Downtrodden and Dirty with the Godfathers of New Orleans Sludge

With Kirk Windstein of Crowbar
Rob Ridner 2/16/05
 

 

Ridner: First off, how does it feel to have a new album out after four years?

Kirk: Pretty shitty! (Laughs) No, really good man! Of course I’ve been busy with the Down thing; that took a fuckin year and a half, two years total. I got married and have a baby now, so after the Down thing I actually made some real money for the first time ever. I was able to take some time off when the wife had the baby n all. We got together to do the recording around the end of July ’03 and didn’t get out of there until about September. So, it was kind of a slow process; but ya know, behind the scenes it’s been busier than it appears to the fans. I’ve been doin stuff! Whether it’s been mixing, mastering, fuckin shopping for a deal, the whole nine yards. I’ve been doin stuff business wise, but as Crowbar we’ve been out of the picture for quite a while.

Ridner: Since its inception, has much changed as far as ideas and direction for the band?

Kirk: Still the same vision I’ve always had, which was to sound like nobody else! We were one of the first fuckin bands to tune down to B! I’ve been doin that since ’88! Ya know, try to create our own sound really. Get my own thing goin on, kinda go against the grain of everything else that was going on back then. So, nothing has really changed with that. I just think over the years, the songwriting and everything has matured. I’m a better musician, I’m a better vocalist; all that kind of shit that just comes with time. I’ve been branching out in a couple different directions and bringing a few new elements into the band in general. It is definitely the same vision; we have been through every phase and fad that has been going on. I mean when we first started out, Thrash was king, and then Death Metal was fuckin king. We went through Grunge; we went through fuckin Black Metal, we went through fuckin Nu Metal and we are still here; so…..

Ridner: Doin what you do!

Kirk: Exactly!

Ridner: Rex Brown played bass on the new record, why was he not part of the touring lineup?

Kirk: Who’s he? (Laughs) It was kind of a misconception on the internet, because he co-produced and played on the record. Craig Nunemacher also played; he is fulltime with Black Label Society. Rex is basically semi-retired. He is trying to get on the business side of things. There was never any intention on either of them joining the band. There were never any intentions of Rex joining Crowbar and touring or anything. He is one of my best friends, and he called up like “whatcha doin, ya old, fat motherfucker!?!” And I had just started writing the new Crowbar, and he asked who I had on bass; I usually play bass on the Crowbar records, so I said me. He goes “fuck that! Send me a fuckin demo and let’s see what we got”. He said by the time he got to track four, he heard the opening riff, stopped it, went in and called me and said “it’s fuckin killer, count me in!”

Ridner: So it was basically just something for him to do?

Kirk: Yea! We had a good time, man! We camped out for a month; we lived at the studio in uptown New Orleans; this old, big house that they turned into a studio. It had a nice apartment upstairs too. Fuckin, ya know? Spent about a zillion dollars on fuckin booze and cocaine! Basically had a good time!

Ridner: Sounds like fun to me!

Ridner: Do you have any plans to do a full length Valume Nob album or tour?

Kirk: Actually, Warren Riker, who co-produced with Rex; I’m thinking June we are supposed to go to L.A, to his house. We are gonna stay with him. We are gonna basically do it old school, ya know? Kinda do it live, ya know? Go out to L.A, knock it out, we are gonna play one show at the Viper Room while we are out there. Kinda get away for 2 weeks or so, and do the full length thing and then get a proper label to try and distribute it.

Ridner: Any ideas of shooting it to Candlelight?

Kirk: I’ll ask em! I don’t really know if it’s there thing though. I told the guys in Valume Nob, when they wanted to do the thing with Crash Music or whatever. I’ve dealt with Martin before, who used to run Pavement and Grindcore; which some of the Crowbar stuff is on. I said, “dude, he’s a fuckin asshole!” We did like one interview for Valume Nob. He can’t do anything! Our singer wrote the contract, and wrote it basically so we can’t get fucked! He wrote the thing, he was like if we’re gonna do it; it’s gonna be by my fuckin rules! I mean the thing ain’t that long, it’s written in layman’s terms; not fuckin Latin lawyer shit! It’s easy to understand, real simple; cut and fuckin dry! It not only was a one record thing, it was a one year thing. We signed in August or some shit, so we are gonna self finance the next one and then once the shit runs out with this idiot, we will be ready to rock with something better than that at least.

Ridner: Any ideas as to who you are going to go to with this?

Kirk: I’m gonna talk to Jamey from Hatebreed first. He had come up to me, after doing Down tours and on Ozzfest we would park our busses side by side; barbequing and getting bombed every single night! He is a really big Crowbar fan, so he dug the Valume Nob shit! I’d like to talk to him first, cos he’s got a cool Hardcore, kinda underground label goin on, with Stillborn. If he can’t help us, we will go somewhere else; but I’d like to talk to Jamey and see what happens.

