by Alex Hudson - June 2001
ID: I guess the first question I was told to ask you is: Are you dead?
Mike: ...No. [chuckles] Why? Was there a rumor that you heard?
ID: Yeah...I just thought that might be funny way to, uh, start the interview.
Mike: There was a rumor. I don't know why. We--Eyehategod--had kinda taken a break and kinda split up for, like ya know, about ten months, almost a year. And I guess people start...with the internet nowadays it's just a big rumor mill. So...
ID: Yeah, it is, actually.
Mike: Actually, one of the rumors that I heard was that I overdosed or killed myself or something, but no. I'm doin' fine.
ID: Okay, is there any other rumors you'd like to clear up while we're at it?
Mike: [Laughs] Heh, yeah there's a lot of rumors about us. I don't know why, but I don't know. Some of them are true and some of them aren't. There's none in particular right now that I can think of. Yeah, usually when we go on tour, I'll hear 'em, ya know, something insidious or something stupid. Basically everything's cool.
ID: You recorded Ten Years of Abuse (and Still Broke) in Germany, is that correct? The live portion anyway?
Mike: Yeah, part of it was the last end of it [The live material in the second half of the disc]. It's just...I'm not even sure where. It's just in Europe. That's why we just put "Live In Europe." It was taken from a bunch of different shows from all over Europe. They're probably from Germany. I think maybe some of it was Austria. On that tour we went everywhere from England to France to Belgium, Holland and Germany, ya know. It's probably mostly from Germany.
ID: I know I heard you yelling "Dankeshein" on there.
Mike: Well, there's three different things on there. The stuff in the middle is from a radio show, KXLU, and the begining's like an old rehearsal. A live-in-the-studio thing. We put these samples in the middle of it. It was actually a tape that someone made just to give to, I think, one of our bass players at the time so he could learn the songs. But it sounded pretty cool, so...
ID: It sounds a lot better on the CD, too.
Mike: Yeah, we took it into the studio and kinda cleaned it all up and everything.
ID: Why did you record [the concert material] live in Europe and not the United States?
Mike: Well, we knew we were going to do this live thing. We didn't know how to do it. We didn't want to do it traditionally, like a live record. We were going to do that...Just set up a show here in the U.S. and just tell everybody to come, but we thought we'd do it different. We brought a bunch of DAT tapes and recorded while we were over there. That was the tour we were getting ready to go on so we figured it was the best time. The timing was right, ya know?
ID: Will this be your final album for Century Media?
Mike: Um...Well, as far as the old contracts go, yeah. But they made us a new offer. We're trying to figure out and consider what to do. It's definitely a different label than it used to be. I mean, we WANTED to get off. When we began this process of leaving the label it was about six or seven years ago.
Mike: That's when we were initially pissed off and wanted to leave. We were, like "Fuck y'all. We don't want to be on your label" Ya know? But that was a whole different label as far as I'm concerned! Now it's new people working there, younger people that are into the music, which they didn't seem to be before. The old label seemed to be more into just making money off the bands, but now it seems that there are more fans working there, a lot cooler people. They're helping us out. What's totally ironic is that they're helping us out now more than they ever have and we're about to be off the label. So...They did make us a new offer and we're trying to weigh things out. We've gotten a few offers. We're just trying to figure out what to do. I'm sure people are already saying that we're signing with them again. That's probably a rumor. I mean, people ask me "Are you going to sign back with them?" No, as of now. No.
ID: Have you ever felt the label may have tried to promote you as having a negative image? How should I phrase that?
Mike: Well, we do have a negative image. I mean we purposefully do, just naturally. It's negative music the way it just sounds. I guess a lot of my lyrics are, uh...I've been told they're pretty negative. But as far a promoting it, that was one of the problems in the beginning. They didn't promote anything, really. They're just basically going with the flow. That's just how we are, ya know? We're a negative band.
ID: Yeah, definitely. And a good one at that. Don't mind if I kiss your ass for a second?
Mike: No. Heh.
Mike: I actually try to be a positive person because you can't go through life being miserable all the time. But it's just a reflection on the way things are.
ID: Right. I mean, you're not like that 24 hours a day.
Mike: No. That's just how the music comes across. We like to joke. As you've heard on the live record, we like to joke around and act stupid and stuff. It's just negativity is the way the world is. So it's a good reflection, I think. Especially from New Orleans, being where we're from, it's a pretty negative town.
ID: I had a friend who moved down there a few years ago and she came back really pissed off.
Mike: Oh, really? What was her main complaint?
