Mike Averill is a man of shifting identities. Known over the years as “Little Mikey,” “Oliver Hart,” “Eyedea” and as a collaborator with multiple underground hip-hop groups including Face Candy and Sage Francis, Averill is in a constant flux of creative energies and personas.

Eyedea & Abilities with Themselves, Bedroxx and Station DJ’s

At the Blind Pig
Tonight, 9:30 p.m.
$ 10

While such a roller coaster ride of an emceeing career might seem unsettling to most, Averill thrives on the chaos and avidly seeks an ever-changing environment.

“One way has never been fulfilling enough for me. I’m always starting new bands, starting new ideas. To be honest, talking, singing, fucking, making art, it loses its mystique for me sometimes. So, I have to force myself to figure out new ways to enjoy it,” Averill said in a phone interview with the Daily.

Averill is currently touring with DJ Abilities (Gregory “Max” Keltgen), his longtime friend and collaborator. The duo, Eyedea & Abilities (formerly known as Sixth Sense), will perform at the Blind Pig tonight with other hip-hop groups Themselves, Bedroxx and Station DJs.

As for why Averill decided, out of all his other projects, to recombine with Keltgen for their first album together in five years, the answer is simple.

“It was time for us to make a new record because everything else was boring,” he said.

If Eyedea & Abilities’s new album, By the Throat, can be represented by the music video for “Junk” featured on the group’s Myspace page, Throat is rough and raw. Heavily distorted guitar and dense drums combine with lyrics oozing dark “urban intellectualism”: “Load me up, fall in love / We are America’s favorite choice of drug / It’s all in your hands so kill us while we’re young / You don’t need to push me I’m ready to jump.”

When asked why hip hop is the best way to explore the ideas and influences the duo lists on its MySpace page — “earth, nature, freedom, the queen, the creep, human suffering and you” — Averill again had a simple answer: It isn’t.

“It’s a format that me and Max can be really creative in because it’s a format we know,” he said. “It’s easier to poke holes in it and move it around because it’s something that we’ve studied for so long. It’s not the best, but it’s definitely a way.”

In fact, Averill believes that improvisation is the best way to truly express his creative ideas. As the winner of freestyle battles Scribble Jam in 1999 and Blaze Battle in 2000, Averill has plenty of experience with improv — even if he now believes the exposure he had as a young rapper is embarrassing.

“I feel like a lot of my mistakes as an artist have been pretty well documented,” he said. “I mean, I wasn’t smart enough at 19 to be on TV.”

Yet, no matter how embarrassed he may be by his earlier freestyle experiences, Averill must be somewhat relieved that his earliest work — lip-syncing on the school bus or during backyard metal concerts — has escaped documentation.

“I would have concerts in my yard as a kid where I would just lip-sync Poison songs,” he said. “And that’s how I started with rap too. I would steal other people’s raps and say them on the school bus.”

As for the future of hip hop as a genre, Averill has no comment. While it may seem arrogantly blasé at first, his lack of opinion makes sense after further consideration. With such a wide array of interests and so many outlets for expression, Averill has no reason to feel concern for a single genre. Even if hip hop began waning in popularity, he would most likely expand into another branch of music.

That being said, Averill seems to have a soft spot for the improvisation hip hop allows. With bottled excitement, he describes what he loves about his current genre of choice.

“Hip hop has a great history of improvising — the MC freestyling it and the DJ scratching, even dancing — the whole thing. I think improvising is when you’re testing yourself and when you are experiencing the expression of those things that we’re talking about (the duo’s influences).”

Despite his love and talent for improvising, Averill has a surprising lack of confidence in his ability to best other wordsmiths in an impromptu freestyle battle. When asked who would win in such a situation, him or Jason Mraz, Averill amusedly admitted, “Not me, but that goes for me against anyone.”

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