Six Dumb Questions with Demon Eye


Over the course of three albums, North Carolinian four-piece Demon Eye have evolved a notably crisp, efficient and standout method of constructing memorable songs, and as it should, their latest offering marks the pinnacle of their achievement in this to-date. Out Aug. 11 via Soulseller Records, the 11-track Prophecies and Lies (review here) is the proverbial lean and mean execution of classic-influenced heavy rock given a modern aesthetic update. Marked out by the stylized dynamic between vocalist/guitarist Erik Sugg, lead guitarist Larry Burlison and the driving forward rhythm section of bassist/vocalist Paul Walz and drummer/vocalist Bill Eagen, Demon Eye‘s work stems from a core master plan dedicated to building an individualized sound around familiar structures, which is something neither easy to do nor often done as naturally as the Raleigh natives make it seem they’re doing it.

Veterans twice over of the Maryland Doom Fest and having earned a reputation for a particularly energetic delivery there and on just about every other stage they’ve taken, Demon Eye hit the studio this time around with founding Corrosion of Conformity bassist/vocalist Mike Dean at the helm. Dean‘s recordings often carry a distinct tonal sharpness, an edge that pervades the sound, and this suits the finished product of Prophecies and Lies in style and substance alike. Tempo shifts in cuts like “In the Spider’s Eye” and the engaging swing of “The Redeemer” are brought forth with underlying structural purpose as well as atmospheric breadth stemming not from self-indulgent meandering but from the tones, melodies and hooks that have become so much the staples of Demon Eye‘s approach.

Ahead of the release later this week, Sugg was kind enough to take some time out to discuss the band’s writing modus, their time in the studio with Dean, how Demon Eye feel about what they’ve accomplished three records into their ongoing tenure and more. Their release show for Prophecies and Lies takes place in Raleigh, NC, on Aug. 18 with Captain Beyond. More info on that can be found on the Thee Facebooks event page.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

demon eye prophecies and lies

When did the writing process start for Prophecies and Lies? Tell me about how the songs came together. Was there anything in particular you were looking to accomplish coming off of Leave the Light?

Generally most of our riffing is done individually. The classic, “dudes playing guitar alone in their bedrooms”-deal. But for the process with this album, one standout memory was when we were driving up to New England for a fest performance. Along the way we stayed in a Super 8 somewhere in Maryland and wrote a lot of ideas right there in the hotel room. Most of what was written that night ended up being what you hear on the record. Somewhere I still have the complimentary Super 8 notepad with all of the ideas written out. They have hilarious working titles, like “Erik’s Spidery Riff in D,” “Uncle Larry’s Acid in E,” “Voivod in G,” etc.

In terms of trying new things from the previous records, we wanted to try different dynamics with the music, like changing things rhythmically and structurally, while also making sure it still sounded like a Demon Eye record. We didn’t want people to listen to the new album and go, “Oh, this is their prog record.” For the first album there were a lot of occult/witchcraft themes. As the main songwriter for the band, that’s something I wanted to steer from. I enjoy that sort of thing and probably always will, but I didn’t want to pigeonhole us as being just another band who does that sort of thing.

Songwriting is always the element of Demon Eye’s work that strikes me the most. Do you have a specific approach to putting pieces together to make songs, or a general guiding philosophy for structure? Demon Eye sound like a modern band, but would you agree your songwriting might be the most classic element of what you do?

I would agree, yes. With our songs we basically just try to keep it simple and let things flow naturally. Most of our songs end up being the traditional verse/chorus/verse format. I tend to follow the philosophy of, “Why fix it if it ain’t broke?” Most of my favorite rock bands and heavy metal bands growing up did it like that. Songs like “Paranoid” and “The Prisoner” were more or less pop songs, simply by sticking to that format. Heavy pop songs, sure, but they had great hooks, powerful riffs, and well-crafted music that stayed with you and made you want to listen to them over and over again.

On the flipside of that philosophy I also love bands who write 10-20 minute epics. YOB, Sleep, and Electric Wizard are three of my favorite bands. I love their music dearly, but writing music in that style is not something I could do well. If Demon Eye ever tried to release a song like “Marrow” or “Holy Mountain” it would probably come off sounding forced and inauthentic. Maybe not, but it’s definitely not my particular comfort zone. I think it’s important to know your strengths. I believe our strengths are in the riffs, the melodies, and the basic song structures.

