“A band like ours doesn’t have too many choices of places to play because we are so weird,” says drummer Trey McLamb of his band Eyeball. Since he and Myriam Martian (guitar, art-noise) founded the Raleigh-based psychedelic project in 2015, they’ve mostly played near or west of the Triangle in venues catering to artsy, outside-of-the-box music. Wilmington’s Juggling Gypsy fits the mold and will welcome them on August 24.
When McLamb and Martian first met, they talked about how so many Raleigh bands sounded similar. “It’s as if developing their own sound never occurred to them,” McLamb traces. “Not every band in town is like this, of course, but it seems most are. They only have around three different types of songs, and their entire show revolves around one style and playing different versions of those same three songs. We try not to paint ourselves into a corner if we can help it.”
Both McLamb and Martian have art and punk-rock backgrounds. McLamb played in various metal and tribute bands, while Martian played more experimental music. The two first started out making effects-driven sounds as a duo in 2015. They didn’t have any material, so their initial sessions consisted of making noise and improvising soundscapes.
“We didn’t really have any plans to play live or even become a full band at that point and were just making iPhone videos of our jams—some of which are still on our Facebook page,” McLamb says. “We were a duo for almost six months, doing that stuff, and then eventually started to write real songs. That’s when we knew we needed to bring in more players and it evolved into a full band.”
It took more than a year to set their current lineup, which includes Brian Oaksford (bass, guitars), who comes from a funk, jam-rock background, and Aaron Albrecht (synths), who also played guitar in metal bands. McLamb admits their musical DNA is all over the place, but it splices together to create Eyeball.
“Our show is all over the musical map,” he says, “and we don’t tend to stay in any one genre for long. A collection of our songs sounds more like a compilation because we are not just one type of band. Expect to be taken on a musical journey with lots of strange sounds woven around multiple genres.”
At the Gypsy, Eyeball will play songs from their 2017 EP, “Paradox of Eternal Limits.” Throughout the EP, the band uses trippy effects and synths as a backdrop for lyrics sung through vocal processors. Among the standout tracks is “Inside the Moon,” a slow-moving opus buoyed by Martian’s dreamy vocals. At a whopping eight-and-a-half minutes, McLamb calls it Eyeball’s crowning achievement.
“Our producer at the time asked if he could write string arrangements for it—how could I say no? I’ll never forget sitting in the studio beside Myriam hearing the playback for the first time.”
Elsewhere on the EP, McLamb takes lead vocals on “Acid War,” which evokes Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath. McLamb says the band had Osbourne in mind when they started to record the song.
“I wasn’t exactly sure how to sing it,” McLamb tells. “I tried a few other ways, and none seem to fit but that one. I can’t sing like Ozzy of course, but I do love his voice and wish I could.”
The latest single, “Crawling Creatures,” is Eyeball’s first “really creepy song,” with music written by Oaksford. McLamb wanted to write lyrics to match the eerie sounds and vibes. Fascinated by how insects outnumber humans by the billions, he dug into their “moth to a flame” behavior; how they will kill themselves just to be closer to the light.
“I purposely used the word ‘light’ many times to emphasize the source of the insect’s demise,” he says. “There is a spoken-word part in the middle, which we did on the first take. I was just trying out my idea to show the producer what I wanted to do there and it kind of freaked him out a bit and he told me it was perfect, so it was kept as is.”
The band continues to stretch its sound as it works on new material. A pair of new tracks are almost polar opposites (one is dark and epic, and the other is really frantic). McLamb says they sound like nothing Eyeball has released to date. Yet he is insistent the band will maintain its experimental ethos—including playing a live show that’s one continuous piece with no breaks.
“We walk on and start playing and it doesn’t stop for almost an hour,” McLamb says, “so we learned how to keep the momentum and intensity in certain places and when to lay back and create atmosphere.”