Michael Eisenhauer I have known for many years through him being in such bands as Numskull and Evil Incarnate to name a few. This interview will focus on simply brutal death metal band Evil Incarnate and covers his career.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was Born North of Chicago Suburb in Waukegan Illinois and mostly raised in Zion Illinois next to the Chicagoland Power plant and Lake Michigan Front. Close to Wisconsin Border.
What sort of kid where you growing up pre teenager? What were some things you liked to do and did you hang out with many people?
As a teenager, I was the young Fatherless kid growing up poor in The Projects and only thing that mattered was getting wasted and listening to metal. I only had a few friends my age. Most of the headbangers I hung around were much older so of course there was a lot of Hazing going on.
This is before discovering underground metal, what were some of the bands you listened to and were a fan of and are you still a fan of these bands today?
I was listening to an old beat up cassette of Celtic Frost I had from a kid at School and also Black Sabbath but mostly I was a Metallica Kid. I also was big on Testament, Nuclear Assault and Slayer but I loved fucking WASP! I also was into stuff like Twisted Sister, King Diamond, Iron Maiden and Motley Crue, Dokken & QueensRyche around that time. Oh can’t forget AC/DC and Motörhead...basically everything anyone else had access to. I remember when Pantera had Cowboys from Hell out but when Vulgar Display of Power hit I was into it for sure. But yeah it wasn’t until I joined Num Skull that I found more UG bands and found out about trading. I was late to that party but it was still killer in 1993 or so. Funny story is when I was still a “traditional Metal” fan and as heavy as it got was Celtic Frost and Slayer I heard Deicide and thought it was total shit. Obviously, it grew on me and at one time was one of my favorite bands. I totally love all these bands and many others from that era still today. Absolutely. Judas Priest has Always been one of my Favorites.
You mentioned Pantera. They get a lot of grief because people say they just jumped on the nu metal of sorts bandwagon and stole from Exhorder as well. Did you grow away from them when you discovered the whole death metal genre?
Yeah for a long time I grew away from almost everything. At one point, I was so into Swedish Death Metal and the New York and Florida scenes that pretty much nothing else mattered other than some other killer bands scattered elsewhere. Chicago has had some great bands and so have other areas and countries but it was DM all the way.
I did enjoy some BM stuff as well and Grind but I was bored I guess at the time with Thrash. It’s funny how things work because although I really love the Ultimas CD with David Vincent and new Entrails I’m listening more to the older Traditional stuff I missed and a few of the Thrash resurrection bands aren’t bad either.
But as for Pantera the last couple CDs they did I wasn’t really into so much. Mostly just Cowboys from Hell and Vulgar Display of Power. I never cared if anyone else thought a band was trendy. If I liked it then I do.
Speaking on that I really like the latest Septic Flesh release. The horns and heavy riffs with the Evil sound is great. But Archgoat and Necrophobic are Way better.
Got ya. At what point did you start to have interest in playing bass? Did you have interest in the guitar or drums at all?
I started playing guitar when I was 15 (born in 1973) and since I was so poor I had borrowed a warped and rusty stringed & bowed neck acoustic from my friends stepdad Larry Collins.
My first actual band was with my current drummer Patt Maxwell (Luna In Sanguinem/Evil Incarnate Tour Drummer) and was called Perdition. This was when we were around 19 or 20. A couple years into that my good friend Scott Creakmore from Num Skull/Broken Hope and Mercenary Digital Studios said Num Skull needed a bass player so I traded all my crap gear for a starter bass, used Tom From Num Skull’s old Marshall 1/2 stack till I got my own bass rig and learned a live set in 30 days and we played several shows.
When I started Evil Incarnate I still had a Guitar I played and wrote riffs with at home but since I had Pro Bass gear and 3 piece is cool anyway (easier to sing in odd times riffs too in my opinion) I just stayed on Bass with EI. Besides that, I didn’t think we could find a guy in our area that was as good as I was on Bass at the time. But now, I am back to Guitar with Luna In Sanguinem writing all the Music and actually playing a few solos as well. I also played all the Rhythm Guitar tracks on EI “Depopulation Agenda.”
