Suffering Sludge

8 January 2014 | 4:45 am | Mark Hebblewhite

"If we even thought about quitting he’d be the first to say ‘Dude what the fuck are you all doin’!’"

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It's a miracle Eyehategod have survived 25 years. The band's history mirrors the despair they channel through their unholy brand of sludge metal. Indeed, just last year they lost drummer and founding member Joey LaCaze to respiratory failure. But according to Bower not once did the band think of calling it quits.

“Joey was that kind of dude that knew just how much hard work and blood we've all put into this band,” offers Bowers in his relaxed Southern drawl. “If we even thought about quitting he'd be the first to say 'Dude what the fuck are you all doin'!' Knowing that's what his attitude would be it was really easy for us to just get back into it with our new drummer Aaron [Hill]. We're going to carry on and do this for Joey.”

Eyehategod have recorded a new record due to be released in April. Asked about the particulars Bower is somewhat cagey except to say that while they don't have a name for the record yet the songs “sound good to me – there's some evolution there but overall they are pure Eyehategod songs”.

Eyehategod and the Southern sludge scene that spawned the band are hard to categorise. It's as much punk as it is metal – as much country as it is city. When asked to explain why the South is the home of sludge Bower points to a number of reasons.

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“I blame 100 per cent humidity, mosquitoes, poverty, guns, drugs, alcohol and red lights – that's why this kind of music came out of the South,” he laughs. “Also for us, being from New Orleans is very unique and I think the fact it's such a great music city with so many different styles gave us the chance to create something different.”

It's this inability to pigeonhole Eyehategod that has contributed to their success. These days you're as likely to see one of their T-shirts at a hardcore gig as at a doom metal festival. Somehow this tortured brand of extreme noise has bridged the rigid divides and prejudices that have stifled the growth of so many bands.

“We sound like the Commodores meets Black Flag – and you can't go wrong with Lionel Ritchie,” laughs Bowers as he tries to explain the band's popularity – particularly in punk rock and hardcore circles. “But seriously, I just think that there's a really big groove thing going on with what we do. A lot of people can relate to that – I don't care exactly what kind of music you listen to – if it's got a good groove to it then that's it.”

Australia has definitely embraced this groove. Here for the first time in 2012, the band can't wait to get back. “I'd been to Australia before with Down so I knew how cool it is there, but the other guys had never been. We were blown away by how the shows went and we can't wait to get back. When somewhere like Australia accepts you, you know you're doing something right.”