“The closest who need you
(and) the closest surrounding you will walk away
and when we walk away there will be
no coming home.”
Down has seen the world. It has been to Russia (three times) Israel, the Middle East and places that most of us will never experience outside of the Travel Channel, but there is nowhere like home, and Down is ready to be back in New Orleans. Featuring former members of Corrosion of Conformity, Pantera, Crowbar and Eyehategod, Down has become the elder statesmen of metal and still remain relevant almost 20 years down the road.
Though they’ve toured the world countless times, they do it waving the proverbial flag of New Orleans. With titles such as “Ghosts Along the Mississippi” or “On March the Saints” and the crushing “New Orleans is a Dying Whore” (released in 2002), Down captures the sides of the city many are trying to gloss over since Katrina. Singer Phil Anselmo gives voice to the desperate, the dispossessed, the junkies and gutter punks the tourist bureau would like to ignore when he sings, “L.S.D. ain’t what it used to be / for me / inside of dead weight standing.”
Hometown pride takes many forms, obviously, but it’s a big deal when you realize how easily that place your can be washed away. Because of it, Down’s Jimmy Bower and Pepper Keenan are more excited than you might expect to be playing Voodoo. The last time they played New Orleans was opening for Metallica earlier this year, and they last played Voodoo in 2002 right before ska-punk lovables, No Doubt. “I think it’s going to be awesome,” Bower says. “I really don’t know why we don’t get to play home as much as we’d like on tours. We just played for 80,000 people in Europe but barely ever get to play in New Orleans.”
According to Keenan, “We’ve been wanting to play every year, but we’re always so busy, it just never happens. It’s nice to be appreciated in your hometown.”
Down has made it through the hurricane that destroyed singer Phil Anselmo’s home and recording studio, the death of their friend Dimebag Darrell, a member change and constant taste shifts of the record buying public. Like the city they came from, the world changes around them but Down remains constant, wearing punk, metal and blues influences on their sleeves, listening to Black Sabbath records, smoking a lot and honing the sound they’ve been working on for almost two decades. What they’re doing isn’t rocket science, but it works.
On their classic NOLA and its subsequent follow ups Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow and Down III: Over the Under, the band has achieved a sound that even the members of the band can’t quite name. Bower says, “I think we’re a blues band. Blues with a tinge of metal in it, I guess.” Keenan disagrees. “F—k it, we’re a metal band,” he says. “I think so at least.” No matter, the lyrics are still as Southern gothic as they get.
“Good lord, the south is blind,
but she will never let me go back to being sane.
But please let me die there.”
Down plays the Bingo! Parlour Saturday, October 31 at 6:15 p.m.