Leon casino, eyeagainst. Photo courtesy of the band

Local crossover legends eyeagainst made a name for themselves in the late ‘90s for being one of the must-see acts around town, usually playing on a Saturday night at Fitzgerald’s. But in 2008, the band split up and wouldn’t reunite until late 2016, eventually starting to perform some shows every now and then. But with only one EP under the band’s belt, they knew they needed to get some more material out to the fans, and 2017 saw their decision to get in the studio and get an EP out. With songs such as “GODS of Amnesia,” the group has already shown that they haven’t lost touch with what made them such a desirable band. Prior to their release show at Walter’s Downtown on Saturday, drummer Mike Ibanez spoke with Free Press Houston about the early days, separating themselves from the rest, and changes in the local scene.

Free Press Houston: When did the band first playing around town? What venues were the regular spots? You know, some history of eyeagainst.

Mike Ibanez: So, for a quick breakdown, we formed in 1997, and from that year till about 2008, we were active and playing a lot of shows. We were playing in Houston, and in states like California, but most of them were here. We had a pretty good following and fanbase in the metal and hardcore scene. I guess around 1999 and 2000 the hardcore scene wasn’t that strong. I mean, you had some bands that played really hardcore music, but we were like a crossover of metal and hxc. Then some people were starting to say, “Hey, these guys are doing something different.” Back then people wanted to sound like Korn and Limp Bizkit, those were the popular bands. We were more into the metal stuff. It was a different world, the band’s that sounded like the Deftones and Korn. When those people saw us, they were seeing more of a crossover group. That’s what really built our fan base, we were doing something different from the other genres around that time.

Our main venue was Fitzgerald’s. It was kind of like our home base, you know. Everyone knew that when eyeagainst was going to play, it was going to be at Fitzgerald’s. But we played other venues like Warehouse Live. Back then Fitzgerald’s really was the spot, though.

FPH: Do you see Fitzgerald’s becoming that kind of venue again?

Ibanez: Um, it’s tough to say. We’re living in different times. I’ve personally gotten to know Sara [Fitzgerald] because we’ve gotten to play there so often. She gave us the opportunity to play there when it was tough to play there on a Saturday night. She saw the following. I can say she’s not a racist person. With social media, people’s voices can be heard to a larger audience, so you can’t react the same way you could do years ago. She could’ve gotten away with those things back then, but you can’t now. But no, I don’t see it turning around unless she comes out and publicly apologies, trying to make things better. But if that doesn’t happen, I don’t see how that kind of stuff can be turned around.

FPH: You guys went on a bit of a hiatus. Were you guys in different bands during that time, or were you out of music all together?

Ibanez: From 2008 til we got back together in 2016, our original guitarist went off to the army. The vocalist Ricardo and I have been friends since, shit, birth; our parents were friends. This band has been our baby, you know. But yeah, I was out of music. During that off time, we didn’t do anything musically. Now our other guitarist, Beau, and Nick were members of American Fangs, so they were in some other stuff. I think in 2015 they were no longer in that band, though.

FPH: In a general sense, do you feel as if the genre you play has changed for the better or worse? Are you proud of the other Texas bands that do something similar, like Power Trip?

Ibanez: I think right now, the genres still haven’t changed that much. I think we always wanted to be that band with our own type of sound. I mean, you can hear the influences that bands take off of each other, but for the most part we’ve always done it different than other bands. I think one of the biggest things that brought people to our shows was the intensity of the shows; the shows would be very intense. The crowds got involved. We were the band that people were like, “Let’s see them, it’s going to be crazy.” I don’t think you see that anymore. I’ve been to a lot of shows while the band wasn’t going and I saw the crowds just on their phones, or just standing there. There wasn’t any emotion, whether it be anger or frustration, you know? We want to bring that back. We want people to go to our shows because they know it’s going to be fucking crazy.

Yeah, definitely Power Trip. Seeing them really blew my mind. I’m excited about all of the coverage that they’re getting. It’s pretty fucking amazing. As far as Houston bands, we’ve obviously made friends in others from playing for so many years. Kvrshr is one that we like a lot. There are some that I really like that I don’t remember the name of at the moment.

FPH: Is this upcoming EP going to be your first proper release since getting back together?

Ibanez: Yeah, the last time we put something out was awhile ago. That was back in 2000. We’ve dropped songs throughout the years, but never a proper release of anything. Fuck, it’s been 17 years.

FPH: Who else do you have at the show at Walter’s on July 1? What is the evening going to be like?

Ibanez: So, what we’re doing for that one is taking it back to the roots of where we came from. Back then, a lot of the bands we played with, like Will To Live, are still playing. They’re going to be there. Die Young is also going to be there as well as The Tie That Binds, Khobretti, and Reserving Dirtnaps. It’s going to be a crazy show, for sure.

eyeagainst will release their new EP on July 1 at Walter’s Downtown with Will to Live, Die Young, The Tie That Binds, Khobretti and Reserving Dirtnaps.