For more than a decade, Wolf Eyes has virtually dominated Michigan’s avant-garde/electronic/ noise scene. Like the genre itself, most tend to either love what they do or outright despise it, writing it off without even considering their work to be listenable. But nothing answers criticism quite like longevity, and the band has been able to sustain itself rather contentedly over the years by releasing hundreds of cassettes, albums, and CD-Rs—most home-recorded, handmade, and self-released (many of the records are even self-cut, some into non-traditional objects such as mirrors and plastic plates). Two formal releases have seen the light via Seattle’s preeminent Sub Pop Records (2004’s Burned Mind and 2006’s Human Animal), but the vast extent of their multimedia work can hardly be summarized.
Reel-manipulator and synth-operator Nate Young formed the band in 1996, which currently includes John Olson and Mike Connelly. “We’ve been together for so long that we can kind of anticipate what it’s going to be like. We can actually rehearse a kind of preconceived improvisation. It’s not something very precise,” says Young. “It’s just a matter of being self-aware of what you just did when you weren’t thinking about it, and then trying to get in that same place, but elaborating on what you just heard. It’s like this stair-step system.”
“I don’t really consider what we do to be that abstract anymore. It’s just rock and roll done with unconventional sounds. At the end of the day, it just becomes a kind of folk music.”
Regarding the band’s upcoming MOCAD performance, “I have a perfect idea of what’s going to happen,” Young claims. “I can’t tell those guys what it is, it just has to kind of go down in a certain way…. I know how they’re going to react to what I’m going to do, and vice versa.”
Young hopes to reunite the band later this year with original member Aaron Dilloway (who left in 2005 to raise a family) to collaborate on a release through Dilloway’s own Hanson Records. This Thursday the Burton Theatre in Detroit will be hosting mixed media by Young and Alivia Zivich.