Godfathers of sludge metal Crowbar are back with “Symmetry In Black”, arguably their finest moment to date. ThisIsNotAScene caught up with mainman Kirk Windstein to discuss the latest events in the Crowbar camp, the new album, his departure from Down and the virtues of running a family business…
What’s the idea behind the album title? Is it a play on the infamous Back in Black album by AC/DC?
That’s a nice one! The album title represents the 25th celebration of Crowbar. Both Metallica’s Black Album and “Back In Black” by AC/DC were watershed moments in the history of both bands. I have the same feeling about “Symmetry In Black”. On the album there’s a song called ‘Symmetry In White’ and I always wanted to have a Black album of my own, so “Symmetry In Black” was quickly coined and the name stuck (laughs).
The new album represents everything what Crowbar stands for in 2014. Care to elaborate on this?
Sure. When we started out in ‘89 with the band none could quite understand how to categorise us at the time. We were too slow being a thrash metal band and too fast for being a doom metal band. We do have some hardcore influences in our sound, but we never quite fit the hardcore tag either. Nowadays with the popularity of sludge metal embodied by bands like Mastodon and Kylesa people start to look for the bands that started the whole thing in the first place. Bands like Soilent Green, Acid Bath and ourselves. Of course we had our share of success back in the mid nineties, mostly thanks to Phil Anselmo wearing a Crowbar shirt in the “I’m Broken” video, but now the interest for Crowbar seems bigger than ever and we want to capitalise on that with our new album. The music on “Symmetry In Black” entails all the elements of our style throughout the years put into a 2014 context. Crowbar is seen as one of the godfathers of the current sludge metal moment.
“Symmetry In Black” is as diverse as it is cohesive. Would you consider this your finest moment to date with Crowbar? Has your sobriety got anything to do with this?
For me it’s certainly our most important record to date, because it signifies our 25th anniversary as a band. I felt it was really important to add some diverse elements as well. I wanted to have an acoustic track on there and the slower parts are slower than usually and the faster parts are faster than usual. This created a really nice dynamic. All the songs have their own individuality. It’s basically all killer and no filler. As far as my sobriety goes I had to stop drinking for six months in order to combat my cocaine use at the time. I still like to drink the occasional beer, but I usually do this at home in a much more controlled environment. As far as writing Crowbar material goes I always did this when I was sober. I only got drunk when playing on stage and being on tour.
Crowbar is a tight knit group of musicians nowadays. How did it the influence the outcome of the new record?
Our drummer Tommy Buckley suffered from prostate cancer and all the proceedings that followed made us band really bond as a group. We were there to support Tommy and his family as friends and not so much as fellow band members. It things like that make you aware of how precious life can be and value much more what we’ve got going with Crowbar. We’re a real band again and that’s something you hear back on the new record. After rehearsal my wife cooks dinner for the band and we all eat together. We’re a tight unit again.
Can you take us through the motions of writing and recording “Symmetry In Black”?
The album came together really easily. Matt (guitarist) and I started working on new guitar riffs. When we had a killer riff we elaborated on that, brought the rest of the band and presto, a new song was born. Every two weeks we had a new song ready and before we knew it, we had enough material to record a new record. Duane Simoneaux co produced the album with us and Josh Wilbur (Lamb Of God, Gojira) took care of the mixing duties.
Why did you leave Down? What are the key reasons?
It was a mutual decision. During my time in Down my life changed quite a bit and I wanted to spend more time with family. Down is very much a touring band and I couldn’t combine Down, Crowbar and family. Because of the rising interest in Crowbar and the fact that the band is my baby since it’s inception I decided to work full time on Crowbar. My wife handles a lot of the business side of the band and that’s why I like to call the band a family business. (laughs).
What’s your take on their “EP only” strategy? Do you subscribe to this idea and would you implement this with your own band as well?
I was in Down when that decision was made at the time and I thought it was a good idea. Down is very much a live/ touring band and it took us ages to make a new album. Especially “Over The Under” was very difficult record to make. So releasing EP’s which take less time to write and record and it works well for them. As for Crowbar I will stick the traditional album format. It simply works better for us as a band (laughs).
Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed) has become Crowbar’s manager. What has he done so far to raise Crowbar’s profile?
Since Jamey got off booze he has a new addiction, namely work. When he’s not busy with Hatebreed he does a lot of business things for Crowbar, like organising tours and whatnot. Because of Hatebreed he tons of contacts and we really benefit from this as a band. He works together a lot with my wife. Like I said before, Crowbar has become a real family business.
What’s the latest on Kingdom Of Sorrow and possible other projects?
Jamey and I discussed working on a new Kingdom Of Sorrow album next year. There are some ideas floating around here and there, but all things depends on how things will pan out with the schedules of both Hatebreed and Crowbar.
What touring plans do you have in support of the new album?
We’re touring Europe now and we’re going to play at the Roadburn festival. There are also a couple of Summer festivals scheduled, including Bloodstock, Hellfest, Resurrection Fest and Summer Breeze. I don’t have the touring schedule in front of me now, but we’ll be on the road for a long time to come (laughs).