DOWN Guitarist: After Playing OZZFEST, ‘We Swore We’d Never Do Something Like That Again’

Elliot Levin of recently conducted an interview with DOWN guitarist Pepper Keenan. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below. You have the first of four EPs coming out, and some tracks have already hit the Internet. Can we expect to hear the new music live?

Pepper: Oh, for sure. That’s kinda the purpose of the EP idea, is that we don’t have to spend two years in the damn studio trying to write 20 songs to pick 14. And the EP idea will give us lateral movement to shift directions for each EP, and we can go a couple of places we’ve never been before. Who came up with the [DOWN] Jesus cigarette logo?

Pepper: I did, years ago. That’s me. What’s the story behind that?

Pepper: It was a photograph taken years ago, and I saved it and when we were talking about starting DOWN and needing a logo, I went to Kinko’s and made a pretty basic logo and Jesus face underneath with the joint; that was about it. It’s really latched on, one of those killer rock ‘n’ roll logos. Who is in the original photo?

Pepper: That’s me! Back in the day I was just wearing the crown of thorns on my head, laying around, and put a flashlight over it, and that was that. I was at Mayhem festival in Connecticut this summer, and, of course, you could see DOWN tshirts all over the place. I know you’ve never been out on any of the five Mayhem fests, and I don’t remember seeing you on any Ozzfests either. Has it just worked out that way or do you deliberately avoid the summer festival tours?

Pepper: We did Ozzfest years ago, on the second record. I think we swore we’d never do something like that again. I think DOWN is better served playing on our own. We have so much material and so many ways to run around it, that I think we’re better on our own. Getting 30 or 45 minutes on a festival set isn’t worth it. Sometimes it works, like in Europe. If DOWN could have a festival and pick our own bands, we’d do it. Does [new bassist] Pat [Bruders] change the dynamic of the band at all?

Pepper: The biggest dynamic change is that he plays with his fingers and not a pick, so it’s more of a Geezer Butler feel to it. It’s a different animal. But it works fine. He’s got a brutal bass sound. I know [former DOWN bassist] Rex [Brown] wasn’t a founding member. If anyone else chose to leave, would that be the end of DOWN or would you say that yourself or Kirk [Windstein, guitar] or Jimmy [Bower, drums] or Phil [Anselmo, vocals] are replaceable too?

Pepper: I don’t think so. I think the four members of the band are pretty solid. I think where we’re at right now is what it is. I can’t imagine if one more person was to exit the scenario, I can’t think it would still work. It’s just a bunch of friends in a jam room going at it, pretty simple process. It’s a different ballgame than an L.A. band that creates an image. We’ve grown up together.

Read the entire interview from


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