Eyehategod's Jimmy Bower: "The Beatles - they're heavy as shit to me!"

'John Lee Hooker on Xanax through a Marshall Stack'

Eyehategod is one of the most well known bands in the American Southern sludge metal scene. A genre that sprouted from the deep underbelly of rock and metal; like an alligator lying in wait, primal eyes just breaching the the surface of the stagnated water. It moves slowly, but, once its teeth grab hold, you're pulled under by it's visceral grooves and massive wall of fuzzy Sabbath inspired riffs. Riffs that have been fermenting in the brine of the Louisiana swamps for the last two decades. And, it's a goldmine of metaphors for a pretentious music columnist. 

Metal As Fuck caught up with Eyehategod's founding member Jimmy Bower to ask him what he's been up to. "Right now, I'm just writing some riffs and fucking around with Garageband on the computer." He speaks with a friendly, good natured southern drawl. "We've just finished recording a song titled New Orleans Is The New Vietnam that we plan to release as a 7" (Earsplit), then heading to Europe for a few weeks of touring. When we get back we're going to finish recording the album." What's the story behind the song New Orleans Is The New Vietnam? "It's basically a post-Katrina song, about car jackings, murder, and rapes. There's still parts of New Orleans that haven't recovered economically and it's still pretty bad in some areas." explains Jimmy.

Is the direction on the new album consistent with previous albums? "It's consistent...on this album we're tring to differentiate Eyehategod from being just another metal band — we're more of a punk/blues band. That's the best way we can describe ourselves...you know? Old delta blues shit." So kind of like John Lee Hooker through a Marshall stack? Laughing,  "John Lee Hooker on Xanax through a Marshall Stack!" He clarifies, emphasising the slow-as-molasses tempos Eyehategod uses. 

Eyehategod was among the early pioneers in heavy, southern flavoured rock and metal. Among bands such as Corrosion Of Conformity, Exhorder, Confessor, and Pantera (Jimmy will later form the band Down with former members of Pantera Rex Brown and Phil Anselmo). I ask him how it feels to be credited as one of the godfathers of Southern sludge metal, he humbly brushes the term aside. "I'm happy with all I've accomplished, but, that's the thing with wikipedia and the like, anyone can just write anything. That title belongs more to a group of  people than anything else." It seems the music is a product of the environment as much as anything else; the heat, the humidity? "Yeah, but how can you put that into one word?" He laughs.

Jimmy plays both drums and guitar, I ask if he has a preference? "A lot of people ask me that and I never know what to say." He continues, "It's usually whatever I'm playing at the time. I like guitar, but have played drums my whole life. I'm real unorthodox with my guitar playing, I only use four strings most of the time. I play guitar like I play drums!" Referring to the groove of it all. "Get in the groove and get in the pocket. That's what I consider heavy, like the Beatles, they're heavy as shit to me. Heavy as Slayer in a way because of that groove. You know? Slayer has a different groove, though."  Chuckles. 

What about the changes with technology within the industry, does a band like Eyehategod stay insulated from the negative effects? "Well, we were on Century Media for a good ten to fifteen years, and they were pretty good about keeping us out there, but, we're more of a cult band anyways, we have a smaller fan base, but they're very loyal. In a way it's better for us, as we've seen our live shows improve, and playing live is where it's at for us."

So where would one start if they've never been introduced to Eyehategod's music? "I guess our second record Take As Needed For Pain. That's where I think we really found our 'sound' — then maybe Confederacy of Ruined Lives." How about the new album? "We're really excited about the new record, it's been seven years and we've gone through a lot of bullshit. There's a lot of good negative energy we're putting into this album." Any ideas on the release date? "We're definitely on top of it. We're recording in August and hopefully we'll get it out before the end of 2012."