On April 28th, New Orleans supergroup DOWN will be playing right here in New York at the Best Buy Theater. DOWN doesn't have hit radio singles, nor heavily played music videos. They haven't won Grammys, MTV Moonmen, or been featured in a television series, movie, or documentary. But come Thursday, April 28th, metalheads will be cramming into Times Square to see one of the best damn current heavy metal bands around.
Over the past six months, I've had the pleasure of interviewing vocalist Philip Anselmo (here), guitarists Kirk Windstein (here) and Pepper Keenan (here), and now it's my honor to present drummer Jimmy Bower, who also plays in sludge metal group Eyehategod. Read the interview below, and if you haven't already, be sure to buy your tickets to DOWN's Best Buy Theater show or companion New Jersey performance at Starland Ballroom on April 30th. You can bet that the Hard Rock Examiner will be at both.
Examiner: Hi Jimmy, thanks for speaking with me tonight, how’ve you been?
Jimmy:: I’ve been good, thanks.
Examiner: I think it’s been awhile since Down played a full-blown US tour, how is this one going so far?
Jimmy: Well we did some shows down here in New Orleans, and then we went and played Houston, and Maxwell, Texas, right outside San Antonio. And that was cool, it wasn’t really a tour, we’re just doing some shows. So it’s been going good. We did four, and we have four more coming up including East Coast and Nashville.
Examiner: You’re a busy guy, between Down and Eyehategod alone you’re full time in two bands. Do you consider either one of them your primary band, or do you just do your best to split time between them?
Jimmy: Down is my first priority, totally. But since we finished touring Over The Under we’ve been taking a break, you know? So I’m taking advantage of that and doing some stuff with Eyehategod, but looking forward to the Down camp and we have a lot of good stuff coming up. A lot of shows coming up, so get the ball rolling.
Examiner: Back in the 90s, when you were recording Nola, did you ever think that Down would become this wildly popular band it is today? You can’t go to any metal show without seeing at least one Down t-shirt in the crowd...
Jimmy: No, I had no idea, no idea at all. I personally saw, or heard, the potential, you know? But I didn’t think that many people would get into it. That type of music. The whole stoner thing, you know what I mean? It’s been twenty years, so you got a generation gap, everything goes in circles, to me at least. But it seems like when we first started doing it, it was such a unique sound, and twenty years later it’s still unique and we’re still doing it, and the people we’ve influenced is what blows me away.
Examiner: You referenced stoner metal, which is kind of a broad term...
Jimmy: To me Down’s not a stoner rock band, we never aspired to be that or anything, but I think we just happen to get that tag, you know.
Examiner: Well it sound great when you’re stoned, no doubt.
Jimmy: Oh yeah! Like right now. (laughter)
Examiner: On the live DVD you released, Bury Me in Smoke clocks in at just under 12 minutes. What’s the longest you guys have ever jammed on that song?
Jimmy: A long time, because we usually invite friends up to jam, and that recording, that was in 2006. That was the biggest festival that me and Kirk had ever done in our lives, and we were just going for it. So that recording’s really special to us. That was the first time we ever played, Kirk and I, I mean Phil and Rex and Pepper have all played big shows before, but to me and Kirk, it was mind-boggling. Like wow, 11 in the morning, Bury Me in Smoke was awesome dude. It was everything going wrong at the right time, if that makes sense.
Examiner: What was going wrong?
Jimmy: Riffs. Riffs, dude. I mean it’s 11 in the morning, it’s not supposed to happen. In the whole picture thing it’s not supposed to happen, but it was just beautiful to me. We do that song, we always invite friends up, so anyone, and we just play it, and we play it forever you know? Phil’s girlfriend Kate, she always plays, our guitar tech Ozzy, it’s like one of those kind of songs that at the end we just make a big jam out of it.
Examiner: So I cheated and looked at some of your setlists at the Texas shows, and I see that Jail has disappeared. It’s always been one of my favorite parts of a Down show, those 5 minutes of calm in the middle of the storm. Any chance it could reappear for the New York or New Jersey fans?
Jimmy: I don’t know, maybe.
Examiner: Who picks the setlists?
Jimmy: Pretty much Phil. Phil writes it up, and everyone gets it, and if anyone has any special things they want to play that night... because we have so many songs to choose from, you know? Jail... maybe to the fans we don’t know, but to us it’s kind of like a bummer? Not a bummer, but a real mellow part in the show, you know? I don’t know, when you’re jamming live you just want to be like “ahhhhhhhh!”