Eyes are a Danish metalllic hardcore quintet who recently released their full-length debut Underperformer that I had the good fortune of reviewing and is definitely a contender for one of my top ten albums of the year. As stated in my review this is an album that gives the hardcore scene a much needed kick in the ass, miss it then you miss out.
The line-up currently consists of Victor Kaas – vocals, Rasmus Furbo – guitar, Søren Bomand – guitar, Kenn Bendtsen – bass, and Simon Djurhuus on drums. Victor was kind enough to spare some time to answer a few questions.
Hi Victor, welcome to The Sleeping Shaman. For those not in the know could you give us a run through the origins of Eyes. How you all got together, were you all friends beforehand, the different bands you played in etc?
Hi Reza, thanks for having me. We all have a common denominator – we all played in Hexis at some point or another. Rasmus, Simon and Kenn formed the band after they left Hexis in 2015. I was asked to join after I played with Rasmus’ other band LLNN with my other band TELOS.
Søren, Rasmus and Kenn have known each other since they were kids – Søren did some stand-in shows and a tour with us, some driving as well and quickly became the 5th unofficial member of the band. We thought ‘hey, an extra guitar would be cool, let’s ask Søren’ and he was game.
Eyes is a short and snappy name for a band, definitely unpretentious, what inspired you to select it? Had you any other names in mind?
What you described is pretty much the reason why we chose it; it’s short, it’s snappy and easy to remember. What we DIDN’T take into account, was the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) hell that came with choosing this name. We did have a few other candidates, but EYES was like the first and best option – and to our surprise no active bands had the same name (probably because of the SEO thing).
What we DIDN’T take into account, was the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) hell that came with choosing this name…
I noted a number of influences on ‘Underperformer’ such as Refused, Napalm Death and Converge. Was this in any way accurate and what artists inspired you/the band during the songwriting process?
Converge is pretty much right on point – our references to Refused, probably comes from second-hand influences. You know, a band being influenced by them and us being influenced by that band. I don’t really hear the Napalm Death thing, but shit, I’ll take it, love that band. Know Søren does too.
I love the artwork by Jon Gotlev/No Heroes, what was the concept you went for here? How do you feel it ties in with the album’s themes?
The original idea came from IKEA magazines (no, Sweden is not Denmark). We wanted to display the perfect decor-magazine-home with something being just… off. The original idea was to have a full family in a living room and with a balcony, all Scandinavian design – dad is on fire on the balcony, mom is cutting her own hand off at the dinner table, the kids are dead behind the sofa. Or something like that. We had the plans for it and Jon loved the idea – sadly COVID and lockdown set a stopper to it, so we scaled it down.
In the end, I really love the minimalist approach we ended up going with. Big shout out to Jon. If you have a band and don’t hire him, it’s your loss. Check out his band HIRAKI, they’re fucking sick.
I have to ask about the hilarious music video for ‘Distance’, where did the idea come from for the deadpan miming and Michael Jackson ‘Thriller’ style choreography?
OK, so the dancing idea actually came from Rasmus’ girlfriend, Isabel. She thought it would be fun if we did a video with a dance. Since she’s a dancing teacher and choreographer, she’d invent some moves for us that we’d actually be able to pull off. Rasmus pitched the idea to the rest of us and we thought ‘why not?’.
We had just secured the location last minute, a venue in Copenhagen called Basement. We rocked up a Monday morning in mid July. We had a vague idea of what we were about to perform the song a bit underplayed, and then burst into dance.
After a ton of technical difficulties and us not being able to hear the track, since we set up OPPOSITE to the stage, some dude burst into the venue during the second take and said, and I quote:
‘That thing you’re doing. That’s a no go.’
We hadn’t taken into account that on top of Basement, there’s a library. The guy was obviously the librarian and the banging drums was disturbing him putting books on shelves, or whatever the fuck he was doing. We told him that we’d gotten the OK to use the venue and they knew we were filming a video.
‘Who gave you permission?!’ he asked us. We told him Peter let us use it. ‘I’ll be back’.
