Eyes of the Dead have been regulars in the Connecticut Metal scene for a few years now and seemed to made their home at Cherry Street Station, where I caught up with them for an interview. I spent a few minutes with them just before their set to talk a little bit about the band’s history and some interesting EOTD antidotes.
Founded in 2004 and based in Ansonia, CT, EOTD have since opened for many national acts including Sodom, Emperor, Opeth, Exodus, Unearth, Suffocation, Testament, Anthrax, Agnostic Front, Destruction, Immolation, Mushroomhead, Carnivore, and more. Joey Zampella of Life of Agony produce their second full length release, The Weak and the Wounded, in 2009.
Though Eyes of the Dead have gone through many personnel changes throughout the years, they remain a household name in the Connecticut Metal community, known for their brutal brand of music and high energy shows. Their current line up is:
Frank Conners - Vocals
Matt Talarczyk - Guitar
Brian Greene - Bass
James Stolfi - Drums
Agrippa: Can you guys give us a brief history of the band?
Matt: There was a bunch of assholes called Aggressia that lost their drummer and then decided to continue going on. It was the three main ones: It was myself, Ryan, our original lead guitar player, Tim, my cousin and original bassist. What happened was that we found a drummer...this guy Rich Wendell, and we were also looking at the idea of getting a singer, which happend to be Frank. He was singing for Deadwait at the time, which Aggressia had played shows with many times before. I oppose the idea to have him in the band and go figure we two are the only original members left. What happened was, we decided to merge the two and just changed the fucking name pretty much and here we are.
Frank: When I was little I lived in this fucking house that swear to god was haunted. I’ve always been, not afraid of it, but interested in it to the point where I love horror movies and ghost story shit. I swear to god I saw...I can’t be in a room with a TV that’s off. You know those old tube TVs? I can’t be in a room with it if it’s off. When a TV was off in my room I swear I saw eyes on the screen of the television.
Agrippa: Almost like Poltergeist?
Frank: Almost like the Poltergeist movie, but where the TV was off and I saw eyes. I’ve gotten over it know that there are flat screens around more, but like an old fucking tube TV that’s off...I can’t even walk past it without getting fucking chills up my spine. I swear to god when I was in this house all sorts of weird shit was going on. It was an old fucking farm house I used to live in. Really run down and beaten like from the 1800’s. One morning I woke up I thought I saw a sheep out in the fucking front lawn. This is before I started experimenting with Scottish ancestors. I was a kid and this was just the shit I was growing up on, seeing all this fucked up weird shit.
Agrippa: I order for people to identify with you as a Metal band, what genre of Metal would you categorize yourself as?
Frank: There’s elements of Death Metal and Thrash Metal. I just do the Death Metal thing so I can manage to be in a band, because I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. I can’t sing.
Brian: I love the old 80’s Thrash Metal and the classic Maiden, Priest, and Sabbath. That’s where my influence comes from. It all jus blends together and becomes our music.
Matt: The new stuff we’re writing right now...James, our latest addition to the band...he also brings in the Death Metal element with the crazy fast blast beats drumming style to the newer songs. To me is like older melodic Death Metal type of stuff that works and like Brian said, Maiden and Thrash. There’s a lot more melody now, because I took over the majority of the writing, but it’s evolving into band writing at the same time. Well, technically I don’t do all the writing anymore.
Agrippa: Tell me more about your influences.
Frank: I love Barry Manilow and Tom Jones. I fucking love Tom Jones. He’s the shit.
Brian: We can’t leave Aretha Franklin out of this conversation. The influence she’s had on this band is limitless.
Agrippa: Classic Aretha?
Brian: You know, like current.
Matt: Duran Duran, Quiet Riot, Motley Crue.
Agrippa: And I can hear all of that in your music too. Definitely.
Brian: I’m not pretty enough for glam.
Matt: No you are not.
Brian: I’m too fat, hairy, and ugly for glam.
Agrippa: There was kind of a dark period in your history that had a happy ending. That’s when you had your instruments stolen. Can you tell me about that?
Matt: This was actually my car. It was a Saturday and the movie Battle of Los Angeles had just come out. I really wanted to see it. I love sci fi, like crazy alien movie shit. One of my buddies...he’s a big army guy. His whole family’s been in the army including him and it was about the army, so he wanted to go see it. We went to see this movie at 1pm at the movie theater in North Haven. I don't know if you’re familiar with the area. It’s right next to 91, the on ramp. We went into the movie at 1pm and we got out about three. I came out and...I had just played a show about a week before that and I was heading to the band room right after to drop off all the gear. The only reason I had my car that night was that my girlfriend's car was totaled the week before that by some drunk asshole that plowed into her car in my front lawn. We came out and I noticed all my change was missing from my center console. Then I turned around and looked back to see all the gear was gone. Thank god my guitar was in the shop at the time. Brian never leaves his guitar anywhere, but both his cabs...his 210 and his 115 were gone.
