With 2018 in full swing, New Orleans band Eyehategod are celebrating 30 years of bashing out sludgy metal-tinged hardcore. “We’re definitely outcasts, but we always have been,” vocalist Mike IX Williams says. It hasn’t been an easy road, though. Health and drug problems, as well as the passing of original drummer Joey LaCaze, have caused the band to stumble, but they’ve never fully derailed. They take a familial approach: through sickness and health, in good times and bad. With their dedication, the band has built themselves into true road warriors. “We’re always on the road,” Williams says. “We stay out here if we can.”
Milwaukee Record talked to Williams before the band’s show in Mobile, Alabama, as they returned home from a tour with Black Label Society and Corrosion Of Conformity. Eyehategod plays Cactus Club Wednesday, February 7.
Milwaukee Record: Did you guys ever break up?
Mike IX Williams: No, we’ve never broken up. We’ve definitely had our problems, that’s for sure. We’ve had tons of problems, but we’ve never broken up officially. We’ve been together thirty years. Me and [guitarist] Jim Bower, basically most of the guys, are starting to be old guys now. We never officially broke up. We never would. We’re too stupid to break up. We don’t know any better. We’ve had problems: drug problems, record label problems, health problems, family problems. Everything. It’s life. Thirty years as a band is a long time. [Problems are] gonna happen, you know.
MR: At this point, it must feel automatic to do the band.
MW: Yeah, this is just what we do. We play in other bands and do other projects, but this is our main thing. We still have fun doing it. The day it stops being fun, we’re not going to do it.
MR: As far as your approach to the band, has there been any change in what motivates you to do it?
MW: I’m always motivated to do it. I always have the adrenaline to do this band. We still have fun doing this. We still get excited. We try to do tours that we love. This Black Label Society tour, we don’t fit in. Corrosion Of Conformity are friends of ours. We fit in with them, but Black Label—nice guys, nice people—but their crowd doesn’t know what to think of us. We usually go out on tour with hardcore bands like Negative Approach or the Cro Mags. Bands that we really enjoy and love, and that adds to it as well. We’re super excited to go on tour. It’s not like we’re forcing ourselves to do this. It’s what we do and we love to do it. We’re lifers. It’s what we wanted to do when we started and we’re still doing it. We’re lucky.
MR: You had a liver transplant. How long ago was that?
MW: December of 2016.
MR: How long was it until you started playing shows again?
MW: Four months. That’s it. I was back on stage in April. The surgery was in December and by April, I was back on stage. On my birthday, in Detroit, I did my first show back.
MR: What was it like post-surgery? Was there any nervousness or anxiety?
MW: Of course, yeah. Just like anybody. It’s fucking rough. I almost died, you know. But things worked out in my favor and I’m still here, still doing this. Of course there’s anxiety, fear, a lot of emotions. That’s how it goes. We got through it and it just makes me a stronger person.
MR: You’re back to 100 percent now?
MW: Fuck yeah! We did a bunch of shows in April [of 2016], and then we went out with Cro Mags and Negative Approach—six weeks’ worth of shows. We also went out with Capitalist Casualties, Phobia, a bunch of bands. I just said fuck it. I’m not going to sit at home and wait. I refused to sit there and wait. The doctors, of course, did not want me to go on tour, but what do they know? I wasn’t going to go tell them, so I just left.
MR: As far as plans for this year, you’re just going to tour like crazy and hopefully get the album out?
MW: That’s the plan. It’s going to be rough to try to get in the studio and get the vocals done, but I’m sure we’ll get it done somehow. Mainly we’ve got a lot of touring this year. We’re going to South America. We’re going to Europe twice. We’ve got lots of U.S. shows and Canada. We’ve got a lot of shit to do and we’re going to keep doing it. That’s what we’re in it for, just to play.