Outlaw Order's Mike Williams

Outlaw Order's Mike Williams
Sludge metallers Outlaw Order (commonly referred to as OO%) have a bit of an identity crisis. Formed in 2003 by Eyehategod (EHG) members Mike Williams (vocals), Brian Patton and Gary Mader (guitars), drummer Joey LaCaze and bassist Justin Grisoli while guitarist Jimmy Bower was preoccupied touring with Down and Corrosion Of Conformity, the side-project is considered a little too close to the sound, style and approach of EHG for some.

It’s a point of contention for Williams. While generally an affable sort, he finds it increasingly difficult to discuss OO% without becoming frustrated at defending his motives. Yes, there are intimations towards EHG on debut full-length Dragging Down The Enforcer (Season Of Mist) yet with only two limited-edition EPs released in the past half-decade and a minute amount of time to rehearse and grow outside of the EHG confines, such similarities are inevitable. Still, Williams hopes that once people delve further into the album’s nine tracks, such opinions will be obliterated and Outlaw Order will stand as its own entity.

Great job with Dragging Down The Enforcer, man.
Mike Williams: Thanks! You think it sounds like Eyehategod?

No, but I know everyone makes the comparison since you’re all from Eyehategod.
It’s inevitable everyone’s gonna say that. One thing I wanna say is that if I start a new band with some former band members, why do I have to play a completely different style of music? Why can’t I play the style of music that I invented? Jimmy and I invented the entire New Orleans scene, not to brag about it. If it wasn’t for Jimmy’s riffs and me screaming like an idiot... that’s what Eyehategod is. There are the other members but Jimmy and I brought the Melvins and Black Flag to the metal scene. I don’t know why I’d have to play a different style of music. I want to play what I love and this is it.

People are bound to bitch but if you came out with something different, they’d gripe about that.
Well, I do have Arson Anthem. I love a lot of types of music but Outlaw Order started because Jimmy was on tour with Corrosion Of Conformity and Down. I’m glad he’s doing it because he’s my brother. I love him but I can’t sit around and wait so we did this. We’ve all got other bands. We do what we gotta. Outlaw Order... I think it sounds different than Eyehategod. If you’re a fan of what we do, you’ll understand it’s different but casual listeners don’t dig deep and listen. They don’t get it.

It’s like saying that because Bill Steer was in both bands, Carcass sounds like Napalm Death.
Yeah, or that Napalm Death sounds like Defecation or Righteous Pigs... what’s up with that? There are a million bands with members in the same bands. We’re just trying to have fun.

This comparison thing is a huge thorn in your side. Are people really that bothersome about it?
Not so much... yeah, they are. Not so much now but I’ll wait to see the reviews for it. Outlaw Order’s been around since 2003. I don’t like people going, "Oh, it’s Eyehategod without Jimmy.” It’s absurd to say that. Ok, we have slow parts. I’m sorry but this is the type of stuff that comes from New Orleans. I play and live this music every single day of my life. What am I supposed to do? But I have a whole other animal with Arson Anthem. I’m glad Jimmy’s doing what he’s doing but I will be glad when we can get together and do another record. The new EHG’s gonna be on Housecore Records.

Why wasn’t Dragging Down on Housecore as well?
The timing was weird about it. There were already albums coming out and we just figured it would be better to put it out somewhere else. Season Of Mist called us to ask what we were doing with the record because we’ve been sitting on [these songs] forever. We thought they were cool so we jumped on it.

So had you already recorded when Season Of Mist came knocking or did you wait until they’d offered to put it out before getting the album together?
We didn’t record until Season Of Mist got in touch.

It seems like a pretty loose atmosphere with Outlaw Order. It kind of comes and goes when things are convenient.
Yeah, we practice every few months whenever we can. Outlaw Order never broke up. We got Pat from Crowbar in Outlaw Order now. I’m sure once we take him on tour though, he’ll be sick of it. "Mike Williams is an asshole. He’s drunk... again.” Whatever people want to do, they can do it. I’d never be one of those guys in a band who’s pissed off. There have been times, I’ll admit, when I’d be like, "Jimmy, why are you doing this when you could be doing it with me?” But I want him to be happy. There are a million bands down here. Someone wakes up one day and wants to jam with their band but [the others] don’t feel like so they jam with someone else and before you know it, there are five new bands going. But everyone’s cool with it. I had a guy come down to one of EHG’s practices wanting to do a family tree of New Orleans music. He got up about three hours later and left, he was so frustrated. He couldn’t do it. It went back to 1987 and this person was here but jammed with this guy but also had this band...his sister was in this band and he’s a guitar player but he did drums in that band. It’s fuckin’ nuts.

With Jimmy occupied, will you be taking Outlaw Order on the road?
We are. I shouldn’t mention names but bands that used to open for Eyehategod that are fuckin’ huge now — a band from Richmond, Virginia and Mastodon — we should hook up with them because they opened for us back in the day.

It’s time to return the favour.
I think it’ll work out. I hope we can come to Canada but the legal issues are crazy. You must hear that from every band.

Yeah, even if their records are clean it’s always a hassle.
I’d love to come up there but my criminal record is completely fucked. You just have to pay the right people the right amount of money... money that I don’t have.