Catching up with “Eyes of Hate” singer, Al

Things are a little hectic for Eyes of Hate singer Al. Not only is he preparing for the release of a 7” split with Pennsylvania’s Common Enemy to be released on his label Scene Destroyer (also the name under which he was doing shows for a while); in the midst of re-releasing his band’s second album, ‘All Around Us’ (which was originally just available to the public as a CD-R, as they didn’t have a label on which to put it out), on Headache Records; and finishing up writing material for a NEW album with the rest of his bandmates – drummer Jay Decay, bassist Tommy, and guitarist Antonio – who have about 17 songs already, some of which are still in need of completed lyrics; but, to top it all off, at the time of our conversation in late-October at their studio, the vocalist was working mad hours, concluding, logically, that he has “too much going on,” quipping, “I’m ready to jump out the fuckin’ window.”

Okay, so with all that’s happening, where to begin? I guess some brief background information is in order: the NYC hardcore punk band formally began with Al and Antonio in 1999, and over the years they’ve incurred an array of line-up changes that have now culminated in what the entire band describes as a “great” set-up, though they would like to add a second guitarist at some point. However, they’re loathe to settle for just anybody as Al says, “We’ve always been known for playing tight and having our shit together,” and as a result, they’re content to remain a four-piece. “We’re happy with this line-up,” explains Jay. “Right now we’re not gonna look for a second guitarist, but if someone comes around, we’ll try it out.” Al says they’ve already worked with some people, but Tommy interjects, “It didn’t fit what we do… We wanna make sure [the person] really fits our sound.” During their career, Eyes of Hate have released two full-lengths, the first a self-titled album and the aforementioned 15-track ‘All Around Us’ from 2003, is the second.

And so, now they are ready to have this last album re-released. All the rhythm tracks have been re-recorded, a hidden track will be present on the new version, and Al was in the process of re-mixing everything. The band hope this record (and the 7” split) will come out by Christmas, but still aren’t sure of the exact date just yet.

Whereas the first two LPs were primarily straight-up, fast, in-your-face hardcore punk, the guys revealed that with their new material they’re tackling other genres as well. Al concedes, “I think the earlier stuff maybe had more of a formula,” whereas now “we’re just branching out with different styles. We incorporate everything.” Jay concurs: “This is more chaotic; every song is different from the next,” adding that there’ll be some awesome guitar leads on the new full-length, tentatively titled ‘Feel Them Burn’. Faster and more experimental, Jay insists they’ve matured as songwriters, as the music’s “totally less close-minded,” and touches upon “everything from thrash to poppier stuff. It’s just way more diverse now.” Enticing, indeed! Some new songs include “Get the Fuck Out of My House”, “Ratas de la Sociedad”, and “Get Your Own Gear”.

This last song was inspired by an incident that seems to happen all too frequently to the oft-generous band: they lend their equipment out and people take WAY too much advantage (“Hold on, wait, hold on – I’ll donate some blood, too,” cracks the vocalist), and understandably, they’re sick and tired of being shit upon. The last straw (and from whence the idea of this song comes) was an experience Jay had, where after the band in question borrowed his drums, pieces of his equipment ended up missing. Needless to say, he was pissed… Turns out things that piss the band off make great fodder for songs.

Al pens most of the lyrics (“Ratas”, however, is a Spanish song written by guitarist Antonio), writing about things that anger him OR about things that his bandmates or other people he knows have told him. “A lot of my lyrics deal with everyday life,” discloses Al, continuing, “but it’s usually something that pisses me [or someone I know] off…I kinda feed off that. I like that pissed stuff, the angry energy, I just eat that right up; I don’t know why. I guess I’m pissed,” he concludes with a bit of laughter. “Get the Fuck Out of My House” is a prime example of how his conversations with Antonio gave him an idea for a song. This composition decries the pitfalls of Antonio’s time living in a punk house in Brooklyn and the stressing situations with which he was forced to deal. Here’s a small sampling: “You used all the toilet paper, can’t take a fuckin’ shit/It’s my fuckin house, now get the fuck out of it.”

So, yes, they’re a pissed band. But Tommy invites “all the other pissed-off people” to come hang with them. And perhaps soon the rest of the nation will have a chance to do just that, for after primarily playing NYC and the East Coast these past five years, Eyes of Hate are planning on touring farther than ever before. They’ll still play around here, of course, but will now be more selective of what New York shows they play. Already they have some dates down in Texas set up with the wonderful old-schoolers Verbal Abuse around New Year’s Eve and are working on securing a show or two in New Orleans during that trek. If you do get a chance to see these guys, Al warns, “We’re just gonna put it on. You’re gonna feel the power, you’re gonna feel the music, you’re gonna feel the spirit, no doubt. So come to a show, man.” Touché! Check out their Website (listed above) for all information and upcoming dates.

Interview date: Oct 25, 2004

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