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Static Eyes Stay Rambunctious on Their 'Thaw' 7-Inch

Mar. 14, 2017
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Unlike more industry-minded cities like Los Angeles, Nashville, Tenn., and Atlanta, Milwaukee doesn’t entice a lot of musicians to migrate here specifically for its music scene, but it does happen from time to time. Static Eyes did it. The core of the group made the move about a decade ago, after their start playing garage-punk in Madison, Wis., under a different band name, The Gut Reactions. That city wasn’t a great match for the music, singer Lee Olson recalls.

“Madison is weird,” Olson says. “A lot of people consider it a hippie town, with the jam bands and stuff, but there’s pockets of everything there—it’s just that sometimes the pockets are so small. It’s frustrating. We knew we weren’t the greatest band or anything, but we knew we should be playing more than some of those other bands.”

So the group moved to Milwaukee, tweaked their lineup a bit, adopted their new moniker and wrote all new songs to accompany it. And sure enough, their act went over far better here, where there’s always been and probably always will be a market for rowdy, back-to-basics rock ’n’ roll.

“We knew a lot more people here, which helped,” Olson explains. “But people were just so much more open to going to shows here. We went from playing to about four people to a place where at any show you’re guaranteed at least 30 people. Here people just want to hang out in a basement, drink some Hamms and here some music; it’s great. And we got a little attention, so we were like, ‘Let’s take advantage of that.’ We gained confidence from having that extra attention on us.”

In the years since the move, the band has again adjusted its lineup and completely overhauled its repertoire, dropping all the old Static Eyes songs in favor of new ones. Between the various distractions of adulthood and outside band commitments—three-fourths of the group’s current lineup also plays in the fantastically peppy Milwaukee punk band Fox Face—Olson says it may take a while for them to get around to recording a full length, if indeed they ever do. But in the meantime, three of those new songs made their way onto the group’s latest 7-inch single, “The Thaw,” all of them short, punchy and rambunctious, pitched somewhere between The Stooges and, well, other bands not all that far removed from The Stooges.

Olson remembers the exact day they recorded them: Jan. 2, 2016 (“Some of us were hung over from New Year’s Eve,” he recalls.) The group drove up to Appleton to record with Amos Pitsch of regional punk pioneers Tenement. “I remember they had a heater that was very loud in the drum room, so we had to turn it off, and it was just freezing,” Olson says. “We were all in this cold basement recording with Amos, trying to stay warm. So it wasn’t like a nice Fleetwood Mac session or something, but we got it done.”

The songs aren’t huge departures from any others you’ll find on Static Eyes’ Bandcamp page. In the wake of the lineup shift, Olson says the band pondered new directions, then decided, nah. “We thought, ‘Maybe we could get heavier,’ because we like Moon Curse and Black Sabbath and those kinds of bands, but that didn’t last long,” Olson says. “Trying to have structure or a plan, that’s not our style. We considered trying to write longer, maybe four-minute songs, but we get bored after two-and-a-half minutes, and if we’re bored, we’re afraid the audience will get bored, too.”

Static Eyes play a free release show on Friday, March 17 at High Dive at 9 p.m. with Head on Electric, Jason Paul and the Know It Alls and Detenzione.

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