EYAM: The Plague Fire Can’t Cure

by Kent Davies

Named after England’s infamous plague village, Eyam is brutal black metal played to perfection. Since 2007 the local metal act has emerged as one of the front-runners in Winnipeg’s vibrant metal scene. Already, the band has been featured in many media publications and has even appeared on French CBC television in an effort to share their debut self-titled EP, an album that some thought wouldn’t ever come out. Their dedication to their craft and their band despite facing life threatening set-backs, and juggling between other bands is a reflection of their enduring respect for the genre. The foursome headed by local metal veteran Chuck Labossière (Psychotic Gardening) features Mike Janssen and AJ Schmid on guitar, Tomi Stangl on drums and Kevin Focht on bass. In recent interviews with Stylus and CKUW 95.9 FM Labossière and Focht spoke about the trials and tribulations of Eyam.

Stylus: It was a long process to get your EP off the ground. What happened?
Kevin Focht:
Bascially in January our guitarist AJ Schmid had just moved into a new apartment with his girlfriend. Long story short we were holding all the band’s money and our merchandise there and three nights after moving in, the apartment went up in flames. They lost everything and all the band money burned along with the merch. So we had a pretty big loss and our EP release show became a benefit show to recover some of the money.

Stylus: So the initial Eyam EP didn’t end up getting pressed?
We basically had to scrape up as much money as we could after the fire to do a small pressing and work our way back again. It was tough but we did it.
Stylus: Did you think it may never come out?
No, but we were committed. It wasn’t the best of circumstances but we knew we could do it.
Stylus: What was the recording process like?
It was really, really, really black singing. It set the tone. Len Milne was the producer and he’s a really great guy to work with. He’s very laid back. The whole process in creating the album was pretty fun. The whole process getting it out was not so great.
Stylus: Was it worth it when you got the first copy and listened to it the first time?
Totally. It was.
Stylus: Have you regained some financial stability since the EP release show?
It was a very successful show. We made enough money to cover the costs of a new shirt design, catch up on jam spot rent, and drive out to Regina to play with Into Eternity and Digital Doomzday. Since then we’ve upgraded some of our equipment and have been sending our EP out everywhere, which has basically eaten up the rest of our funds.
Stylus: Are you planning on recording any new material?
We are always writing new material. Sometimes too much. We have about an hour of music yet to be recorded, and we just keep on writing. It’s nice to have a few in the bag, but now the time has come to decide what material will be recorded, whether we are doing a full length or EP, which producer/studio to use and what medium we wish to release it on. Aside from recording our next release, we are currently making plans for a music video. So far we are leaning towards a video for The Architects of Starvation, although nothing is set in stone yet. Andrew Wiens (Psychotic Gardening) will be heavily involved in the production of this video.
Stylus: Can you take us back to how Eyam got started?
Originally, the idea started as a side project. We all had been playing in other bands except for our guitarist AJ. We basically all wanted to form a more technical death metal band. We got together and started playing some riffs and basically formed the band. We asked Chuck (Psychotic Gardening) to sing for us. We didn’t even think he would because he’s such a veteran in the scene and busy with his own band but he was stoked and over time it has become a main project instead of a side project.
Chuck Labossière: I was aware that they were doing stuff and I was listening to their Myspace links and the songs were all instrumental at the time. I listened to it and noticed there was a posting on another website that said they were looking for a singer. I heard a few people were trying out and I heard the music and I was like this stuff is really good so they better get a good singer because it wouldn’t be justified if they didn’t. I wasn’t about to ask them because I’m already committed to Psychotic Gardening and doing other stuff but in the back of my head I was thinking if they ask me, I’m in. So they finally asked me. I was instantly “Yep! For sure.” It’s good too because I don’t have to play guitar. I can just sing and focus on that.
Stylus: How do you balance the two bands?
I can make it work. Both bands have been on tour together. We play the same show often. So I play two sets back to back. Mike and I would play two sets in a row. We were wondering if we could do it, especially on tour. Would it be possible psychically to do two sets a night for a long period of time? But as long as I don’t drink too much and just control myself I’m good.
Stylus: I know a lot goes into the mythology of any metal band let alone death metal. What is the story behind the name Eyam?
: We decided when we formed the band to do something a little different. There are a lot of satanic metal bands out there with tons of different themes. You’ve got the zombie metal bands, cannibal metal bands. We wanted to go with something that’s not completely original but in our music we like to address the bad side of the world the politics of devastation, plagues, pestilence and disease. Eyam itself is a town in the United Kingdom, it had one of the worst cases of the black plague in history. They had situations of self quarantine and I think the town was wiped out. We related our music to the theme of disease and explore how mankind are their own worst plague.
Stylus: Chuck, did you do the artwork for Eyam as well?
I’m always doing artwork. I did the album cover for Digital Doomsday, they’re kind of a hardcore-rap-metal hybrid. The new art for the Psychotic Gardening full-length and of course I did it for Eyam too.
Stylus: I’ve been checking out Chuck’s series of comedic videos on YouTube. One of the videos has Chuck asking the public for boots. Does Chuck still need boots?
Yeah, Chuck does collect boots. He can never have enough boots. He is currently looking for a pair of Glen Benton spiked shin boots. So if you come see us, bring Chuck some boots.

EYAM is planning on infecting metal heads with death metal destruction at an up coming Halloween show. For more info check out