ID: I guess nobody got along, lots of racial tension.
ID: Everybody just had a really negative vibe towards each other and that was just people walking down the street.
Mike: Yeah, there's definitely some racial tension. There's just a lot of drugs and 24-hour drinking...The heat. The summertime is when everybody just seems to be miserable because it gets REALLY hot here.
ID: How hot is it there right now?
Mike: It's actually not gotten too bad yet. It's been in the high 90's lately. The thing is the humidity is like tropical weather. The humidity gets so fucking miserable, you're just soaking wet. It's raining now, so it's cooled off. Thank goodness for that.
ID: Who does all the artwork in the band?
Mike: That's me. Joey does a lot of it also. On the Dopesick album, he did a lot of that. Actually, there was two covers. I did the European cover which got banned over here.
ID: Now the insert, under the CD tray, was that supposed to be the original cover?
Mike: Yeah, the girl with the rope around her hands? Yeah. That was supposed to be the original cover that was supposed to come out.
ID: ...And I've noticed the vinyl version of Confederacy of Ruined Lives was released on Pessimiser?
Mike: Right. Yeah, that's cool. That's Chris Elder who does Pessimiser. I guess he works at Century Media or he's friends with those guys, so they worked it out through him. He's an old friend of ours. He's actually the guy who DJed at KXLU on that live CD.
ID: So, that's him talking on there? (At the begining of the live at KXLU portion of 10 Years...)
Mike: Yeah, I believe that's his voice at the beginning. It kinda worked out cool. I'm hoping they put the new one on vinyl as well.
ID: That was going to be my next question actually.
Mike: Yeah, I like vinyl. I know some people don't, but whatever. I still like the vinyl. It's just it's cool to have, ya know? I mean, people ask me why Take As Needed For Pain wasn't on vinyl? I don't even KNOW why. I think that one of the projects we'll do sometime in the near future is rerelease that on vinyl. Something like that. I just think vinyl's really cool. The 7-inches we put out were a fun thing, I thought. It's nice to have for people who collect the stuff, it's cool.
ID: Yeah, I'm a vinyl collector myself so I know what you're talking about. Speaking of vinyl, this reminds me of your column in Metal Maniacs [Helter Skelter, which featured reviews of various underground vinyl and demo releases]. Are you still writing?
Mike: I'm not writing like that, not rock reviews or writing for any magazines. I've been writing short stories and art, just the way I've always written. If somebody offered me anything I'd do it. I've done a few interviews here and there for people. Not anything full-time or whatever. If I was offered anything I would probably take it. I don't know. Doing rock reviews and record reviews gets kinda boring after awhile. Interviews are cool. You always get to talk to somebody different in music or whatever. Yeah, that was a cool job. While we worked there it was pretty cool, but that place had a lot of problems, that magazine. It seems to me now they've gotten to be a little more open-minded though. I think we had a lot to do with opening their minds there. I might sound conceited or something, but I think we were the first ones to put Neurosis in there. We put black metal in there which they never did before.
ID: I think for a mainstream mag, at the time that was a lot of progress.
Mike: Yeah, well mainly that was the problem with us and the big boss there. They didn't like us putting in underground stuff. I mean, putting punk rock in there and metal and...
ID: Yeah, I mean some kid in the Midwest reading a review for, like say, Apartment 213 or something like that.
Mike: Right! Which I think is great. We even wanted to change the name...from Metal Maniacs to something else.
ID: Yeah, it is a bit of a cheesy name.
Mike: They mainly wanted us to write about the bands that were paying for advertising. That was basically the whole deal. And that guy, our boss, was just a complete asshole. He needs to be tortured somewhere.
Mike: Besides that, I think we opened it up. I've picked up a few copies. They're pretty good now. I mean, Jimmy, our guitar player, did a pretty decent interview for them.
ID: He wrote an article for them, or...?
Mike: He was interviewd by Jerry Rutherford. I think he's the guy.
ID: Are you going to tour for Ten Years of Abuse (and Still Broke)?
Mike: Yeah! We're trying to figure out what to do right now. Like Jimmy was doing the C.O.C. thing. I don't know if they came up your way...
ID: All I heard was he was on their tour for Australia.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. He went to Australia and New Zealand. He just got back and then Brian, who's in Soilent Green, he just got back literally just a couple days ago. They did a U.S. tour with Napalm Death. So we're basically just trying to work a tour around that, trying to plan something, ya know? Yeah, we definitely want to tour. I'm ready to tour anytime. We're trying to work on this Japanese thing. There's a festival coming up, but I think it's too late for that. Either that or we're trying to go over there with someone. Japan would be great. I'd like to go anywhere. Australia...all those places. Yeah, we're gonna tour as soon as we can figure it out. We're gonna start writing the next studio record somewhere along the lines.
