve been really busy. And it’s been such an eventful period, too. Obviously, the biggest thing was the loss of such a big personality in the band when your drummer and founding member, Joey La Caze, passed away. It’s not been unknown to happen that when a band loses such an iconic person, a part of who they are both on a creative and a personal level, that replacement members have difficulty working out. It’s really admirable how different this has been in your guys’ particular case with Aaron.

MW: Yeah, man! I think we really lucked out, man. We got super lucky with that. You know, like, we tried out drummers from bigger bands, bands on our same level, or guys who really wanted to join. But nobody had that, like, that real New Orleans swing sound like Joey had. Aaron’s from here. So, he has it naturally. Besides that, he was right under our nose. We were looking outside of the state. But he was right here. And he’s been working out great, man. He fits right in. He’s a weirdo! (laughs) So he fits perfectly with us. And he’s an amazing drummer. He likes the songs. And… he likes being on tour with us… I think! (laughs) We’re a little bit older than him, some of us. So, we kind of mess with him sometimes. But that’s part of him being a new guy in the band. But, yeah, he’s awesome! He’s working out great. Not to mention, I know he likes getting paid, so… he’s going to stick around for a while!

BC: You’ve described him before as bringing in a breath of fresh air and really setting you guys off on a roll with writing new material. How has that been going? Are you still going strong with that, even so soon after making the new record?

MW: Yeah! I haven’t written anything yet; because, they’re still putting the songs together. And things always evolve as they are initially written. I think there’s, like, six songs written or something, you know. I’m sure they’ll change a bit in the process; and, then, of course, I’ll put my vocals on later. That’s usually how we work. But I mean, yeah, it’s awesome. Aaron’s a musician. You know, he plays guitar. He plays mandolin. He plays banjo. He plays drums. He’s like an all-around musician type of guy, you know? Mandolin is like a big instrument down here in the south, because a lot of, like, Cajun music has it, you know. He learned it from his grandfather, which was really cool. He’s got video of him and his grandfather playing together; and, it’s really neat to watch. So, he’s a real songwriter and he loves music. He’s definitely a breath of fresh air for (the other) guys too, to be able to bring in guitar parts and that sort of stuff, too.

BC: Wow. Like you say, it sounds like you guys were really lucky and that you’ve really hit it out of the park with finding this guy.

MW: Yeah, man, I think we did really well there.

BC: Just talking about that newer stuff. some bands prefer to keep new stuff completely under wraps until a record is released. Do you ever give any of your new stuff a whirl when you’re out on tour before you’ve recorded or released it?

MW: Um, not this brand new stuff that we’re writing now. But, like, with the new self-titled album stuff we did play a lot of those songs live before I even had vocal patterns ready for them. Some of those cases are where I even learned the songs. We’d dealt with them in sound checks, and if we thought it sounded decent we’d do it in the live show. Of course, nobody knows what it is, because it’s new and they just kind of, like, stare at you! But it’s good to work that kind of thing out live, especially for me, because I can think of vocal patterns in my head and it comes to me like at the spur of the moment. It works out well for me like that.

BC: I see EYEHATEGOD referred to by writers quite often as the progenitor of “sludge” but I know that’s a term that you have a lot of disdain for. Especially as a lot more hybridization and experimentation appears to go on in less mainstream music, do you think these tags are losing their relevance more than ever or that they were never really that relevant beyond being a marketing tool?

MW: Yeah, you know… (pauses) I mean, it’s like, for journalists… I mean, I used to write for Metal Maniacs and write for websites; so, I understand that people have to come up with these descriptions like this. Because, that’s what doing record reviews is all about. You’ve got to try to describe what something is like to people who might like a different kind of band or music. So, yeah, those things come up. But I do think it is over-used nowadays. There’s so many subgenres. And, I’m like, where does all of this come from? Why can’t it just be all under one banner? I mean, we just call it, like, rock’n’roll or heavy blues, you know? To me, that’s more intelligent that saying something like “sludge”. Besides, the fact is that EYEHATEGOD was around well before that term was even invented, so… people might say it about us, but… people have asked me, “So, who are your favourite sludge bands?” and I’m like (with an irritated tone) “What does that even mean? What is that? What is it?” I’m thinking, is it bands that sound like us? Is it bands that play, like, you know, all slow songs. It’s just one of those things that just appeared and it’s kind of annoying for me. I’d rather just be a heavy blues band.

BC: “Post” is the one that really gets thrown around a lot now! I was talking about this with a friend recently and he asked “how long is it going to be before we start hearing about post-post-metal and post-post-hardcore bands?”

