InterviewsNovember 12, 200711,124 views

Down interview

By Drew Ailes
Last month Lambgoat's Drew Ailes had the opportunity to speak with Kirk Windstein of Down (and also of Crowbar and Kingdom Of Sorrow).


So you were in Vancouver last night?

Yeah, we were off here in Vancouver.

That's a nice city to have a day off in.

Yeah, it is. It's pretty happenin', dude.

You go anywhere special?

Ah, nah. Just went to some club and saw some cumbersome band and drank some beer. Nothing too special.

Kirk, one of the first things I wanted to ask you about was the tour. I know Down conventionally tours with just Down, but I wanted to find out a little bit about the video you're showing beforehand and also the reasoning behind why you tour alone.

Well, I mean, for starters, it makes things a lot easier. You know, for us as a band, as an organization, as everything, it makes things a lot easier. The real reason for the movie is...we try to build up and set everybody up so that when Down comes on stage, everyone is ready for Down. Having other bands on the bill could take away from that, possibly. What we do with the movie is it's a lot of old and rare videos of bands that influenced us when we were growing up, and we just kind of intertwine it with bits and pieces of us on tour, in the studio, us just cutting up and whatever. It's about an hour and ten minutes long and that's basically our opening act. The movie is not about Down or anything, it's just a bunch of music like Deep Purple, Ted Nugent, and whatnot. Just old shit from the seventies that we're all fans of. It just builds up to right when we go on stage so that the anticipation is really there with the crowd.

Now I know Phil has a series of blogs on the Down website that records everything he felt when things were coming back together, but how did you feel about everything? Did you have any reservations about coming back into this?

No, not at all really...

Were there things you knew you wanted to do differently?

I just think that our attitude has changed. We're all in a different place in our lives than we were five years ago when we did the last record. I just think that our attitude, as far as making Down our primary band now and just having a positive attitude about everything - wanting to do this for the long haul; I think is a really good spin. Everybody's focused on the same goals. Goal number one was obviously getting together and making the record, which we've done and it's now come out, which is great. It's finally out and we're on the road supporting it. So our attitude of five members being focused on the same goals is really important.

Still speaking on your attitudes, I know there's a lot of mentioning of positivity in a number of interviews with you guys lately. I'd like to understand further where exactly it came from. Was it something that you guys made a collaborative effort to work towards, or was it everyone coming to the same place at the same time?

I mean, we've grown up. We're different people now than we were. A lot of the positive stuff is due to where we're at now in our lives. Phil, for example, finally with his back surgery and getting off hard drugs that he had to do because of his back for years, is really an important thing. I think everybody's kind of in the same place. We're really just focused as individuals and as a group in being positive and wanting to work hard toward our goals. I think it's a situation where everybody, like, spiritually and whatnot, in their own way are all more mature. We're all in different points in our lives than when the last record was released and it's a more positive place that we're at.

Touching on the spirituality issue and not to get too deep on you, but how far have you guys extended out into it? Do you find yourselves talking about different things with each other than you did before?

Not so much. Me, personally, I believe in God and Jesus and all of that. I was raised Catholic. I don't follow the religion anymore but for me personally, I've always believed in God and everything. It's like, you know, the older I get, for me...I just find, man, not to get deep and weird and everything, but it helps me in life. It helps me cope with day to day...with everything. If I'm in a positive way with God and whatnot. I can only speak for myself, but for me, it does help.

I read when you guys first sat down to start fleshing things out, there were a lot of different ideas of where the songs should go. How did you guys go about getting organized to create some of the more catchy and coherent songs on the record?

Basically, we had a crapload of old demo tapes and stuff that Phil went through. Countless hours of riffs and stuff that we had. Everyone had been writing with four tracks on their own and had a lot of riffs, so we kind of put together a whole CD of a lot of riffs that we had that we wanted to start with.

Older stuff from II?

