– Hello, thanks for taking the time. How is everything going right now with DEMON EYE? What’s keeping you busy at the moment?
Thank you for getting in touch. For now the band is enjoying a little down time from the road and gearing up for our local record release show, which will be here in Raleigh, NC in August with Captain Beyond. We are very excited to play with them again. We recently shared the stage with them at the Maryland Doomfest.
– This is our first interview with you, and we could say you are a rather «young» band, forming in 2012 so, first off, would you mind to share some history of the band? If I’m not mistaken you started doing 70’s covers so, how did you evolve to write original material?
That’s right. We started playing as a ‘70s rock cover band, called Corvette Summer. The band was Larry’s idea. He thought it would be fun to start a band where we played songs from our favorite ‘70s rockers, but only play the songs that were not radio hits. We played everything from “Long Way to Go” by Alice Cooper, to “Call Me Animal” by the MC5, to “Rocka Rolla” by Judas Priest. It was a very good time and we became a very tight band as a result. After about a year and a half of the covers performances, I began writing my own songs with the intention of starting Demon Eye with the Corvette Summer guys. We all grew up on classic metal and hard rock, but each of us have our own individual tastes as well. I knew we played well together, so I had a good feeling that we would also write well together.
– Though you play a quite traditional style, your sound is pretty unique. I would describe you as Proto Heavy Doom (even though I don’t know if that tag actually exists). Heavy Doom because Doom is lately associated to more down-tuned and slower sounds, more sludgy, and your kind of Doom is more into the PENTAGRAM’s tradition, but also «proto» as you throw to the mix a lot of Hard Rock elements as well, that date back to the 70’s but, how could you describe DEMON EYE?
I would agree with your description. There are definitely elements of doom metal in our music, but like you said, we don’t really sound like many of the other doom bands out there. I do want to go on record by saying that I very much enjoy that slow, sludgy style of doom, but that’s not what Demon Eye is all about. As much as I love bands like YOB, Sleep, and Electric Wizard, it just wouldn’t work if we tried to write and perform music like that. People would be able to see right through it. That’s why I feel it’s important to always be yourself. Generally, when it comes to songwriting, we keep the ideas simple. There’s nothing like the combination of a good, energetic riff with a solid verse-chorus-verse structure and a strong melody to carry it through.
– In 2014 you released your debut album, «Leave the Light», already signed to a label, Soulseller. What did this album mean to DEMON EYE?
“Leave the Light” will always be special to us because we wrote that material and had absolutely no intentions of doing anything beyond performing to 20 or so friends at our local bar. We had no idea we would record such a strong album. We had no idea that people would like it as much as they did and that it would gain so much recognition from metal fans all around the world. It all happened very quickly, too. It seemed like one day I was uploading the songs onto Bandcamp and the next day I was receiving interview requests from metal magazines in Eastern Europe and being offered a record deal. I was like, “What is happening?!”
– Then in 2015 your sophomore «Tempora Infernalia» came out. I guess on a second album you can use the experience you get from recording a debut album and also a way to try avoid some mistakes made during the debut, was this your case?
In a way, yes, but in all honesty we recorded “Tempora Infernalia” so quickly after “Leave the Light” that it almost seemed like we were riding that same wave. I love “Tempora Infernalia” but there are little things I hear on that record that make me wish that I, personally, had put a little more time and thought into what I was doing. Overall, though,I think it’s every bit as solid as the first album. The band played very well and I love the songs. We seem to get a lot of requests to play “Poison Garden” off that album, which we actually don’t play very often. Perhaps we should rethink that.
– So, what a third album is? A way to expand your sound and ideas?
Indeed. In my opinion, if you’re in a band who is fortunate enough to release a third album, you should try new ideas. For “Prophecies and Lies” I wanted the band to experiment with some different rhythms and songwriting dynamics, but I also didn’t want us to sound like we were trying too hard and end up releasing a record that didn’t sound like Demon Eye.
– Anyway, going back to your past, you had plenty studio activity in just a few years. Where does inspiration come from? What keeps you boosted?
I think it’s a combination of truly enjoying what we do while also remaining open minded and trying new things. You have to be willing to evolve, not only as songwriters, but also in terms of branching out and meeting new people and playing in new places with new bands. Also, I think it’s important to find a balance between band life and your “real” life. For me, if it was all Demon Eye all the time, with no time devoted to my wife, our dogs, and our home, the band certainly wouldn’t last. I think all four of us do a good job in balancing Demon Eye with our personal lives.
– Now «Prophecies and Lies» is your third album. Now that it’s done, how do you feel about the final result?
I am very happy with it and feel it is our best record. Not that I like our previous albums any less, but I am especially proud of this one.
– It was recorded by Mike Dean, of CORROSION OF CONFORMITY. How did everything go? Did you get the kind of sound you were looking for? It feels quite «vintage», really organic and «alive».
The whole experience was fantastic. Mike is a good friend and a lot of fun to work with. We were able to capture the vintage sound by having Mike do the initial tracking live, all cut to half inch tape. That’s certainly where the old school feel comes from.
