IT’S “20 QUESTIONS WITH CROSS” DAY!
I know I have previously mentioned on my blogs that these interviews I am going to post on my web page are like a small window for fans and other people to explore bands and artists I’ve collaborated with and to get to know these talented artists a bit better. Keep in mind though that the most important part of these interviews is the art and those talented people who make it.
That said, today I’m going to break my own rules and interview one of my Heroes; a notorious performer and song writer. His vocals have been described as “tortured laryngitis screams”. The one true mouth of the disinfranchised underground scene, Mike D. Williams also known as Mike lX – EyeHateGod + Arson Anthem/Corrections House/Outlaw Order aka 00%/The Guilt of… aka TgØ/Dead End America/Mike IX and the Southern Nihilism Front etc… (this is very exciting)!
Hey Mike, sir! How are you doing Big Brother? First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to make this interview happen. Much appreciated!
I know, you probably heard some of these questions being asked thousands of times, but let’s dig in!
Cross – At what age did you realize that all you wanted to do was sing and write songs?
Mike IX – Well, that’s not all I do, but as far as wanting to be in a band, probably when I first heard Alice Cooper, early Aerosmith, Black Sabbath and The Who back when I was 8 or 9 years old. I started writing lyrics/songs when I got a bit older, being an avid reader and a fan of the written word. It was a natural progression.
Cross – Tell us a bit about your career prior to Eyehategod and how did Eyehategod happen?
Mike IX – I wouldn’t call it a career, but I was in many bands before EHG, mostly punk and hardcore but a few thrash type groups as well. Teenage Waste was the first one to make it out of the bedroom playing twice a week at a decrepit dive bar called the Rose Tattoo and other NOLA houses/venues with locals Shell Shock, the Sluts, Red Rockers, the Goners. After we disbanded, I started Suffocation by Filth, a punk metal crossover, heavy on the punk aspect plus we did some covers by Bad Brains, Sodom and Discharge. Crawlspace was next with friends who went on to Superjoint Ritual, Stressball, Hank III etc., we were more thrash influenced by Voivod, Death amongst others, but of course, with my vocals it sounded like neither of those two bands.
On tour with Shell Shock in ’86 as roadie/merch guy, which Jimmy Bower was now drumming for, we both talked about forming something slow and powerful, but raw and confrontational and mainly the music we were hearing in our heads.
Cross – Any other musical instrument(s) that you can play other than synth and hand drum (we’ve all seen you ROCK the hand drum on Housecore Radio, Acoustic Show with Philip H. Anselmo… Haha)?
Mike IX – I also play guitar.
Cross – I’ve never seen you play guitar. I sure would love to.
Mike IX – A few years ago, I got to play through Greg Ginn’s old customized Peavey amp that was used on the early Black Flag recordings.., that was special to me. I write songs on guitar and wrote some of the stuff on the second Arson Anthem album Insecurity Notoriety.
Cross – How much does Mike lX read and what kind of books do you enjoy reading?
Mike IX – I read constantly whether its online or books. Anything really. Everything. Books about music history are high on the list.
Cross – Is there a particular book or author that inspired you to discover your inner writer and the way you write? Any new book coming out anytime soon?
Mike IX – Charles Bukowski and I bet no one is surprised I said that. Bukowski showed me that writing doesn’t have to be flowery or nice, you can write the way you feel, the reality of life. There’s lots of other authors that I like and writers in bands as well. Darby Crash, Jeff Vandermeer, Clive Barker, Nick Cave, William Vollmann, Iceberg Slim, Kurt Vonnegut, William Burroughs + tons more…
Cross – I’m sure to those who know you a bit that Bukowski wouldn’t sound such a surprise. What does Mike lX do when he isn’t writing, reading, or touring?
Mike IX – Stare at the wall.
Cross – (laughs) I’m sure we all get to do that sometimes. Can you tell us a bit about your song writing process?
