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Metal?s never been about money
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Sometimes you can tell in the first few moments of an interview that itÕs going to be a wild ride. In this case, the person on the other end of the line is guitarist Jimmy Bower of New Orleans extreme metal cult band Eyehategod. TheyÕre in the midst of a cross-country tour, and my first Ð and rather innocuous Ð question is ÒSo where are you guys right now?Ó ÒWhere are we?Ó he growls into the cell phone. ÒWeÕre on the New Jersey Turnpike and itÕs hot as balls!Ó Cue much background cackling and obscenities from the peanut gallery. As best I can tell, the gallery includes at least some members of Byzantine Ð another brutal and heavy rock act thatÕs providing support on the tour Ð and this sort of long-distance inquisition is the perfect excuse for plenty of half-soused ribbing on everyoneÕs part. That type of release is likely a by-product of spending the better part of the last decade in cramped quarters with a bunch of guys whose capacity for intoxication is almost as legendary as their capacity for earsplitting mayhem. While the bandÕs first album, In The Name of Suffering, was released in 1991, the group formed in 1988, but didnÕt hit the road in earnest until 1993. Since that time, theyÕve made a name for themselves as some of the baddest, noisiest, most intense Southern Òdoom rockersÓ ever to spring from American soil. However, their antagonistic style of music (which was once relegated to the fringes of even the metal underground) has slowly become incorporated into mainstream metal, and now in the early part of 2005, seems on the cusp of reaching over into the mainstream rock world as well. It must be an odd thing to help create a scene and stick around long enough to watch it spawn all manner of slightly watered down offspring. Yet, Bower feels heartened rather than threatened. ÒWe headlined the Emissions From The Monolith Festival a few nights ago,Ó he offers. ÒAnd there were all kinds of cool bands and merch you canÕt find anywhere else. You can tell this style of music is still extremely strong.Ó And the current shift towards the big money world of MOR rock? ÒNow, youÕve got groups like Queens of The Stone Age crossing over, but personally, I think the Melvins were doinÕ it from Ô84 on. ÒI kinda look at music like it always goes in circles. Right now I feel like somethingÕs about to happen. Some new band is about to come out thatÕll be like the new Nirvana... And theyÕre not called Byzantine! TheyÕll redefine things.Ó And yet, as far as the evolution of his scene goes, Bower is emphatic about what he sees as an unfortunate turn of events Ð namely, its commercialization. ThatÕs evident when I ask for his take on the current state of Ozzy Osbourne, onetime leader of EyehategodÕs avowed influences Black Sabbath. ÒI think his wife controls his life,Ó he blurts out with surprising candor. ÒI mean, I played 2 years of Ozzfest, and I talked to a friend last night whoÕs payinÕ $315 for 2 tickets this year. ThatÕs just insane! IÕm not tryinÕ to dog out the Osbournes, but come on. MetalÕs never been about money! ItÕs always been about people that donÕt have money who scrimp and save up to get the Van Halen or the KISS record. Ozzfest is just takinÕ advantage of people. Like, Emissions From The Monolith was $60 for 4 days!Ó As for the future of Eyehategod, while the scene now seems primed to take many 2nd and 3rd generation extreme metal acts to the oft-lauded Ònext level,Ó Bower says heÕs hoping his band becomes a little more abrasive. ÒWe donÕt wanna write the same record over and over. We realize Eyehategod could evolve into something else as well. Like maybe add some noise shit in, like old SBK and Throbbing Gristle. I want it to be way more violent.Ó Why more violent? ÒI donÕt know. To me, itÕs so negative, you know? So many people keep that shit all balled up in Ôem. WeÕre trying to make people mad. We want Ôem to hate us, but love us, too.Ó w Eyehategod plays The Jinx Friday night.