Ridner: I noticed a lot more melody on the new album. That obviously has to do with growing as a musician, like you mentioned. But where did the idea to bring that into Crowbar first spawn from?

Kirk: I think the melody came from the fact that I came out of the closet and I’m gay! (Laughs)

Ridner: Yea, I’ve been able to tell for years! (Laughs all around)

Kirk: I’ll get back to your question, but I am dead serious! About 8, 9, 10 years ago, there was a fuckin gay magazine, like some big hunk mag for big guys; and me and Big T, our old bass player, were in the magazine! Like featured hunks of the month! We weren’t stripped or anything but we were in a gay magazine! Anyway, I’m not gay! (Laughs all around) I think honestly the melody came from kind of a two fold thing. Number one, doin the Down thing, with Down II compared to Nola; I mean I love em both equal. But Down II is so diverse from song to song! We have everything from the mellow shit to the hard hittin fuckin songs, the fast shit, fuckin jazzy, ya know – everything! When it came time to write the Crowbar shit, I said “ya know what? Lemme bring a couple different new elements in”. Not fuckin tambourines or maracas or any of that shit! Basically, in most interviews I’ve been saying that I through the “Crowbar Rulebook” out the fuckin window! I told Nunemacher when we were writing everything in the rehearsal room, give me a beat and I’d write riffs around it. I said “let’s just write what we write, dude and whatever it is, it is”. I think its maturity, I think in the past sometimes, like the first two records sound like one big song. Even though they are good records and I am very proud of em, there’s no dynamics, there’s no nothing!

Ridner: So you basically didn’t set out to do a specific thing or write a specific kind of album?

Kirk: There is a lot of shit on the record; that I would have been scared to try in the past because it wouldn’t have been “Crowbar enough”. But, it’s like “dude, if I’m doin it; it’s Crowbar”. So, I don’t really have to worry about that. Not to mention, I listen to all types of music….

Tommy Buckley: Who is that, Bob Marley? (Laughs)

Kirk: In all honesty, I listen to all kinds of shit and the barking vocal thing just got kinda old. Vocally, I’ve improved a lot; as well as the way the songs are written. I mean, I just wanna write good songs, you know what I mean? We wanna be as heavy as possible, but still have good songs. That is kind of like the whole objective.

 

Ridner: How does it feel having the gig as the new guitar player?

Steve: It saved my life! Literally! It’s the perfect situation that you would want to be in. Me and Kirk met back in 2000 on the Black Label Society tour, I was playing bass for Zakk at the time. We hit it off after the first day, and we kept in touch after that! To be quite honest, I wasn’t “retired”, but I had a daughter two years ago and got married myself. I just figured I’d get into songwriting and helping my dad run his studio, things like that. Kirk calls me out of the blue and goes “come on down to New Orleans, to hang out or whatever”. I kind of got the vibe like “it’s yours, if you want it”. I am honored to be playing alongside the “ancient rocker”! It’s a dream come true, its killer!

Ridner: A lot of folks that know about this interview have been buggin the hell out of me to ask you about Down….any comments on that?

Kirk: It could happen! But that’s how it was after the first record. I never really expected to do a second record. Basically right now, I am 200% dedicated to Crowbar and Pepper is 200% dedicated to COC, so even they wanted to do a Down record right now; it wouldn’t happen. This is my priority! After we have toured for these records n stuff, if Philip feels up to doin it, ya know? If everyone feels up to doin it, it’s a good possibility. I think it’s more of a wait n see kind of thing.

Ridner: It’s always been a thing of timing anyhow….

Kirk: Yea, it is! There were seven fuckin years between the first two! I don’t wanna wait that long, I’ll be like 70! (Laughs all around) But basically, I’d like to do it; we just have to wait and see what happens.

Ridner: What helped you decide to go to Candlelight with Crowbar?

Kirk: My gayness! (Laughs) I’m good friends with Paula; I worked with her when we first came out with “Odd Fellows Rest”. She busts ass! She is very professional! She had called me and said “I heard you self financed an album, and you don’t have a label. Why don’t you send me a copy, I’ll send it to the guys in the U.K.; and see if they like it.” We sent it, they loved it! She is one of the main reasons we went with the label. We had some offers from other labels, like Steamhammer and some other European labels. She really busts ass, so I thought it would be a cool place to be, man.

Steve Gibb: The major label thing has changed so much!

Kirk: When Rex and Warren got involved, Philip had a million connections in the past, ya know? Warren has two Grammies! He has done shit with The Fugees, Santana, everything! He did the live COC too. He’s like “dude, I called all my connections and everybody is either fired or not there anymore”. It has changed so much; we really had no choice but to go to an Indie label; which is fine! It’s actually better! I call Paula, she answers her phone, ya know?

Ridner: It is definitely better to be a big fish in a small pond!

