Third and last interview of the Eyehategod saga! This time it is the turn of the guitarist Brian Patton. So here is the English, original version of my interview with this very early member of this legendary band, interview done on behalf of the Italian webzine The New Noise (The New Noise). My previous interviews, with frontman Mike IX Williams and with bassist Gary Mader, can be found HERE and HERE respectively.
Brian and I had to shift the timing for the interview as he had to do some extra-work. Guitars are expensive and not even at Eyehategod’s dollars fall down from the sky. Actually the other way round … But at the end we managed, and the interview was done, via chat, on Monday night September 24th 2012. Again, many thanks to these cool musicians for their friendly attitude and patience, and also, again, special thanks to Jennifer Reisberg of label A389 (releasing the new single “New Orleans Is The New Vietnam”) for organizing the interaction between EHG and The New Noise. A389 Records
So, ladies and gentlemen, here is Brian Patton, who deeply loves blues, jazz and Butthole Surfers, who adores pizza (even if I didn’t write his howls about it before the start of the interview!) and who will reveal also some cool news about mighty Soilent Green …
Mari – Hello Brian!
Brian – Hi, we made it!
Mari – Yes, we did! So, eell, let's start with this fact. During these days I realized that also Eyehategod folks have to work for surviving! I thought in my naïvete that at least you guys might be able to live on your music, that is basically the secret, or not so secret, dream of many emerging underground bands ... So I guess that touring for you guys is also an issue, if you have to cope with jobs, beside families ...
Brian – We have never been able to live fully off of our music. We used to pretty much pay tour when we started and now we can do better but it is still not enough for me live. I still need to work when not on the road. We aren't in it for the money anyway or we would have given up long ago. We just really love playing it's pretty much all we know. Some of us have jobs that are pretty understanding about it
Mari – Sure, that makes sense. As to touring how did it go in your last, European tour? Are you happy with it? How did you find the reactions about the new song? I mean, the fans' reactions ...
Brian – The reactions to the new songs have been great. I just think that our old school fans are just ready for us to get this new stuff out and we are finally getting it to them. The tour in Europe was awesome we love coming over and have been trying to come back every year, and we will be back next year with a new record so we are excited.
Mari – Oh yes, your fans are definitely waiting for the new record like oxygen! Although it is awesome, I think, to see how you guys are able to draw masses of people to your gigs even without any album out. I remember a previous time in Milano when you guys also played with Church of Misery ... no album out but many people were there for you, adoring in their own wild way, eh eh …
Brian – I still can't believe that happens! We really are happy and appreciate our fans. We have a lot of new faces and it has been a long time, before the last couple years, that we have been to Europe anyway. So we are just enjoying the fact that we are finally playing for the folks overseas and they are digging it.
Mari – And soon Australia ... people there are longing for you, I read some comments on forums ...
Brian – YES! We so look forward to playing in Australia. Will be the bands first time over so we hope and heard that it will be amazing. Gonna smash them!!!!! With tone!
Mari – Hahaha ... For sure!! Boots and pharmacies need to sell more protections for eardrums, lol ... With Mike and Gary we exchanged impressions about the new record although I have just heard the new track obviously , “New Orleans is the New Vietnam”, which is out now as single with label A389. My impression is that, at least in the new track, your sound has evolved even more towards blues, as the song is very much full of passion still very energetic, as your style is, but even more intense feeling-wise and with a little bit of sadness more than rage or black pessimism, compared to some of your songs. But it is just one song. So is the music of EHG a bit changed after these years and after all that has happened to some of you?
Brian – The new sounds are based on stuff we have been tossing around for years and some as fresh as can be. We really have put a bit in the writing for it and hope for the best. It WILL be a true EHG record though and will have some slow, some blues, some punk. And just do what we do and have always done. In certain ways we have evolved a little as I would expect from any band. But we love the new stuff and hope the folks will to. So far so good. We are just trying to get that live vibe and energy that we have live on record and we are writing songs that I think do that as long as they are recorded as should be.
Mari - Who is or will be taking care of the recording, production and mastering? Have you got a preferred external studio or will you be doing that technical work by yourselves?
Well, I don't ask about the label issue, as it is already known how pessimist Mike is ... lol
Brian - The label thing is what it is, we are getting it done. In music land, as always, the business end for the most part sucks. We really fucking hate that end of things. I'll just leave it at that. We have had a few different options in front of us but I think we have figured out where we are and who is producing the recording. We will make the announcement when confirmed because now is a little premature. Next couple weeks though we will know.
Mari - Eh, I believe it, it is not so uncommon to hear emerging bands getting immediately disappointed or struck by that side of the thing ...
Brian - We have been around for long and feel more comfortable than we did years back, because we just know the business better. I couldn't imagine what it would be like as a young band trying to break in.
Mari - But as to those technical parts of the recording and mastering, do you people like to follow also that aspect of the making of an album or you just trust about the skills of the sound engineers you interact with?
Brian - No, our feet are in 100%. I like to be there every step of the way if I can. Not a fan of just letting somebody take over what you have worked on for so long and so hard. That's why we are looking at folks that already know what we are about.
Mari - Cool! 100% EHG guaranteed, eh eh …
Brian - Absolutely.
Mari - You have been into EHG for so many years, databases say since 1993, although, as I read from those databases, you entered the band in relation to the only line-up change that involved the position of guitarists. I guess the New Orleans underground scene was magmatic as far as heavy bands and young wild guys were concerned at that time. How did your involvement take place?
Brian - The New Orleans scene at the time, and really still is, a big family. Jim and I just got along great and clicked as musicians. We simply liked playing music together. He and I were already playing in another project so when they wanted me I was ready to go. I jammed with them once then went on tour with them with White Zombie. Me and Jim are the bread in the sandwich. Hold all the meat in. We just have fun.
