Down: It's A Bustle.

29 April 2002 | 12:00 am | Eden Howard
Originally Appeared In

What Goes Up Must Come...

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Down II is in stores now.

In the early nineties, members of Pantera, Corrosion Of Conformity, Crowbar and Eyehategod got together under the moniker Down and put together one of the decades finest metal albums, Nola.

Flash forward to 2002 and the New Orleans based members of all four respective bands are at it again. Albeit in a slightly abridged form, with Crowbar bassist Todd departing and Pantera’s Rex Brown entering the fray. Just a little bit of Texas can’t hurt that much, can it. The result it Down II: A Bustle In Your Hedgerow, an album of down tuned (sorry) grooves sure to delight the most ardent stoner rocker fan or hardcore metal head alike. It’s the kind of album many bands could spend their entire careers looking to make, and here we have it thrown together in a backwoods cabin in a 28-day period. Writing and production included.

“Things have been pretty hectic, you know. We’re about to go on tour, so now we’ve got to go and learn all the material,” guitarist Pepper Keenan (Corrosion Of Conformity) explains. “We wrote all the songs in the studio, so we were recording them as we wrote ‘em, you know what I mean. So we got to go and figure these fuckers out now. We’ve got to go and listen to the album, but the songs are still so fuckin’ new to us that live it’s going to be really cool, because we ain’t played the things a million times to get tired of them.”

The tour he mentions finds the metallic supergroup heading across the United States without a support act.

“This tour is like an evening with Down. There’s no opening band.”

An unusual methodology to say the least.

“We’re doing like a two hour set. We were going to bring an opening band, but we couldn’t think of anyone that was cool, you know what I mean. We couldn’t find someone that would be good opening for Down. Not that we’re fucking elitist, but we don’t want some crap band jumping around, so we just kind of canned the idea.”

Well, Down did go and make it hard for themselves, because all the bands that would have been good to see with them on a bill have donated members…

“That’s exactly right,” he laughs. “Down’s really all on it’s own right now. It’s a really cool feeling, because we’re just creating our own thing. We want to be a serious band with the elements we all grew up liking. What we’ve done is make an hour and a half movie of all the killer shit we all dug growing up, you know, bootleg videos of Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kiss, and we’re just playing this thing on a screen on the stage before we go on. Instead of watching some sapped up opening band people can jam to Van Halen on a big fucking screen. It’s going to be killer. In between all that is like footage of us making the album.”

“We’ve all played so many shows, and seen so many concerts, and how many times do you go and see a band and there’s some lame arse opening act up there that you don’t even give a shit about? They sound awful and blow your ears out. Let’s correct it.”

Would you guys be happy for people to come in and bootleg the Down gigs?

“People bootleg the fuck out of Down. The first time we made the Down demo tapes we just gave them away. That’s always been the way this band operates. I guess we’re like the Fugazi of the metal world. There’s no sense in not sharing shit. I’ve got nothing to hide.”

The re-emergence of Down as a recording act came from the tour Pantera and Corrosion Of Conformity did of Australia in the middle of last year.

“That was the first tour Pantera and COC had done together in a long time man. We had some time to chill out and talk while we were waiting in the airport to get to every Goddamn city in Australia,” he laughs. “We had lots of time for chit chat. And me and Phil (Anselmo) decided we wanted to do this and we got together at the end of October. It was Halloween when we started.”

An auspicious date to begin recording an album outside New Orleans if ever there was one.

“Oh yeah. It was cool. New Orleans has a very big Halloween thing going on, so it’s a cool time to be there anyway. It just made sense.”

And the change in the line up… Was Todd not into doing another record?

“Todd’s kind of doing his own thing, you know. We were extremely serious about what we were doing. Rex had mentioned being interested, and he’s an excellent bass player. It was pretty simple man. Todd wasn’t really playing much, he was more focused on his family, which is fine. But we ain’t gonna stop, man. Rex fit in perfectly. It let us write some more complicated material.”