Chicago's Extreme Metal Radio 88.7 FM WLUW

Interview with Kirk Windstein of Crowbar

by Brett Lubins - March 27, 2005

It was a bitter cold night in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania... a perfect night for metal. The show at the Trocadaro consisted of some quality metal bands... The Mighty Nimbus, Pro-Pain, Crowbar and Entombed. After searching around for Crowbar's tour manager without any idea of what he looked like, I weaseled my way downstairs where the bands were hanging out. I found Kirk from Crowbar, so we got some beers and got down to business.

SOTF: Let's start off with this tour... there's Entombed, Pro-Pain and Crowbar...and interesting mix. Each band has been around for a while, but play different styles... hows it going so far?

Kirk: Very good, except for tonight's debacle in the fuckin' bathroom and the size of the venue, but we only had two shows and they went really well. We've played with Entombed in NY for a couple of weeks and we'be played a couple shows with Pro-Pain over the years, so we all know each other. I know a couple of the guys in The Mighty Nimbus too, so it's a cool package and everything is going real smooth.

SOTF: Are you having fun so far…even though you’ve only had a couple shows?

Kirk: Oh yeah. We’re all old so we’re taking it a little lighter on the whole partying. We make sure we get the right buzz on and kick ass every night. It’s all good, man.

SOTF: Since it’s such a weird mix, how did the tour come about with these four bands?

Kirk: Actually, we’re all on Candlelight USA for our latest releases, so it was more or less that the label put it together.

SOTF: So Crowbar didn’t play for about three years because you were touring with Down and then you came back in 2004 and played in Netherlands…?

Kirk: We did like 2 weeks of shows, the first one was in the Netherlands but we did some shows in the Netherlands and in Germany we did a couple of big open air festivals…With Full Force, which was one of the biggest, 30,000 people, it was great. The response was real good. I mean, I was actually kinda nervous because we hadn’t had a record out in years. We had no label at the time. No new record, no support of any kind or anything. We just fuckin’ went for it, you know.

SOTF: All those Europeans, they live metal out there, so was it a good crowd response?

Kirk: Yeah, great. Really good. The club shows were very very good. Pleasantly surprised.

SOTF: The new album ‘Lifesblood for the Downtrodden’ just came out yesterday in the US. Have you been adding new songs into the set list since you started this tour?

Kirk: On this tour, we’re only able to play about 45 minutes and we’ve got eight Crowbar records, so we probably got about 84 fuckin’ songs so it’s difficult to scale it down to like nine. We’re doing two new songs from the new record and trying to mix in some of the old shit as well.

SOTF: How is the response to the new songs when you guys play them?

Kirk: Very good. Especially since last night was probably the first night any of them even heard it. Maybe they just bought the record yesterday. But it’s been good. The new record kicks ass - it’s cool shit.

SOTF: And since you guys started playing shows again in 2004, do you see a lot of old faces at your shows or a lot of new fans?

Kirk: Both. We still see a lot of old faces. Actually more new faces probably. A lot of the older people kinda get out of the scene and lose touch or whatever, busy with their families and what not. A lot of new faces.

SOTF: Onto the new record…it came out yesterday (February 8th) in the US. When does it come out worldwide?

Kirk: It comes out March 8th in Europe and actually we start a tour over there on March 5th with Hatebreed in England, so that’ll be great. It should be really cool.

SOTF: The title of the new record is ‘Lifesblood for the Downtrodden’…is there a theme for the songs regarding that title? How did that come about?

Kirk: I’ve been receiving emails and so many people come up to me at shows with hand written letters saying how the music and lyrics and everything have helped them through really difficult times in their life. That’s kind of what it is…to me it’s like my gift to the fans, ya know. The record’s basically like medicine for the wounded souls. It’s kind of the meaning of what lifeblood to the downtrodden is. I just do the same thing I always did and it seems that for whatever reason, for a lot of people, it helps them get through some difficult times. It’s a positive thing. It’s a cool thing.

SOTF: Going into the studio, Rex Brown (Pantera, Down) and Craig Nunenmacher (Black Label Society) played. What was your mindset going into the studio with those guys recording the new record?

Kirk: Well, I recorded the Down record with Rex, obviously, and I recorded three or four Crowbar records with Craig and they’re both very good friends of mine, so it was real simple. There was no pressure whatsoever. We didn’t even rehearse. We kinda just went for it and Craig got the drum tracks down and I did all the guitar tracks. I’d sit down with Rex for like five minutes and kinda show him what I was doing and I’d leave and let him do his thing. I’d come back a couple hours later and he’d have it all down. There was never a band, we just went for it. I had all the arrangements in my head. Craig’s been through this shit for so long. The same thing for Rex, it’s so easy and they’re such good musicians, it was a joke.

SOTF: So you basically just wrote the riffs and the lyrics and they just played with you in the studio?

Kirk: Yeah.

SOTF: Was there any chance of them becoming official Crowbar members?

