Crowbar's Kirk Windstein Talks New Beginnings and 'Symmetry in Black'

Crowbar's Kirk Windstein Talks New Beginnings and 'Symmetry in Black'
With the upcoming release of their 10th album, 25 years into their career, legendary New Orleans sludge metal band Crowbar took the same approach they always do while writing a new record — except this time, vocalist/guitarist Kirk Windstein was able to give the band his undivided attention. Windstein — who last year quit his other high-profile metal band, Philip Anselmo's supergroup Down, in order to focus on Crowbar — knew that Symmetry in Black had to be something special.

"With Crowbar being my only focus now, I knew it had to be killer. It had to be a home run, it couldn't just be good; it had to be really fucking good!" he tells Exclaim! "We all put as much time and effort as we could into making it the best record we could possibly make and we're extremely happy with the outcome. It's our 10th studio anniversary and our 25th anniversary, so we think this album is the perfect vehicle to get the momentum rolling again."

Released via eOne on May 27, the 12-song album is a riff-heavy burner that takes the patented Crowbar heaviness and ramps it up a few notches. Co-produced by Duane Simoneaux in New Orleans and mixed by Josh Wilbur (Lamb of God, Gojira), Symmetry in Black is an impressive follow-up to 2011's Sever the Wicked Hand, which came after a six-year absence while Down were especially busy. Now that he's put his full devotion into Crowbar (his other band, Kingdom of Sorrow, featuring Hatebreed singer Jamey Jasta, has been inactive of late), Windstein says most of the pressure he used to feel is off.

"[Leaving Down] simplified my life. I'm still very busy, but now I'm in control of my life and that's a good feeling," he says. "Not that Phil or the other Down guys are control freaks or anything, it's just that, in the end, it's basically Philip's call. Now I'm the boss and I can control when we tour, where we tour, how long we tour, and I oversee everything. It's a great feeling because before it was overkill to be in all of these bands. It was too much for one person to take on. It works out great now for me to be in control of my life and my career."

Crowbar are more like a family business, something Windstein says is important when you're working with people you're close to. In fact, guitarist Matthew Brunson and new bass player Jeff Golden live right across the street from Windstein and his wife, who helps out with the band's promotion and merchandising.

"The camaraderie in the band is at an all-time high, and I might be 49 years old and I might be 25 years into Crowbar, but I really feel like it's a new beginning," says Windstein. "I feel hungry again. I feel focused again. I feel young again, at heart, at least [laughs], and that's an important thing and great thing."

Lyrically, the band's 10th album tackles similar themes to the rest of the Crowbar catalogue: overcoming turmoil and coming out the other end alive and better from the experience.

"The songs are all about life, for the most part. There are a few of them that are more stories, but for the most part I've always written from the heart and written what I felt. Most of Crowbar's music, lyrically, and sonically, really, it's about going through tough times and persevering and making it through those tough times and coming out stronger than you were before. And that's been my lyrical foundation for years and years and years now."

One song, in particular, celebrates Crowbar's beginnings 25 years ago, when they were considered one of the heaviest bands of the time. "Symbolic Suicide" is dedicated to fallen metal warrior Peter Steele (Carnivore, Type O Negative) and was written when Windstein rediscovered Steele's earlier music during the writing of Symmetry in Black.

"Peter was such a huge influence on me. Carnivore's Retaliation album and Type O's Slow Deep and Hard were huge for me and I had been listening to a lot of Carnivore and early Type O during the writing process of this album and one day I was like, 'You know what? I'm going to write my version of a fucking Carnivore song.' So he kind of inspired the idea, it's not about him or anything like that. But by him being such a big inspiration to me, that's why I dedicated the song to his legacy. Without him and those two bands, there probably wouldn't even be a Crowbar."

While Crowbar so far do not have any tour dates in Canada, they are taking their new album out on U.S. and European tours. You can see all the upcoming dates here.