Okay, so let’s get this straight. Five guys originally from New Orleans, in four different bands, got together many moons ago and started a little side project called “Down”. Seemed innocent enough, just a couple of freaks who were into bands which were into Sabbath — before it was cool to be into Sabbath. We would jam and blow our heads off in this little garage then something started to happen.
We weren’t just blowing off steam and “Sabb-ing out”; we were coming up with some serious shit. And the reason I say that is because I can still remember the moment Phil threw down some vocals on this sludged-out, heavy riff I had. He then handed me the headphones (we only had one pair, and a four-track) and started laughing his ass off. Ten minutes later, we were in a Monte Carlo cranking a cassette of a jam that would become the song “Bury Me in Smoke.” We knew we were onto something.
So now, six years later, this “Down” swamp creature we created will not kick the ol’ bucket. All of us, over the past six years, have been constantly asked by press and fans alike, from Christchurch, New Zealand to Kansas City, “What’s up with Down?” It seems to have taken on a life of its own, purely supported by freaks who kept listening to it and asking for it. Very little radio, even less promotion, and still even fewer live shows. It spread like some kind of yellow fever to basically become a staple heavy metal record.
The damn thing sold close to half a million copies worldwide not bad for a band that only played thirteen (yes, 13) shows, and can’t even remember the color of our tour bus. Thank God most of these shows were video-bootlegged to hell and back.
1999 enter Rex Brown. Why Rex Brown, you say? You broke the oath, you say. He’s from goddamn Texas! Well, if you had some of his hell-raising barbecue, you’d get him in your band too. Plus, over the years, he has developed a fine palette for Coors Light. And oh yeah, he plays the dog shit out of the bass.
So here we go, round II. First things first, we decided that Down is not the kind of band that can be confined to a studio. Lo and behold, we came up with a genius (?) idea to isolate ourselves in a barn (later to be christened “Nodferatu’s Lair”) in an undisclosed swamp somewhere in South Louisiana. Slept upstairs and rocked downstairs. Shipped in enough gear to get our point across (loudly), and got two Yankees with their heads half screwed on (half more than ours) to turn the knobs. With enough booze, food, and “miscellaneous” items for no one to crawl out until it was done. Which was going to be in twenty-something daze. All this combined with an old chest we found full of freaky 70’s porno mags we had basically created a modern-day Sodom.
If you really want to lose your mind, just ask one of us how. ‘Cause this was a textbook recipe for insanity. By week two, it was as if we were in a gunboat, floating through the Mekong Delta, hunting down Marlon Brando. No perception of reality or direction, but a common goal. Five freaks, all well-versed in the school of hard rock, banging heads at 120 decibels, surrounded by sin, swamps, and mosquitos, with modern-day society a tank of gas away. This is the way rock records should be made.
When we emerged from the haze of smoke, the stench of alcohol, and the buzz of yellowjackets, we were sitting on top of umpteen jams. We passed out by our burn pit in the wee hours of the morning, listening to this Down sound on the jam box, and came to the conclusion that nobody in our generation of music had ever attempted to make a record this way. Raw, unbridled, from the heart, and most importantly, devoid of the rest of the world pure.
One of the coolest things about Down is the fact that we don’t have any preconceived notions about what is to come. When Down is in the “Lair,” candles lit, ice chest packed, puffin’ and passing, all fired up, we got no clue what’s going to happen, which is a beautiful THING. This freedom allows us to write anything from mellow shit like “Where I’m Going”, to slammers like “The Seed”. Where ever our heads are at, good or bad, up or down. This is what makes Down tick.
Don’t get me wrong this was no cake walk. But in my opinion, the good ones never are.