After upgrading to Pro Guitar gear, I’m afraid my Bass stuff although still great is outdated now. Sounds expensive...but I need a 3rd guitar first. Luna in Sanguinem is my main focus moving forward at this time so financially I’m putting everything into that other than some tours Evil Incarnate had been offered before CV -19 hit. Hoping that will still happen next year. Back line is provided so gear is not the issue. I absolutely love Metal Drumming and wish I had a kit at home definitely. Maybe someday!
Ok so how are some of the best bass players out there in your eyes and ears?
Although I have to admit I was never a big follower of Bass Players in particular I would say I think the following bands had great ones: Megadeth & Iron Maiden and I am a fan of David Vincent Morbid Angel, Glen Benton Deicide, Cliff Burton Metallica, and of Course Lemmy Motörhead was just cool as fuck!
At what time did you think about joining or forming a band? Was it one thing or a combination of several things that led to this?
I remember idolizing Metal bands since I was 10 or 11 when my older Cousin had some Scorpions and stuff like that. For sure when I was a young Headbanger in School a few years later all my friends were getting Guitars for Birthdays or Christmas and taking lessons and of course I wanted one but my Mother couldn’t afford it and The rest of my family had kids of their own or tons of Grandchildren so that was out of the question for me. Once everyone I knew started taking lessons when I was around 15 and talking about having a band someday I followed suit. I couldn’t afford lessons so I mostly taught myself after I picked up the basics from some guys. It’s funny how people are jealous so once I was noticed to be a fast learner they wouldn’t want to show me much.
I remember buying Metallica “Ride The Lightning” Guitar tab book once I got some cash from Snow Shoveling or something and skipping school and playing all day and all night till I finally learned a couple songs.
I was so dedicated that my Family who are All Electricians making killer Money wanted me to continue the family Trade. I was around 19 or 20 and my wife was just Pregnant with our first baby. They sat me down and told me I had to be a man now and I would be working and going to School at least 12 hours a day 6 days a week. I said, wait what? I was like dude, when will I have time to play my guitar with my band Perdition? When they said give it up and get rid of the Guitar that’s all over now I said Fuck You!!! I would rather push Shopping carts for a living as long as I can create Music and have a band. Life’s short and you only have one. They still think I’m a total loser today for that decision but I wouldn’t change anything. I have always been The Black Sheep and “Just like my Father” anyways to them Bible Hugging Hypocrites.
The biggest reason I started Evil Incarnate other than I always wanted to do something Beyond Blasphemous was because although I did write some riffs in Num Skull on “When Suffering Comes” CD most of the time they didn’t like what I was coming up with but anyone else that heard my stuff said it was killer. As for Luna In Sanguinem I started that up with Patt Maxwell because I didn’t want to have to be the main Vocalist anymore (unless EI) and play some solos and Thrash harder on stage. Also, I could Make the music more Technical at times and complex once in a while, different yet still my personal style of creating. Just wanted to not be trapped in the box Musically or Lyrically. With EI everything has to be about Hell, Christ Hate and Satan and shit. I wanted to write about Artificial Intelligence and CERN The Large Hadron Collider and Skin Walker Ranch or Vampires and Aliens if I want to and stuff. Evil Incarnate fans would be like what the Fuck is this Hahaha!!! So EI lyrics have to be in a certain Way and this new band I can write about anything I want to! No Allegiance to anything just Pure Energy and Aggression. Metal!!!
You have been in several bands over the years (Luna in Sanguinem, Num Skull, Perdition, Xenophobia, Passover Massacre). Which was the 1st one and what was the first serious one?
It’s not anyone’s Fault who uses it but I Hate Metal Archives LOL!!! I don’t know who is fact checking over there but they have “Passover Massacre” as a Band and it was a Festival once or Two years out of many I did in past. Also they have me listed as a band Member of Xenophobia and I never was. The singer for that band did back-up vocals on a Compilation track we recorded one time LOL!!!