Mari - Eh, yesterday while discussing with a friend about NOLA back in time, we remembered those other bands doing swampy sludge back in the 90s, like Tungsten or Stressball, and obviously Acid Bath. Apart from Acid Bath and Audie Pitre’s tragic death, the other bands had a less fortunate fate compared to Eyehategod. How did you survive? Was it because you have always been a band with a family-like bond? Your line-up has been so stable in over 20 years ... Or was it just luck? ... apart from the fact that you were the best, eh eh ...
Brian - We simply had our up and downs like I'm sure every band has or will be through, and we have been through pretty much any situation together at this point and are as close if not closer than family. I would do anything for the other guys. We just have a great feeling when we jam together and that out ways all. Everybody has been that "dick" if you know what I mean and we just pick each other up and keep on keeping on. The only thing that will kill us is death!
Mari - That's stronger than a marriage! Awesome ... yeah, actually that is the impression you guys give, a brotherhood more than a band of guys playing together as a hobby .... The same friend above asked me to ask you the name, or the names of your all-time favourite or reference blues guitarist(s) and why. Your love for blues is well-known, apart from the other genres that can be picked up into EHG music. I love blues although I don't know many names of guitarists well. So my friend, and the blues experts like him, will understand and appreciate your answer ... … But I will also ask what you like also in the metal/hardcore punk realm, and if you feel interest or appreciate the present-day scene or if you are still more fascinated by the "old-school" ...
Brian - Not a fan of a lot of the bands nowadays, wish I was. There are a few that stand out but nothing that grabs me that much. I've been on a DEVO kick as well as Zappa. As far as blues, Charlie Patton and Sonhouse. Lightning, Howling Wolf … Shit I love it all. I'm a big Jazz nerd too. Jimmy Smith, Coltrane, Coleman.... I could go on and on. Jimmy Smith was the first to really bring the Hammond Organ into Jazz. So much soul! Also cats like Curtis Mayfield, Joe Tex, And a lot of RandB abd soul. In heavy music...It's pretty much the stuff I grew up on. Carnivore, Venom, Bathory, Black Flag, DRI, Misfits, Bad Brains, Butthole Surfers big time, Kreator, Celtic Frost. Just all the stuff that as a kid tripped me out and had stuck.
Brian - First rock band was KISS at 4 years old. And two years after I started playing clarinet for a few years then piano and eventually wanted to switch to guitar just because it felt right.
Mari - Oh, multi-instrumentalist and so different instruments ... that is being into music! Now I would like to ask you something about Soilent Green. Many underground bands have or pretend to have a sort of "wicked" aura maybe in order to be more attractive. Eyehategod and, even more, Soilent Green have no need of pretending anything because of the tormented events affecting bands' members in various periods. I must say I was impressed when I saw releases from you guys in Soilent Green not long after all the sequence of tragic events that struck you, and with your winning wild and groove-laden style. I guess a change in the style might be expected. Was this "going on as before" as a way for keeping the flame of what was enjoyed with your mates alive? Or was it just the most obvious way for discharging sorrow and stress?
Brian - You have to understand something, Through those hard times, and a lot of them were pretty fucking hard no doubt, music was one of things that kept you grounded. Another bump in the road. Sometimes that road can be pretty intense but honestly as long as I can play I will. And I think all the guys in both Soilent and EHG think that way. It really is all I know that I love doing. We have all had shitty jobs but music, even though it sounds silly, music is our lives and I wouldn't know what to do without that feeling of playing. And all the evolution with EHG and Soilent is just natural. We don't think about it we just play what we feel.
Mari - Are you planning or working on something new with Soilent Green for the moment?
Brian - We are planning on doing our first show in over two years by the end of this year and get things started again. I have a lot of stuff ready to roll but has been hard with Tommy in Crowbar, Ben in Goatwhore, and me with EHG. Plus I live in Baltimore which is not that close to New Orleans AT ALL! So we are all excited to do it and will chip at it when we can. I would like to do a new EP at the start of the year to let people we haven't went anywhere, still here.
Mari - Oh, this is cool news indeed ... Yeah, I can imagine the difficulties with distances, in your country distances are so big among places ... Soilent Green and Eyehategod share geographical imprint (ah, NOLA ... unique!) and musical roots and quite a few sources of inspiration in spite of the different style. In particular Soilent Green has got more technical riffs. As a guitarist in both bands, where do you find more inner satisfaction in writing music?
Brian - Like neither more than the other. There is a certain satisfaction with just locking into a groove that just rolls and is organic. And then the challenge of writing and stretching my fingers. They are both fun. I like basically play and love all aspects of it, so tempo and technicality don't have much to do with it.
Mari - And besides musicians and life, are there other less obvious sources of inspiration for your music? Like particular books or authors, art ...
Brian - I love to read when I can. I'm actually reading a book by Patton Oswald, Comedy genius. Of coarse there is the obvious like Bukowski, Burroughs, Hunter S.. Art wise I love lots of guys. Like John Muth, Kent Williams, John VanFleet.
Mari - Interesting choice ... I just would like to ask you one last thing before closing, that is: tell me about your beard ...
Brian - My beard is furry.
Mari - Hahaha ... normally furry?
Brian – It’s getting to the point whether I can stand keeping this thing. I am lazy but my wife seems to like it and won't let me shave it but that works with my laziness so I'm keeping it until it bugs me to the point to take a razor to my face.
Mari - … "bearded metal", eh eh … Thanks for all, Brian. It has been an honour and a privilege to be able to interact with you guys.
Brian - Thank you, the pleasure was all ours. Hope all was good and thanks again!
Interview by Marilena Moroni
EHG | Facebook
EHG | Official Website
READ PART TWO HERE
READ PART ONE HERE