Yeah, some stuff that was never used and some stuff that was all new stuff, that we each worked on individually. It was just kind of a situation where we just would start on a riff. We'd pick somebody's riff. Our songwriting, the way it evolves is that we come up with one riff that everybody thinks is really cool. It evolves from there. The song basically writes itself with everyone throwing arrangement ideas and finding where what needs to go. We've learned over the years how to really work together well like that. We wrote more songs than we needed. We've still got a lot of riffs that we didn't use that we think are great, but we thought that these twelve songs, from front to back in the arrangement that they're in, have the best vibe and the best movement of the way we wanted the album to be listened to.

Do you guys have any plans with the excess material that's left over?

There's all kind of discussion about possibly doing something. I'm sure most of it's going to get used, you know? There's a lot of great riffs that we haven't even got past having them on a jam tape that can easily become great songs. So we do have an over-abundance of stuff, which is a good problem to have.

I'm not sure how to word this, but there's been so many amazing bands that have come out of the New Orleans scene. I know Katrina affected a lot of the groups with studios being destroyed and other things, but is there a strong and active scene down there still?

It's mostly all the old bands, really. I still do Crowbar from time to time and Jimmy still does Eyehategod a pretty good bit. Soilent Green is pretty kickin', so is Goatwhore. It's mainly the same older group of bands that keep it alive. There are some good younger bands coming up, but I'm just so far removed from it now. I'm married with a kid, man. I don't really get out or anything. So as far as the hurricane affecting everything, it separated everybody. For me, where I had my equipment stored, the hurricane came on August 29th and I couldn't even get into the jam room to get my gear until September 17th or something. The National Guard took over the place where we rehearsed. They kicked in all the doors. They let you come look to make sure your shit was okay, but they didn't allow you in. I was lucky enough that our shit was on the seventh floor where nothing happened, but the first few floors where they had a lot of studios and stuff in this rehearsal place had like, fifteen feet of water in it or something like that. I was gutting houses for a buddy of mine who has his own construction company. I set up FEMA trailers, electrical stuff, whatever I had to do. Tours had gotten cancelled - COC and Crowbar and whatnot, we couldn't even get to our gear. This is when we had all spoke about Down getting back together, but we still had some other things to do with our other bands. So it was very difficult and separated all the bands, but everybody has moved forward and been strong.

I know you said you don't keep up with a lot of younger bands, but recently there's been this southern rock influence that's seeping into a lot of newer bands. Kind of a flavor of the moment thing. Do you ever feel like some of these bands are out of their territory or are you're grateful to hear it become more popular?

Um, I think it's cool that they're getting it. You know? I mean, that's obviously been on a big influence for all of us, growing up in the south. We all grew up on bands like Skynyrd and others. I think it's good. Hey, it's good music. Southern rock music is good music, so the more people into it the better.

Having shared the stage with so many bands that you guys have admitted to having a deep amount of respect for, does it ever hit you that there are people out there who look to you guys in the same light? Does it seem insane that you guys are almost iconic at this point?

Yeah, it does, actually. Heh. It's kind of crazy to be...because I know how big of a music fan I am, obviously, and how it was when I was growing up. To think that younger people, or even guys and people our age look up to us the way I did to my idols, it's a good feeling. It's really cool.

So you never get weirded out by the whole idea?

I think it's funny that someone thinks I'm some rock star or some shit. [laughing] But I really do get a kick out of it. I think it's hilarious, actually, but it's not really weird. It's okay. It's cool.

It's a good place to be, in other words.

Exactly, things could be a lot worse.

You ever worry about getting too big?

Not at all. For me, all it would do is allow me to take better care of my family. I want to get as big as I can. I'm forty-two years old. It's not like I'm twenty. It's not like if we happen to get big or something that I wouldn't be able to handle it. I've been working for a long time to get to this point. I know I've paid my dues ten times over to get to this point. I want to sell as many records as we can. I want to play to as many people as we can. I'm not at all worried about getting too big.

There are a lot of people out there, more than more, that have made the decision to play music or involve themselves in the industry through audio engineering or whatever. What's one thing that you'd warn people about or that you wish you heard twenty years ago?

