By Andrew Wilhelm
"New Orleans is the New Vietnam."
How's that for a loaded title?
It is one the new songs that New Orleans' infamous sons Eyehategod have been playing at recent shows. Given their combined affinities for their city and for getting under people's skin, only they could make a title like that work. It certainly ranks among their most provocative titles like "Sister Fucker," "Kill Your Boss" and "Man Is Too Ignorant to Exist." Vocalist Mike Williams says that the song's subject matter deals with the spike in crime following Katrina, whose effects still hover over Williams and many other New Orleans residents. Fitting with their demeanor, however, there's a black tongue in that cheek.
"It would be silly to compare to the war in Vietnam, it's not that bad at all. It's just a good heavy-sounding title," he said.
The song itself is a throwback to Eyehategod's early days, where they were especially vigilant in sabotaging good taste.
"A lot of that stuff, in the beginning, was kinda done for just shock value. As we got older, we kinda wanted to make it, kinda be a little more intelligent about some of the things, but yeah, it definitely goes along with our older titles," Williams said.
The fire's not gone. Williams said some of the other new song titles include "Medicine Noose" and "Robitussin and Rejection," which fit well with the band, especially when you consider that they're not on the sober path to divinity. Eyehategod, despite not releasing a studio album since 2000's Confederacy of Ruined Lives, tour on a more regular basis now, and they've been testing these new songs to their audience. From what I saw at their set during SXSW, the new material is going over well with fans. Williams says these songs are constantly changing - the lyrics, vocals and riffs may change around by the time these songs are imbued on tape.
Speaking of which, what's going on with that new record?
"It's basically all written, we gotta put vocals to it all and tweak up all the songs, and then after that go into a studio. It's been a slow process," Williams said.
Williams accounts the crawling pace of the album's creation to the busy schedule of the band members. After all, guitarist Jimmy Bower plays drums in Down, the band sans Bower play in Outlaw Order, and Williams has a noise project, The Guilt Of.... He shot down rumors that the album will feature a disc of only covers. Though if anyone can do a better "Sweet Leaf" than fellow Louisianans Thou, it would definitely be Eyehategod.
As the old saying goes, when it's done, it's done. And if "Vietnam" is any indication, it will be worth it.
Eyehategod will play the Black Stage today at 4:30.