Brian: All of me and Matt’s stuff...all of our cabs, the heads, the cables, the pedals, everything. Everything me and Matt had for this band were just gone. So what happened after that...We announced it on Facebook and online and all that stuff and there were a lot of cool people that donated to our paypal to help us recover everything. Insurrence covered some of it, but a lot of it was not covered.
Matt: Less than half.
Matt: They wouldn’t cover individual cables. They wouldn’t cover like 90% of one of the cabs.
Brian: A lot of it was depreciation value, which knocked everything out of the water. So people donated through paypal and our friends, Left In Ruins put on a show for us in Popeyes in New York and all the money went to help recover our gear, which was great. Those guys really saved our asses there.
Matt: Another shout out to that show you just mentioned. Lee from Lightsbane filled in on drums that night, because Junior actually had previous obligations he had to adhere to. It sucked, but he had to. Lee filled in for us that night, which allowed us to play that show. I have to give him a shout out for that, because Lightsbane...go listen to them right now and fuck you if you don’t.
Agrippa: So it had a happy ending.
Brian: We got all our gear back thanks to our fans and the bands that support us. We can’t thank them enough. We owe them everything.
Matt: Everything worked out in the end, yes. It still sucked.
Frank: Just to make a quick statement since, over the past four years I’ve...Eyes of the Dead as a band have received a lot of help from the other bands in the scene right now. If it wasn’t for Mouse, we wouldn’t have been able to do a tour. Last minute, Mouse from Rail, and currently in ALB, filled in for drums for us. He’s a guitar player who actually filled in for drums so we could actually do the tour thing. It’s sad that it took a tragedy for me to feel this way, but I feel like I’m part of something now. Everyone was there to help us. People took a moment to help us out.
Brian: It was kind of like that moment where instead of a bunch of people going to a show, it became and actual community and a scene. It was really cool. It was heartwarming and touching.
Agrippa: Something less serious: If you had to throw away your entire music collection except for one album, what would it be?
Brian: Everything except for one album? (Makes a long drawn out sound.)
Matt: Well, that’s his statement.
Agrippa: How do you even spell that?
Brian: A lot of Ps and Hs.
Matt: If you’re going to take Metal away from me, I don’t want to pay tribute to just one. I would just destroy it all in one giant blaze of Metal glory, rather than have to make that decision. I’d rather burn myself than have to make that decision.
Brian: I think that would be a band wide statement to rather burn myself alive that have to make the decision of one album to listen to for the rest of my life. I love albums, but it’s like, there’s so much stuff to listen to. If there’s something new by that band that you want to listen to...I could never just like stop and just listen to one thing.
Frank: Even to stop and just listen to one genre is mind boggling to me. How do you pick? It’s just retarded.
Matt: You go through crazy phases where you listen to a certain album over and over. It’s just a phase. It’s not the rest of your life.
Agrippa: On a side note, I think with the dawn of the age of mp3s and single songs coming back out again, the art of album making has definitely decreased.
Brian: You gotta move with the times though. This is what it’s going to be now. When downloading and mp3 started, we’re all like “crap, how are we going to make money off of this?”. You just have to do it other ways. You have to have better merch at shows. You have to adapt to the fucking current is. Do you think that when they went from records to tapes that you could just duplicate, that people weren’t freaking out? You know they were. Once you could make a copy of a tape people were freaking the fuck out. “Oh we’re going to lose all this money.” It’s just the newest thing.
Matt: Here’s the thing. Every time you copy a tape, the quality decreases, whereas now in the digital age, there is no quality loss. Which sucks.
Brian: That’s progression and we have to deal with that now.
Matt: Records? Vinyl still sounds the best.
Agrippa: Who do you think is the jokester in the band?
Frank: We’re not a joking band what so ever. We take what we do extremely seriously. But, really to some degree we’re all kind of fucked up in the head.
Brian: We’re all just fucking drunken misfit idiots. For anyone still reading, yes, we are very serious in what we do.
Matt: I just farted.
Agrippa: How long have you guys been in the Metal Scene now?
Frank: Next year we’ll be at ten years.
Matt: In december of this year it will be ten years.
Agrippa: Do you still get nervous before a show?
