Five days after Hurricane Katrina demolished New Orleans, EYEHATEGOD frontman Mike Williams and his girlfriend Alicia Morgan barely escaped the city alive. Within hours of arriving in Morgan City, Louisiana hotel room, the pair were locked up on drug charges. Williams spent 91 days in the Morgan City jail, forced to kick his legendary heroin habit behind bars. Just a few days after Williams made bail in early December, J. Bennett of Decibel magazine (web site) called the vocalist at EYEHATEGOD/SUPERJOINT RITUAL guitarist Jimmy Bower's house (where Williams is currently staying) to get the full story. A couple of excerpts from the exclusive interview follow:
Decibel: How did you end up in jail to begin with?
Mike Williams: "Well, I can't really talk about what exactly happened, 'cause I haven't been to court yet, but me and Alicia stayed through the hurricane. I think it was August 29th that the storm hit, and you know, every time there's a hurricane in New Orleans, no one thinks it's gonna be the big one. This one was a lot different, obviously — but we stuck it out, as usual. About eight hours in, the power went out, but we had a little battery-powered radio we were listening to and we could tell things were getting bad. People from the Ninth Ward, where the levee broke, were calling into the radio station saying they were trapped on their roofs. I lived in the Lower Garden District, and [after the hurricane passed] the water in my neighborhood went down, but that was probably the worst thing about it, because that's when people got really violent. If you called 911, you got a busy signal. And that gave everybody ideas right there. My neighborhood was on higher ground, so it became a focal point for people from other neighborhoods to come to. I live in a flophouse-type of place — a bunch of apartments in this one old, old building — and we had people sleeping in the hallways that we didn't even know. The first thing we noticed that morning was a body on the corner about three blocks away from my house. It was this homeless lady from the neighborhood who I guess got hit by a car the night of the hurricane. You'd see cop cars ride by with the lights on — no sirens or anything — and they'd just pass by her. A couple of us got a blanket and covered her up, but she stayed there for days."
Decibel: When did you finally decide to leave?
Mike Williams: "I was on a methadone program, and they gave us a couple of bottles to take home, but not enough, so we kinda started panicking about that. When we were walking around, people were telling us there was free water at the grocery store down the street. So, to make up for my prescribed government medicine, we happened to acquire a few pharmaceutical amenities. A lot of my neighbors are on some of the same stuff, like heroin or whatever, and I knew that eventually they were gonna realize we had something in our apartment. People were desperate and I'm sure they could take a hint if we weren't getting sick, you know? So that was another thing that frightened me — I figured eventually someone would kick in our door. I had a friend that said they'd let me borrow their car, so I was kind of planning on that. The night before we left, Alicia went outside to smoke a cigarette. Now, I used to hear gunshots in my neighborhood often, but you'd hear a lot more after the hurricane. Anyway, she came back in and put a chair under the doorknob. I guess some guy had pulled a gun and told her to come with him. But she totally bullshitted the guy and said, 'Hold on, let me go get my shoes.' I heard him coming down the hall, so I threatened to blow his head off, and he left. We slept at my neigbor's apartment, and as soon as the sun came up, we borrowed my friend's car and took off. We took our cat with us. Someone adopted her, but at least we saved her. Then we ended up in Morgan City and I heard my house burned down."
Decibel: What happened when you got to Morgan City?
Mike Williams: "We got a hotel room, but Morgan City is so small that I think that if they see anyone with long hair and tattoos, they think [you're] suspicious. Plus we were from New Orleans, which they knew because we had to show ID to rent the hotel room. So, the cops totally came into the hotel room, and that was that."
Decibel: Can you say what the charges are?
Mike Williams: Not exactly, but they're trying to get me for intent to distribute. I can't really say how much, but I'm sure they're gonna drop it down to possession."
Decibel: Your bail was $150,000. How did you get out?
Mike Williams: "Well, I have to say Phil Anselmo [former PANTERA and current SUPERJOINT RITUAL/DOWN frontman] helped me get out. I haven't asked him if he wants me to say that in interviews, but, I mean, I'm overwhelmed. He had mentioned something about it, and I thought, well, if I get my bond reduced, it won't be that much. So we had a lawyer, and we filed for a bond reduction, but the judge turned me down. This judge actually said I was a threat to society. They read all my previous charges over the years — I have a lot, you know, but I only have one violent charge, and it got dropped. But I did have a previous drug charge. I found later that the judge — this is my luck — his wife was killed by somebody crazed on drugs. My court date is in March, so I would've had to stay in jail the whole time. Phil was like, 'Fuck it, man — I'm gonna do it.' He said it was stressing him out too, so he did it."
Decibel's entire exclusive interview with EYEHATEGOD frontman Mike Williams is available in the magazine's February 2006 issue, on sale now. More information can be found at DecibelMagazine.com.