Interview: Eyehategod / Down
I feel blessed man. It’s just fun and you keep doing it. Music rules dude, there’s nothing like putting a record on and just taking it all in!
From being an integral member of Southern metal royalty Eyehategod and Down to playing with Superjoint, Crowbar and Corrosion Of Conformity, Jimmy Bower has made his name as one of the most talented people in heavy music and one who plays from the heart both as a guitarist and a drummer. Ahead of Eyehategod coming back to these shores to tour with Napalm Death and the long awaited return of Down, Gavin Brown had a chat with Jimmy to talk about both of those as well as return to playing music after an injury, memorable moments of his career, his En Minor his new musical project with Phil Anselmo and hopefully a solo album from the man himself this year.
E&D: You’re heading out on a European tour with Napalm Death, Misery Index and Rotten Sound In February. Are you looking forward to that and getting back on the road?
Jimmy: Yeah, I’m definitely looking forward to it. I had to get that operation you know and I’ve had enough time off, I’m ready to jam! I miss my band, man.
E&D: Did you feel weird Eyehategod touring without you being a part of it?
Jimmy: Big time. More than I thought it would but it’s cool that the band kept going, you know.
E&D: Have you kept in contact with the band while they’re on the road?
Jimmy: Yeah, enough, I mean dude we’ve been around each other each other so much, those are my brothers. They know what they’re doing!
E&D: Will there be another Eyehategod album anytime in the future?
Jimmy: Yeah. It’s already recorded. Mike’s supposed to do some vocals for it and then it’s done.
E&D: When you guys tour next month, will you be playing any new material at all?
Jimmy: At least one new song hopefully, maybe more you know. It gets weird dude, we start doing the same setlist every night, you’ve got to deviate from that. You’ve got to mix it up man, that’s what I think! What do you think?
E&D: You’ve got to mix it up!
Jimmy: Fuck yeah, you can’t put the same shit on every time!
E&D: Down are returning for live days later in the year as well. Are you looking forward to hitting the road with Down as well and getting back together with those guys?
Jimmy: Yeah, yeah it’s been a long time, since 2016 at Psycho Fest. It’ll be cool to get back in the jam room, that first practice because it’s been so long man.
E&D: Is that going to be when you come back off the road with Eyehategod?
Jimmy: Yeah, I sure we’ll jam soon. I’m doing En Minor first, we’re playing a show in New Orleans and that should be cool. I’ve been playing drums lately and stuff so I’m just ready to jam. Dude, I just spent like four or five months on my own healing up, you know healing my mind, not indulging so much in life’s pleasures.
E&D: When you jam with Down and Eyehategod as well, does it feel like a family getting back together and it all just clicks when you jam?
Jimmy: Yeah, of course, the older you get dude, you don’t see people as much as you did as you did in the past so it’s kinda cool, you get back together in the room, say what’s up, smoke a joint and then it’s down to business! Get rolling!
E&D: 2020 marks 25 years since the NOLA album, aside from the live dates, will you be doing anything else to the mark the anniversary at all?
Jimmy: I talked to Pepper the other day and I told him I thought it’d be a cool idea to do the evening with Down thing again because that was like a long set. It was a show, there was no other bands. As of right now we are just doing festivals. We’ll see what happens man. Once we get back together hopefully it might spawn something really cool. Something we can all enjoy!
E&D: What are your main memories from around the time NOLA was recorded and released?
Jimmy: Wow, I was young dude. I was making gaskets at a warehouse and I remember Washington Street, that’s where we recorded the record and we were doing Bury Me In Smoke dude and I swear right right when it goes (hums riff) doo doo doo doo dah. The end you know? The fucking power went to zero and next thing we know we’re lifting equipment because it flooded. In 30 minutes you’re up to your fucking knees in water. It was just crazy. What a great record you know?
E&D: Yeah, definitely.
Jimmy: Those are great times man because Philip just moved down from Texas because he went there and Pantera did Cowboys From Hell obviously but he moved back home and we used to hang out at his house. Dude, we cooked the best food, he had a grill on the back and we used to grill oysters and shit. He had a big circle pool with a massive pentagram painted in it and we used to read water and listen to Burzum! We were going all out, the joints were good! You can move. I can still move. I’m not acting older for you, you sound younger than me!
