A little over 1,300 miles separates the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana, to New York, New York. Kirk Windstein, frontman and guitarist for Crowbar, has been spending the early part of May at eOne’s headquarters in New York City to promote his NOLA-based band’s 10th album, Symmetry In Black, which was released May 27. This is a fantastic album that showcases Windstein’s unbelievable work and skill as a certified riff professor. He has enjoyed a very successful career in the metal scene, especially after forming both Crowbar and Down, a metal supergroup he formed with Phil Anselmo of Pantera and Pepper Keenan from Corrosion Of Conformity.
Windstein was kind enough to take some time out of his busy press schedule and provide insight into the new Crowbar album. We discussed the 25 years of Crowbar, 10 albums, and of course, NOLA. Check out what he had to say below:
25 years of Crowbar. That must be exciting.
It’s extremely exciting. It really is. It’s like a rebirth of the band. I’m in a better place now. I feel really blessed and truly happy to be able to be concentrating and put all of my focus and dedication into Crowbar now.
Leaving Down enabled you to devote your full attention to this new album. Are you happy with the way everything turned out? Were there any issues throughout the recording process?
Well we picked a stupid time to head into the studio. By that I mean, we went into the studio on December 16, not even thinking much about the holidays (laughs). We ended up doing a fly-in date, a one-show thing in Chicago on New Year’s Eve, and then our engineer and co-producer Duane [Simoneaux] had a baby in the heart of the process. We had a lot of little things like that that may have held us up in the first four weeks. Once we got rollin’, it was full steam ahead.
How long were you guys in the studio?
Technically, from Dec. 16 to Feb. 25. But for us, we took off most weekends. I worked Saturdays and did vocals, but we mostly just worked Monday to Friday.
Did you have all of the writing done beforehand, or was it done in the studio?
Basically we had some songs completely written and a few riffs were prepared here and there, and the rest was done in the studio. I enjoy writing that way. When I was with Down, we did a lot of our writing like that. The spontaneity keeps things fresh. If you write a song and you beat it to death, it could become redundant. It’s like the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It’s like you start overthinking. As long as I have been doing this, we all know if it is done or not. If we have something that we all agree is awesome, we work on it. It really comes together rather quickly.
How have the shows been going?
We just got back from Europe, actually. We did a 10-day UK tour. I went to Berlin and did press for four days, and did 15 in a row in Europe. Our next show is actually the 17th of May for the Scion Rock Fest. Then we do the Maryland Death Fest and a show in Columbus, Ohio. Our album release show is actually in New Orleans on May 30.
That one will be played at One Eyed Jacks over in the French Quarter, correct?
Yup, that is correct.
Do you have a favorite hometown venue?
In the French Quarter, probably One Eyed Jacks. It caters to more of the heavy stuff as well as rock. It’s also basically in the heart of the French Quarter on Toulouse Street. It’s an old, old building, and it has been there for so many years. It’s just a real cool vibe, especially for someone visiting New Orleans, because you can get a taste of some of the heavy bands too.
You guys have announced a few pre-orders available, including wristbands, shirts, stickers and beanies. Any idea of vinyl releases for your collectors?
Probably yes, on a limited basis. I know for Europe, Century Media is our label, and I believe they are doing vinyl. I think over here, for eOne, we should have a limited release maybe soon after the album comes out.
The single “Walk With Knowledge Wisely” kicks ass. I saw that there will be a music video coming soon?
Yup. We actually also did one for track two, which is “Symmetry In White.” We are looking forward to releasing snippets here and there.
It seems like you guys are building quite a momentum as you enter this anniversary.
We feel blessed, and we appreciate it, but it seems kinda weird, but in a good way. There’s more interest and more talk about Crowbar. For us, it’s a great feeling that we want to build on, keeping in mind that it’s also the 10th record and the 25th anniversary.
Was there a time where you possibly thought that the band wouldn’t make it this far?
To look back on it in hindsight, yeah, I did see that it would still be here 25 years later. Of course, in reality, I had no idea. The one thing I never, ever, ever thought about was giving up or stopping Crowbar. There were quite a few times where I was the only member of Crowbar, so there wasn’t even really a band. I still kept going as much as I could, with divided attention. Now that I have complete, undivided attention on Crowbar, it’s really helping.
Going back to the new record, was there a favorite track, or one that stuck with you throughout the recording process?
Not really, but that’s a good thing. I have listened to it over and over again, before it was even mixed, you know, to get ideas for whatever might have been left. But my immediate favorite changed from day to day or week to week. It’s a very positive thing to love all 12 tracks.
Your friends in Down will be in the NY/NJ area this weekend with Black Label Society. I remember reading that you were planning to jam with Bobby Landgraf. How did that go?
Bobby was my guitar tech for a long time. He is an amazing guitar player and he is also in a band called Honky out of Austin, Texas. He’s been mine and Pepper’s tech for a long time. He’s been in the Down family since about 2006. Me and Bobby are very good friends and when I left, he had a couple questions on a few things, and we met up so I could help out.
Like I said, he’s an amazing guitar player, but I don’t care how good you are, it’s difficult to play every single thing the way another person plays. I showed him the way I play a few things and encouraged him to make a few changes and put his own touch on it if he wanted. Basically, it was just a nice jam session. I keep in touch with Bobby a lot. He is a huge Crowbar fan believe it or not, and I am a huge Down fan believe it or not. I’m very happy for the guys. He is a great guy and a brilliant guitar player.
And touching upon New Orleans and the local scene real quick, do you stay up to date with the local scene anymore?
Besides the older guys, not so much (laughs). I keep up with Down, I keep up with Eyehategod, I keep up with Soilent Green and I keep up with Goatwhore. Beyond that, I don’t have much of an opportunity to. I’m so busy at home; I am a husband and a dad. I lead such a very un-rock ’n’ roll lifestyle at home. If Goatwhore or Eyehategod are playing, I will try to make it to the shows, but I’m 49 years old and am set in my ways of it is what it is. I don’t really have the opportunity to follow the younger bands.
You guys have a string of European and U.S. dates coming up. Anything else in the works that you can talk about?
We are putting together our U.S. run which will be about a month starting in September. We will have a string of dates in Europe and the UK and come back to the States for September and October. Back to Europe in November, and maybe a special Christmas show for New Orleans. I would personally love to do a double-bill with Eyehategod or something like that. It’s just so ironic that after all of these years, since [Eyehategod] basically started around the same time as us, that our new records come out on the same day.
Crowbar‘s new album, Symmetry In Black, is available now through eOne Music. They will play This Is Hardcore Fest from July 24 through July 27 at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, PA. For more information, go to facebook.com/crowbarmusic.