Kirk: Exactly! For sure! I’ve done more interviews for this record, than I have ever! They have really been busting ass for us!

Ridner: Do you have any projects going on that people might not know about? Whether it be past, present or future…..

Kirk: Well, the Valume Nob thing. Actually I’ve been talking to Phil quite a bit and he has a killer, mellow, ambient thing called “Body & Blood”. I wrote one song for it, and he really liked it and wants to use it. I’m hoping to play guitar on that and be involved with that to some extent. We kind of talked about it and he said “absolutely! I wanna use the song you wrote, its killer! Why don’t you come in and play guitar!” So, when I get home I’m gonna start trying to jam with him. Sid, the drummer from Valume Nob plays drums in it is as well! It’s real dark and mellow, real ambient, but real cool. So, I’m hoping to do that also. We’ll see.

Steve Gibb: We have a secret Techno band that we are working on! (Laughs)

Kirk: For the raves! (Laughs)

Ridner: I could just see you guys behind some turntables! (Laughs all around)

Ridner: After so many years of touring, do you think you will ever have a DVD come out?

Kirk: Yea, I’d like to! I have a lot of footage from like 1989 to 1996. I don’t have a lot since then, but there is some floating around. The thing is most of it isn’t professionally shot, ya know? The biggest chance of doing a DVD, we played a big fuckin metal fest in Germany, like 30,000 people or whatever. It was a killer fuckin set! They filmed it with like seven fuckin cameras! I think Six Feet Under came out with a DVD of their set there, so I need to talk to the label and see if they are interested in buying the footage from the festival people. If they are interested in putting that out, along with all the other shit that we have, that is not professionally shot. Plus, we have a bunch of pro shot videos from the past. So, if we could do all of that with some of the BS stuff thrown in, it would be cool! I’d like to do one, honestly I would!

Ridner: What about a Down DVD? I remember hearing something about that before.

Kirk: That’s another thing! Maybe when we are sitting around doing nothing, I mean we have a lot of footage and stuff. Maybe we will fuckin put one out. I’d like to! Shit, I’ll put out anything to make money! (Laughs)

Ridner: Like that Techno album!

Kirk: Mmm hmm! (Laughs) Keep it on the DL!

Ridner: Do you have a favorite album that you have worked on? I’m sure that is a tough one to answer!

Kirk: It is! Not to be cliché and say the new one is my favorite, cos people always say that. But the thing is; I have had a year and a half to kick back and listen to it. It’s not like we just got done recording and I’m all high on it like “we got a killer new record!” I’ve fuckin sat around for fuckin months and months and months and I’ve analyzed it from every angle; and it’s really my favorite record from top to bottom, I do believe. Other than that, “Odd Fellows Rest” and of course both Down albums are great! So, that is cool too.

Ridner: Do you find it hard or weird to be in a band where the lineup is constantly changing? Or do you like it better that way?

Kirk: Naw! I don’t want it to change anymore! Nobody’s ever been kicked out and it’s not like I’m a fuckin dong or try to rule everything! Basically it’s a situation of everyone gettin older; the band’s been around for sixteen fuckin years or whatever it is! A lot of dudes have had enough of the road, wanting to do the family thing with a 9 to 5 regular guy job. This is the first time; the only guy that has another thing going on is Tommy. He drums for Soilent Green, so he does that fulltime and he does Crowbar fulltime. So, he has two fulltime bands. But in the past, all of us would be in other bands and that made schedules difficult, ya know? Now, I don’t think we will have a problem juggling between us and ‘the Green. Me, Steve and Pat have nothing else to do in any other bands, so it’s just working around Tommy’s schedule. Which I’m sure he will be busy with Soilent Green, but I think we will be able to make it work! This is my favorite lineup of the band that we have had, it really is. We’ve all been friends for a long time, me and Steve have been real tight since that Zakk tour; me and Tommy have known each other for twenty fuckin years, and we have toured with Soilent Green a bunch of times. Pat was doing Goatwhore, and we would hang at all the gigs; getting fuckin tanked. It’s a cool bunch of dudes!

Ridner: Cool! Well, I think that about does it…..you got anything you want to say to all the Crowbar fans out there?

Kirk: Make sure you email a shemale! (Laughs) We all want to thank you all! The response has been great so far with the new album and tour! We want to thank em all for sticking around! And to the new fans; it’s about time you jumped on board son! What’s been keepin ya?!?! We appreciate everything, it really means a lot, its what really keeps us rollin!

Steve Gibb: Thanks for the patience, because a lot you have been foaming at the mouth waiting for this!

Ridner: I’m sure that is why the tour is doing so well, cos everyone is like “Finally!!!”

Kirk: Yea, it is! And last night was on fire! Poor Tommy fuckin had a little spill with that right foot, comin off stage!

Ridner: Yea, I’ve seen em limping around here….

 


© Rob Ridner 2005
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