How was your time in the studio with Mike Dean? What is he like to work with as a producer, and what was behind your decision to have him work on the record? How long were you in the studio and what was the recording process like? What was the vibe as the album came together?

It was a total blast recording with Mike. He’s a hilarious guy with lots of energy and he works like a mad scientist. He’ll run around feeling completely inspired by one thing, then stop and shout, “Wait! Don’t do that! Forget that! Let’s try something else!” Mike’s a good friend so the vibe was very laid back. Just friends having a good time making music together. I think the overall timeline for the record, including mixing and mastering, was September of 2016 through January of 2017. Because Mike is very busy, and everyone in Demon Eye has so many different “life” obligations, we took our time and scheduled sessions pretty sporadically.

Prophecies and Lies is the third Demon Eye album. How do you feel about everything the band has been able to accomplish up to this point in your career? How do you feel about the audience you’ve been able to build and the response you’ve gotten live and to the three records?

Not to sound like a Pollyanna, but I am immensely grateful for all that we have. Our fanbase, the positive reviews, the opportunities we’ve been granted, the incredible people and bands we’ve had the chance to meet, etc. All of it. The thing with Demon Eye is that, in the beginning, we had zero intentions of doing anything outside of writing a few tunes and playing locally on occasion in front of like 20 of our friends. That was all we envisioned.

When our initial demo was recorded and put online, and then all the Internet activity and positive response came about (not to mention the record deal offer), we barely had time to process all of it. We were like, “Huh? This is really happening?!” It was very humbling. Sure, there’s more we’d like to do (like playing overseas and playing bigger fests), but we’re not the kind of guys who get bummed over what’s not happening. We are happy and grateful for what we do have, and it’s actually quite a lot. I look forward to doing more of what we’re doing now. More records, more performances, and meeting more amazing people.

Let’s talk lyrics. As a lyricist, do you see yourself more as telling a story or describing a theme? How much of Demon Eye’s lyrics are metaphors for real-world issues? You’ve delved into some pretty dark territory over the course of the albums. What has this allowed you to express, and how important do you feel the lyrics are to Demon Eye’s overall aesthetic?

It’s funny, because when I listen to my favorite bands the lyrics are typically the last thing I pay attention to. But with Demon Eye, I do take the lyrics seriously and feel they are important. For the last few records I have found myself focusing more on real-world issues.

If you play in a band that prefers darker song content, there is no shortage of material in the world today. Some days I’ll simply read the news and see what sort of madness is happening politically in this country. Sometimes I’ll find myself opening my perspective and seeing the evils that innocent people across the globe are forced to endure.

I used to work with children, and it was pretty sobering meeting a young mother who recently fled Syria with her two young daughters, only to arrive in America in time for a proposed ban on immigration. Those types of situations really make me think about the darker side of human nature and how it affects people who don’t deserve it.

Also, I don’t really talk about it much in interviews, but I’ve also dealt with a lot of mental illness and substance abuse issues in my life. After putting a lot of care into my health throughout the past decade (sobriety, lifestyle changes, etc.), it’s granted me the opportunity to explore things with a fresher perspective, and naturally, songwriting provides you with the chance to express yourself.

One thing I always try to do, though, is to make Demon Eye’s song content as universal as I possibly can. I try to think, “Now what would someone want to raise their fist and shout along to?” It may not always come out as intended, but it is something I strive for.

Demon Eye toured the West Coast in 2016 and has played Maryand Doom Fest two years in a row now Any plans, shows coming up or other closing words you want to mention?

Our record release show for Prophecies and Lies will be on Aug. 18 at the Pour House Music Hall in Raleigh, NC, with Captain Beyond. We are honored to celebrate the release of this album with such a legendary band. During the latter part of the year we are planning on heading throughout the Midwest again, and we also want to hit the Northeast and make our way south throughout Texas. We sincerely appreciate everyone’s support and hope that we have the chance to meet all of you in person!

Demon Eye, Prophecies and Lies (2017)

Demon Eye on Thee Facebooks

Demon Eye on Bandcamp

Demon Eye website

Soulseller Records website

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