A few hours before the sold out show, at the Bataclan venue, in Paris, RockYourLife! got the privilege to meet Kirk Windstein from DOWN, check it out!
Hello! How are you today? Glad to be back in Paris?
Kirk Windstein (guitar) : Yeah. The Crowbar show (August 2012) was amazing. I remember, years ago with Crowbar, in the mid 90’s, playing in Paris, with 12 people at the gigs. (laugh) It’s come a long way, with Crowbar and of course DOWN, always do great here, which has been sold out for a little bit now.
How’s the tour going so far?
K : Great, every show are sold out. The Halloween show in Dortmund sold out already, the show in Luxembourg too, tonight is sold out; pretty much all of the shows.
So you just released new material, with "DOWN - DOWN IV Part I - The Purple EP", what’s your feeling on this first one?
K : I’m very happy with it. We just came back to our roots. We normally jam out there; on the last record we did three different swanky, huge studios in L.A., spending all kind of money. We over thought it, it was too much. We’re New Orleans guys; we like to fucking go out, drink beers and jam all day. Well, it’s home, everybody felt so comfortable, it was Phil’s house, comfortable being out there. It makes the vibe better, it’s us. We’re not a fancy studio Hollywood band. Five dudes from fucking New Orleans like to fucking jam and drink some beer.
There will be three other EP, and each one of them is about a specific component of DOWN’s music. Which one can we define with the “Purple EP”?
K : Everybody is kind of anticipating each one having a special thing. We don’t know where the next is going to be, we just don’t know. Like Phil says “Can we go like trippy Pink Floyd stuff? But do we really want to do it?” probably not. So we just get in and riff, whatever we come up with is what we have. We don’t have a plan for the next record. We get together to write it and that’s all.
During the recording sessions, how did the whole thing come out? Was it like “well, let’s start jamming guys” or everybody come out with some ideas?
K : Yeah, we went back to the days it started. Somebody has an idea, we sit in circle, we work on it, other people throw ideas around and we arrange everything: it’s done. It comes natural, thankfully.
Who wrote most of the tracks? Pepper and Phil or everyone was involved on the same basis?
K : Probably Pepper and Phil had more than me, Jimmy and Pat. But in the same time, like songs like “Misfortune Teller” was mainly me and Phil’s song. I mean, the riff is all mine. “The Curse Is A Lie”, the whole middle section is my riff too. I also threw a couple of things right and there. We don’t think it that way. If someone has something sounding good we build out of it
We read that releasing several EP is easier than a full record, because of the musical industry situation, but who brought this idea? Was it Phil or maybe the record company?
K : We just talked about it. DOWN are notorious for taking forever to put out a record, because we have other projects. We did about 40 countries for the “Over The Under” record. People don’t realize, in the US they didn’t know that we were in Australia, they don’t know that we’re over here, they don’t know that we were in South America, in Japan, or whatever so. We work on our pace now, we slow things down. Everyone love playing, like Phil says, if we could transport him every night to a different venue, playing the gig and zapping back home, I’ll play every fucking night of my life, because I love to play, that’s what I do. But the touring is old now; my job is not to be a tourist. My job is to get on stage and perform for the fans. I love my job, and the rest, the other 22 hours a day that sucks because everybody is like “oh there’s must be a …”, I’ve been to Europe and UK 33 times, I don’t need to go again, it’s great, thank God I’ve been able to do all this things. I’ve been to Paris, I don’t need to walk around, it’s a beautiful city. If we have a day off, we’ll go walk around, have dinner somewhere nice, have a couple of drinks, but when it’s a gig day and the weather is shitty… And I blew my fucking shoulder last night, fucked up; we’re getting old. (laugh)
Do you think that, in the future, other bands will proceed like that? Instead of waiting three or four years before a new album.
K : I think it is a good idea, I think they will. It depends; we are different because we play in many bands. Most bands have one band and that’s it. But for a band like DOWN, we’re still busy with our other projects as well, even if DOWN is number one priority for us.
Is it also a process for keeping the fans’ attention around the band?
