(Comrade Aleks is back with an interview of Erik Sugg, vocalist/guitarist of North Carolina’s Demon Eye, who brings us lots of news about the band’s next album)
It started when Erik Sugg (guitars, vocals) and Larry Burilson (guitars) played in a band named Corvette Summer which covered ‘70s rock bands (Budgie, UFO, Humble Pie, and others), and that’s how they met Bill Eagen (drums, vocals) and Paul Walz (bass). Once after a weekend on a wooded mountainside Eric returned enlightened and asked if the guys could support the riffs he wrote there alone on an acoustic guitar… Just like that story with Moses – you know… The real commotion started.
So since 2012 Demon Eye have recorded two stunning, successful albums performed in the way of heavy doom metal charged with demonic energy! The debut full-length Leave the Light was full of sheer killer-songs, and the sophomore work Tempora Infernalia developed its ideas further. Just one year has passed since the Tempora Infernalia release, but I’m already anxious as the news has spread that Demon Eye are in the studio again. Are they conjuring a new ominous grand work? Erik Sugg will answer this and few other questions in the interview below.
Hello Erik! The year 2016 slowly closes to its end, what did it bring for Demon Eye?
It’s been a fantastic year for the band. In the springtime we did our first tour U.S. West Coast tour, which went very well. We also played some great festivals, sold out of all our vinyl pressings, and as of now, we’re working in the studio with Mike Dean, recording record number three!
Do sales of merch really help to keep the wheels turning? Is it really easier to sell anything at gigs than through a web-store?
Absolutely. I can’t really speak for other bands, but for us? Our finances come primarily through gigging and selling our records, CDs, and shirts to our fans face-to-face. Also, we really enjoy meeting our fans in person.
A year has passed since you revealed to the world your second full-length Tempora Infernalia. How would you sum up the overall feedback?
The feedback was very positive. We were humbled.
Which role does Soulseller Records play in Demon Eye’s promotion? How do you collaborate with the label? And do they have any influence on your sound?
Soulseller does a fantastic job in promoting us. We have a great relationship with them, which we never take for granted. I meet a lot of bands who either aren’t signed, or they’re signed to a label who they feel doesn’t communicate with them or represent them well. Being that’s the case, we are very lucky to be working with a great label like Soulseller. I can’t really say they influence our sound, (as you are probably aware, most of their catalog is more on the extreme side of metal), but they like what we do and trust us to write music that they won’t hate, haha.
Demon Eye – End of Days
Well, subjectively, the debut album Leave the Light sounds a bit more enthusiastic, more charged than Tempora Infernalia… You know – it has the fresh vibes of a first meeting or something… How do you feel about the difference between the albums?
For me, the only real noticeable difference between the two albums is the subject matter. Leave the Light was a record that focused more on witchcraft, the occult, and old world horrors, whereas Tempora Infernalia was about the man-made darkness of the here and now.
So, can we conclude that the songs of Tempora Infernalia are more realistic? What made you change your way of text writing?
Yes, I would agree with that. Personally, I’ll always enjoyed themes pertaining to the occult or supernatural evil, but I didn’t want to pigeonhole us into being one of the many bands who do that sort of thing. As the main lyricist, I enjoy thinking of things in terms of the individual, how a sole human being can witness the insanity happening in the world around them, and how they choose to respond to it. Those sorts of ideas can range from acceptance to personal empowerment to resentment, etc. It gives me plenty more themes to work with. Also, I’ve mentioned to others before, the real world can be a much darker place than anything based on fantasy.
What were the most difficult parts of Tempora Infernalia to create? How did the experience you got after working over Leave the Light help you to manage everything in that next recording session?
Nothing was really all that difficult from a technical perspective. Being that we worked with the same engineer in the same studio as before, we knew what sorts of sounds we were getting, but we did want to try some different things. The song, “Please, Father” is a good example. I wanted that to sound like it was a long lost radio signal, like an S.O.S. Alex Maiolo, our producer, knew just what sort of amplifier and effects to use in order to achieve those results. It was fun experimenting with things like that.
One year is enough for some bands to finish another full-length album. What’s Demon Eye’s progress? How long do you plan to work over the third album? I see that you already moved to the studio, right?
Yes. As I write, we’ve been in the studio for nearly a week. The album is being produced by Mike Dean of Corrosion of Conformity. We have a few more days of tracking before moving on to the mixing process. Typically, we work pretty fast in the studio. We like to strike while the iron is hot.
Do you already have some sketches or ready songs?
We’re recording 11 new songs. Hopefully all of them will make it onto the next record. I don’t have any reason to see why they wouldn’t. We’re satisfied with them all and they seem to flow well together.
What kind of new ideas have you been trying for it?
We’ve been experimenting with a lot of different things. Time signatures, psychedelic effects, volume swells, and overall dynamics. Also, this is the first record we’ve recorded on half-inch tape. It really gives it a vintage feel, which we love.