An hour passed where we didn’t do any takes and were just waiting for the guy to return, but he never came back. We said fuck it – moved the setup, at least that wasn’t right below the library. We agreed that Simon shouldn’t hit the drums or cymbals at all and the rest of us would just underplay our performance even more, to match it.
So yeah, all in all it was a bit of an accident. Thank you random library guy! Also shout out to Isabel for the dance. And Aušrinė Kurgonaitė and Chey Long Andersen for directing and filming the video!
‘Underperformer’ feels like a natural progression from the S/T EP from 2018, with a lot more dynamics and experimentation. Was this evolution natural or intended?
It was definitely intended. We wanted to try more things and move away from some of the habits we had developed when writing Hexis songs and come more into our own.
We agreed that Simon shouldn’t hit the drums or cymbals at all and the rest of us would just underplay our performance even more, to match it…
What is the Copenhagen music scene like, pre-COVID were there many decent venues to play in? Are there a lot of opportunities for bands?
I think it’s great! Big love to the CPH hardcore scene. Lot’s of good bands, great venues in all sizes. Most have some sort of government funding, some are even owned by the municipal government and lets bands and promoters set up shows and even gives them a budget in some cases.
Metal, and by extension hardcore, is growing a lot in Denmark at the moment. The festival Copenhell has really broadened the audience and made it more mainstream and less weird. Even if the look and feel, and even some of their bookings is a bit clichéd in my book, nobody can deny that they’ve done more for heavy music in Denmark, than anyone else has. They were supposed to have an all new stage just for upcoming locals this year, but… Yeah, it was cancelled.
There’s a ton of opportunities, but of course you’ll have to work for it and do something for something to happen.
The majority of reviews I’ve read have been deservedly positive. How rewarding does it feel, considering this is only your first full-length album? Do you feel any additional pressure to come up with an equally as killer follow-up?
It feels pretty great. A bit unexpected to be honest. We knew it was a banger, but we were afraid it was gonna fall flat. Personally, I don’t feel any pressure. I feel like the band is in a great spot creatively. We’re probably gonna experiment even more. At the risk of sounding like a total douchebag, I think the next record is gonna be even more killer.
How did you come to hook up with Indisciplinarian? Were you a familiar with/a fan of the artists on there?
We had been talking with them for a while, played their fest. We really like their output and what they stand for in the Danish music scene. The record didn’t fall flat because of the work they’ve been doing, so BIG LOVE.
Post-COVID are there any plans to tour the ‘Underperformer’ album? A trip to the UK perhaps? In the meantime what is the future for Eyes? Any recordings on the horizon for instance?
Short answer: Yes. ASAP.
We’re currently planning spring and summer out. We’ll hit the UK, definitely. We are in talks with someone about it. We’ve just started writing the next record, we’re gonna play some socially distanced shows here in Denmark and we’ve got a live session coming out pretty soon.
I feel like the band is in a great spot creatively….
I am woefully uninformed about the music scene in Copenhagen/Denmark, any artists you could recommend the good readers of The Sleeping Shaman?
Yes! Glad you asked.
Check out Konvent if you like doom, Rot Away if you like rabid ass hardcore, Demersal if like hardcore blackened and emotional, Regarding Ambiguity if you like screamo, CABAL if like you mean chugs, Morild if you like atmospheric black. Talking about black metal, there’s a TON of sick black metal bands (that got their politics straight) popping up in Copenhagen and the rest of Denmark at the moment – check out Strange Aeons Records roster and catalogue, and you’ll be sure to find some gold. I could go on and on, but check out the ones mentioned and dig from there.
Most of us in EYES are also in other bands, so check them out too! (I mentioned 2 of them earlier, Søren is in Mass Worship as well)
Thank you for taking the time Victor to answer all my questions, I always like to finish off with something more light hearted and silly. US vs European Hardcore, which is better? I go for the US every time but I’m willing to be convinced otherwise…
Fuck man, that’s not light hearted and silly, that’s hard as fuck. I really can’t choose – I feel like you can’t compare it. US hardcore is definitely more prolific, but the European DIY scene has so many completely mindblowingly great bands, that way too few people has ever heard of.
Thanks Victor for the interview and Eye’s debut full-length Underperformer is out now via Indisciplinarian Records.
Interviewed by: Reza Mills