– In your music you mix influences from the 70’s and 80’s, that range from NWOBHM to Doom or Hard Rock. And it’s funny, but with all these traditional and old influences you manage to create something fresh. Would you agree? Or maybe instead of «fresh», «timeless» is a word that would fit better?
I think timeless is a good term. We’re not trying to recreate 1974. We simply do what feels natural to us. Our sound is definitely more rooted in the past with the bands we grew up with, bands that focused on melody and faster tempos, but at the same time we are not concerned with being retro.
– In fact a lot of people could say you are a kind of vintage band, but I have always thought the line that separated «vintage» from «timeless» is really thin. Where do you think the separation is?
“Vintage” definitely signals something that has come and gone and is being remembered. “Timeless” refers to something that endures. It lasts forever.
– Stylistically you remain true to yourself and musical vision, but I’d say «Prophecies and Lies» is a broader album. It seems like you have expanded your sound a little further. Was this something you were consciously striving for or was it just a natural evolution?
Yes, but as I mentioned before, I didn’t want us to get too far out there. For example, there are moments on this record that are new territory for us, like the prog stylings of “Infinite Regress” and the melancholy feel to “Kismet,” and of course the psychedelic instrumental title track. But at the same time? I think it all still sounds like Demon Eye. It would be an easy trap to fall into where you’re attempting math rock riffs instead of standard time signatures. Listeners would hear it once and go, “Oh, this is their prog record.” I feel there’s a fine line between giving people something new to hear while also maintaining what it is that they loved about you in the first place.
– In fact I think this expansion goes toward new influences, as some more psychedelia or even epicness. Did you listen to any new music while working on this record?
I believe I was listening to prog bands, like Jon Hiseman’s Tempest and King Crimson, but I was also listening to a lot of old favorites, like Witchcraft and Graveyard. I admired those bands greatly for putting out records in recent years that were such a departure from their previous ones. Graveyard, in particular, really took some chances on “Innocence and Decadence.” There was a song on there that sounded like it could have been a Faces tune with Rod Stewart singing. That takes courage, especially when you run the risk of having a fanbase that doesn’t respond well to change.
– Something really special about the band is that you have two vocalists, but the best thing is both have a really unique sound, and super unusual into your style. Is this something easy to bring to a live scenario? Specially playing drums also.
Thank you. Yes, Bill does an excellent job in singing the high harmonies with me, all while being such an incredible drummer. When we perform I’m always impressed with how he can swing the microphone over to his face as it drifts away, while still keeping a beat, haha.
– For the artwork you have worked once again with John Hitselberger. He has a really singular style, and he has managed to make all your covers recognizable as DEMON EYE. Which I think is something really positive, and it feels like somehow giving a certain sense of wholeness to your works.
Thank you for the compliment. We are a very lucky band to have an artist like John working with us. A lot of people ask us about John and his art. Truth be told, he doesn’t seem to create art for very many bands. He’s a very quiet guy who seems to just enjoy a quiet life with his girlfriend. He’s also a great musician himself. The very first thing John did for us was quite some time ago, back before we even recorded “Leave the Light.” I happened to run into him in a supermarket and asked him if he could make us a t-shirt design. All I told him was that I was interested in something like the old Virgil Finlay art for the original Arkham House Lovecraft books. He said, “Oh, you want tentacles?” That’s how easy it was to work with him, haha.
– Anyway, what does the cover artwork represent?
Well, I gave John the lyrics to all of the songs on the record and let him hear the early demos. I wanted him to get a feel for the music and see what imagery came to his mind. I also told him that I had been thinking a lot about the old British explorer, Percy Fawcett, who was marooned in the Amazon jungles in South America. Fawcett was faced with such hostile and barbaric forces of nature that he referred to it as the “green hell.” I was fascinated with the thought of a human being experiencing the humility and wrath of the natural world. That idea was actually the basis for the opening track, “The Waters and the Wild.” I believe John took that somewhat into account with the green and black color scheme, but ultimately he thought it would benefit the band more if we had some continuity with our imagery.
– Lyrics on the album basically deal with our current world but, did any speciftical events inspire some of them?
I think the lyrics came from all the noise in my head these past few years. I experienced a lot of changes in my personal life, and like many, was I feeling very affected by all of the madness happening throughout the world. Terrorism. War. The horrors in countries like Syria and the South Sudan. Not to mention the insane political and socio-economic divisions currently happening in the United States. Even in relatively peaceful environments everybody is so temperamental and eager to lash out at others. It made me think of individuals who actively put that sort of energy into the world. Like, what do they get out of violence and damning others who are different than themselves? Many of the songs are observations on the darker sides of the human condition.
– And talking about such, how good do you think the album’s title represents this main theme on your lyrics?
I would say it’s pretty accurate.
– All this about «Prophecies and Lies» being said; how could you describe it in just 3 words?
Don’t die mad.
– And finally, what are now your near-future plans?
The upcoming record release show with Captain Beyond, probably some mini tours throughout the U.S. to promote the new album, and hopefully touring your country! I toured Spain back in 2005 with the Cherry Valence and would love to return.
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
Thanks very much for interviewing us, and thank you for supporting music and art in general.