ID: Do you still have Danny Nick as a bass player?
Mike: No. He's not in the band anymore.
ID: Do you have a replacement yet?
Mike: We don't have a full-time replacement, but we've been playing with Ben Stout, the guitarist from Soilent Green. We've been playing with him, but we don't have a full-time bassist. Like I said, everybody's been out of town, so we haven't gotten a chance to really audition people, or whatever you call it, I guess.
ID: You guys sound like a busy bunch.
Mike: Yeah. There's always something going on.
ID: Now, are there any other...I don't want to say "side projects," but other bands (EHG-related)? I know Brian's in Soilent Green...
Mike: Well, ya know, Jimmy's in--
Mike: Well, he's not in Crowbar anymore, but he's in Down which I don't know what's up with Down. I don't know if they still exist as a band. He's in Superjoint, which is his and Phil Anselmo's...Another band that probably won't do anything either. It seems like Phil has all these bands and it seems like they never release anything. Down was the first one of Phil Anselmo's side projects. Jimmy, he's in Clearlight. He's the busiest one. He's constantly doing something. Clearlight, I don't know if you've heard the record...
ID: I haven't had a chance to hear it yet.
Mike: It's pretty much Jimmy and Joey from Eyehategod and a bunch of other guys playing HEAVY instrumental rock. With keyboards and, like, a heavy, Deep Purple/Allman Brothers thing. But yeah, everybody's pretty much in a side band. I'm trying to get something started. I'm just kinda lazy right now. Something kind of like a crusty/Discharge/Anti-Cimex thing or a Swedish hardcore or like a Deadboys/Stooges/Iggy...
ID: That would definitely be cool.
Mike: Yeah, something like that. I like all different kinds of music, so I just want to get a side band so I'll have something to do different than Eyehategod so I'll have something to do besides write.
ID: Did you guys make a conscious effort to, how do I say it, progress the sound on Confederacy of Ruined Lives?
Mike: It wasn't really that conscious. It just kinda happened, ya know? You think there's a big progression? People seem to think there is.
ID: It's still the same EHG, but it does sound a lot different. I mean it's still Eyehategod.
Mike: Yeah! I guess that what was said was just that. We wanted to go back to our old--not that we even left--but we wanted it to sound like a lot of some slow stuff like on our early albums, but then if we could progress. Luckily, it came through in our thoughts. It wasn't like a physical thing, just thinking and it happened. They write all the music and I'll just agree on what's cool or if I like a part and all that.
ID: I think it sounds more...rather than miserable, it sounds more pissed off.
Mike: Well, that's cool. I think we got a really good production, so I think there's like an edge to it.
ID: The production has a lot more kick, I think.
Mike: Oh, yeah.
ID: Some of the songs actually have a really cool Black Flag vibe if you ask me.
Mike: Well, that's exactly what...that's one of our main influences. I mean Black Flag and Black Sabbath are obviously the two biggest influences. Everybody listens to so much stuff. But yeah, that's cool to hear. I think that crisp-like edge, that hardcore sound, that's due to the studio. I think, like Dopesick...I think that the production on that album is not very great. Just for me, I wish we could remix some stuff, but people love it! People have their own opinions. People like the first album, In The Name of Suffering. The production's really muddy and stuff, but that's good, ya know?
ID: It fits.
Mike: Yeah! It fits the whole thing. At the time, that's definitely what we were sounding like. It's like a piece of history of how we sounded. But you know how bands are; we're just picky. If I could just go back and remix some stuff...we might do that. Remix some songs and re-release them just for the fun of it. Put that on vinyl. We've been thinking about that.
ID: Have you thought of doing a covers album?
Mike: I've thought about it, but I don't know if we could ever agree on covers. Everyone's got their own tastes really. I've wanted to do some covers just live for the fun of it. We've done a few in the past, just goofing around. I can't remember what.
ID: I've heard the Black Sabbath cover or the medley, I should say. ["Sabbath Jam" on the split 7" with A.C.]
Mike: We did that live a few times. I dunno, I can't--I always forget the words.
Mike: We used to do a Black Flag song. A St. Vitus song or something. Just goofing off. Not even really playing the whole song...but it would be fun to do some covers.
ID: Just out of curiosity, why is "Serving Time In The Middle of Nowhere" on so many compilations?
