Monday, August 17, 2009

My Eye: A true vision of "heavy metal underground protest music"

I can't express how glad I am for finally being able to write this post down. I've been trying to track down My Eye story for quite some time now, and I've got to admit that it was a really cool experience, especially the fact that I got in touch with some of the artist themselves.

So, is the mid '80s and the metal titans, Overlord, broke up leaving behind the Broken Toys Ep masterpiece. Former members, Steve Van Liew and Kurtiss Lofstrom, along with Duff Drew (ex-The Trids) and Max Godsil decide to take the Seattle music to a whole new level by founding the noisy/post-punk/proto-grunge band, My Eye. Sadly but not regretable, to avoid the hype and the so-called "scene", around 1988, the band splits. Their recording history: Empty Box/So Much Going On 7'' on C/Z in '87 and a (2 song) contribution to the '89 Another Pyrrhic Victory compilation. To find out more about the band I got in touch with Kurt, the band guitarist, who gave me some basic info about the band.

My Eye formed in '85 after Overlord dissolved due to creative differences, Steve and Kurt began listening to such bands as: Replacements, Husker Du, Sonic Youth, Lou Reed, Big Black, getting further from their metal roots. The band usually wrote music from improvising live. They shared bills with Green River, Malfunkshun, Soundgarden, PopDefect, Feast, Tupelo Chain Sex, Soul Asylum, U-Men, Bundle of Hiss, 64 Spiders, the Thrown Ups, Terry Lee Hale, Skin Yard, Slow, Fastbacks, Jesse Bernstein and probably a few more. A great news was finding out that the 7'' and the contribution on the '89 compilation weren't the only releases. The band had three more cassettes: My Eye, Good to Say by Silence and Generic Psychosis.
The band's membership has never changed, although Kurt mentioned that at their 7'' single release they had some problems with Steve, and he was replaced at their final two shows with two different singers, neither of which had worked out.

Because I was intrigued to find out some inside information, Duff Drew was king enough to answer a set of questions:

1.How were you recruited as the band drummer?
I knew Steve Van Liew and Kurt Lofstrom from their days in OVERLORD. At that time I was the drummer for the punk-glam band The Trids(we were in high school @ the time). We played shows at the Lake Hills arena/roller skating rink, a place where OVERLORD had played many times. The one thing that set the Trids apart from the other bands they played with is that in addition to punk and glam covers(everyone else did the heavy metal thing)we also did originals.I think it was because I played, and wanted to play original music that Steve and Kurt thought about adding me as a member to a new project. I still remember us sitting around trying to come up with the name for our new project. We did one show, a private party, under the name Bad Karma, I think Mark Arm played with us. We shortly then changed it to My Eye.Also, with my punk background, they knew I could play kinda fast, so that might have been another appealing factor. Back in those days, what I lacked in Chops or "Good Timekeeping" was made up for in sheer enthusiasm.I like to smoke pot and drink really cheap beer, that was probably another plus on my side.... ;)

2.Was there any specific thing that attracted you to this project?
Well, Kurt and Steve were from a much more established Band in OVERLORD, and Steve was really good friends with members of the Trids, and that is how I met him. OVERLORD was like a big brother band to the Trids.Specifically, I knew what an awesome guitar player Kurtiss is, and knew that he, like I, wanted to make original, possibly "experimental", music. I was probably attracted to being able to play loud, fast and at times a little sloppy, but always right from the gut, and with no reservations or hesitations ever.I knew that Steve V. L. felt the same way. I knew that our Bassist Max Godsil, whom I went to school with, was ready for the same type of approach and away we went in our beer-soaked glory. Max is one of the most unique bass players I have ever played with.I was also interested because I knew that based on their OVERLORD days, Steve and Kurtiss could get us some "good" gigs.I was attracted to it because I felt that these guys would be fun to hang out with, and that they were very creative individuals with whom I shared a common love of Music and Hedondism, massively fueled by the vigor of youth.

3.What can you tell me about the band's name...who came up with this name and why?
I came up with it. We were changing the name from Bad Karma, we had done show with that name with Mark Arm, but he was fully into Green River.We wanted the name to have something to do with pain...and I said at one point...."hhhhmmmm pain, how bout "OW...My Eye"....then one of the guys remembered Cheech and Chong and said...."Earache, my eye!!!!.....The rest is indie music history

4. In your opinion, what was your best show?
Shows with either SoundGarden, Soul Asylum, or Malfunkshun.

5.What influenced the band to write those gloomy/dark songs?
We are gloomy, dark, hard livin, take no bullshit individuals.

6.What do you remember from the first recording sessions?
I had way more beer than exprerience, Steve and Kurt had more studio experience than myself or Max, but from the Trids, I had a little more studio time under my belt than Max/Bassist."it was all about creating free art, with the goal of a cool song, hopefully.

7.Lyrically, what did My Eye express?
One of our commentors of the day called us "heavy metal underground protest music"....A true definition of our alternative "vision" .

8.Why do you think My Eye didn't have that much success?
Success was not ready for My Eye. My Eye was about Free Arttistic Expression....not gross unit sales for a record company, but we would have been happy to work with any interested company at the time. As Kim Thayil once told me, "had you guys not broken up, you would have been signed to Sub-Pop, toured Europe, and then, who knows".....

Post My Eye, Steve formed Bible Stud, then Crawl, and he's currently playing in The One and Only True Messiah. Max played with Leighton Beezer in Stomach Pump, Kurt is still palying and recording music and has "discovered the joy of 60's Ludwigs". As for Duff, he had played in many bands since, including Beluga and Man Ray. Now he's a session drummer and instructor in Seattle area, and often plays with a band called Ocean of Algebra.

Special Thanks to Duff Drew, Max Godsil and Kurtiss Lofstrom.
From Another Pyrrhic Victory: The Only Compilation of Dead Seattle God Bands:

6 comments:

Emile said...

Thanks for that - really interesting - i have the album (Another Phyrric Victory) but never knew much about My Eye - good work! Emile

Arnaud said...

Thanks for the post, any chance to hear songs from the cassettes?
I have the 7" and the compilation, which have good material on it,

Arnaud

Anonymous said...

I was a big fan of Overlord as a kid and they weren't exactly "metal gods". They were more of a punk-ish hard rock Stooges meets Angel City with a little bit of old Alice Cooper thrown in. They were "grunge" before it existed as a genre.

I also have a video tape of the My Eye show from a KCMU benefit from either '85 or '86 and the first cassette and single. I wasn't aware of two other tapes. WOW. I'd give and arm or a leg to hear those. I knew Kurdt Lofstrom fairly later on and last saw him at Overlord's reunion show in 1997. I think he still lives in Portland.

I used to play in a bad called Some Velvet Sidewalk and I really appreciate this post. I was a (and still am) a My Eye fan and really thought that they were better than most of the other local bands at the time. I only saw them once with Malfunkshun, but I 'll never forget it. Thanks again.

Martin Bernier

Anonymous said...

please email me if anyone can help a fellow seattlite get copies or the tracks from those My Eye tapes. BRIAH667@YAHOO.COM i had no clue of anything other than the obvious 4 tracks. PLEASE!!! $$$$$$$$$$$$

Anonymous said...

And That KCMU benefit show was crazy, so many baddass bands. email me Martin.

LouderThanChris said...

Yes, great to see the songs posted on another blog, too...But there isn't much info about the band on Max's blog.
Anywhay this blog rules, I'm looking forward for something new because you haven't posted anything for about a month :)