EYE AM’s Kenny Hickey Is Glad ‘Dreams Always Die With the Sun’ Doesn’t Sound Like Type O Negative or Crowbar
EYE AM's Kenny Hickey was the guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show this week. The guitarist-singer is fronting the new supergroup, which pairs him with his longtime Type O Negative bandmate Johnny Kelly on drums as well as Crowbar's Kirk Windstein and Todd Strange. The band just released their first single "Dreams Always Die With the Sun" and Kenny dives deep into the expectations with his new band.
Check out the interview below.
With us this week, we've got Kenny Hickey, part of the new supergroup, EYE AM that features Crowbar's Kirk Windstein and Todd Strange, as well as Kenny's longtime musical partner, Johnny Kelly. Kenny, you've played with Johnny through Type O Negative, Seventh Void, Silvertomb and now EYE AM. What is it that you've enjoyed most about that musical partnership with Johnny over the years that makes it one you wanna revisit no matter what the project?
We could basically read each other's minds. I come up with a riff and there's no communication, the language is just there. I met him when he was 17, I was 20, so that's a lot of years. So it's automatic. Things get rapidly worked out. Sometimes in a song we'll hit a crux or a spot we disagree on or whatever. I see it a different way, but usually we work it out really rapidly. He's a great drummer. He's got a lot of soul, he's got a lot of character in his playing. So he's always the first guy I look for.
And that kind of partnership, that's hard to find.
Nowadays. Yeah, it's harder to find because everybody seems to be content with sitting in their closets and making music and sending tracks out to a different state. There's people that live in Europe and they're in bands with bandmates from the States now.
Seems like that's how a lot of people are putting out music. It's obviously become more convenient. But do you think that there is a soul or some sort of magic that is lost in doing it that way?
Absolutely. I was reminded of that when we were getting together to do this EYE AM thing because literally we just were thrown together in a room and we had like very few ideas. I had a couple of ideas, not even any solid vocal melodies. Kirk had an idea for an outro riff. You also had a hardcore part that was supposed to go in the song, so then it was just throwing guys together in a room and seeing what energy comes out of it. And energy did come out of it. It was definitely a special energy to it. We knew it right away.
You're not gonna get that sitting in your closet or whatever, or any home studio coming up with parts to a drum machine and then sending parts to a drummer. There's not that immediacy. There's not that energy, that electricity.
EYE AM, the supergroup, has made their debut with "Dreams Always Die With the Sun." It's been described as "The Beatles to Black Sabbath." There's also some psychedelic pop in there as well. Kenny, when working up this track, how much discussion was given to what touchtones you wanted in that song? And is this indicative of what you think the band's sound will be moving forward?
That was kind of like the exciting part about it. We didn't have much of a preconceived notion of what the band would sound like other than everybody expected it to sound like Type O meets Crowbar, Right? I'm glad it didn't come out that way. We didn't force it to come out any way.
I had a couple of riffs, I had the intro riff and I had the verse riff, no real solid vocal melody. And I just sent the ideas to Kirk and I guess that sparked in him the outro riff that ended up being part of the song and us melding those two parts together. So I put the riffs out there. We got together and the first thing Johnny said with the first riff is like, that sounds like Sly and the Family Stone.
So we did this whole pickup beat to it, something I would've never thought of. We came in with this double time thing, more of a funk '70s groove thing into this really heavy, I don't know Sabbath-Zeppelin riff and then into the outro, I mean, it just happened. We let it happen the way it happened.
And then in the end for the outro of the song where we were riffing out and coming up with leads between me and Kirk, it started sounding like "All Along the Watchtower" to me from [Jimi] Hendrix, like the whole outro part. So we kind of went with that. It turned into a big jam session that we had to cut down. It's now a four minute song, but it was originally like six minutes of jamming.
EYE AM, "Dreams Always Die With the Sun"
Kenny, environment can sometimes play into the vibe of how the music sounds, and there's a rich tradition of heavy music coming out of New Orleans with Crowbar amongst the leaders of the movement. I know you're starting your first full length record as a band in New Orleans. What went into the decision to record there and do you feel the musical environment will influence your direction at all?
I'm sure it will. The decision to do it there is these guys that recorded the last two or three Crowbar records had been working with Kirk for a while, so he brought them on board for the rest of the stuff.
The single we just did was actually recorded in Gainesville, Florida by Roger Lima, the bass player from Less Than Jake. He's got a studio there called the Moathouse in the Middle of the Jungle. So that was a really cool atmosphere for the making of this single and yeah, I think New Orleans will have an effect.
We filmed the video for this [new song] in New Orleans at a an old theater called the Joy Theater, which was great. It had a great vibe to it and visually I think the video really, really goes along good with the song. Yes, the environment always does affect it and I'm excited to see what comes out of the environment - excited and a little apprehensive to see what comes out when I get there. I'm going down to meet up with the guys and write, arrange and record as many songs as we can.
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Kenny, the great thing about a supergroup is that there are some expectations, but for the most part the slate is wiped clean to do what you want. As you prepare to work on your debut record with this band, what are some of the things that are inspiring you musically for what you want do as a band?
I really like the blueprint we have that just sort of happened to us with this one song. I'm not saying everything has to sound exactly like that song, but there was definitely gonna be some mainstays in the style, which is obviously - we want big giant melodic vocal lines and heavy riffs and more of a crossover rock-metal kind of thing we got going on.
I'm not gonna say it's gotta be any one thing throughout. We're gonna see where it goes and let it lead us. But that's how I'm gonna start off. The riffs I'm gonna be sending in are very conducive to melody.
Kenny, no matter what you do moving forward, there will also be a love amongst fans for what you accomplished with Type O Negative. Having time now to reflect on that period, what are you most proud of with the music that you made and where do you see Type O's legacy ranking amongst the great hard rock and metal music to come from the '90s?
Paul McCartney wrote the line for the rest of his bandmates when the Beatles broke up - Boy, you're going to carry that weight, you're gonna carry that weight a long time. [Laugh]. And that's what he meant. You'll always be a Beatle. I'll always be a drab four and I'm proud of it. What's really great to see happening is a whole new generation discovering Type O now. I got a 20 year old daughter, My youngest Aliya is in school of Visual Arts. She's going to school to go into film and she says there's just a whole slew of young Type O fans in the school and it's great. It's great to see that the band is transcending and it has longevity to it.
Type O Negative, "Black No. 1"
Kenny, do you think there's gonna be any touring plans? Have you guys talked about getting out on the road once you have a record under your belt?
We've not really seriously talked about doing any tours yet, but obviously it's gonna happen. We just have to make time for it. Everybody's very, very busy, especially Kirk and he's got his solo record coming out and he's got Crowbar stuff and then who knows, Down could start playing shows at any minute. Johnny's doing Quiet Riot every weekend, pretty much like two shows a week. We’ve got Silvertomb as well, which I'm in the middle of mixing down some of that stuff and that's gonna be another thing on the board.
So yeah, we have to work it into a schedule. Yes, I want it to, of course. I wanna play with Kirk, I wanna play with the guys. I want to jam, I wanna play live. I wanna see how this comes off live in front of an audience. That's the true test, right? So yes, we'll get there.
Thanks to EYE AM's Kenny Hickey. You can hear "Dreams Always Die With the Sun" through Spotify or Apple Music. Stay up to date with the band through their Facebook and Instagram and get merch here. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.