Kirk: No, not really. Craig is full time with Black Label Society and Rex is pretty much semi-retired, you know. So there really wasn’t a situation where they were even gonna join the band or anything. They’re buddies of mine, so they actually offered to help out.

SOTF: So the current Crowbar line-up is Tommy Buckley, Pat Bruders and Steve Gibb. How did that come about since they all play in different bands?

Kirk: Actually only Tommy plays in a different band now. He’s in Soilent Green. Pat’s not in Goatwhore and Steve was with Black Label Society, but he’s not with them anymore. So, I’ve just been friends with them all for years and they’re great musicians. I talked to all those guys and they were really interested in doing it and they’ve been saying some Crowbar shit so it was easy.

SOTF: Any other musicians that you thought about having on the album before you chose these guys?

Kirk: Not really. There was no audition. It was like ‘You want the gig? Cool. You got it. Show up for practice next week.’

SOTF: Is it true that someone in Steve Gibb’s family is a Bee Gee?

Kirk: Yeah, his father is Barry Gibb from the Bee Gees!

SOTF: How does it feel to play with the son of a Bee Gee?

Kirk: It’s good. I’m actually a huge fan of the Bee Gees. I think his dad is one of the best song writers ever. As a kid, I didn’t like it because it wasn’t ROCK! I was into KISS and what not, but as I got older and appreciated how brilliant the song writing was and all. Other than the Beatles, they’re like the top selling group of all time, so it’s pretty amazing. I had the pleasure of meeting his mom and dad a couple times and you know we had barbeques at the house and some parties and stuff and they’re really really down to earth. You wouldn’t know that they’re very down to earth people, but it was cool just sitting around and having drinks with them at times and playing poker. Real cool down to earth people.

SOTF: Did you ever want to jam with Steve’s father?

Kirk: I’d love to jam with his old man!! Other than Elton John and Ozzy, he’s probably the best songwriter. I’m a big fan of soft rock. I like melodic, good music. I like all music. I don’t give a shit if it’s Venom, or Carnivore or fuckin’ whatever…the Bee Gees. I just like music. If I was able to do something with his old man, I probably wouldn’t even be able to hold a pic, I’d be shaking. I’d have to have about 20 beers in me.

SOTF: Speaking of being into all kinds of music, what bands have you been listening to these days?

Kirk: I’m back on my New Wave of British Heavy Metal diet.

SOTF: I am too, actually!

Kirk: Like Motorhead, Priest, Maiden, Saxon…

SOTF: Diamond Head?

Kirk: No, I never heard any Diamond Head. I’m into Angel a lot and Rose Tattoo and I listen to some newer bands. As a brand new band, I’m really a big fan of The Mighty Nimbus, I really like it a lot, they’re a good band. Other than that, I’m just old. I’m into what I’m into and that’s that. Some I’m kind of like rekindling the fire, introducing myself to all the shit that I grew up on and made me want to play in the first place.

SOTF: I recently read that you got married and had a daughter. Congratulations.

Kirk: Thank you very much.

SOTF: How is it juggling a family with Crowbar and your other band, Valume Nob?

Kirk: It’s not difficult. This is the first time I’m on tour for any length of time. ‘Cause this is about a month and then we have like 2 days off and then we play with Hatebreed in England and after that we’re headlining shows in Germany and I won’t be home until April 1st, so it’s kinda difficult missing the baby…and the wife. (laughs)

SOTF: Do you think you’ll ever bring them on tour when your daughter gets older?

Kirk: If I could afford it, I would. If we were a bigger band and I could afford my own bus, you know, I’d definitely think about it for a little bit. Steve tells me that when he was a kid, the family was on tour and he was the only child and his mom and dad would bring him on tour. If I was able to do that, I’d love to do that. It would make it a lot easier. It’s cool because we’re all a lot older…I have a kid, Steve’s got a kid. I was talking to the Pro-Pain guys and Gary’s got a 9 year old. Tom from Pro-Pain has a daughter that’s about 4, so we’re all doing what we’re doing because we love it. We’re not gonna stop it. It’s not easy to bring the family out, but that’s part of the deal. It’s no different than being a football player or basketball player when you’re on the road and it’s been so long. A lot of times, your family may be stationed in one city, you’re out playing and you really don’t see them. You’re on the road constantly. So it’s the price you gotta pay.

SOTF: Considering you’re older and some of you have kids as you mentioned, do you find yourself toning it down and partying less while out on the road?

Kirk: A little bit, yeah. It’s a positive thing. It’s good for the voice, it’s good for your playing, it’s good for your concentration. You really are just coming to play the show as opposed to playing the show, but partying as much as you can, too.

SOTF: So you’re going to be playing a tour with Hatebreed and that leads to my next question about the current state of heavy music these days. Hardcore bands are touring with metal bands...bigger metal bands are bring around smaller bands…like how Slayer took out Hatebreed for so long and now Hatebreed are on the forefront and now they’re taking you guys on tour in the UK?