Now that I had a chance to clear that up my first band was Perdition (we didn’t even know about the UG and there was already Several bands by that name) and after that came Num Skull. I would say we thought we were serious in my first band but never released any recordings other than to friends locally on a blank tape and played 1 bar show and a couple parties.
Num Skull to me was like Joining Slayer or something at the time. Locally especially, they are still a Legend so this was Absolutely serious.
Evil Incarnate after that became even more serious for me over the years especially once Num Skull began to fade and I hope now with newest band Luna in Sanguinem to take it even Farther. I don’t have any more chances to do something Serious again. I’m at that age where this is it for me. I have at least 10 more good years left if I eat right and stay active.
It’s cool in a way though to see how some of the EI fans already love Luna and then I can understand and respect why some that lean more towards Satanic Metal styles and old School stuff enjoy EI but don’t seem to have an interest in much else unless I did a Full on BM band. But once Live shows commence again and we get enough exposure again with loading as many free Promos as possible I am confident even some of them I can sway.
Good, thanks for clearing that up. Now one question about "Luna in Sanguinem" and then we will move on to Evil Incarnate. What kind of band are they and how did the coming of that band come together and what style of music is it?
Thanks for the opportunity Chris. This is a great interview so far by the way. To start if anyone is interested in continuing to follow my music here is The Free Hear Now: https://lunainsanguinem.hearnow.com/
Luna In Sanguinem Musically is for us our opportunity to play Whatever we like. For example we have all listened to All Metal styles since the very Early days so again we are not trapped into a particular style although Musically DM is dominant and it sounds intentional and purposeful if we utilize different style together. We are drop A tuned also so it’s different than one would think as well. We may grind or blast, we may groove or crunch or we may have something Thrashy or even Traditional Metal feeling. Somehow, I make sure it all fits and makes sense when hearing it with transitions.
Vocally I am still doing Backing vocals where it makes biggest impact and sense as does my Drummer. Our Vocalist Skip Mcgullam who was Original Wrath Member and then Num Skull member and co Creator is most famous for Num Skull “Ritually Abused” in recent years re released. Skip is awesome and is unique sounding as well so it’s killer to have that Thrashier style but he can Sing too. I put in that David Vincent haunting singing chant a couple places instead of keyboards and skip does a great singing style traditional vocal on a few short parts too so it’s a good mix.
As mentioned before I love writing these lyrics and it’s great that the guys enjoy them too. I am so glad to have a group of guys excited to help me in this vision I have. Patt our drummer and I work so well together and our bass player Rod Valdez has been an old friend also and has a great ear and bass style. It’s a perfect combination...
So basically Patt and I were talking one night and mentioned how we were surprised we never did another band together. I said well, why don’t we and he said we should and I came over with our first 2 songs ready (I was gonna start this band at some point) and once we had them ready to go we called Rod. At first I was doing Vocals so we could play live but once Skip seen us and asked me if he could sing we knew we had the perfect line up for us. It was cool because we were gonna ask Skip before but wasn’t sure if he would do it so it’s great! I’m also looking forward to only getting better with my Guitar solos. Eventually it would be great to find a second Guitarist but he has to fit perfectly so we are in no rush.
That's good to hear. I originally came to know you from your time in Num Skull. For those who don't know them, tell everybody a bit about them and why did the band break up and do you pretty much like most of the time you spent in that band?
I remember as a young teenager going to local shows with lines wrapped around the block. It was so killer headbangers with back patches everywhere. I bought Nums The Word Demo and my friends all freaked out when I played it for them.
