Bands to Watch: Explore the cosmos with EYE

Andy Downing, Columbus Alive

Shape-shifting quartet EYE can be as difficult to pin down as WWE wrestler the Undertaker.

During a December concert at Rumba Café, the band swung between atmospheric passages that simulated the feel of an anti-gravity chamber and crushing sections that rumbled with cement truck authority. Oftentimes, it was impossible to predict what direction the music might move next, which, as it turns out, is precisely how the band members prefer things.

"I think that's what's awesome about this band. I don't know how we did it, but we feel like we can write a catchy three-minute ripper and then we can follow that with an epic," said guitarist Matt Auxier, who joined bandmates Adam Smith (keys), Brandon Smith (drums) and Michael Sliclen (bass) for a December interview at their north campus-adjacent rehearsal space.

"I like that freedom," Adam continued. "Certain parts of the day you feel like different music, and you're going to get the best out of yourself if you don't put yourself in a box."

Though the band has kept a low profile in recent months, there's been heavy activity beneath the surface, akin to the seismic rumblings foretelling a volcanic explosion. Rather than focusing on live performance, the musicians have instead ensconced themselves in extended jam sessions at their practice space, building chemistry with Sliclen, who joined the fold roughly a year ago, and allowing the material to mutate and develop in surprising ways ("Even the old songs sound like new songs to me," Brandon said). Additionally, EYE has logged countless hours in the studio, and 2015 could see the release of both a long-planned double LP and another, recently completed full-length album.

It's not surprising release details are sketchy at the moment, since little about the quartet's approach is planned out. Concerts tend to be spontaneous affairs, with the music shaping itself to the feel of the room. Even the songwriting process is rooted in mystery, with Brandon, who pens a bulk of the band's lyrics, comparing his approach to "speaking in tongues."

Still, for all of EYE's fascination with music that ventures to the furthest edges of the cosmos (in conversation the bandmates excitedly discuss artists ranging from Sun Ra to Norwegian composer Terje Rypdal), it hasn't lost sight of the fact it's still a rock band at heart. And a powerful one at that.

"When in doubt, it's like, 'It's still rock 'n' roll,'" Adam said. "All the other stuff is awesome, but when someone wants us to lay down some rock we know we can provide that service."

Columbus Alive's Bands To Watch 2015

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