Demon Eye – From Beyond
What kind of lyrical concepts do you plan to choose for the third album? By the way, does it already have a working title?
The record will be titled Prophecies and Lies. Lyrically, it’s more based in reality like the previous record, but whereas Tempora Infernalia focused more on hopelessness and end times, the new album takes a step back and views the manipulation, greed, and power lust that everyone on this planet is subjected to in one way or another. It’s from the perspective of the inside looking out; an individual taking in the messages and information they are being forced to hear, then making a choice on where they stand. Are you inspired? Are you angry? Depressed? Are you going to take it anymore?
I guess you could say the overall message behind Prophecies and Lies is individual empowerment and looking beyond the veiled curtain. Although, there is one track, titled “Morning’s Son,” that harkens back to Sabbath tunes like “N.I.B.” and “War Pigs” where it’s told from the perspective of the devil and how he very easily convinces humans to carry out his work for him, then sits back and enjoys watching mankind destroy itself.
What are your methods of working as the guitar-player? What’s the necessary tool-kit you need to have to make your guitar sounds right?
The most necessary tool kit for me is in just making sure that I play as well as I’d like, in a manner that allows me to keep learning and growing as a player. Also, for me, having the right tone is crucial. I enjoy the combination of a Laney head, an Orange cab, and either a Gibson Les Paul or a Gibson SG.
And how important for you is the level of your songs’ complexity? Do you choose to pursue some “professional growth” for example?
Growth is very important for us as a band. We try to find that balance between continuing with the same musical trademarks that have given us an audience, but we also don’t want to keep doing the same thing over and over again. We’re constantly trying to better our songwriting and musicianship, but without losing any of the quality of our previous offerings.
How much of your own self is in Demon Eye’s songs? Do you believe in the things you sing about or is it a sort of entertainment for you?
Well, ultimately it’s all entertainment, but I do get some therapeutic value from singing about the dark things in our world, (corruption, greed, death, evil, etc.) Call it 21st Century blues!
What role do live shows play in Demon Eye? What are your most notable achievements in this field?
We consider our greatest achievements to be our growing fan base, and of course all of the great bands we’ve been able to play with. Pentagram, Saint Vitus, High on Fire, The Sword, Corrosion of Conformity, The Obsessed, Graveyard, King’s X, etc. We have been most fortunate.
What are the most remarkable things you witnessed during Demon Eye’s tour in the spring of this year? You know that kind of cliché about rock bands’ tours — tons of drugs and gallons of alcohol…
Well, I hate to give you a boring answer, but we’re kind of a boring band, haha. I personally don’t drink or party, and the other guys in the band don’t party very hard. We mainly just enjoy the thrill of performing in front of new audiences and meeting new bands, and hopefully making new fans. To give you a somewhat “juicy” answer to your question, we did have an incredibly intoxicated woman at our gig in Pacifica, California who repeatedly showed us lots of skin. Although, in all honesty, that was more of an uncomfortable experience than anything else and I was genuinely concerned that she would get herself into trouble that night (she didn’t from what I could tell.) All of us in the band are pretty much beyond that ego-driven desire to get attention from random women, (meaning we’re all boring married guys, haha.)
Don’t you plan to make a tour with the Vegas-based band Demon Lung? I would recommend that you also include Demon Head in that tour, but they’re from Denmark… I’m sure you will be able to solve all the logistical questions!
Ha! We are totally down with playing alongside any Demon body parts bands, any time.
Demon Eye – Black Wind
If I remember correctly, you worked as a school teacher. Do you give high grades to pupils who buy Demon Eye stuff?
Haha. I am actually a children’s librarian. I write goofy songs about dinosaurs and things like that to entertain young kids at my library. But if I were a teacher? I would certainly utilize the marketing technique you have suggested.
Hah, well… Librarian… Do people still visit libraries for paper books in the USA? I remember that I liked to visit the local library in my childhood – firstly because of cool books with dinosaurs, and then I found H.P. Lovecraft stories there.
People do still visit us, but it can be a challenge to keep up with the times. Our library system does a great job remaining relevant. And actually, kids are the main readers of paper books these days! Young children still love to have their parents show them an actual book, and teenagers still flock to the stacks to find a great dystopian read. Teenagers are really into dark subjects these days, much like you and I and our H.P. Lovecraft fandom as youngsters. So far we are able to keep our doors open. Hopefully that will remain the case.
Okay, thank you Erik for this conversation! Let’s sum up – what can people expect from Demon Eye in the future?
Thank you! The new album, Prophecies and Lies, is near completion. We’ll spread the word on its release as soon as possible. I can say that we’re feeling this may be our strongest record yet. In terms of live performances, we’ll soon be playing our State Fair alongside Corrosion of Conformity, which is a great honor, and we’ll be performing at the first ever Doomed & Stoned fest in Indianapolis this November. For 2017, we’ll be promoting the new record as much as possible and hopefully performing anywhere and everywhere as much as we are able to.