When we first heard the name of our buddy Joel Henline’s original Bloomington band, we thought “Fuck yeh. An ox eyeball.” Later, he informed us that it was actually referencing “an oncoming storm cloud that leads to violent winds, often resembling that of an ox’s eye,” but we didn’t care. Both descriptions were apt, and the combination of imagery that was invoked perfectly matched the slimy onslaught that OX-EYE embodied, so to this day we still think of a nasty severed eyeball when listening.
Formed in late 2007, OX-EYE was an instrumental punk duo featuring drums & bass guitar filtered into a scuzzy barrage of overdriven riffs and tempo changes. Their minimal setup involved a vintage Rickenbacker bass fed into a hulking 8×10 cab, matched by a stripped down drum set without needless frills like pesky extra toms & multiple timbres of cymbal tones. It was pure distortion channeled into a raw dosage of grinding force, blasting from one song to another with little regard for dynamics or experimentation, and it was a formula that worked. From bars to basements to kitchens, OX-EYE shows were energetic and outright fun, and we patiently waited for a physical release that unfortunately never came.
In 2014, we approached Joel about getting the masters to the only recording session they ever had, a quickly-captured session from 2008 engineered by an IU student in the university recording studios. Although technically a “clear” recording, it failed to match the intensity and energy that OX-EYE’s live performances held, so we set to work remastering the audio to better fit the aesthetic and sound of the band. After some digital post-production, we ran it through a vintage 1/4″ tape machine with the levels set to “holy shit” and were rewarded with a downright filthy final master that both we, and the band, were thrilled with.
Finally released almost 10 years later, Axe to Grind features all 7 of OX-EYE’s tracks recorded to lo-fi Type I tapes, lacking titles, lyrics, and any other form of unnecessary intricacies that dilute this cocktail of unbridled punk filth.