The Crafted Sounds label reached out to me a little over a week ago, and I'm glad they did. Beyond just being a cool little outlet that deserves further exploration, they were specifically hyping Never Again—the new five-song EP (just released over the weekend) from Wilmington, DE trio Eyebawl. The aesthetic of its cover got my hopes up right away, and thankfully the opening title track hit the spot immediately—perfectly exemplifying the group's grungy punk-pop blanketed by a layer of garage rock shoegaze or somesuch.
Equal parts boppy and catchy, raw and noisy, as well as restrained and solemn, it's one of the more intriguing releases to have crossed my path as of late, so I wanted to help spread the word. Stream the full EP below, followed by an interview with guitarist/vocalist/founder Erin Silva:
What did the process look like in terms of Eyebawl's transition from a solo outing into a full band, and what was it like adjusting to functioning as a group unit?
The transition was certainly a challenge. I wrote some of those old songs in my old one-bedroom apartment as a sort of therapeutic relief. I had zero intentions of showing them to anyone at the time. Things change, am I right? To get some of the tunes to a place we were happy with so they sounded cohesive, setting drums to a song with no set tempo, was honestly a weird thing to do. I also had to adjust to being the sole songwriter of a group, which entails needing to verbalize my ideas (this was horrifying to me at first). It was pretty tough, but the real fun started when we began writing together. I find the words come with such ease now.
Last year's Gutterbawl EP was kind of rooted in an expansion of the sound of the early solo recordings, and while that foundation is still very much present, the material on Never Again is starting to build into having more of a grit to it—both musically and vocally. This is especially true of the title track, wherein the vocals lock in with a dingy wall of distortion for a super catchy chorus. How do you observe the songwriting having developed thus far (or moving forward) from your insider's perspective?
My original song structures were pretty wild. The core of our songs still comes from me writing things solo, but I feel I have grown as a songwriter and we've grown as a band. There's this noticeably higher sense of comfort and confidence in our choices. I appreciate how unreserved I can write, but having people you respect to bounce ideas off of and to help make real things out of ideas is so special. Never Again is 100% our collective effort.
Sort of along those same lines, it seems like the general aesthetic of Never Again carries a little more gravity to it, if that makes sense. Lyrically, maybe, but even the cover art, like, I saw the cover and was kind of immediately thinking, "Oh, this might be pretty damn good..." I'm not necessarily fishing for any specifics in terms of content or meaning, but... is there any accuracy to that assessment?
I definitely agree that this EP is more grounded and overall solid. Our first EP was half "Am I really doing this?" and half "Yup, we're totally doing this." A lot of uncharted territory for me. I felt weird, but it felt right. Gutterbawl tells of my experiences from teens to mid-20s—what the hell is going on? It was a bit loose, a bit chaos with a slight lack of control, but that is exactly how things felt. This new EP is more grounded. Solid. Sure. Personally and collectively. I was testing the waters with the first EP with no intentions and no expectations. Never Again speaks to an awareness. Taking the next challenges head-on and with intention. There's a cohesiveness behind these songs and even the feeling of the cover art. Moving on. Being present. "No More Bad Nights."
It's literally only been three days since I was first introduced to both Eyebawl and the Crafted Sounds label—who also released Gutterbawl—so I'm still in the very early stages of digging into everything, but how did you all come to begin working together?
When we decided we were going to record Gutterbawl, it made sense to try and snag a label. Our friends in Grace Vonderkuhn (Delaware) mentioned being in contact with Crafted Sounds, so we reached out. Connor (Crafted Sounds) was into it and said, "Let's go!" That's about it. It's been wild. We've linked shows in Philly with our labelmates and played in Pittsburgh a few times now (one including the Deutschtown Music Festival). Feels like we have a rad community that we were fortunate to meet for almost no reason. We're stoked, we love Connor and all of our Crafted Sounds family!
I'm old and not-so-great at necessarily keeping up with all that's going on with music these days, but I am aware enough to vaguely know that there's a wide variety of cool shit happening in Delaware and surrounding areas such as Philadelphia, etc. What's some other cool music you'd recommend for people to check out if they're into what you're doing with Eyebawl?
Definitely! I've mentioned them before, but I 100% recommend Grace Vonderkuhn's band. They're longtime friends. Grace has got a rad Buzzcocks vibe, for sure—she'll shred your head off. And Philly, wow. I've been hearing/meeting/playing shows with so many rad women and feel like there's a lot of grungy punk stuff surfacing all the time. To name a few: Full Bush, Mannequin Pussy, and Secret Nudist Friends.
Never Again is out now through Crafted Sounds. Pick it up on cassette or digitally via Bandcamp. Stream through Spotify and such. Keep up with Eyebawl on Facebook and Instagram.