By Mike Williams & Gary Mader (Eyehategod)
Pulled into Boston at 3:30; load in not until 6 p.m. Hours of nothing to do as usual. The show tonight is at the Cambridge Elk’s Lodge, very much like playing at a rented out Lion’s Home, or an old VFW hall. The promoter had two days to hype the show, and managed to round up almost 300 + people, a lot of which traveled from Maine, Rhode Island, and surrounding cities around Boston. There is no stage, and the crowd is literally inches from us. There’s no PA, so we use two 8 x 10 cabs, and Jimmy and Brian max out on volume. Mike is screaming through a distortion blown stack. Sounds great. About five songs in, during “Sister Fucker,” the hall lights flicker on and off. We thought someone was putting on a makeshift light show until the owner of the hall walks up and tells us to not play another song. Of the five bands playing, we get shut down. The neighbors have had enough of this show and the nonsense going on outside, so the police are here to close it down. It’s an honor to know we still have the capability to annoy someone, although it did kinda suck that some of our fans had driven this far to see us play a few songs. Funny thing is that the authorities didn’t even know the chaos that was brewing inside the hall what with people diving all over us, Joey’s drums and Mike getting knocked over maybe two-three times at least, huge pile-ons and possibly a fight or two. Perfect.
Smooth sailing into Rochester. The posters for tonight’s show have Mother Theresa on one and Ghandi on the other; we’re going to hell. Tonight is a miracle show; there are only two opening bands as the blackened ones skip a few shows due to a scheduling conflict. We hang out with ol’ pally Mike Randolph and some of his drama, a NOLA transplant who did the first legendary extreme music shows at the now earlier mentioned and now decimated late-nite rock pub Dixie Taverne. Actually he is the reason that any shows ever took place there in the beginning. Blame it on that dude. Our old pal Danny Lilker (ex-Anthrax/S.O.D., now Brutal Truth) shows up and we bullshit the drunken night away. After a sweaty, energetic set and load out (which is never energizing) we are ready for our first regular night of sleep in days. Only four shows left…Bummer vibes all around.
The promoter knows our locals; NOLA one man band garage rock coke freak King Louie and federal prison sickos the Pallbearers, who are two fantastic bands from our city and plays in a great band called the Inmates. He also owns the coolest DIY punk club in town called Now That’s Class, and excellent setting for tonight’s rowdy show. Openers are the Atlas Moth, Keelhaul, and Strong Intention. Keelhaul played in the basement of the club, unleashing an assault of heavy, yet intricate riffing that we couldn’t begin to figure out. Anytime we play in Cleveland, we play with them; they are like extended family. Tonight’s crowd is a turbulent ocean of flying bodies and the usual blood and broken stuff. A huge skinhead that nobody wants to fuck with and who we guarantee has never heard of us before keeps getting on stage, gets pushed off, gets back up, and is taking up way too much space on a stage with only barely enough room for five. He decides he’s gonna lay down in Mike’s zone. Bad move. At first none of us knew what to do with this dude, then Mike starts spitting all over him while he was laying on stage, which then escalated to the guy catching the iron base of the mic stand in the back of the neck. He finally got off of the stage. All in all, a great night, all captured on five camera angles by our friends at Digital Live. The night ends with the fucking bonehead getting in a fight (surprise surprise!) with some guy, then a bouncer, and then the owner of the club. Wild. Also in attendance, ‘Rosco’, a very cool African American cop (yes, a cop) that loves our anti-authority music because he says he “Feels it.” Rosco will show up for both nights in Chicago as well. We figure we bring in the best mix of a crowd. Beside the outsiders, weirdos and usual losers that can relate to us, there’s the crusty contingent, the Pantera fan brain dead rednecks, the hardcore punk kids and then the diehard headbangers. It’s good to be able to pull folks from different scenes into our little Death Trip.
Riding into Motor City with MC5 blowing outta the speakers in our jail on wheels we arrive at the club way too early; nothing but a Greyhound station across the street and the bridge to Canada. We are a little sketched about this club because of some of the things we have heard thru the grapevine about the club owner pulling out a gun on Fang and Verbal Abuse a few weeks back, and sending them off without pay. It’s definitely a strange vibe, but we always hope for the best and we feel like we’re stuck in the ‘80s with all the Megadeth and Lizzie Borden fliers from days gone by. Soundcheck takes about what feels like two hours as they freak on the feedback and try to tell us to turn down. Tons of fried chicken, potatoes, and dinner rolls for grub up but the only thing weird is that right outside of our green room, it smells like a methamphetamine lab. Fragrant. There are tons of security personnel, and while they are all cool with us, a strange vibe persists. We’re talking 10-15 security guards, all big boys, for a show that draws about 3-400 people. The show starts off kinda slow, but we are having a good time hanging out with old friends like the aforementioned Matt, aka EZ Money (who was our driver from the 2005 End Times tour), Steve from Emetic Records, and other assorted friends from back in the day. We slay these fuckers. In the words of our shot-in-the-face-dead-friend from Soilent Green; Scott Williams, …Ugh…Go die. Fuck all ya’ll…
After the show, the entire crew of security though we were the greatest and had never heard us before, and we’ve made new fans. This is good considering Mike called out the sound guy for putting some kinda reverb effect on his vocals. Something like, “Hey assholes, would you take that fucking effect off…” Come to think of it he called out the lighting dude too. “Hey assholes…” Despite what we had heard, the entire show goes smooth; no guns, hostility, and we got paid. We find out later that the soundman and most of security belong to a well known biker gang whose name we will leave out; supposedly 180 of them had been recently indicted for human and drug trafficking. Good thing they liked us.