Mike: Ya know, I don't know! That's Century Media, and I don't know WHY they picked THAT song. I really don't know. I'd like to find out, actually, because it's on the Identity compilations TWICE or something.
ID: Mmmhmm, and I think it's on one or two other compilations. I can't remember off the top of my head, but...
Mike: Gummo. It's on the Gummo soundtrack and I think that's the first place it appeared on a soundtrack. Yeah, it's Century Media. And they always spell it wrong! Or they fuck up the title. It's "Serving Time In The Middle of Nowhere." They always screw it up somehow on all these records.
ID: Now you've actually had song titles misplaced, like on Dopesick I think?
Mike: Yeah! That's problems with Century Media. They seem to... Every record seems to have at least one mistake as far as the titles go. Like on Dopesick there was track listing problems. The number on the player didn't match the song title. Weird things like that. They just always seems to happen.
ID: I know there seems to be more than one track named "Methamphetamine," I guess.
Mike: I think that's the one that was screwed up. And they were just spelling things wrong. I don't know. What's up with that? Like the cover, the back cover for Confederacy of Ruined Lives. That thing on the back cover. I don't know what that is.
ID: I was going to ask you about that, too!
Mike: I don't know! See, I sent them artwork for that whole record and I guess the guy just assumed that he would go throw something of his on there. Ya know, I don't know why...It doesn't look bad. It's like some flower or something.
ID: It looks like there's a crucifixion scene in there if you look at it sideways.
Mike: I think he said something about that. The blood of Jesus flower. Something weird. I mean, it's not a big deal. They seem to add their own touches. I don't know.
Mike: As long as they don't screw the music up, ain't no big deal.
ID: It's like, the first time I saw it, I thought it was a diseased organ or something.
Mike: Yeah! I had NO idea...no idea what it was. I thought it was a cross-section of an eyeball or something.
ID: I thought it was a diseased vagina at first! [Laughs]
Mike: [Laughs] That's awful.
ID: I thought, "Ugh, that's too much, dude!"
Mike: Well, yeah! [Laughs] That's something, like, I think people don't really get the idea what we're all about and they think we're being gross for the sake of being gross or something. Like some of our older artwork. I mean, it is for some shock value. I'll admit that. I've done it on purpose. I think some people have different ideas on what shock value is. Sometimes we don't agree with it all the way.
ID: I guess ever since you guys first appeared there has been a lot more "sludgecore," if I could say, bands popping up. I was curious what you thought of a lot of them?
Mike: Yeah. First of all, I hate labels. That's what we're being labeled as now. It's ridiculous. I mean, "sludge-core." Where'd they get that one from?
ID: What would you call it?
Mike: I'd call it heavy...it's like hardcore blues, ya know?
Mike: I guess it's doomy. I've just always hated labels. Like back in the '80s, "What do you like, speed metal or thrash metal?" What's the difference?
ID: I never understood that.
Mike: And now there's black metal and this war metal. It's all just music to me and it's all just good. I mean if it's good and heavy and if you like it, ya know? I guess they're calling us sludge, but I really despise that title. As far as the other bands that are popping up, I think it's flattering. Some of them that totally imitate us, it irritates us a little bit sometimes. Ya know, some of them are so blatant with it you'd have to get irritated. But I just consider it flattery, I guess. It's like, people are into it. I mean, WE certainly didn't make this up. We were big Melvins fans...and Black Flag "My War." Things like that. We just did it our own style and came up with how we sound. I guess it's just a natural progression. I guess other people have the same records in their collection, too. If they come out sounding like us, that's cool, but if they're stealing our riffs, that's different, which I think some bands have done. Whatever, I guess.
ID: Well, that's about it. Is there anything you'd like to plug?
Mike: I don't know. Just tell people to send money.
Mike: Hopefully we'll be touring soon and we'll be back up that way.
Mike: Lansing? Is that where The Necros are from?
ID: I think they're from either Ann Arbor or Detroit. Most classic Michigan punk/hardcore is either from Ann Arbor or Detroit. I know the Laughing Hyenas and Negative Approach were from Ann Arbor.
Mike: Laughing Hyenas are one of my favorite bands of all time. You heard his new band, Easy Action? John Brannon's [of Laughing Hyenas and Negative Approach] new band?
ID: No, I didn't know he had a new one?
Mike: Probably more like the Detroit sound, like the early MC5 type sound. That kind of heaviness.
Mike: Actually, you can print my email... email@example.com If people want to get my address through that or whatever, want to just write me, wire money into my bank account, that would be cool.