And on the eighth day, they rocked
Eclectic band’s leader won’t be put into a box
Cleveland--Twenty-four hundred years ago, the philosopher Diogenes wandered the streets of ancient Athens. He carried a lit lantern even though it was daytime, searching for an honest man.
Almost two and a half millennia later, his namesake continues that quest, delivering honest, hard-driving rock music with the band Ei8th Day. The modern Diogenes, however, goes beyond being a mere philosopher; he is a full-fledged Rock God.
With bandmates Greg V. on drums, Michael Lourds on guitar and Neil Vladimir on bass, the quartet puts on a show worthy of the biggest names in rock and roll, and has a sound as polished as if they had been together for decades. Their next performance will be on Friday, November 19.
Diogenes (Basileos) and Lourds have been playing together for two or three years, the same time that the queer, multi-racial singer-keyboardist was officially designated a Rock God.
Despite what would appear to be a carefully constructed persona, however, Diogenes insists that everything the audience sees onstage is real.
“The thing is that being on stage and doing what I do is the way that I can express aspects of myself that I would not be able to get away with so easily under normal circumstances,” he said. “It’s all me. I don’t know which is worse, though, me on stage or off.”
According to Diogenes, Ei8th Day’s writing process is simple, and reminiscent of the collaboration between Bernie Taupin and Elton John.
“Mike writes the music and records it. He sends it to me and I handle the lyrics, melody and vocal arrangements,” he confided. “Then, during rehearsal, everyone adds their own suggestions and whatnot. The polishing and fine-tuning is a group effort.”
In seeking the truth, Diogenes also finds himself battling against being pigeon-holed as a gay rocker or a black rocker or gay, black rocker.
“My shoes are black, my skin is more khaki,” he noted. “The truth is that I have many different cultures in my bloodline, I choose to honor them by not putting myself into any one cultural box.”
“As far as the ‘gay’ thing, I don’t buy that either,” he continued. “The only time I’m gay is when I’m sleeping with a man, and right now I’m doing this interview, so at this moment I’m not gay.”
“My point is this, we in America have a disgusting habit of wanting everyone to be in a box. I refuse,” he said. “I cannot be canned and labeled like soup. Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a complete individual without boundaries.”
While, by his own definition, he is not “gay” when performing onstage, many of his musical influences are queer or queer-inflected, including Queen, Prince, Nina Simone, George Michael, David Bowie, Tina Turner and Annie Lennox.
And, in honoring the multiplicity of his heritage, he’s done songs in different genres, different pitches, and many different languages, including German, Latin and Sanskrit, as well as English.
As the word about Ei8th Day spreads, they will undoubtedly tour farther afield. However, the next chance to see them will be on November 19 at Verlie’s Café, at the corner of West 46th and Storer Avenue on the west side of Cleveland. The bar can be reached at 216-651‑5713.
For more information about the band, or perhaps to beg one of their promo CDs from Diogenes, email firstname.lastname@example.org. With a sound sublimely familiar yet indescribably different, the truth is that an Ei8th Day concert is time well spent, so be on the lookout for that lantern.