J. Bennett of Decibel recently conducted an interview with all five members of DOWN for cover story of the magazine's January 2013 issue. A few excerpts from the article follow below.
On bassist Rex Brown's departure from DOWN:
Pepper Keenan (guitar): "What happened with Rex? He's a great bass player, but we just felt he was not in the same spot as we were. He had a couple of illnesses and issues, and honestly, we were worried about him. He was very sick. We were on the road killing ourselves, and it wasn't really an environment for him to be in when he had bigger issues to deal with. We want Rex to be the best person he can be, and we felt he needed to focus on himself and get himself together. So, that was where we stood. We love Rex to death, but unfortunately DOWN is a machine that continues on, so we needed to make a decision. It wasn't an easy one."
On guitarist Kirk Windstein's past issues with heavy boozing and cocaine use:
Kirk: "I drink beer again, but before that I did 39 CROWBAR shows stone-cold sober, and then 40 more shows on the Mayhem fest with KINGDOM OF SORROW. I actually started drinking again in between those two tours, but everyone in KINGDOM OF SORROW is sober, so Jamey [Jasta, KINGDOM OF SORROW singer] was like, 'I need you to do this tour sober.' So, I did. I drank O'Doul's before we went on to give me that sort of placebo buzz, but it was actually a pretty good idea to be sober on that tour because those shows were so damn hot.
"When you come from New Orleans and love beer as much as I do, it's hard to stop drinking it. But it's one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life. And it wasn't just a decision — it was necessary, and everyone in my life would agree it was necessary. So, I stepped
away from it for six months, did some touring, and got some perspective by being sober. Here's an example: The other day, CROWBAR did a festival in the Czech Republic. Traffic and road construction was so bad that we literally got there 10 minutes before we had to go onstage. So, we didn't even have time to get a beer. We had to load our gear up, line check and roll, you know? So, I played in front of 20,000 people stone-cold sober. I couldn't even have dreamt of doing that five, 10 years ago. I would've been scared shitless. But now I've done it."
On singer Philip Anselmo's personal transformation process — from a drug-addled, inarticulate rock star in the '90s and early aughts to an introspective, well-spoken musician who eschews hard drugs:
Anselmo: "These past seven years now, I've been reinventing myself, so to speak, through the media. Each day I try to do something to better myself, to make something positive out of nothing. All that negativity I've put out there, it's really well-documented. I've played the negative guy, the bad guy, every role imaginable. But that's in the past. These days, I'm at a point in my life where I enjoy being positive."
On Anselmo's various creative projects — the DOWN EPs, his solo album and his forthcoming autobiography.
Anselmo: "There's always another record to be written. If you look at how long music has been around and the effect it's had on people — music itself is timeless. And music is my main work. It's our lives. It's why you and me are even having this conversation to begin with. It's endless, it's timeless. Even after you and I are in our graves and gone, there will still be that documented piece history within the music that we've made, with the interviews that you've written. We've carved out a niche. As a guy who's a high school dropout, I feel pretty good about that.
"I think the perception is that DOWN is my main band, but that's not where I'm coming from, because I've got my fingers in a million different things. I've got my solo record coming out; I've got a lot of extremities on my mind. I still consider myself a free agent, but DOWN does have the core following, we are active, and there is a place for DOWN in today's music scene. So, it's a real commodity, and i would not want to let anyone down, no pun intended, by not doing it. I think there's room for it in our lives despite the solo records, the CROWBARs, the EYEHATEGODs or what have you. There's always going to be a cult following, if you wanna call it that. And to me, that's worth every second of my attention."
To order a copy of the January 2013 issue of Decibel magazine, visit DecibelMagazine.com.