K : Yeah, for us it’s a lot easier to write and concentrate on 6 songs, instead of making 12 or 15. Obviously, we had these 6 songs, that all kick ass and if we had to look out one of another “Jesus, we have to write 6 or 7 more”. For a band like us, it gives us an opportunity. All we need is a few weeks, working on some tracks, recording them and that’s it. Everybody is busy, Phil has his solo project coming out, I got Crowbar, Kingdom Of Sorrow, Pat plays in Crowbar with me, Pepper plays with New Orleans musicians, Jimmy has got Eyehategod; DOWN is number one, the EP thing works perfectly with us.
“The Curse Is A Lie” sounds a bit like Black Sabbath, with all the rhythmic stuff, and also in the choice of using the purple color. Was there any envy to make oldschool music?
K : That’s basically what DOWN does. The premise of DOWN is to make oldschool music. We’re not really fans of the newer bands, probably because we’re old. I grew up on Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, KISS, Deep Purple and whatever; that’s what I want to play.
When you say, newer bands, you mean the metalcore scene?
K : Basically yes. We’re great fans of Ghost, In Solitude, those Swedish bands that are coming out. We shared a few shows with Orange Goblin, they’re great. But for the most part, the new metalcore bands and all that, I call it “mall rock”, like in America, at the mall, like those little stores that sell T-shirts, everything is trendy, everybody has some gay fucking haircuts. But nothing wrong when you’re 17 years old, but I’m 47, it’s not for me man; give me some Deep Purple, the first three KISS records, Thin Lizzy, Motorhead, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, old Maiden. I’m a big fan; I got the Killers on my leg (showing his tattoo). I’m a big fan of the Paul Di’Anno era. I like Bruce as well, but I like the oldschool Maiden; that’s the shit I’m in. The new Accept kicks ass, one of my favorite bands, Saxon (showing another tattoo); I’m a fucking billboard for old metal and rock’n’roll bands. I got Zeppelin etc. It’s not that the new bands do bad, but when you have bands like Accept and Saxon putting out records as good these days, and you see them live. With DOWN, we play it out every night, as hard as we can everybody is just sweaty, exhausted etc. We kick most of those bands ass, in my opinion; a bunch of old guys.
“Witchripper” for example, is typical DOWN sound, like “N.O.D” on the third album. You shot a video clip for it, and we have to say, the first time we saw the video, we were laughing from the beginning to the end.
K : Oh yes? (Laugh) Phil says “If anybody takes that thing serious, you’re a fucking idiot”. We had fun; it was supposed to be stupid.
Whose idea was it and did Phil enjoyed having long hairs during the shooting?
K : Yeah! Phil and Pepper came up with the idea for the whole video. Phil kind of refined everything, coming up with the main idea. The whole time we were just laughing at each other. Every time we had to do acting, we’ve been fucking cracking out laughing.
Talking about Phil, he will nearly release a solo record; did you get the chance to listen to some stuff?
K : Yes, I listened to the entire thing, quite a few times.
What does it sound like? Pantera or some other stuff?
K : It’s his own thing. I told him, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Carnivore, but for me, it’s his Carnivore’s “Retaliation”. It’s hard but it’s different, there are hooks, he doesn’t scream. To me, he uses, I call it his “Mouth Of War” (Pantera) voice. It’s like you can understand, it’s angry, there’s a lot of anger and a lot of personal shit. But you can understand every word, it’s not screaming. It’s just hard, fucking hard, a hard record. That’s very original; I’ve never heard something like this in my life.
The last track “Misfortune Teller” is long, nearly 10min. The end is pretty mysterious when the last 25 seconds shows a fragment of a new song maybe? Any detail on this weird ending?
K : The “Misfortune Teller” riff, he already had it since the last record. We build it from there. The ending, because it’s the last song, on the record, is so long. I don’t know, there’s no reason for it. It is what it is.
2012 is also the first time that Patrick Bruders gets involved in DOWN material. He also plays with you in Crowbar, can you present us quickly Pat for those who don’t know him yet.