Mike IX – I don’t think it’s different from anybody else’s, I just write what I’m thinking. I just write what I want to hear, and it can come from anywhere; the streets, hallucinations, dream states, boredom, experiences with other humans. Pretty common process I believe.
Cross – Arson Anthem – Tell us a funny memory you cherish from all that experience with the members of AA (Philip H. Anselmo, Hank lll and Collin Yeo) that you have not shared yet with the public. Any chance for Arson Anthem to be back on stage?
Mike IX – Arson Anthem was a fun project coming straight outta hurricane Katrina and having been locked up and just having no rules but to do a band that returns to 80’s hardcore punk in a style that we wanted. I wish it had been taken more seriously and the records had been promoted more and not overshadowed by our other bands. The tour we did would have been way better if we had played major cities like NYC, Chicago, L.A. and others… The records are fucking great to me, and the songs hold up, however everyone is busy with their own stuff right now so who knows what can happen with that band.
Cross – Arson Anthem is one of my favorite bands ever. I do agree with you there Mike lX, the records are great. Born in North Carolina, lived in New York, and obviously in New Orleans, Louisiana. In which of these places do you feel like home and why?
Mike IX – I love all three and can feel at home anywhere. New Orleans obviously is where I’ve spent the majority of my time and hold it dear to my heart. New York and Brooklyn are magical to me, or they were in the early 90’s. North Carolina is my birthplace and can be a beautiful place in the mountains or The Outer Banks beaches.
Cross – Corrections House? Is there going to be a new release after “Last City Zero” in 2013 and what followed “Know How to Carry a Whip” in 2015? Or any live performances like in “Writing History in Advance”?
Mike IX – There was also a 7″ for ‘Hoax the System’ on War Crimes records. We are in talks about it. There is a possibility of doing more music in the future.
Cross – That would be great. Who is in charge of the visual performance of the band and who came up with the band logo?
Mike IX – We all decided that we wanted a ragged military look to the band, so we all agreed to that. Heath Rave; tattooist, artist, drummer (Wolvhammer etc..) designed the Corrections House logo.
Cross – He did a great job. Was there a reason behind picking the Last City Zero song to be the title track? Are any of those lyrics included in any of your books (we’ve seen you read from one book on stage)?
Mike IX – Yes, I read from my book Cancer as a Social Activity on stage and also the Corrections House war bible, which is a personal book of writings I carried with me during all the tours (of which there were many) and a lot of the words to CH songs are in those two documents. Also, no reason for picking Last City Zero as the title track other than the fact that we like that song, and it creates the vibe that defines the feelings we want to conjure.
Cross – There’s a rare video of you out there doing a spoken word poetry – reading poetry from your collection of poems “Cancer as a Social Activity”. What’s that like? Do you enjoy reading or reciting your own poetry in front of an audience? Is there any place online where your fans can listen to you read your poems (audio book)?
Mike IX – Is it rare? I don’t know what’s on there honestly besides the latest reading I did called ‘We All Die on the Very Last Page’ on CVLT Nation’s YouTube page. I have an affinity towards CVLT Nation and have the utmost respect for Sean and his wife who run the site.
I’ve done many spoken word readings all over the world. I mean every night on tour with Corrections House I did readings, but I’ve done so many solo ones also I can’t remember them all, I wish more were recorded and videoed. I’m going to be doing more when I re-release my book ‘Cancer as a Social Activity’ very soon. I once did a reading at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and John Sinclair, promoter/manager of the MC5 and notorious activist and poet/writer came out to hang out and I got to give him a copy of my book and my “Glass Torn and War Shortage” broken glass covered cassette. I’ve also read at various record and bookstores in the USA and Europe, I enjoy it immensely. An audiobook of “Cancer…” is something I’ll be working on in the future.
Cross – I really love that one, “We All Die on the Very Last Page”. Those who know me a bit, know about that one cause I bring it up as soon as I say Hi. (Laughs) It would be amazing to have “Cancer…” and your voice reading it in one place. I really hope it’s a really near future.
