Eye for An Eye: Boston Hardcore Greats on Their ‘90s Records, Upcoming Reissue

Photo: Joe Bull Hendricks

In the early '90s, Boston's Eye for An Eye felt like a hidden treasure. The band was ahead of their time, incorporating melodic elements and introspective ideas to craft a truly unique sound. They released two incredible yet underappreciated 7"s that seemed lost to time.

Now, Deathwish is bringing them back with Omega Drone / Who, an LP collection featuring both EPs fully remixed and remastered by Alex Garcia-Rivera (Kingpin, American Nightmare) at Mystic Valley Studio.

I had the chance to chat with Eye for An Eye after their secret, invite-only show in Long Beach as they prepared for their upcoming hometown return with Have Heart.

Can you tell us the origin story of Eye for An Eye. Where did you meet and how was the band formed?

(Thos Niles, drums): How the story started for me was Ralph from Wrecking Crew called me and asked if I wanted to check out this band he was helping put together. I know Jay and Ravi were already working on songs, and maybe Adam Donuts was already there too. I met them down at the Wrecking Crew practice space outside Kenmore Square.

I don’t remember any discussion, I was just in. I knew Lloyd from around and asked him if he’d be interested in trying to sing. Repeated that process – Wrecking Crew space, ran through a couple of songs, and on the spot, he was in. This was in 1988. By early ’89 we had settled into the core 4 piece line up that we were for most of our history.

(Kevin Norton, bass): After they played a couple shows they asked me to join and played/toured on all the recordings. Jay and Ravi were 15 or 16 years old when EFAE formed, and it was unusual to see a band that was that good at that age. In retrospect I think that helped launch the band.

You guys had a very unique sound for the time, were you influenced by your peers like Burn and Shelter to add more melody into your sound or were you pulling from outside influences?

(Kevin): We played a lot of shows with Burn and Jay eventually joined Shelter so there is obviously a connection to those bands, intentional or not. Collectively, we all listened to punk, metal & hardcore. There were a ton of hardcore bands from Boston: SSD, Gang Green, FUs, Jerrys Kids, Slapshot and Wrecking Crew.

We came a little after that and our generation grew up on all the obvious stuff and Hip Hop on top of that. So, we also had the influence of the greats like Eric B & Rakim, Tribe Called Quest, and Public Enemy as well. We played with a lot of different types of bands and would play clubs, basement shows, loft parties with a lot of different kinds of artists from traditional hardcore to rappers like Master Ace.

(Thos): Totally agree with everything Kevin said. On top of that, Kevin and Lloyd turned me on to a ton of music. I remember listening to Black Board Jungle by the Upsetters in Lloyd’s car, or Kevin loaning me Stanley Clarke tapes.

It was always part of our approach that we were trying to do something unique and new. I think that mindset came from the East Coast '80s hip-hop we were all listening to. When KRS rhymed “’ve got to have style / and learn to be original..” we were all like “OK! Got it!” and got after it.

How did your influences change as the band went on?

(Kevin): Bands like Nirvana changed everything. They made music that when we started in the '80s was underground, suddenly the biggest music in the world. This was happening all in the early '90s. There was huge shift in listening for most people. I loved a lot of that music as well as the metal like Sepultura, Obituary, and Entombed that was just coming out.

For us it all went into the blender, our sound got more melodic and heavier at the same time. We always took the approach that we didn’t give a fuck about the rules. The sound was very traditional hardcore at the beginning and eventually evolved. It’s not better or worse it’s just what we did naturally. We wanted to take it to the next level with a healthy dose of respect to the culture. Maybe a modern version of that might be Turnstile or Angel Du$t.

(Thos): I don’t know that the influences changed so much as they just kept continuing to grow. More ingredients just kept making the broth richer. We were young – Jay and I were still in high school – and we just kept soaking up more music from a lot of directions.

I have to ask... what was the influence behind the slap bass?

(Kevin): I was really into funk and jazz at the time. There was a little bit of slap bass that popping up in bands like Fishbone, Suicidal Tendencies, and Leeway’s first record around that time. I was just trying to push it musically, I guess.

At different times, hardcore has different things happening like whammy bar divebombs, pig squeals, and alarm clock riffs. So.... slap bass was my gift to the scene.

Watching you guys the other day, I really noticed some odd time signatures and arrangements. Was there a music theory nerd in the band that did this intentionally, or was this the product of being young and learning how to play and write music?

(Kevin): We were all nerds musically and otherwise. I was heavily into Jazz at the time, and we were trying/pushing to play to the edges of our abilities at that time. As a damn solid songwriter yourself, I’m sure you know that music often just comes to you regardless of whatever you’re trying to do.

(Thos): Agreed. That said, at least for me, there was also a combo of being inexperienced plus ambitious that allowed me to make choices that somebody who “knew better” wouldn’t have made. I was trying to keep up with the other guys and following my instincts.

