DOWN’s Kirk Windstein: “I enjoy what we do, and if I stay broke, I’m fine with that”
Guitar World recently conducted an interview with Down guitarists Kirk Windstein (Crowbar, Kingdom of Sorrow) and Pepper Keenan (Corrosion of Conformity). They talked, prior to their Texas shows taking place in Fort Worth, about the band’s plan to put out 4 EP series and the current situation with the music out there today.
Guitar World: You’re working on an EP series. What is that about?
Pepper Keenan: We’ve got a whole bunch of songs and a lot of different material, so we’re going to separate these albums into different vibes. That gives us more freedom to go in a certain direction without having to constrain it for a particular album. We’re going to have these things in a series and they’ll all end up matching up together in the last one. It’s a pretty big undertaking; I’ve never seen anybody do it. It gives us the freedom not to be so regulated doing a whole record. Especially in this new industry that everybody’s talking about and how it sucks, we won’t have to deal with all that shit. We’ll put out six songs. There will be four EPs, and the release dates, I guess, will be consistent with our recording schedule and touring schedule. We’re touring a lot, so we’ve been going on this record for four years and still playing new places. Part of our goal was to become more of a global-type band, touring the world. Once you’ve got those people behind you, it gives you a lot more freedom.
GW: Over the course of twenty years, have you ever come close to calling it a day, especially with the current state of the industry?
PK: I don’t know. I’m so underground that I’m oblivious to it. I don’t Facebook, I don’t do any of that shit, so I just keep trucking along for the love of playing music, and in the Down world I can’t really notice a difference. I think people appreciate a real band like us. I don’t think we’ve been as affected as some other bands because we have a loyal following and we’re true to them and we expand. Each time we come through there’s younger kids at the shows because I think they’re tired of the bullshit too. They want to see something real and they know they can rely on a band like Down. I think that’s helped us out. It’s probably hurt some bands that weren’t in it for the real reasons, but the ones who really enjoy what they do and have a love of music are the ones who remain unscathed because they’re not affected by something like that. But the fly-by-night bands who are trying to make something stick to the wall by networking or whatever the fuck you do, put shit on the Internet and just rely on that instead of getting in the fucking van and starving to death for the love of your music, that’s the ones who say the industry sucks!
GW: The last time we spoke, which was in 2002, you said, “I don’t understand what’s going on with music right now. It’s this “mall mentality.” If you consider yourself a musician, wouldn’t you want to get back to the basics? That’s what blues, jazz, bluegrass and country bands do, but rock bands are affected by MTV, and the standards have dropped drastically in rock and roll. What happened? How did it get so off course?” Ten years later …
PK: I’m a prophet! There’s been some good bands since I did that interview. We’ve got our ears to the street. I like Witchcraft a lot. Ghost is fantastic; they’re writing serious songs. When Soundgarden called it quits, that was the end of anybody doing anything with any standard of quality. And Nirvana — everybody started ripping off poor Kurt Cobain and that cheap trash became ugly. We do what we do. I keep my bands pretty small and don’t try to be everywhere all the time. It makes you more balanced in terms of creativity. Some people try to sell themselves so much it ends up sounding and looking fake. I don’t have to sell anything. I enjoy what we do, and if I stay broke, I’m fine with that. I think it’s quality over quantity.