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Registered: 01-2006
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Somewhat of a II review/Pep interview

Seven years back, an almost coincidental metal supergroup congealed in Louisiana’s steaming, swampy backwoods. Christened as Down, it was basically a bunch of beer ’n’ barbecue buddies who shared a deep love of Black Sabbath and the underground acts inspired by Ozzy’s crew: St. Vitus, Trouble and Pentagram. Pantera growler Philip Anselmo, Corrosion of Conformity’s Pepper Keenan, Crowbar’s Kirk Windstein (on guitars) and EYEHATEGOD drummer Jimmy Bower quickly wrote and recorded raw, doomy demos in, uh, downtime between their regular bands. An eponymous debut album appeared in 1996. It sold nearly half a million copies worldwide on the strength of word-of-mouth and about a dozen (albeit bootlegged into oblivion) live shows. By ’99, Pantera bassist Rex Brown had joined in the fun, and the quintet isolated itself in a mosquito-infested barn in southern Louisiana. They emerged 20-odd days later with “Down II,” which they’re currently touring behind in a considerably more “overground” fashion than their tape-trading origins ever hinted at.

Is Down surprised at the public’s appetite for what’s essentially a side project? “No, no—we knew it was killer,” deadpans Keenan in his lazy Bayou drawl. “I think that our sound is comfortable compared to all the processed bullshit music out right now, y’know—it sounds like real people playing. People are tired of being spoon-fed bullshit, manufactured music.”

Certainly, Down’s label backers, Elektra, are pouncing on the marketing niche offered to them by the band’s set-up-and-play sound and hefty collective résumé. But Keenan defends Down’s authenticity and intends to preserve it in the face of the major label machine: “Everybody in this band grew up together—we’re all from the same city, New Orleans (with the exception of Texan Brown). We used to get together at Christmastime and Mardi Gras and !@#$ ... and start jamming. It really started as a garage band—now it’s gotten gigantic!” Won’t burgeoning popularity and commercial pressures compromise Down’s trying-not-to-try ethics? “We’re not gonna let it do that,” Keenan insists. “Even if it gets to be big, we still want to somehow maintain some kind of grassroots thing.”

Keenan claims his [sign in to see URL]. bandmates haven’t bridled at Down’s upward career curve, and he even entertains the idea that the band will eventually grow into his No. 1 priority. “I wouldn’t cry if it did,” he confides. He denies that, with both Anselmo and Brown in the band, Down fans are just out for a Pantera fix between albums from the Texas titans. “You would tend to think that might be the case, but I’m not seeing it. People honestly think of Down as its own band—they really don’t think of it as the individuals.”

It’s true that “Down II,” while resembling [sign in to see URL]. in its retro riffage and production, is many times removed from Pantera’s almost militaristic assault. With Down, Anselmo revisits his more melodic side; his lamenting croon and borderline depressing lyrics are the album’s overwhelming signature. Pot-hazy slowies like “Learn From This Mistake” are a reminder that Down have spent as much time absorbing Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf” as they have “Iron Man.”

Down is the antithesis of the contemporary gym-addicted, digitally recorded, business-conscious rock acts that cram the airwaves. So it’s ironic that their casual evolution and rural roots have been buffed up and packaged by a major label. Down’s admirable efforts to avoid being another market-oriented product may well be the code they both live and die by, as their own popularity is in danger of neutering all they originally stood for and against.

got some of their facts wrong though..

I'm your God mother fucker...can you fucking love me? I'm the one who'll promise you Eternity
3/4/2006, 5:00 am Link to this post Send Email to Graveyard Rodeo   Send PM to Graveyard Rodeo

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