Your first EP, Omega Drone, was released in 1991 by Blackout! Records. How did you link up with the label, and how was that record received?

(Thos): Bill [Wilson] used to come up to Boston with his pals in Uppercut and Raw Deal (Killing Time) whenever they played and we spent a fair amount of time going to shows at The Anthrax in Connecticut or CBGBs in New York. The scene was small enough back then that you were able to know everybody really.

Your follow up EP, Who, came out just a year later on Tribe Records. Were you guys already broken up by the time this was released? Who was Tribe Records?

(Kevin): We were still very active when that came out. As far as who was Tribe Records, I honestly don’t remember how that got done. We made a lot of mistakes along the way and one of them was not releasing music on a bunch of other labels at the time that would have put that EP out.

(Thos): There are a lot of things that I look back on and don’t remember making an actual decision about so much as it just kind of happening. This is one of them.
As I recall, a super nice kid named Ryan who wanted to start a label offered to put it out so that’s what we did.

I didn’t even realize that Dean Baltulonis (Supertouch, producer) was in the band. When did he join the band and how long was he involved.

(Kevin): He joined for about a year and half. It was during what I think of as the apex of the band. Unfortunately, we don’t have the material from that time recorded. Dean is an amazing player, has a great ear and is still one of my best friends. We both also played in 454 Big Block on the Save Me From Myself record. 

(Thos): I think the first time I remember talking to Dean was actually when we were recording Omega Drone. He was working at Syncro Sound, the studio where we recorded. Around the time we were recording Who he had started playing with us and is on a couple of the songs.

What ultimately led to the demise of Eye for An Eye?

(Thos): We were kids. When we first started playing, I was 15 years old, living with my parents and by the time we broke up I was 20, living in my own apartment. That’s a huge period of change and a lot of that comes from making mistakes. That’s probably why most people shed a lot of friends in that period of their life as they reinvent themselves poorly, incrementally, and burn bridges along the way.

I’m quite certain that I was an asshole and bear the bulk of the responsibility for making a mess of things without the capability to clean any of it up. Plus, like Kevin said, the scene was going through it’s own version of that same phenomena. The violence at shows escalated and the early rumblings of the over-the-counter- counter-culture were making things weird. I should hasten to point out that sitting here in 2024 our demise may have been exaggerated.

(Kevin): In retrospect, we should have hired Metallica’s therapist and kept going.

You guys are playing a sold-out hometown show in July with Have Heart. How did this show come about?

(Thos): Jimmy Flynn was definitely the spark that started this reignition. Fiddlehead were playing in Boston on Jimmy’s 40th (unfortunately final) birthday and he encouraged me to go with him so he could introduce me to Pat Flynn. We talked about the potential to do the show and exchanged numbers to try and work it out.

I’d never seen Fiddlehead live and watching from the back of the room it had qualities of the shows I had loved back in the late '80s but at a much larger scale. Everyone was just psyched and it struck me that this felt like what we were trying to achieve with Eye for An Eye before things fell apart.

It sounds corny, but it was inspiring. I think I sent Pat a text the next day and told him that it had made me want to start a band.

Deathwish Records is releasing a remastered collection of both EPs this month as well. How did you link up with Deathwish, and was this already in the works prior to the show?

(Thos): I had hung out with Tre a couple of times previously and asked him if I could buy him a cup of coffee and ask some questions about record label stuff. My intent was just to pick his brain about repressing our old 7” and maybe make some ourselves. A very early '90s way of thinking! Tre very kindly said, “uh, why don’t you just put it out on Deathwish?” which we were psyched to do. Working with them has been a dream.

What does everyone in the band currently do for a living?

(Kevin): I have a small venue called Supply & Demand in the LBC, I play in another band called Doom Loop and work in the LA labor movement. Jay works for a media company doing creative things that I don’t 100% understand.

(Thos): I work with early stage startups, which are oddly like hardcore bands in a lot of ways.

(Lloyd Stanley, vocals): I work as a Registered Nurse. I am currently working with a nurse agency, caring for the post-acute and longer-term in-patient populations at Skilled Nursing Facilities around eastern Massachusetts.

Photo courtesy of Deathwish Inc.

Future plans?

(Kevin): We have been approaching EFAE 2.0 like we did when we started, no expectations. If it looks like it will be fun and worth doing, we would be open to it. Hopefully we can do some touring and write some new music.

(Thos): I’m incredibly grateful to have Lloyd, Jay, and Kevin back in my life. I’m excited to see what kind of new styles we can invent with decades more ingredients in the blender.

(Lloyd): Also incredibly grateful to have these gentlemen in my day to day again. There’s nothing but headroom for our collective imaginations.


Omega Drone / Who will be out on July 19th via Deathwish Inc (pre-order).

Tagged: eye for an eye