MW: (laughs) Yeah, I’m sure there will be, like, post-sludge. Post-black metal-sludge, that’ll probably be something. You know. But, hey, you know I suppose of course I use some of these terms. Like I’ll say, “indie rock”, or… I just hate using words like “grunge”. It seems silly to me. It’s just another form of punk and rock’n’roll, you know. But, when you get to like black metal or thrash metal, that’s something where it’s like the best way to describe those things; so, you fall into that trap.

BC: I knew you’d worked as a music journalist in the past and was thinking about that in the context of your writing style. Do you think there’s a point to trying to be more poetic and lyrical in reviewing music rather than going for the simplicity of these marketing buzzwords?

MW: Yeah. Like, when I used to write for Metal Maniacs… my style of writing lyrics is really abstract and cryptic. So, sometimes, I would do a record review that was like that. And to me, it would make total sense. But, I remember some of the editors just being like, “You can’t! Nobody knows what you’re talking about here! You’re being very vague and cryptic.” But, in my head it made sense, describing a certain band like that. So, I don’t know. It depends on the intelligence of the largesse of people reading it, you know. Some people need to be told just like, “Ok. This sounds like Slayerrrr. This sounds like Black Sabbath.” Some people just need to be told that, or they will never figure it out. I mean, the weirdest thing I think I ever read about EYEHATEGOD was somebody writing that “it sounds like Carcass meets The Circle Jerks”. That’s not even close to anywhere…. What does that mean, man? I don’t get it! That’s some really absurd references right there. Maybe they are geniuses and they hear it and I don’t. Maybe they’re smarter and they hear some kind of crazy, you know, alignment to those two bands. I don’t know.

BC: Ah, might have put the wrong record on, I reckon.

MW: (laughs) It’s just a very strange comparison.

BC: Those succinct phrases or words that are meant to be loaded with influence… that leads me on to something I’d read from you once that I connected with. This opening track of the new album (“Agitation! Propaganda!”) is a favourite of mine, at the very least just for its title and lyrics, as it’s a topic I’ve always been fixated on. So it was exciting to read that you also have a pretty deep fascination with propaganda and its function. What did you think of Orwell’s stuff on this, and what he had to say about the function of words when it comes to control?

MW: Well, I’ve read 1984. That’s the memorable one. To me, that whole book is just incredible. I’d have to go back to it, though. I don’t think I’ve read that since I was, like, in my 20s. Yeah, I think it’s very powerful. And, yeah, I love (propaganda). I don’t love what happens as a result of it. But the way that they used propaganda in World War II. Even the Americans, of course. It wasn’t just Nazi Germany. There was propaganda being thrown all over the place. And, of course, the Russian movements in the early Stalinist period is a great study in propaganda. But then you think about modern days, you’re going down the highway, especially here in America it just seems to be cluttered with advertisements. “Smoke this! Drink this! And eat this! Trust Jesus!” You know, these big signs that will just say “TRUST JESUS”. That’s propaganda too; it’s just wild. A lot of people are just subliminally falling into it, too.

BC: The massive preoccupation with celebrity. “Justin Bieber got arrested! Kim Kardashian can hold a champagne glass with her arse!”

MW: Yeah, that’s “news”, but you have to go back three or four sections deep into the newspaper to find out what’s going on in Somalia or a war in some other country. It’s just crazy, man. I don’t know what they’re trying to do with us; but, they are controlling a lot of people with it.

BC: As you say, you write your lyrics being abstract and non-specific, a reflection of your commitment and love for poetry As a writer, do you feel that lyrics lose their ability to be more resonant or powerful if they are becoming too direct, or closely linked to a story or a topic?

MW: Yeah, I do think that. I mean, a lot of people have asked, “Were you forced to write lyrics after Hurricane Katrina?” Yes, but you won’t really figure out which ones. It’s kind of hidden. There are things that I felt, or saw, or did that are in the lyrics. But, it’s not literal. It’s not like I’m saying (in a sort of country/western cadence) “’til the hurricane hit and then this hap-pened”… it’s not literal like that. I don’t think I could do lyrics like that, you know? Even if the topic is obvious, like being hateful. I don’t know if you’ve heard one of my other bands, Arson Anthem, it’s like 80s hardcore stuff. It’s all pretty pissed off. So, you kind of know what the songs are about but the lyrics are still kind of weird and vague. I just like for people to think, too. I think it’s kind of cool to make people give me their interpretations of songs, sometimes. Sometimes, I’ll write something that I don’t even know what it means,; and, somebody will write to me or tell me in person, “That song made me think of this.” And, I’m like, “Wow, that’s actually pretty cool.” Because I didn’t think of that and it’s very cool. Like they’ll give me the answer. So, it’s cool that the lyrics can mean different things to different people. If they were real focused and forward like that, then they could only mean that one thing.