Matt: It depends on the show. Sometimes yes. We just played a show at the Palladium last month, and I was talking to Brian about this after the show, he was saying to me and I was saying it to, we both got jitters before we played the show. That’s the Palladium and the first time in there. The first time we played BB King’s, we were pretty nervous. Brian’s first show with us ever was at BB King’s.
Agrippa: How do you deal with your nerves?
Brian: I drink whiskey.
Matt: Alcohol definitely helps.
Agrippa: What was your worst gig ever?
Brian: I don’t remember where is was, but it was in New York. It was a couple hours just to drive there and we ended up going on at the very last at a place we’d never played before. We played to a completely empty room and like the half dozen people we brought with us didn’t even fucking watch us. They were at the bar drinking. They were like, “Yeah, whatever. We’ve seen them at home.” They didn’t care. We played to an empty room for 45 minutes. At the end of the set Frank just dropped the mic and said, “Alright guys, we’re done.” and we just left. It was humbling. It’s all good.
James: My worst show was definitely not with this band. Not even close, to be completely honest.
Brian: You’ve only played two shows with us so far. Actually I think it’s about ten now.
Matt: It was the TMT festival in New York at the Orange County Speedway, which I hear is pretty awesome. We showed up and it was very unorganized. They had bands like Suffocation, Goatwhore, Mushroomhead...there was a lot bog names. We got to hang out with a lot of cool bands, which was awesome. We were running around trying to find a drum kit, because they told us that we didn’t need to bring one. The guy that’s running the thing is just showing up and telling us that 50,000 people were going to show up. We found one of the head guys who was actually doing something and he got us a kit and everything. It was Frank’s birthday weekend and we played in front of our girlfriends.
Brian: And so did all the national bands too.
Matt: Yup. That was pretty bad. Suffocation almost didn’t play that night, because pretty much from what it looked like, they got all the local bands to pay for everything, which was supposed to happen a while ago, but it got canceled and they redid it again. So, pretty much it was a pay to play gig for us, which happens all the time, but usually when you pay to play, it’s a much better gig than that. Suffocation showed up and I guarantee that they got conned into something and didn’t get any money to play. That sucks for a band like that, when that is their fucking job. They came out there and played. They were making fun of it and they crushed they they always do. It was god0fucking aweful, other than fact that we got to hang out with some great bands and get drunk.
Brian: If there was one redeeming quality about that festival is that they gave us beer and we got drunk and met cool people.
Frank: The absolute worst show I’ve had in my life was in Deadwait with a band that we’re going to be playing with again at BB King’s soon. Every time I’ve played with Deicide I have not had a good fucking time. The absolute worst one was at Toad's Place. We were supposed to open for Deicide and we show up and we’re the first band on, all the gears loading in, and Deicide decided that they just weren't going to show up. It was a sold out show at Toad’s Place. Deicide saying, “Ah, we’re just not going to show up.” Hate Eternal still played. Mortician played. We were the first band on and I had to be the one to say, “By the way, Deicide is not coming.” All through our set it was just people chanting, “Fuck you, where’s Deicide?” Nobody gave a fuck. Now Deadwait was not one of my favorite styles of music. It was a cross genre thing with Hardcore and Death Metal and I felt horrible just to sit in my own shoes.
Frank: “Dead Girls Never Say No”.
Brian: That one’s a lot of fun and it’s way up there. For me though, I have a lot of fun doing “Exacting My Revenge”. There’s a lot of changes and a lot of little fills. I love doing that song. “Dead Girls Never Say No”, that’s a good answer.
Matt: I don't care as long as it’s an Eyes of the Dead song.
James: Right now my favorite song to play live is three songs that we play concurrently without breaks in between: “Legion”, “With the Woods”, and “Exacting My Revenge”. We all murder ourselves to do it without stopping between these three brutal songs.
Brian: “Cannibalistic Slaughter”.
Matt: I agree.
James: So do I.
Brian: Cherry Street. Hands down. No contest.
Agrippa: If you had to pick the perfect CT Metal band lineup for you guys, who would it be?
Matt: The one tonight.
Brian: There’s so many bands that are so great that we play with all the time. There’s so many of them.
James: There’s no way to get them all on one bill.
Find Eyes of the Dead here:
About the author Agrippa is a the general adviser, internet tech sorcerer, and a reporter for the Metal Cyndicate of Connecticut, as well as the author of his own blog about music and music production,Agrippa: Thought Manifest. He can also be found fronting his own band, Agrippa93, on vocals, synths, sequencers, samples, and piano. Agrippa also has an industrial solo project called, Agrippa’s Laboratory. Both projects are produced through his label and studio, Sickle Pation. You can follow him on twitter via @agrippa93, or email at email@example.com.