Down guitarist Kirk Windstein estimates about 25 percent of fans he encounters at the metal supergroup’s meet-and-greets have Down-related tattoos.
“Everything up to huge, huge back pieces,” Windstein, 47, says. “A lot of them want us to sign our names, and get that tattooed outside the logo. It’s crazy – and a good feeling – that someone would love your music enough to do that.”
At an 8 p.m. Saturday Crossroads Cafe gig, Huntsville fans will get a chance to hear what some metal devotees have waited half a decade for: songs from Down’s next studio record. (The New Orleans-based band’s last was 2007’s “Down III: Over the Under.")
Down plans to release a series of four EPs, titled “Down IV,” during the next few years, and Windstein says the first is already in the can and contains six tracks. He expects the EP to drop late summer.
“We’ll probably play one or two new (songs) at the show actually,” Windstein says, calling from his friend’s Kenner, La., freight company. “They’re kind of a throwback to what we were doing at the very beginning, on the ‘NOLA’ record (Down’s 1995 platinum debut). I think the fans are going to love it.”
Windstein, whose beard is impressive enough to have its own Facebook page (titled Kirk Windstein’s Beard), names “Misfortune Teller” as one of his favorite tunes from the upcoming EP.
Down’s current lineup features singer Phil Anselmo (Pantera), guitarist Pepper Keenan (Corrosion of Conformity), drummer Jimmy Bower (eyehategod) and bassist Patrick Bruders (Goatwhore). Influences on their new songs include ear-shattering artists like Black Sabbath, Pentagram and Trouble.
In 2007, Windstein got a chance to hear one of his biggest idols, Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, up close when Down toured with Heaven and Hell, the name Sabbath operated under from 2006 to 2009 with Ronnie James Dio as its singer, to differentiate from the seminal group’s Ozzy Osbourne-fronted configuration.
“We’d be in our dressing room,” Windstein says, “and the second as we’d hear (Iommi) hit a chord (at soundcheck), me and Pepper would run out into the empty arena.”
Windstein and Anselmo were childhood friends. They bonded over recordings from Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motorhead and Metallica. Windstein’s current music collection also contains decidedly un-metal artists, including Sade, Seal, Lady Gaga, Earth Wind & Fire and Dr. John.
I ask Windstein if he was surprised the appellation “Down” was still available when the band formed in the early ’90s.
“Yeah. It’s such a simple name. The other day, me and my fiancé were looking through a Revolver magazine, and maybe I’m just old, but some of the names … Everybody’s got the three-word name: Ashes of Susie or whatever. I just don’t get it. Come up with something cool and simple. Down. Crowbar. Thin Lizzy.”
Speaking of Crowbar, it’s interesting to note videos from Windstein’s pre-Down band were featured on MTV’s classic, metal-centric cartoon “Beavis and Butt-Head”
“(The characters Beavis and Butt-Head) were laughing at how fat we were,” Windstein remembers, “which I thought was great.”
Want to go?
Down with Haarp, Black Tusk
When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
Where: Crossroads Cafe, 115 Clinton Ave.
How much: $19 advance, $25 at the door
Details: 256-533-3393, crossroadsmusic.biz, down-nola.com