Just as far as people aspiring to play music for a living, you really have no idea how difficult it is to make a living doing it. Your love for music has to be very deep and very strong in order to stick with it. Some people are lucky and they're successful at a young age and it lasts and whatnot, but for a lot of people like myself, it's taken me twenty years to get to this point. But I wouldn't change a thing. You learn a lot and there's a lot of great memories, but there's a lot of struggling as well. It's just a situation that if you're going to get into - actually, getting into audio engineering, if you've got a knack for it, is the real way to go. You can keep yourself employed for as long as you need to and work for different acts and make a reputation for yourself. You can work for as long and for as much as you want. Playing music, it's not like that, really. My advice has always been that you've better make damn sure it's really what you want to do because you have no idea how difficult it can be.

I'm sure a lot of people have this idea that you guys are living in huge houses at this point because you have X amount of plays on Myspace or something like that.

Right, I mean, dude. I'm broke. Basically. Not for long, hopefully.

A real standard question, if you could require Down fans to listen to and become familiar with any bands out there, who would those bands be? Aside from Witchcraft who are mentioned a lot from you guys in interviews.

I'm a pretty big fan of Witchcraft. But one thing that I think is sad is that Wino, from Spirit Caravan and a million other bands...he never really...I mean, he's such a talented dude and such a great songwriter with The Obsessed and St. Vitus, and The Hidden Hand.

Yeah, he's a prolific guy.

Yeah, I mean, he's been around forever but people should really look into his work and what he's done. He's one of my favorite vocalists and just a great songwriter that's doing something that's really original. Everything that he puts out is great. So he would be the main person that I could think of.

Lastly, what's your favorite song on the record?

Right now, "Nothing in Return (Walk Away)", the last track. At some point in time, which is a good thing, like in the process of writing or demoing, at some point they've all been my favorite song.

Kirk, I appreciate you spending the time with me.

15 comments

Post Comment
anonymous 11/12/2007 2:51:34 PM

god this band sucks so much ass. why does lambgoat always insult themselves by interviewing the musical equivalent of two cavemen jerking each other off in the springtime?


tim_ 11/12/2007 3:01:25 PM

Crowbar >


anonymous 11/12/2007 3:09:20 PM

respect


CROWBAR_ 11/12/2007 3:09:37 PM

CROWBAR IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN THIS BULLSHIT, NO CROWBAR QUESTIONS WTF?


Kirk Liker Guy_ 11/12/2007 4:00:21 PM

Kirk is a good guy!


truthsayer_ 11/12/2007 5:14:46 PM

Great band, great dude, great interview. If I had a seal of approval, this'd get it.


Jamey Jasta_ 11/12/2007 6:35:39 PM

MY GOD I JUST WACKED IT SO f*ckING HARD TO THIS


Sean Martin_ 11/12/2007 9:59:20 PM

yo dis shit be dope, kirk be da MAN wit dem riffs, what. peace.


xvegeedgex_ 11/12/2007 10:14:18 PM

more like, DOWN SYNDROME.


xnothingisrealx_ 11/13/2007 12:20:41 AM

Down is great. Crowbar is great. Eyehategod is great. COC is great. Pantera was great. What the f*ck could you gays possibly complain about?


pu_ 11/13/2007 10:15:27 AM

whAAALLLLL I HAAAAAAD I GAAAAAAAAAVE!!!!!


Coldchain_ 11/13/2007 11:03:14 AM

These comments by anonymous gays are some of the worst I have ever read for an otherwise great interview with a great musician. Where are your asshat complaints when LG interviews some worthless deathcore shit or some swoop haircut-having gay? Oh that's right, you gays love that shit. Stick with it and leave Down alone


anonymous 11/13/2007 7:09:51 PM

These guys are great. Considering that Rex and Phil are multimillionaires, hearing Kirk say that he's been struggling with money for his family for years sort of sucks.


Dave2112_ 11/13/2007 8:24:03 PM

"swoop haircut-having gay" HAHAHAHAHA Indeed. Anyway, Kirk is a great guy, to hear he has been struggling is really saddening because this guy deserves better. Glad things have come back around.


anonymous 2/7/2008 3:50:43 AM

down f*cking owns you f*cking gays go listen to your sage metal