E&D: Have you discussed any plans for a new Down album at all or is it just the live dates so far and see how it goes?
Jimmy: That’d be great man because we’re only on number two of a four part series of the EPs. Three or four, one of them’s got to be mellow stuff. Down’s one of those bands that when we do mellow stuff, It’s kind of cool. You know, there’s a gentleness with Down it’s like, no matter what, when we get that room and jam, it’s good for a singer like Phil because he can do whatever the fuck he wants man. It’s cool. You’ve got En Minor where he’s definitely exploring new vocals and playing drums different. It’s a whole different mellow. It’s just cool man. I think the older you get, the more music you have to put out.
E&D: Your hometown of New Orleans is rich in music history, are you a fan of all different kinds of music from your city?
Jimmy: I like old Cajun music, one band I’ve been getting into is The Meters. Dr John. Zebra. They’re great dude. You gotta understand, I grew up with rock and roll. I guess metal when I was 16, Dio, Metallica and Exodus that’s my game! There’s so many good bands from New Orleans though. Check Zebra dude, they’re good.
E&D: With En Minor, how’s the project been received so far?
Jimmy: So far so good. I mean I’ve only read what people have said on Facebook. It’s different. I think it’s really cool. I think it’s cool stuff. It’s something different and I just hope people like it, man, it’s a little uncomfortable for me because I’m not that secure with myself with that kind of music. I guess 80s goth. I don’t even know what adjectives to use for it, but I like the Eagles. I like the way Don Henley plays you know, so I just go with that approach, play brushes, and let Phil fucking conduct me! Which he’s done for years!
E&D: Will you be doing more material after your show and will you be playing more shows as well?
Jimmy: Hopefully we’ll rehearse for the show. As well maybe record some new stuff you know.
E&D: You play both drums and guitar, what did you start playing fast and how did you get get into music and playing it in the first place?
Jimmy: I started playing drums first and then when I was around 18/19, when we were doing The Slugs which became Crowbar, Kirk was doing his version of what new heavy shit we were into. We heard Carnivore and lost our minds and then I learned how to play guitar. After that, we started Eyehategod. Drums first though.
E&D: When you first started playing in bands, did you ever think you’d have a 30 year plus career as a musician?
Jimmy: No, not at all. I feel blessed man. It’s just fun and you keep doing it. Music rules dude, there’s nothing like putting a record on and just taking it all in!
E&D: Who are your biggest influences as a musician?
Jimmy: Ah man, The Melvins, Son House. Willie Nelson, Randy Travis, Charlie Daniels, Hank Jr, Hank III, Hank Williams bless his heart. Dude, anyone who makes music for the right reason you can’t deny and you can tell if you have a good taste in music! if you’re not serious about it. Give it up, go work on a grocery store or something! Anyway, you know what I mean. When you put something on and you’re like damn!
E&D: What been some of your musical highlights of the past year?
Jimmy: I saw Agnostic Front live for the first time that was cool. I got to hang out with Vinnie Stigma and got way too drunk with him probably did stupid shit! Met Greg Ginn on tour. I hurt my arm! I delved into country and a lot deeper into French music, like old Cajun French music and I’ve been thinking about doing my solo thing. I’ve been saying that so long, it sounds like a broken record but I really want to do it man.
E&D: Will that be something to explore in the next year?
Jimmy: Yeah, yeah. That’s good hindsight man. Would you listen to it?
E&D: Definitely, without a doubt!
Jimmy: Well, fuck, there you go. I’m gonna do it!
E&D: What have been some of the most memorable moments of your music career so far?
Jimmy: Oh man, the first time driving up to Nashville in my old girlfriend’s grandparents car to beating my head up against the wall with Dimebag. Waiting for a flight with Dio to meeting Iommi with Phil and I, only lommi just dicking Phil off which was classic and then being here today and talking about going a solo record, shit goes on and you don’t live forever dude.