On The Verge: My Eyes Around Interview

The music video to Eyes Around’s “Bloodshot America,” directed by Nathan Corrona for Dustbrand Films.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Eyes Around is a four-piece, Rock and Roll band from Alabama, consciously concerned with creating quality art that will ultimately serve as a vehicle for social and spiritual transformation. The band has shared the stage with Mute Math, R.E.M., Kid Rock and Switchfoot, among others. Eyes Around will soon release its Alpha and Beta EPs. Listen to music here.

Amidst opportunites that countless bands strive for and rarely achieve, Eyes Around is moving ahead with plenty of attention, from plenty of the right people.

The following interview was conducted with front man Mike Donohue, along with the band’s manager, Christian Lobb of In Motion Entertainment.

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Clore: Eyes Around has been a band, and has been working hard together as a band, for 7 years. What was the original motivation, and what continues to be the motivation?

Mike: First of all, thank you for considering us for your blog.

I figured that if no one was saying what I needed to hear and how I wanted to hear it, I would just say it myself. We are motivated to be a megaphone for the meek, and an instrument for awareness. We want to empower people to view themselves as leaders.

Clore: You guys have strong attention from effective players in the industry. Can you give us an overview of some of your key affirmations?

Christian: Before I came on board to manage Eyes Around, they had been courted my a number of record labels and a very high power management firm. So there had definitely been some interest going on a few years back. I remember the first time I heard about Eyes Around. One of my closest friends, Jay King, who happens to be the president of their label (World Citizen) was going on and on about these guys. If Jay is passionate about an artist or band, then that is good enough for me. We had an opportunity last year to play at a Film/TV event for music supervisors. After the guys finished their set, the executive who put on the show had an amazing reaction to their set. He literally went up on the stage, grabbed the mic and shared his feelings about what he had just seen. It was pretty cool.

Another affirmation has been the discussions that I have had with booking agencies. I’ve been talking with the usual players. I can honestly say that all have been excited about the music. The conversation has pretty much been ‘we love the music, now we want to see what they’re about live.’

Clore: What’s the plan for the next 6-18 months? What’s on the horizon? What are you all really looking forward to?

Christian: Everything we are working towards at this point is on the grassroots level. It’s time to start introducing Eyes Around to the world one step at a time. We never considered putting a full length album out in retail right out of the gate. We want to have a steady burn and once we have momentum and it’s warranted, then we’ll take that step. Instead we are going to do some digital releases. The first release will be the Alpha EP, which will be shortly followed by itʼs counterpart, Beta. World Citizen has hired an independent to work video promotion to the major and minor outlets. Another crucial step is touring. Our plan is to integrate clubs & college dates and mix in some festivals along the way. As we launch Eyes Around through college radio and they start to garner more attention, then we will hopefully be doing support for bigger acts. We’ve also been fortunate that we’ve been able to forge a relationship with the guys at iTunes. They will be featuring Eyes Around on Discovery Download and have put them on a compilation CD that will be passed out at this year’s Warped Tour.

As far as what’s on the horizon….If things go the way we believe they can, that’s where our joint venture with Sony* will hopefully pay dividends.

Clore:  Tell us about recently opening for Mute Math. That had to be pretty rad. And how about other artists you’ve shared the stage with: R.E.M., Switchfoot, Kid Rock? That’s a pretty diverse and awesome line-up.

Mike:  With Mute Math, I think it’s a good fit. I feel like their audience can embrace us. We don’t have stage antics like them, but I think there is another level to both bands, no pun intended. I dig their alt style, and how they blend it with catchy melodies you can latch onto. It’s not just entertainment, there’s something else there. Getting to hear “You are Mine” live without paying for the ticket is priceless. I didn’t meet them, but I did meet Peter Buck and Mike Mills [both of R.E.M.]; two of the nicest guys ever. They even watched some of our set. We talked about their southeast roots and how they never played Birmingham, which was where we were more of a presence at that time. I could tell Mike Mills had a genuine interest in what I was saying. That’s real.

Clore:  When you wake up in the morning, what part of your professional and creative life are you most concerned about bettering?

Mike:  I always want to channel songs that are going to cut me deep, and hope those songs can pierce someone else’s heart that needs it. I want to stress to people that support us how much we appreciate them. That’s the most important thing, to always get better at communicating to our partners and our audience how loved they are.

Clore:  How does Eyes Around use social media to engage its fan community?

Mike:  You name it and we are going to use it. The game has changed dramatically as to how you get your music into the marketplace. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and so on. Whatever we need to do to connect with our fans. I use blogs to get lyrics and poems out there, but I’ve always been hesitant to use those tools for anything other than generic announcements. I don’t like to get personal with this stuff. I wish there was more mystery.

Clore:  If you could start again, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?

Mike:  I would’ve always put others ahead of myself. Every self-serving decision I ever made was a dumb one, and it never yielded the fruit I thought I wanted. I would truly love more, and appreciate people more, though I’ve always tried from the beginning, I could have always done more of that.

Clore:  For those considering pursuing their musical passions as a career, what’s your advice?

Mike:  I’ve never actually made a dime doing this, so I don’t know if I’m the one to take advice from. If I had to, I would say every case is unique, follow your destiny, feed your talents and don’t chase the dollar, let it chase you.

For more on Eyes Around, visit their official site.

*[Disclaimer: Although I work for Sony, I have no direct business relationship with Eyes Around through Sony]

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