Hard Rock Interview: Jimmy Bower of Down
March 27, 2014
On May 9, the year’s most blistering metal lineup will crash into the tri-state area for two nights of headcrushing overdrive. Black Label Society, Down, Devil You Know and the Butcher Babies are on this year’s Revolver Golden Gods tour, and your eardrums may never be the same again.
In anticipation of the show at the Starland Ballroom in New Jersey, followed the next night with another show at Best Buy Theater here in Manhattan, I spoke to drummer Jimmy Bower of Down. Read our interview below for Jimmy’s thoughts on the new Down EP, jamming with Zakk Wylde, and even playing Free Bird.
Examiner: Hey Jimmy, how are you today?
Jimmy: I’m doing good man, how you doing?
Examiner: Pretty well myself. Down is coming to New York City in about a month and a half, where are you hanging out today?
Jimmy: I’m in downtown New Orleans right now.
Examiner: How do you gear up for going on tour?
Jimmy: Put some clothes in a suitcase! (laughs) We usually try to get a bit of rehearsal in before we leave, and just kinda go over the songs that you wanna play. Say goodbye to the family, and get going.
Examiner: One of my favorite things about a Down tour is that you don’t stick to one exact setlist night after night. Do you figure out the night’s songs that same day?
Jimmy: You still gotta write a setlist. We usually talk out a couple of hours before what we’re going to play. It depends on the type of touring, if we’re gonna be on a headlining tour you have more time to shuffle the songs around. If you’re doing an opening set you kinda wanna go full force like a fight, you know?
Examiner: Let’s talk a little about that. This is going to be the Revolver Golden Gods tour, and you guys will be opening for Black Label Society. I’m not sure how I feel about that, because you guys are more of a headlining kind of band.
Jimmy: Yeah but I think it’s cool man, because Black Label has a really good following, and I think that our fans and their fans are kinda the same, so I think it will be really cool to get all those people together for one giant celebration. We’re really looking forward to touring with them.
Examiner: I guess what makes it feel weird for me is because after you play Bury Me In Smoke, I’m spent. It’s like Free Bird – I saw Lynyrd Skynyrd opening for Kid Rock, and after they played Free Bird I went home, because after that experience I’m done. It doesn’t get better than that. I don’t feel like listening to another set.
Jimmy: (laughs) Well hopefully a couple of the Black Label guys will come jam it with us and that should freak some people out.
Examiner: I can already picture Zakk Wylde shredding all over it.
Jimmy: Hell yeah man, hell yeah. It’s really exciting and it should be interesting and, I don’t know, maybe we should end with a different song, you know? Maybe we can learn Free Bird.
Examiner: Honestly, I would pay any amount of money to see Down jamming out on Free Bird.
Jimmy: I’m sure something jam-wise is gonna happen, man. Between both bands everyone loves music too much for that not to happen. It should be fun.
Examiner: Well, you know every Pantera fan in the world is watching and thinking, Philip and Zakk on the same stage, maybe that Pantera with Zakk Wylde fantasy is finally going to happen.
Jimmy: Don’t ask me to do it, I can’t do that double bass stuff.
Jimmy: But if something like that happened… I mean, put yourself in the fans’ shoes. Going to see a concert with people that have jammed together and for something like that to happen, just wow. I think it would be really cool, from a fan’s standpoint, I think they would sh*t themselves.
Examiner: I think that’s already happening just thinking about it.
Jimmy: It’s a pretty extensive tour, pretty long, and we got a new record out we’re pushing, so we’re looking forward to it.
Examiner: That new EP will be coming out within a few days of the New York and New Jersey shows in May. I got to listen to it a couple of times yesterday and this morning, and you guys rocked that sh*t. I gotta say great job.
Jimmy: Thank you man.
Examiner: Do you have a favorite track yet?
Jimmy: I like Conjure a lot. The third song, real slow.
Examiner: It’s an awesome song. What do you think the fan favorite will be?
Jimmy: I don’t know man. I think the whole EP speaks for itself in terms of quality. We’re really happy with how it turned out and the whole recording process, this was actually one of the smoothest records we’ve ever made. It was like two weeks and we had all the drums tracked, and moved onto the guitar and bass and Phil came in and everytime he comes in and starts singing, it’s like a bolt of lightning.
Examiner: This is the second of what’s supposed to be four EPs, is that still the plan?
Examiner: When this four EP plan was first announced a couple of years ago, there was tentatively going to be a really mellow or acoustic EP. Is that still in the works?
Jimmy: Yeah, that was the whole idea. We have a bunch of different styles, and like you said, we got mellow songs, we got rock songs, we got straight up heavy songs, so the whole idea was for each EP to reflect a style. On this EP, Kirk left the band last year so with Bobby in the band we just wanted to write songs with Bobby and it worked, man. Bobby’s such a great songwriter and such a good dude to have in the band, we kind of feel like it’s a fresh start. It’s nothing we haven’t been through before, but for some reason this album we feel really strong about everything. And hopefully maybe the next record will be your mellow and trippy one.
Examiner: I gotta tell you, of course I love the heavy songs, but Jail and Learn From This Mistake and Nothing In Return have always been favorites of mine because no other band makes heavy but also mellow music like that.
Jimmy: You gotta have some baby-making songs in there, brother!
Examiner: And weed-smoking songs.
Jimmy: Of course. That leads to the baby-making.
Examiner: There’s actually some real mellow stuff at the very end of the last song on this EP, it caught me by surprise, almost like it was a different album.
Jimmy: That song was actually tracked and written in like 15-20 minutes. It was pretty crazy, Pepper’s got this ukulele that he plays for his daughter. And he just started messing around, and it was like throw a microphone on that, and next thing you know Phil was singing and that was a wrap, bro. It’s that Planet Caravan, Solitude kind of song.
Examiner: Is there room in this upcoming tour for any of the slow stuff, or it’s full speed ahead heavy?
Jimmy: I don’t know, that’s pretty much up to Phil. He does the song list. Just get ready for whatever he’s gonna throw our way. But it just happens to be on this run, we’re doing an opening set so I think we play 45 minutes a night, which is maybe nine, ten songs.
Examiner: Bury Me In Smoke on its own is just about ten minutes.
Jimmy: Bury Me In Free Bird, bro.
Examiner: Don’t tease me Jimmy. Don’t get my hopes up.
Jimmy: That would be awesome man, so awesome.
Examiner: Let’s finish with an easy question, what’s the most important thing you bring on tour with you?
Jimmy: Baby wipes. You see some of these bathrooms…
Examiner: That’s good to know. Thanks for speaking with me today, and I’m looking forward to these shows. And you’re gonna pull Free Bird through for me, right?
Jimmy: Bury Me In Bird. You got it.