|Photo: Germán García |
In less than 2 short weeks, the southern metal machine known as DOWN will be returning to the tri-state area for a pair of face-melting shows. It’s been almost 20 years since Phil Anselmo, Pepper Keenan, Kirk Windstein, and Jimmy Bower first began jamming in New Orleans, LA, but their music has proven to be as timeless as it is powerful.
With new EP Down IV part 1 on its way, I spoke with guitarist Pepper Keenan last week to ask about the new music, upcoming shows, and Down history:
Examiner: Hi Pepper, thanks for talking to me today! How’ve you been?
Pepper: We got this little hurricane down here, but we’re close to back to normal.
Examiner: Up here in New York, watching CNN, it didn’t look like it was so bad compared to Katrina. How was it in person?
Pepper: There were sustained winds of over 40 mph, so once it blew through it was nuts. There’s a bunch of debris in the street but they’re cleaning it up, got the power back up and running. School’s are still closed though.
Examiner: Which did you watch last night, MTV’s Video Music Awards or Obama speaking at the Democratic National Convention?
Pepper: Obama speaking at the DNC.
Examiner: Did you like what you heard?
Pepper: More than the Republicans, sure.
Examiner: So Down is coming to New York City later this month, and this will be your second straight year playing the Best Buy Theater. Do you feel like the Down touring cycle is settling into a pattern?
Pepper: I don’t know. I guess the Nokia Theater (now Best Buy Theater) is a great venue, so I can’t complain about that. I wish we could fall into a pattern, but we’re a little slow. This is our second year in New York I think?
Examiner: Yes, last year’s show was great (read my review of it here). And you played there in 2009 also.
Pepper: I think before then we were playing at Roseland. It’s all good, we’re just happy to be back on the road again.
Examiner: Like last year, you’ll also be playing Starland Ballroom in New Jersey the day after New York. I think most New Yorkers have their opinion, but do you notice any differences in the Jersey crowd versus the Manhattan audience?
Pepper: In Sayerville, you get to hang out with the crowd a bit more. Security isn’t as tight as it is in New York. You can’t hang on the street talking to kids.
Examiner: What I like about Starland is that the floor is shallow but wide, so the pit is always spilling out lengthwise.
Pepper: That’s true, true. Also the PA there is loud as sh*t.
Examiner: You have the first of 4 EPs coming out too, and some tracks have already hit the internet. Can we expect to hear the new music live?
Pepper: Oh for sure. That’s kinda the purpose of the EP idea, is that we don’t have to spend 2 years in the damn studio trying to write 20 songs to pick 14. And the EP idea will give us lateral movement to shift directions for each EP, and we can go a couple of places we’ve never been before.