After the show, we opt to skip staying at EZ Money Matt’s house which is eight blocks from the venue and is a in a gutted out neighborhood and take up a nicer offer to stay at a 75 acre estate in the middle of the woods, thanks to Gordy, of an old Detroit band called A-Frame, who used to play gigs with EHG in the mid ‘90s. After two weeks of frequenting every shithole hotel on the East Coast, this change of scenery breathes life into us. Deer, fish, fresh air, trees and all that good stuff. We have an entire guest house to ourselves, right outside of a lake and an expanse of forest that goes on forever. A serene closing too many days of destroying ourselves, the audiences, and everyone’s hearing. Final destination: The Windy City.
One thing that we have forgotten to include in this journal, is; our first driver bailed on us in Richmond. For what, we don’t know, but based on the 1,000s of text messages he made to his girlfriend in his short run with us, she probably wanted him home, but he claimed he had a court date. We call bullshit. He refused to sleep when he needed it; why? Because he was texting. This became very annoying when you take into account that Jimmy had to take this dude’s slack a lot of times and he probably almost killed us all because he texted the entire time as he drove. Once in Richmond, we were to get a 15-seat passenger van, and a new driver. The van we never got, and it was looking like we were gonna have to take a gas-guzzling 3 mile to the gallon RV. The only thing that kept us from punching the kid in the back of the head was that he offered to leave his van with us, which he did.
We’ve already changed one tire somewhere near SC or NC and while changing the second tire we spoke of earlier in Providence, it comes to light that one of the rear shocks is broken off from the suspension. Fast forward to today; because the shock is just hanging there (it had been the whole tour) and the alignment is now off, and the van wobbles so much that our teeth rattle. Then it comes: blow out. We had only one hour ’til Chicago, and the fact that the alignment was fucked, wore the left rear tire until it exploded out on the highway. Long story short, we made it to the club, but the long day wore us all down a bit. We all want to leave this van in Chicago and burn it on the side of the highway. Oh yeah, by the way, we’ve had no spare tire or insurance either, the entire tour. One of the opening groups Strong Intention, pick us up on the side of the road and so then we pack nine massively dumb musicians into the one “Short Bus.” Strong Intention are insanely fucking good by the way, and Mike IX has done vocals on a song on their next record in a tune called ‘Razorblade Express’, look fer it ASAP…
We are playing 2 dates in Chicago; tonight we play “In the Name of Suffering” tomorrow “Take as Needed for Pain.” Tonight is sold out, and as a matter of fact, tomorrow is completely sold out as well. We haven’t played some of these songs since our Austin show where we did the same thing (except all on one night) and haven’t rehearsed them all tour. Aside from the fact that some of these songs are like feeding the audience a huge Xanax, I thought the crowd ate it up. Everybody is burnt out from a long day of sitting on side of the highway, and all injuries, mental and physical, that we’ve collected over the course of this tour melt away up on that stage. Our fans still loved it; bless them for not hearing and/or ignoring all of the fuck ups and missed cues tonight.
We crash at Ron Holzner and his wife Carol’s house. Ron is an ex-member of the fantastically brilliant Chi-Town doom ensemble Trouble and also Debris Inc. and now plays bass with Earthen Grave and a couple others. Mike, who being an ordained minister, actually married these two together in unholy matrimony in Tilburg, Holland earlier this year. Their house is always a good time, and a chance to decompress. Their entire, and I mean entire house is a taxidermy museum; a sort of animal rescue for animals that have passed away, been preserved or either ended up in a dumpster, antique store, or auction. We love this house. The first time I stayed here, some of us had blacked out after the show, but then woke up on the living room couch surrounded by squirrels, bats, bobcats, and at least one two headed kitten.
Awakened this morning/afternoon by the smell of Ron hooking us up with his traditional ‘get-back-on-your-feet-you drunk-mothafuckers’ breakfast. Everyone is in a little better mood today, and is ready to make the best of this last show. Mike and Joey are set to do a power electronics/noise set with Mark Solotroff from Bloodyminded at 3 p.m. at Reckless Records and their 15 minute destructive electrix assault, under the name Ten Suicides, has a store clerk stuffing napkins in his ears and wincing. After that we head to the burger joint called Kuma’s Corner, where this week’s special is the Eyehategod burger; a 10 oz burger topped with bacon wrapped dates, pecan crumbles, and Dusseldorf mustard. Luke Tobias, one of the grill cooks, hooks up our entire meal. I had the Mastodon burger which was OK I guess, but Joey said the EHG burger was killer. Simple is cool.
Tonight we are on fucking fire. If there is any record we lean on more in our usual set, it’s “Take as Needed for Pain” and that is apparent as we play it flawless. Some guy comes up on stage to bring us all shots of whiskey. Mike trusts no drink given to him on stage due to getting dosed on something wrong at our 20th anniversary show. The guy does Mike’s shot with us, and walks off stage. 20 minutes later, the same guy gets on stage, rips the mic from the stand, and throws it on the ground, as a gesture of “Fuck You”, and starts walking off stage, only to catch a good shove from said vocalist that sends the guy flying face first off of the stage into the ground. He fell so hard that it looked like a cartoon, followed by crowd applause. We could not have ended this tour on more of a solid note. Afterward, we bid farewell to our new friends in Nachtmystium and Atlas Moth. It’s kind of sad in the end after making this run and becoming friends through the good shows, bad shows, and bouts of inebriation and hungover days, but home is calling and we can’t wait to get there. All tours usually end on that melancholy note it’s certain to say. On the ride home, we begin to feel the heat as we approach the South, and it has never been more welcomed; at least for the first 15 minutes. We’ve pulled this goddamn shit off once again.