Back then NS were the best band between Chicago and Milwaukee for me and a lot of people. To bad when they lost their Record Deal When their Manager fucked them on it and decided to back Chuck and Death (R.I.P.) Basically after that and having hard time keeping a 2nd guitar they had some in fighting and The Drummer Jeff Mcgullam and his brother Skip left after Jeff’s kid was born and Jeff gave Tom the band to continue. Over the next years they continued as a DM band with Bass player Rob singing and also with new drummer Scott Creakmore and NS had a great following still. Shortly after Rob Charrier left and new DM vocalist Paul Benigno joined and they did a 7” with Ed Farshty Rage Records I joined on Bass. After I Recorded CD “When Suffering Comes” with them we had found young Guitarist Shaun Lacanne who went on to Form Crushing Brutal DM band Putrid Pile. After a few shows and Festivals with Shaun we had a couple unreleased songs I wrote with Tom but the singer has a Reputation of being a total Asshole and I couldn’t get along with him either no matter if I tried. I ended up having the opportunity to do EI full time with Andy Vehnekamp and also with 2 guitars Rob Rigney and Dave Galley from Local Kenosha Wisconsin DM band Fear Spawned Religion and I went for it! No more Drama...I miss Tom and Scott though they are still my friends and Tom recently did Solos in new EI as he usually has done over the years and Scott programming the Drums and Recording it in his Mercenary Digital Studios. My time in NS was training as much as fun. Even good with the bad it was some of my best times of those years. I know all I know because of the opportunity and since then have just refined it.
How did the coming of your current band Evil Incarnate begin? Was your morale down after all the crap towards the end with Num Skull? How long would you say was the period between the 2 bands?
For a few months at end, I was actually doing both and even did double duty a few shows. The EI guys and all the Fear Spawned Religion crowd embraced me so much and were so cool my Morale was at a high point. When I was still in NS and just recording Demos for EI and we hadn’t played live yet it was originally Tom from NS who introduced me to drummer Andy Vehnekamp and we all 3 use to practice together and recorded 3 song demo “Deliverance from Salvation” on 8 track together. Tom wasn’t interested in doing to many shows with EI so when Andy got us the 2 Guitarists we went in that direction. We eventually re-recorded 1 of the 3 songs on another demo that was released as part of our debut by DeathGasm Records “Blood of The Saints” and the other 2 re-recorded onto our Album “Blackest Hymns of Gods Disgrace.” Another cool thing with NS was our friend Dave Matrice of badass band Jungle Rot was a long time member before my time as well. I can’t wait to get EI onto these Tour dates that had to be cancelled Fuck CV!!! But Luna in Sanguinem have some stuff coming up soon so that’s gonna be good.
In 1997 you recorded you debut demo, which was released on tape. What are your thoughts on this demo these days?
I liked how simple and heavy it was. We sped things up when needed over the years and have had better Recording Production each time also. I enjoy some raw stuff if it’s a good band but I have to say I absolutely prefer great Studio production now. I mean I always have but once you obtain it personally there’s no going back.
Even Raw UG Black Metal bands would sound so killer with even Half the production i’m referring to, but, I know why they don’t and no disrespect to them for sticking to that ideal but, damn I wish they would step up the recordings it would be better I think and I would listen to it more.
The following year, in 1998, you released another demo called "Christ Destroyed", which had 6 songs on it. Do you feel this was a step up from your debut demo? What are some things you did differently this time around? How were the reviews and feedback on this demo overall?
Overall everyone really liked it. Actually, this demo and the previous were liked so much by the UG that DeathGasm Records released them both onto CD. Of course, a lot of Licensing deals happened around the World with several Cassette Releases and it has been done on LP from HellsHeadbangers.
Back to your question, on this particular demo I was feeling very heavy and doom on a lot of the riffs. If I remember right, I was probably really into a lot of Celtic Frost, Black Sabbath and the old HellHammer stuff and Grave, Asphyx and the First Absu Album and Bolt Thrower “Warmaster.”
I do think it was a step up from the first demo too. We had been playing a lot of parties and small clubs by this time and really starting to find our way. I always thought there seemed to be a progression each time we did a release. Some people do of course still prefer this raw older stuff and that’s also cool.
Wasn't this a great time in the underground with the scene not oversaturated with bands and that the labels that were around were releasing mostly quality product and the shows were off the chart so to speak?
