What are you doing on Friday night? Here, I'll decide for you: you're going to see a bunch of fucking cool ass rotting filth at PHOME, that's what you're doing. Here's why:
When I landed in Portland in October of 2014, the first music I saw was Eyenine and El Shupacabra at Empire with SeepeopleS. If you troll way back in my instagram feed (don't bother, I'll just tell you what's there) you'll find some crappy snapshots of Eyenine and Shupe because I was simultaneously in awe of them and also a terrible photographer with an inferior camera on my handheld cellular data device.
I just hadn't really seen anything like Eyenine before - a heavy metal hipster tucked underneath an impressive mop of 80's hair, slinging sometimes hilarious but also socially biting, progressive rhymes and pretty much having an intensely fun time doing it. And here in Maine of all places, who knew. Most of my readers (HAH 'my readers" who the fuck do I think I am, Roger Ebert?) will have come across Eyenine before, but he's sort of a mysterious, elusive dude, and unless you're kind of keyed into local hip hop, frequenting Rap Night at the Asylum or keeping an eye on local promoters' facebook posts about underground shows at places like Flask or Bunker Brewing, it's easy to miss his shows. But listen up you snaggletoothed vagrants, you should not. Miss his shows that is. Even if you're not necessarily "into" hip hop. Eyenine is everyone music.
Enter the good folks at PHOME, who have put together a kind of buffet, a veritable smorgasbord of Portland artists of all genres for a different kind of show this Friday. At this weekend's "Come Together" show, they're selling tickets to the pit only - no standing around on the little balcony thingie which sucks for me because I like to stand behind the sound booth because I am terribly insecure and being by the sound booth makes me feel cool. Anyway, the artists will be set up around the perimeter for kind of like a 360 stage experience, doing songs round-robin style instead of a single set-then-jet. Think Later with Jools Holland where the bands are in a circle all around the room, but with a high level of interactivity.
And so Eyenine will be at the center of it all, as evidenced by the event's sweet ass poster wherein he is hanging from the chandelier. Also on this bill is Sorcha Cribben-Merrill, a singer-songwriter with really unique composition skills who pushes her listener and has a nice big versatile voice; you've got Worried Well, the indie rock duo with nail-bitingly anxious lyrics, The Ghosts of Johnson City, who play very old traditionals with a twist, Sea Level which is Dan Capaldi's one man electronic band, and Eldemur Krimm, sludge rock fronted by the incredible Fred Dodge who I hope everyone got a chance to see on stage with the Fogcutters last weekend because it was epic and I heard someone behind me go, "is that guy the devil?" YES.
Anyway, you're a goddam doofus if you don't have an interest in seeing what kind of alchemy will come of a show at which you have Eyenine, Dodge, Cam Jones, Capaldi and Doug Porter in one room with a singularity of purpose. But whatever, let's just find out what Eyenine has to say about it because I'm a know-nothing and he is not. Here we go.
Tell us what you do in 30 words or less. You know, for the assholes who haven't seen you before that also have short attention spans, as assholes often do.
I make music. I write songs that rhyme. I guess that makes me a rapper. I perform the songs live with the same passion I had when I wrote them. (That's 30 exactly, though that description seems a little thin, such is life)
You and Shupe just came back from tour a couple of weeks ago. You were out as far as Colorado - are you happy to be back or pissed you're not spending every night in an Interstate-side Days Inn?
It's always a mixed bag when it comes to touring. I definitely am happy to be back, but at the same time I miss being out on the road with them. I've been on tour with ECID before and we've always had a good time. This past time he brought Farout with him who ended up being a perfect addition. He kept us all in good spirits for the 30 day journey and only a few days after meeting him it was like we had all been friends for years. We also were fortunate enough to have parts of the tour cross through the places where we all lived, so it wasn't always sleeping in motels or in the car as one of us drove.
You're working on a new album, right? What's it called and when can we expect it?
That's correct. It is called 'A Little Above Low Key' and your guess is as good as mine. Creating an album is a lot of work. It took me seven years to finally finish 'afraid to dream' but only a few months to finish 'the insomnia sessions' and 'Dissembler.' It was supposed to be released the summer of '14, and then again this past summer. Each time the deadline came, I felt like it wasn't ready to be released. It is sort of a sister album to 'Dissembler' in the sense of tone. Where the first EP was pretty dark and depressing, this one is more of a laid back tone, as the title suggests. It also might end up being longer than an EP, as just this morning, Shupe sent me a new beat to work with that perfectly fits the vibe.
I love it when genres come together like they will on Friday night - what is the goal in putting this show together?
The goal of this unique kind of show is to bring the music scene together. Each artist is incredibly different in the music they make and we are all being showcased in a round robin format. What Ken had in mind was to have people support other genres to which they don't normally listen. It was that idea which brought all of these artists, including me, together to be a part of the very first one. I couldn't think of a better title for it.
Who's your favorite Portland band, rapper, dj, singer or composer right now?
I'll switch that 'or' to an 'and'...
Band: Cruel Hand
Rappers: Ock Cousteau
DJ (besides Shupe, of course): God.Damn.Chan
Singer: Dilly Dilly
Composer: Dan Capaldi
Any special collaborations we can look forward to on Friday night?
I can safely say that I know of at least one special collaboration that I am involved with for Friday. I can only imagine that when you put this many talented artists in the same room, anything is possible. It's definitely something you won't want to miss.
Hear more Eyenine on his bandcamp page.
Come Together is Friday, December 18th at 9pm at Portland House of Music and is well worth the $10 ticket. It's sponsored by Baxter Brewing too, so good beer awaits. See you there!!