“Santa Claus is Coming,” so you better beware. Don’t put out the cheap cookies and hang your stockings with care.
In what’s becoming a holiday tradition, Swarm of Eyes has released a dark, minor chord-laden cover of the classic Christmas carol, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” — the perfect, ominous accompaniment to power-elbowing your way through crowds this Black Friday. (Go ahead. You deserve that $20 toaster oven!)
The song, available on Bandcamp is a taste of things to come on the band’s upcoming EP, We Go to War with the Weapons We Have, which is scheduled for an early 2017 release. The band also put together a video for the single, featuring the work of 18 different artists — spanning the gamut from seasoned veterans to up-and-comers, each serving up a creepy Kris Kringle of their own demented imaginings.
Recording the song came together quickly. “A massive amount of credit goes to Derrik [Albertelli] for making a one-off comment I said into a reality,” said George O’Connor of his fellow Swarm of Eyes guitarist. “I floated the idea of doing a dark, minor-key version of ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ to him. He took the idea and came back with the chord structures and progressions. We got together and started messing around with the parts and arranging them together.”
The musical arrangement took the duo roughly a week to complete an record before Randy came in to record vocals. “I think Randy’s vocal attack, along with Derrik’s arrangement, highlight the darker aspects of the song. It’s actually pretty foreboding when you slow it down and really listen to the lyrics,” explained George.
The concept for the video matches the ominous tone of Swarm of Eyes’ rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Strapped for time and rather than throwing together a humdrum “video” with just the band’s logo and lyrics, the band enlisted the aid of 18 talented artists to offer their own renderings of sinister Santas. A mix of working professional comic and industrial artists alongside talented up-and-comers, the diverse range of contributors complement Swarm of Eyes’ creepy Christmas card to the metal world.
“After years of creating comics and going to conventions, I now know several talented artists. So, I threw it out to them and my other friends to draw their version of what a creepy Santa would look like,” said O’Connor, the author of several indie comic titles himself. “There were no rules, so they were all free to put their spin on the idea. What we got back was incredible. When someone watches the video, they’ll be able to see some fantastic art that fits the vibe of the song. And I’m thrilled to introduce these artists to everyone.”
Watch the video for yourself on YouTube
On January 30, 2016, Swarm of Eyes celebrated the birthday of bassist Jeff Grossman — that fretboard lighting, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighting, heart-igniting son of a gun — in grand style at the Spotlight Tavern in Beverly, Massachusetts.
Playing to a packed house, Swarm of Eyes played a memorable set, prancing around the stage looking like Steel Panther’s Care Bear Cousins. The ’80s themed event saw Swarm of Eyes doing something special for one of their own, as well as the fans who turned out for the show. It also saw them decked out in enough spandex and Aqua Net spray-mounted wigs to make a revival of Rock of Ages look like Law and Order: SVU by comparison.
The Eyes guys played a mixed bag of original songs and a few classic punk, rock, and metal covers. New songs “Left to Burn,” “Tell Your God To Ready For Blood,” and “Cursed in Blood” were trotted out to the approval (they hope) of the live crowd in preparation for the band’s upcoming EP. Old favorites like “Endless Ashes,” “The Day That God Went Mad,” and “Humanemic” rounded out Swarm of Eyes’ original offerings for the night.
On their cover of Motley Crue’s “Looks That Kill,” Swarm of Eyes were joined onstage by Chris Harvey, lead singer for Guns N’ Roses tribute band Cocaine Tongue, who provided a wicked nasty (and awesome) contrast to Randy’s growling vocals. Misfits’ tribute band 138 put in an appearance with the group’s lead singer chiming in on Swarm of Eyes’ rendition of “Where Eagles Dare.” Rounding out the covers were The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop,” and Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell,” which brought the show to its fist-pumping conclusion.
You only turn 30-something-ish once, and the Swarm of Eyes guys and their fans made damn sure it was a fun and memorable night for Jeff, as well as their fans. Thanks for coming out!
Happy Festivus! In case you’re burned out on Bing Crosby, Burl Ives, and are ready to go postal at the mere mention of “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime,” the jolly (not that) old elves in Swarm of Eyes have slapped together a holiday track, covering “Nuttin For Christmas” – featuring guest vocals on the intro by The O.G. L.O.G.A.N., a young metal lad. Consider this our gift to you… and the world! You’re welcome.
You can check out “Nuttin’ For Christmas” on Bandcamp, if you’d like a little something stronger with your eggnog (or soy nog, if eggs and dairy ain’t your thing). The guitars crunch. The vocals growl. And they even manage to sneak in a covert F-bomb or two. #SoMetal
And if you’re so inclined to give the gift of music to someone on your list or just kick over some coin to us because your heart grew three sizes today, please feel free to name your price. Or just listen to it for free. That’s okay. Really. It’s okay.
The song is just a taste of (non-holiday themed) things to come from Swarm of Eyes. They’re currently recording their second album, an EP, for release in 2016.
Thanks again and from the Swarm of Eyes family to yours, here’s hoping you all have a Happy Holiday and a great 2016!