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Crowbar’s Kirk Windstein Talks ‘Symmetry in Black,’ Songwriting + Peter Steele’s Inspiration

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Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Crowbar leader Kirk Windstein was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s radio show this past weekend. The rocker spoke with Jackie about the band’s upcoming ‘Symmetry in Black’ album, leaving Down to narrow his focus to Crowbar and finding inspiration in late Type O Negative frontman Peter Steele. Check out Full Metal Jackie’s interview with Crowbar’s Kirk Windstein below:

We’re here to celebrate the brand new Crowbar record, ‘Symmetry in Black’ coming out May 27. Kirk, after 25 years what made you so focused and recommitted to Crowbar with the 10th album?

At this time in my life, I’ve gone through a lot, a lot of different changes: getting married, settling down a lot more, as far as you know, family stuff at home and what not. It was just too much, you know. It was really just too much trying to, you know, I mean, if I were single and 20 years younger, I might be able to handle my workload that I put on myself, but it just got to be, you know, really too much and for me.

Crowbar has always been my vision and, you know, my baby, so to speak. So, I made a decision to focus on Crowbar 100 percent. I mean this is, like you said, the tenth album, the 25th anniversary of the band and it just felt like, from here on out, I wanted to simplify my life and just have control of every aspect of my life, business wise: how long I tour, where I tour, when I tour, what not; just kind of oversee the whole Crowbar thing. I mean, I’m basically the boss and to my wife and I, it’s more like a family business; I mean we eat, breath, and sleep Crowbar, from the time we wake up to the time we go to bed every day, just promoting, just doing whatever it is. and it’s a great feeling, you know. It’s a good sense of accomplishment when a lot of hard work starts to pay off, so I’m really feeling a great place right now.

Most people think of you as a riff making warhorse. But you’re such a prolific lyricist. All the words on ‘Symmetry in Black’ are your words. What makes that part of songwriting rewarding to you?

Honestly, when it’s done and I want to explain that; what it is, is like, the music is written first, always, at least for Crowbar, everyone has their own little system. With Crowbar, the music is always written and as it’s being tracked, the songs are being tracked, I’m hearing melodies, I’m hearing phrasings, and stuff and I kind of get an idea of what I want to do and really most of the lyrics, just, normally they don’t take long at all. It just comes kind of quickly and it is another aspect of being in Crowbar.

Being in a band like Down, it’s, you got five guys that all write killer riffs. So, it’s a battle to even get a couple of riffs in here and there and it’s not a control thing or anything like that. It’s just, especially with them doing EPs now, it’s just six songs; if you can get one or two of those songs where it’s mainly yours, you’re doing good, you’re lucky. With Crowbar, I have the freedom to kind of oversee everything. I’m not the only writer, I mean Matt Brunson really came to life, another guitar player on this record and added a lot.

I’m still by far the chief songwriter and lyricist and the arranger and the producer and all that, but the whole process of the music: the arranging, the lyrics, doing the vocals, when I hear the finished, when I hear a song that all the tracks have been done on it musically and then the lyrics, the vocals, the tracks are done and I listen back to it, it’s such a sense of accomplishment that it’s amazing.

Kirk, ‘Symbolic Suicide’ is said to be inspired by the legacy of Peter Steele. It’s been four years, what got you thinking about Peter?

He was just such a big influence on me with Crowbar, like I got into Carnivore as a band prior to Type O. ‘Retaliation’ by Carnivore is one of my favorite albums of all time and when I discovered that record, it was right around the time where it was me and Jimmy Bower, were actually kind of creating Crowbar and what it would become. Really, a lot of people ask “what are your influences” and I tell them all the early stuff and I usually throw in, “Hey, you know, the last album, I still say album, last CD, excuse me, that was really a big influence on me as far as like an influence on writing was probably the first Type O record, It was ‘Slow Deep and Hard.’”

I had an advanced copy that Philip Anselmo gave me, way before the record, I don’t even think they were signed to Roadrunner yet. I think it might have been complete and we got a copy from someone, Kerry King, or someone gave us a copy. Obviously, it was eons ago, but I remember that was right around the time that we were really writing most of the first Crowbar record.

So because Peter was such a big influence, I said, you know what, it was one of the songs, I guess it was about halfway through the batch and you know, you write a couple of slower, doomier ones, you know, you want to change the pace, you might drop the guitar down to A, change the feeling, write something different. I said, “You know what, I’ve been listening to like, ‘Retaliation,’ I’m writing my version of a Carnivore song” and that’s basically what it is to me; to me, it’s something that could be off of Retaliation or something, so because I figured I would dedicate it to Peter’s legacy because he was such an influence on me, just you know, without him, there probably wouldn’t even be a Crowbar.

Kirk, what are Crowbar’s touring plans?

We’ve done 10 shows in the UK, 15 in Europe. We’re going back to Europe June 2, start up in Sweden Rock and finish up at Hellfest with Black Sabbath, I cant wait for that. We actually play same day, same stage with Black Sabbath on the 22 of June. Then we go back toward the end of July, doing resurrection fest in Spain, Bloodstock in the UK. I think we get home around the 10 of August. Then we’ll start up in mid-late September in the States. We’re working on that right now, actually. From there we’re going to back to Europe in November for a short run, do something before Christmas and just — basically with the record coming in May, we’re planning on touring with our normal little three weeks on three weeks off type thing through the summer of 2015 for sure.

We’re trying to set everything up with all the festivals in Europe next summer. Then after that, take a short break and start the writing process for the next record. Now that I’m just focusing on Crowbar, there’s no reason for the machine to stop rolling. no reason to put it in park and pull the keys out again. Just keep it rolling.

Looking forward to it. Again, Crowbar ‘Symmetry in Black’ out May 27. Kirk, appreciate you being on the show again.

Our thanks to Crowbar’s Kirk Windstein for the interview. Crowbar’s ‘Symmetry in Black’ is available for pre-order at iTunes and Amazon. Full Metal Jackie can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.

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