What kind of music was Mike IX into when he was 15 years old (they say you left home at that age)?
Mike IX – Wait, who’s “they”..? I was in a boy’s home at 13 years old for 4 years and I ran away numerous times to California and Texas and I lived alone in an $125 dollar apartment in Uptown New Orleans when my brother left me alone there, so it was all over the place. It’ll all be in my next book someday.
Black Flag mainly. But also; Germs, Dead Boys, Witchfinder General, Discharge, Pagans, electric eels, Die Kreuzen, Elvis Costello, Trouble, Venom, Negative Approach, B-52’s, Circle Jerks, DOA, Generation X, Talking Heads, Devo, UK Subs, State of Alert, the Fix, Meatmen, Teen Idles, Sex Pistols, AC/DC, Clash, Dils, Bl’ast!, Disorder, Fear, Deadline, Ramones, DRI, The Damned, the Sluts, Legionnaire’s Disease, Deadbeats, Robert Johnson, Peter Tosh, The Normals, Augustus Pablo, MDC, Shell Shock, Void, St. Vitus, Saccharine Trust, Judas Priest, Black Market Baby, Ozzy, Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, Minor Threat, Iron Maiden… the list goes on and on and on.
Cross – I’m glad you took the time to mention that many. All great bands. I’m sure many know most of them. Outlaw Order. Was that a one-time thing?
Mike IX – No, 00% exists in time and space and can re-emerge at any time. Outlaw Order has a lot of unfinished business and unsettled court cases pertaining to breaking and entering and theft. Our first bass player is in appeals and could possibly be released by the middle of next year (fingers crossed). I’m done with all parole and probation and ready for the next scheme.
Cross – Glad to hear that. Are there any artists that influenced your singing style? Have you ever experimented with, singing differently?
Mike IX – Darby Crash from the Germs, Ron Reyes, Dez Cadena from Black Flag. I’m certainly open to other styles and have experimented many times. It’s all about passion and feeling so wherever that takes me.
Cross – Most bands start with a self-titled album, instead Eyehategod waited until 2014 to come out with a self-titled album. Why is that?
Mike IX – Why not? We don’t care what people think and I didn’t know there were rules to what and when to name an album a certain thing… Lots of bands have done the same exact thing; Trouble, Discharge, Alice in Chains, Blue Cheer, the Cult, Crowbar (I think?) etc..
We decided to do it because our best friend and drummer Joey LaCaze died and he played on that album. We went through lists of titles for the record but out of respect and in the affair of being genuine we self-titled it. We didn’t want idiot journalists asking silly questions about what the title had to do with someone we love dying. I’m sure every band that’s done it has their own reasons.
Cross – You know, after hearing that, the album just got more special to me. You mentioned in another interview that you guys are working on a new album and that all was left were to add the vocals. Is the album done and if yes when is it launching?
Mike IX – The new album is done and has been sent off to the label, which is Century Media. It’ll be released next year but there will be some singles and video released sporadically before then.
Cross – That’s great! Can’t wait!
Do you have a favorite stage to play live? And speaking of live any touring plans in Canada or Europe once gatherings are made possible again? What can your fans expect?
Mike IX – We always tour every corner of the planet we can possibly reach so of course we will continue with that when possible. We were on tour from April 2017 until the pandemic lockdown so that’s what we do. We’ve played everywhere from Lima, Peru to Vietnam and Thailand to Wellington and Tasmania to Tel Aviv, so I think it’s safe to say we will be back to Europe and Canada (if Canada will let me in again!)
Thanks for the interview! Go to EYEHATEGOD.ee for tons of merch and our new split 7″ with Sheer Terror plus new album out next year!
Mike IX Williams/EyeHateGod Instagram: @southernnihilismfront and @eyehategodnola
Facebook: Mike IX Williams and @officialeyehategod
Cross – Thank you Mike for being so kind with me, giving your time to an unknown artist, for taking all this seriously, and for the great answers! It’s been a blast. I really appreciate you man. Thank you!!