Oh fuck yeah it was great! So many awesome bands. I remember when I heard the Necrophobic Demo that got re-recorded onto the debut and when the Deeds of Flesh guys sent me their Debut and Internal Bleeding were with Wild Rags and man your right everything was kick ass! Disinter and Cianide from Chicago and Dying Fetus we’re debuting on first Tour and man so much over a span of years that was just great and still here most of it.
Remember when Dave Kibler from Lividity was doing his Zine and Cassettte Compilations and Brian Baxter was doing a lot in Ohio with his bands and Ablated Records? Kick ass Memories of Festivals and everything...I use to have to answer the door for the Mailman who has all my mail in a Bin because there was so much of it a lot of times. Oh and remember the Logo with bands Contact address stamper everyone use to stomp the back of all the globs of cool ads from around the World? So cool and unfortunately so many Metal fans would never know what that’s like if they got into it later or are younger. I was so lucky I made it in UG when Slayer Mag in Norway was around and Usurper and before that even I think. Around 1993 I would guess.
Yeah I loved hand writing letters and having my own stamper and putting all those ads in ever letter, etc. So you released a compilation of stuff in 1999 on Deathgasm Records (which is still in business!). How did you hook up with them and how was it dealing with them and is this release still for sale?
Yes Blood of The Saints is actually the 2 demos onto CD. I had originally been trading with Evan March and his DM band Avulsion who he also released as his first CD on DeathGasm when he asked me if he could do Evil Incarnate “Blood of The Saints” for his 2nd. We had a couple others interested but Evan was such a hard and constant worker and so dedicated to the Music and Evil Incarnate I thought it was the best Decision. At that time small Labels could unload at minimum Thousands of copies of a good bands CDs around the World without ever even going on Tour. I remember people telling me at a few different points over the years they seen Evil Incarnate everywhere with myself and everyone we worked just hammering it constantly.
As far as dealing with Evan and DeathGasm it was great and we are still friends today. I have been to his home and if I need a favor he always helps if possible. I think the only copies for sale anywhere are LP’s I personally sell from time to time I have in the closet or used CDs on E bay. A Couple Labels have had interest to re- release this and our Full Length “Blackest Hymns of Gods Disgrace” so we will see something again sooner than later I bet. For now I know DeathGasm has it for Digital DL on his band Camp at $5.00: https://deathgasmrecords.bandcamp.com/album/blood-of-the-saints
If anyone wants a Autographed LP or a shirt they can always find me on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/michael.eisenhauer.96 1996 for the year EI released the 3 song Demo debut “Deliverance from Salvation.”
\Blood of the Saints, by Evil Incarnate 10 track album deathgasmrecords.bandcamp.com in case you need something to send friends who have a birthday.
How was it for you guys back in 2000 releasing the "Blackest Hymns of God's Disgrace"? Did you pay for the recording or did he? How was the response to the release back then? How was the scene back in IL at the time?
DeathGasm Records paid for the Studio. I basically asked how much they thought it would cost and told Evan and he agreed so it was great. And personally it was one of the greatest moments in all of our lives because we knew we had something special that a lot of people would remember for a long time. Not everyone can say that so it’s an accomplishment.
Plus With Andy Vehnekamp on Drums and Myself doing Bass & Vocals and Rob Rigney doing Guitar was a perfect 3 piece. We just meshed together perfectly. You don’t always have that with a group of guys. Somehow we just knew what each other were thinking like one being almost on stage. And that Album just took off for us everywhere. Morbid Records (R.I.P) in Germany who had SPV distribution was the biggest out of all the Licensing deals that we ended up having. It was great man!
The Scene in Illinois has always been good. Not only Chicago, but Southern Illinois has a lot of killer bands still and a great group of Guys we were always networking with Like Shane and the guys in Waco Jesus and Von of Deaden and Lividity and Dave Kibler and Matt Bishop. I would say them 4 guys did so much for Metal in Illinois besides quite a few others over the years but we still have a good scene today. Cianide and Disinter are still around, the guys from Corpse Vomit and Usurper and so many actually.
How those band names are a blast from the past. When you get ready to sing, what sort of mood to you have to get yourself in mentally?