K : He’s actually in Crowbar, for 8 years now. Rex, like Phil says, always wanted to play with Vinny Appice (Heaven&Hell, Kill Devil Hill), he’s a monster drummer and a great guy, he just left and did his own thing. We never tried out anybody, Pat seemed like the natural choice, he’s a true bass player, he doesn’t play guitar, using his fingers; he’s not a guitar player who turned into a bass player. He’s a bass player, he took the riffs we came up with and did his own work on it, with his bass lines. When you listen to “Open Coffins”, he makes the bass line his own riff, he works out great. He’s a great guy, a great friend of everyone, very easy to go along with.
While talking about bass players, Rex joined you on stage for "Stone The Crow", on a gig. Do you still get in touch with him, since his departure?
K : Yeah of course. Not as we used to; there’s no animosity or anything, if there was, he wouldn’t have jam with us. We wish him the best and we’re happy that he’s doing what he wants to do. Like with DOWN, if you’re not enjoying it, don’t do it. For Rex, he just wanted to go different direction, so we parted ways. It works out great with Pat, Rex is enjoying jamming with Vinny Appice, with a new record "Kill Devil Hill", so he does his thing.
There are many rumors about a Pantera reunion with Zakk Wylde. Do you think that might happen one day?
K : Never. I mean, that’s coming from Phil. Phil did that Metal Masters thing, the Anthrax guys, with Kerry King (Slayer) and all that, they did Pantera songs. I’m not saying that they wouldn’t get together with something like that, Zakk playing whatever. Really, you know, to me it would have to be a tribute. There’s no Pantera without Dimebag Darell, there’s no Pantera without him. Fuck (laugh), I live with the guy (talking about Phil Anselmo). He did recently call Zakk Wylde, because for some reasons people though there was a rift between those two. Zakk’s been sober for nearly 3 years now, and Phil called him, for one of a conversation; maybe Zakk will play with Phil at Metal Masters or whatever. The guy who does security for Metal Masters is Zakk’s security guy. Phil was like “give me his phone number, let me call him man”. Just to clear the air and say there’s nothing, no animosity. Everybody really come around, sadly Vinnie Paul really hasn’t, that’s the easy only one, who still got a bit of animosity. But yeah, Vince is his own man, he’s entitled to feel the way he feels. I have no hard feelings toward him, whatsoever. He never did anything wrong to me.
What can we expect about tonight’s show?
K : Hopefully to kick ass! We’re going to do some new songs. It’s DOWN, it’s going to be DOWN. We didn’t fit in any genre, just DOWN.
But when people say you’re sludge, doom, stoner; do you agree with them?
K : No. To me it’s rock n’roll, with a little bit of metal. It’s heavy rock’n’roll, hard rock. I don’t think it’s metal, there’s elements of metal, but I think it’s more blues based rock n’roll. Sludge..you can call Crowbar sludge, yeah, that’s ok, or doom. We have elements of doom and all that with DOWN, but the press made up all of these titles, we didn’t. People just started calling it that, I can understand why, I have no problem with it.
Each one of your gigs at Hellfest are always huge, French metalheads are crazy about DOWN! Any chance to see you next year?
K : Hopefully yeah! We want to. We didn’t do any festivals or whatsoever with DOWN this year. I got a pretty long tour with Crowbar. DOWN did any, we did it on purpose. “Let’s get the new record out and start planning our summer now”, so we can come over and do the tours.
Finally, our media is called “RockYourLife!”, so basically, what rocks your life Kirk?
K : What rocks my life? The band for sure, my daughter, my girlfriend, my family. At home, I go to the grocery shop, I do housework, I’m a regular guy and enjoy being a regular guy. Enjoying having a dinner with my girlfriend, seeing my daughter on weekends, hanging out with her, having fun, going to the park. I enjoy being a father, a boyfriend to my new girlfriend; who’s wonderful. I like to be a regular guy dude, that’s what rocks! When I’m on tour, my job is to get on stage and play. But when I’m back home, I don’t even touch a guitar, I want to be normal. I want to watch football, the news, clean house, do laundry; I want to do yard work. I get the best of both worlds I guess, being a rock star guy or whatever the fuck you want to call it and also be me. There’s nothing like spending a Saturday afternoon with my daughter, having a little amusement place, games and stuff, and then going have dinner on Saturday night with my girlfriend, sleep by, giving some love. That’s wonderful, that’s what I enjoy.
Photo credit : Yann Buisson
Website : down-nola.com