Kirk: Actually, I think it’s pretty positive. I’m not saying I’m into all the new bands, but the fact that they have a Headbangers Ball anymore is cool. There’s a lot of new bands that are playing. It’s not the ‘jump up and down’ bullshit that was going on a couple of years ago…I hate that shit. It’s either metal or it’s rap. Don’t try to combine the two, it sucks dick. So I think it’s good that there’s actual METAL (saying it with a high-pitched metal voice) bands out there. Real metal.

SOTF: What do you think of this past year’s Ozzfest? It seemed like this was the first Ozzfest where some heavy underground bands were brought onto the tour…God Forbid, Hatebreed, Lamb of God, Bleeding Through and more.

Kirk: I think it’s great, I really do. In my heart, I’m a metal dude, so I think it brings some notoriety and it helps out the whole metal scene. It’s a really positive thing.

SOTF: I recently read your interview in Metal Maniacs and you mentioned something about the New Orleans scene. You mentioned it’s the more supportive than any other scene. Why do you think that is?

Kirk: People are different down there. In a lot of cities, there is a lot of competition between bands. We’re not boxers, we don’t need to talk shit about each other leading up to the show we’re gonna play together, ya know. You’re a dick if you can’t fuckin’ help support your friend’s band. The thing is, we’re friends and if I can’t help support my friends’ bands, I’m an asshole. There’s no competition, dude. I don’t sound like their band and they don’t sound like my band, so what’s the problem? There’s the L.A. fag shit where everybody’s in competition with each other, but we don’t have that, man. We help each other out as friends and bands. The thing is, everybody down there [New Orleans] has their own sound. How can I be in competition with Soilent Green or Eyehategod when we don’t sound anything alike? Not like we sound exactly alike and we’re fighting to get the deal like in L.A, you know what I’m saying. There’s no competition, it’s like me competing with fuckin’ Pavoratti!

SOTF: Since you guys are all good friends, do you think we’ll see a tour with Crowbar and Soilent Green or Crowbar and Superjoint Ritual or Crowbar and Eyehategod in the near future?

Kirk: We’ve played with all them before. We played with Soilent a few times, but anything’s possible.

SOTF: Those are all the Crowbar questions I have. Do you mind if I ask some questions about Down?

Kirk: Sure.

SOTF: Obviously, the question that everybody wants to know…is anything going to happen with Down? Is anything in the works in the near future?

Kirk: Not any time soon, but you never write it off. It took seven years between the first two. In two years from now, it might be cool and we could be ready to do one. I’m not writing it off by any means. Nobody ever said ‘I ain’t doing it anymore’ so anything is possible, man.

SOTF: Are you still in contact with Pepper Keenan, Jimmy Bower and Philip Anselmo?

Kirk: I talk to Pepper about once a week and I talk to Rex about 4 times a week. I talk to Bower maybe once every week or two. Ever since the Dimebag incident, I’ve been talking to Phil maybe twice a week.

SOTF: How’s he doing?

Kirk: He’s doing good. He’s completely clean, for real, he’s back to boxing, he’s back to drinking beer and smoking a little weed. He’s got a new attitude and he sounds really good. It might be a while before he does anything live, but he still wants to record some stuff. All of them are doing good. We’re in pretty close contact, more so with Rex and Pepper, but Phil lately too.

SOTF: It’s been a little while now, but how is everyone doing since the Dimebag incident?

Kirk: You still think about it every day. I probably will. But, at least accepted it and kinda had closure on it and you gotta move forward with it. But it’s still difficult to swallow, you know, very difficult.

SOTF: Last night, I just picked up the new CD of your other band, Valume Nob. How’s that going for you? Would you consider it more of a side project for you?

Kirk: Only because two of the members are unable to tour because they have killer jobs and they can maybe go do a two week run here and there, but not a full time touring thing. It’s a side project only in that sense. But other than that, when I’m not busy with Crowbar, that’s what I do at home, you know, it’s my escape, it’s my chance to go up to the club and drink beer and hang out with the guys and have a good time, you know, it’s cool.

SOTF: Are you playing in any other bands right now besides Crowbar and Valume Nob?

Kirk: I’ve written one song for one of Phil [Anselmo]’s project ‘Body and Blood’ and I talked to him and he wants to play guitar on some stuff, so maybe I’ll get that going. He’s kinda working on that right now, it’s his new thing. Right now for Phil, everything else is on indefinite hiatus.

SOTF: I also want to clear up a rumor that I heard about a year ago…there was talk about an acoustic Down record coming out. Can you clarify that rumor?

Kirk: We wanted to do one, yeah. At one point, we talked about doing one, but that was a couple of years ago, so nothing ever happened with it, you know.

SOTF: Well, that was all the questions I have for you, so if you want to say anything to your fan or soon-to-be fans, go right ahead…

Kirk: Y’all are gay!! Honestly, from the bottom of my heart I want to thank everyone for all the support over the years. We’ve got a killer new record out, so we’re trying to get the ball rolling again.

Copyright © Brett Lubins, 88.7 FM WLUW, Chicago