Although I haven’t performed live on stage with Evil Incarnate in a long time I would typically just go up there with the same attitude and mind set you would if you were meeting some guy at a party to have a street fight in the back yard.
With Luna in Sanguinem it’s basically the same even though I wrote the lyrics I only do backing vocals but it’s the same feeling. I set my mind as if it is so or die and as if it might possibly be the very last time I ever stand on a stage. I get very emotional and aggressive. My wife knows for a few hours before an event I am focusing already and not to badger me as to why I am so quiet. Probably the only difference is with Evil Incarnate I literally could feel as if some other force was taking over my body. I guess singing them lyrics it can be expected.
What made you take up the bass? Was the guitar or drums ever considered? Who are some of your favorite bass players of all time?
I was always a Guitarist and in my first band when Scott Creakmore Drummer from Num Skull told me if I traded in some gear and at least got a cheap bass and learn the songs I could join the band and they had a couple shows booked in 30 days. I got the Bass and learned the set and played a show 3 & 1/2 weeks later.
I always kept playing Guitar and eventually when I started writing Evil Incarnate songs I just kept doing Bass because by that time I had all my money invested in Bass. And some of my favorite DM singers also played bass, like David Vincent and Glen Benton so it was just cool when we needed to become a 3 piece with Evil Incarnate to play shows after guys dropped out too.
After a while though I was so focused on Bass and vocals and writing Riffs and stuff that solos work and solo practice was something I never did anymore. Once I decided I wanted to write the Luna In Sanguinem songs and Lyrics with Solos and me playing Guitar I knew I had to get a singer. It’s doable because I was forced to do it at first with Luna but once Skip Mcgullam asked to do Vocals (and we were gonna ask him anyways ) it was perfect. Plus, I still do backups for low end and Now I can really put a lot more into stage presence at live shows like I want to. Yes, Bald guys can bang like a Mother Fucker too!
You have been in 6 bands total. Besides Evil Incarnate and Numskull, are you proud of the time you spent in the others? We will touch on your other current band later on.
Well actually Metal Archives just let’s random people add stuff that isn’t always accurate. I have tried unsuccessfully to get that fixed. I had my first band before Num Skull called Perdition and then Evil Incarnate. Now it’s mainly Luna in Sanguinem. Another band Martial I only filled in on Guitar for a few shows and that was it. As far as I know the only Active one is Luna in Sanguinem. Evil Incarnate have session members ready to go if we move beyond the Virus mess. Evil had Asian, Australian and Europe dates all getting booked and then we got slammed so nothing is possible for now.
There’s talk of Mexico and South American dates but we will see. So for now all my efforts go towards Luna and local shows. We just played 1 and have 3 more around the Chicagoland and Milwaukee areas. I am proud of anything I have done Musically yes. Somethings I would have changed is keeping Politics out and Focus on the Metal. But I had a great run so far and I’m not gonna wine and moan about anything. But, I do Miss when Headbangers has thicker skin.
How would you rate yourself as a singer and bass player?
I would rate myself on the upper levels of Talent. I think a lot of times being in a successful band is right place right time and who you know. I think about if I was in Florida for instance during the late 80’s and early 90’s for sure I would have been in one of the big bands from that era. Num Skull was great at one time but by the time I had joined the scene was in a down period and the members although my good friends seemed to have started losing motivation to continue. I never lost that drive I only had set backs and unfortunately been also in Evil Incarnate surrounded at times by people who talked a good talk but never wanted to put up or shut up. I’m not bitter or anything because Evil Incarnate fans are serious but man if I would have been in another place like Sweden during the DM boom there, oh hell yeah! I see that scene still continues with some bands too so that’s awesome. But now I’m 46 and settled here and have a solid and dedicated group of Veteran and Professional Musicians so I’m looking forward to eventually getting out and doing more With Evil but really seeing just what Luna In Sanguinem is capable of. The response so far to “Global Bloodbath” has been beyond what I could have imagined. And if anyone wants to hear it come visit our Facebook and let us know. If anyone gets a copy by all means spread it far and wide! If you can help in anyway contact us immediately.