BC: Keeping it open like that makes for much more powerful potential.

MW: Yeah, I think so. And I’ve never been a fan… I mean, when I was a teenager, when I was a kid, of course I was into punk rock and hardcore. And some of those lyrics were pretty cheesy back then. I got out of that quickly and just started thinking that things didn’t have to rhyme all of the time, that you don’t have to care about all of these “laws” of lyric writing or poetry writing. You make up your own rules and ideas.

BC: You’ve spoken of your love of New Orleans and how it’s a part of your very being and how you express yourself. I’ve not had the chance before to talk with someone from there about Katrina and what happened afterwards and how it was responded to so poorly by emergency services and relief efforts. Do you agree with the notion that there was something ideological being directed at that part of the country, sort of an expression of resentment and contempt at its European and iconoclastic, hedonistic nature? Or was it simply just that old chestnut of government not being able to even organize a fuck in a whorehouse?

MW: I think it’s both, really! A combination. New Orleans, it’s a liberal city in a Republican state. The whole state is like these gun-totin’, rich, redneck folks. Most of them. I mean, there’s a lot of poor people, too, but, in the rest of the state. New Orleans is, like you said, very hedonistic. You can drink 24 hours a day. But there’s also, basically, 85% African-American. There’s also a lot of poverty here, white people as well. So, I think it’s like, “We’ll go help ‘em in a couple of days. Let’s see how many of ‘em can die off.” I really kind of think that, you know? I mean, that’s what happened with me. I had no money, at the time. I didn’t have a way to leave the city. I finally did, but, it was hard to do without a car. Most of those people don’t have anything like that. Like you said, it is a part of Bush being an incompetent idiot, and… what was that other thing you said?

BC: Ideology. Far-right, racist, pseudo-Christian bullshit.

MW: Yeah! I totally believe that. I think a lot of people just think that we get away with anything down here. We are very European, and very liberal. So there are people who just really hate that. People are against that and can’t stand it. They want it all to be… rigid, and strict rules. If it was up to them there would be no alcohol or anything like that. It’s pretty crazy.

BC: I wanted to ask what are some ways that living life sober has changed your experience of being in EYEHATEGOD? By this I guess I mean is there anything you feel more in touch with now that you may have been, for lack of a better word, oblivious to before?

MW: Did you say sober?

BC: Yeah.

MW: Did you say… sober?

BC: Yeah. I get the feeling I’m off base…

MW: (laughs hard) I’m not sober, man. I don’t do hard drugs any more. That’s been for a while. But, I definitely love to have a little smoke or a drink here and there. I actually have to cut down a bit on my alcohol because of some health problems. I can’t really drink hard liquor now any more, either. I’m having a few things… as you get older, vodka every day isn’t exactly good for you! But, yeah, as far as that other stuff goes, I’m not into anything hard any more. That’s all over. But, you know, we all like to have fun. Especially drinking, or a little something here and there, nothing wrong with that! A little relaxation tool, you know? I think my problem has been with moderation. Like I say, I was on the hard stuff. I stopped that, so I started drinking vodka. After so many years, I can feel that it’s not doing my body well. So, I need to moderate things, you know. There’s nothing wrong with those things at all, smoking a little pot, or drinking. But you can’t be doing all that and expect that it’s good for you. And I definitely don’t encourage people to try any of those things. They’re definitely not missing anything by not doing heroin or coke. It’s pretty crappy, really. I would never want to see myself get back to that state of mind, where that’s all you do all day every day, where you’re just trying to get that next bag of heroin or something. So, I suggest people stay away from that. And I have. So, I’m glad for that. I’ve added a few years on to my life, I hope.

BC: Well, there should be sweltering heat when you kick off down here. It will be interesting to see how that adds to the unpredictable explosiveness your shows are notorious for!

MW: (laughs) Well, we’re used to the heat! That’s New Orleans, heat and humidity. So, we’re very used to it. It’s actually cold here right now and will be worse when we head down there. So it will be nice to be there. It never gets really cold here; but, it gets cold enough that we hate it. We prefer the heat!

BC: Thanks for that, Mike. It was really fantastic to talk with you and can’t wait to see you all down here next year.

MW: Thanks, man. I appreciate the interview and we see all of you soon!


Thursday January 29 — Rosemount Hotel, Perth
with Leeches and Cursed Earth
Friday January 30 — The Hi-Fi, Melbourne
with I Exist and The Ruiner
Saturday January 31 — Manning Bar, Sydney
with I Exist and Lo!
Sunday February 1 — Crowbar, Brisbane
with I Exist and The Matador

Tickets on sale now from lifeisnoise, and venue outlets.