The Difficult Parts of Touring Crowbar’s Kirk Windstein Appreciates Now
Crowbar's Kirk Windstein was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. With their latest album Zero and Below released earlier this year, the band has spent a lot of time on the road in support and the frontman now finds himself enjoying the more difficult elements of touring after being cooped up in the house during the lockdown phase of the pandemic.
Prior to its release, the 12th studio album from the New Orleans sludge metal icons sat for nearly two years as the group waited for a more opportune time to share it with the world. This extra time afforded the band more time to analyze their work as they reassured themselves of its strengths.
Coming up with such burly riffs this deep into a career might sound difficult, but for Windstein, who has split his creativity between three bands in total, he feels fortunate that writing has never been a problem for him. Even on days he tries to write and can't muster much, he's content with that, knowing that riffs and song ideas will come to mind in more unlikely places, such as while shopping at the grocery store. It's a kind of inspiration that's hard for him to describe.
Read the full interview below.
The latest Crowbar album Zero and Below came out early in 2022. How much has the idea of the next Crowbar album come to mind?
We analyzed the new record this whole time because even though it was complete prior to the whole COVID lockdown thing, if we wanted to go in and change anything, we could have done that.
Instead of worrying about writing new stuff, everybody just really analyzed it and made sure they were really a hundred percent happy with everything on Zero And Below. We think it's killer.
It was difficult when you're excited about a record like that to not be able to put it out. We had it sit for basically two years. In hindsight, I think we definitely did make the right choice by not putting it out during the lockdown because it came out March 4, which was a day we began the U.S. tour with Sepultura and Sacred Reich. It was perfect timing and we've still got a lot going on show wise. It feels great just to be playing night after night and things really seem normal, so it's a great feeling.
You're well regarded as a riff master. When and how do riff ideas permeate your consciousness during normal everyday life?
A lot of times I just pick up the guitar and I've got nothing and then other times I'll be at the grocery store and an idea pops in my head and I can't finish shopping quick enough to get home and grab the guitar. It just happens. Some days I've got nothing, some days the ideas just pour out and the songs write themselves.
I try not to get frustrated if I sit down and to write something and I'm unable to really come up with anything, but tomorrow is another day and I'll try then.
A lot of times, like I said, I'll be driving in the car, I'll be at the grocery, I'll just be doing regular everyday stuff and a riff comes up in my head, so I've got to keep humming it to myself over and over again until I can get a guitar and take a video of myself playing it. It's one of the things you really can't explain — it just happens. The riffs just come out. I'm very lucky in the sense I've never really had a problem writing.
Crowbar, "Bleeding From Every Hole"
Crowbar, Down and Kingdom of Sorrow allow you to exercise various sides of your musical personality. In what ways does each band stimulate something creatively different?
Crowbar is Crowbar and, of course, that's more my baby. Down are a lot more old school and influenced by classic rock stuff and older bands. It also allows me to play, you know, a lot of guitar solos and stuff that I don't do in Crowbar and Kingdom of Sorrow.
Kingdom of Sorrow really is a lot of fun because I'm a big hardcore fan and Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed is my partner in Kingdom. It allows me to get the hardcore side that I enjoy so much out.
It's really the best of everything to have the three bands in different aspects of my musical tastes and stuff that I enjoy writing and playing. It allows me to run the spectrum of everything I want to do. I'm really lucky in that sense.
You're a big Thin Lizzy fan, especially Phil Lynott's lyrics. What about the poetry of an Irish songwriter connects with the kid from Louisiana?
I don't know, because God knows I can't write like he does. He really is a poet. When I was young, I really liked Thin Lizzy, but I wasn't fanatical the way I am now and have been for quite some time. There's something about it. I tell my friends that are not fans, it's one of those things that you either get it or you don't. He really is just a brilliant songwriter and I'll forever be a huge fan of everything he's done.
Crowbar are back on the road after touring was halted by the pandemic. What did you used to dislike about touring that you appreciate now because it was taken away?
Touring is hard — it's hard on your body and singing with Crowbar is hard on my voice. Just being able to do it again really makes me just appreciate all of it, even the hard part. We're a DIY band. We don't have a road crew and guitar techs and stuff like that. We do everything ourselves, so we have to unload the gear and set it up, do the sound check, do the show, tear the gear down, pack the gear up, help out with merch and all that stuff. My wife Robin sells the merch, but we've got to help here and there if she needs stuff restocked and things like that.
It's a long day for us, but when it's taken away from you, like it was for everybody that tours, I think that you learn to appreciate even the not-so-fun and difficult parts of playing six or seven nights in a row with long drives and stuff like that. When you're sitting home on your couch, bored and depressed, just the fact that we're able to do it now makes it where I appreciate those aspects of it.
Thanks to Kirk Windstein for the interview. Get your copy of Crowbar's 'Zero and Below' album here and follow the band on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.