The Scream Queen Interviews Jimmy Bower!

"I feel extremely blessed to have been in every band that I've been in."

Interview with Jimmy Bower of Down, EYEHATEGOD, and Superjoint!

By Jenna Williams "The Scream Queen"

I read that you guys are working on a new album…

Yeah. It’s been since 2014 since we put one out and we actually had 9 songs ready to go before the record. We went and recorded the album and then Brian [Patton] left the band. So, now we’re a four piece band. 

Since we’ve been touring all year non-stop as a four piece, we’re a completely different band now. So, we’re going to re-record the record, hopefully in September and finally get another one out because it’s already been four years now.

At least it’s not a 10-year gap!

Yeah, that’s happened. [laughs]

You mentioned that EHG are a completely different band now because of Brian leaving…How is the energy different within the band?

With Brian, we kind of had that wall of guitars – two guitars. Both of us would kind of do the same thing together, but not exactly, so it makes a cool course effect, you know. Now it’s all on my back. A big influence of EYEHATEGOD is Black Flag, we’ve been going in that mode, you know? It’s really working– we’re bummed that Brian’s gone, but it’s really working out positive. We’re starting, for a couple of months now, we’ve felt really tight and it’s clicking really good as it is. We thought about getting another guitar player, but why? It’s like, we’re such a bunch of fuckin’ weirdos, who are we going to let into our gang here, you know? I think everybody in the band is really happy that it’s working out and excited about doing the new record. I mean we’re still the same band, same sound and everything, it’s just– I guess our attitudes are a little different. 

What exactly does it feel like when you’re writing and all of the ideas are bouncing off of everyone and everything connects and you have that moment where you’re like, “This is it! This is the song”?

I mean sometimes I’ll write riffs at home and record them on my phone and record them, go up to my room and I’ll play it for the dudes, we’ll jam the riffs for a little bit, but usually I find the best riffs and stuff that I write for songs are off the cuff, like the first thing I play when I pick up the guitar, just improvising. I’ll usually put my phone on record when I do that. I find that when it comes out of nowhere like that, an improvised situation, everybody is more creative and excited about it. To me, it’s something special, it doesn’t happen all the time, not an everyday life for everybody, it’s something different and special. When you know you have killer riffs and a good tone going and good structure and everything, you leave the jam room going, “dude, that’s going to be a bad song!”

It all just comes to life all of a sudden.

Yeah! You usually get the meat and potatoes of it in one day; the good general idea. You record it, I’m the type of person [where] on my ride home, I got a 20 minute ride home from practice, I’ll listen to a hundred times and over analyze it, wake up the next day, and then when it does come to you. It’s like, “This is it! this is good!”

You’ve been doing this forever, you’ve been in Superjoint, Down of course, and Eyehategod for 30 years now…

Yeah. That’s funny because you just said what I was going to say. I’ve been in a bunch of different bands with different writing situations.

Yeah, that’s what I was going to ask…How do the writing situations it differ between EHG, Superjoint, and Down? And how has that changed throughout the last 30 years?

It just differs in personalities, you know? For some reason it’s really easy to write with EYEHATEGOD. To me, it has to be a situation where everybody’s buckled down and focused.

Like with Down… The first time that Down ever jammed, we wrote Bury Me In Smoke, Lifer, and Temptations Wings, Losing All. We were in this huge garage and everybody was just so focused. In one afternoon, we wrote three songs. They were great songs, you know?

I mean, sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. But when you have everybody in the room focused, it doesn’t matter what band it is, something’s going to happen.

How do you feel over the last 30 years you’ve personally grown as an artist throughout your career, your musical journey with every single one of your bands?

I feel extremely blessed to have been in every band that I’ve been in. I’ve learned something through every band. When you write multiple records with each band, you definitely come out of it knowing how to write songs, you take other people’s ideas– Philip’s [Anselmo] really good with arranging and writing. Whenever we work, it’s gotten to the point now when we work together, we almost read each other’s minds.

It’s a process, it’s like anything, the more you do, the better you get at it. I just, like I said, feel blessed that I’ve been in and have had the opportunity to really broaden my musical horizons in a bunch of different bands and on different instruments.

Every band that you are in, whether it be EYEHATEGOD, Down, Superjoint – each band is so distinct. You just know when listening to one note that it’s EYEHATEGOD, that it’s Down, that it’s Superjoint! And a lot of bands now that have these side-projects and whatnot, they really all sound the same. However, everybody in the New Orleans Metal Scene has a distinct sound, no matter how many side projects everyone has. Why do you think that is?

 

You nailed it. I think being from New Orleans, I’ve said this a million times, growing up, being a little bitty kid, watching bands at Mardi Gras, walking through parades… Being from New Orleans, you’re also subjected to Blues, Jazz, Funk music, you know?

It’s not like, “Hey man, I’m a Metal Head! YEAH!” I don’t say that… I listen to a lot of Country music and stuff. Just growing up in New Orleans, there was a point in my life when I was younger where I would go and see Funk bands, Blues bands…You just soak it up. It’s like life, you learn from experiences and hope the next day that you can use your experiences. 

 

Every [inaudible] will be to New Orleans. That to me is my ace in the pocket, my good card in the pocket.

New Orleans just has that culture that nowhere else in the world has. That’s why I love the Metal scene down there, it’s just so diverse. It’s not like anything else.

Yeah, all the bands… In New Orleans, it’s also a lot of pride in not trying to sound like somebody else, too. There’s a lot of– Acid Bath, I remember those dudes coming to see us play, they’d drive up from the bayou and they would come see us play and stuff. At first, I think they were like an Alice In Chains cover band, then overnight, they became an original heavy band that didn’t sound like anybody else. It happens all the time in New Orleans, it’s really cool.

That’s the good thing about New Orleans, even though it’s a big tourist town, a lot of people come there to listen to the music. It’s extremely, extremely eclectic. It’s really cool, I can’t explain it.

I think that is the perfect definition. What is going on with Superjoint?

Well, we got back together to play Housecore Horror Film Festival [2014] and ended up doing another record, which was really cool. Then we did the touring cycle for that. Philip is so busy, he’s got the Illegals as well, and Scour, and we have a whole other project going on.

Oh really?!

Yeah. It’s called En Minor. I play drums in that and Kevin Bond [Superjoint], Steve Taylor [Philip Anselmo & The Illegals, Superjoint] and it’s super mellow. It’s really mellow and Philip sings pretty vocals and stuff. That’s coming out soon.

Wow. I cannot wait to hear this!

Yeah. I’ve been telling everybody they are going to love it.

So [back to] Superjoint, we’re supposed to get together and write another EP or something like that. This is EYEHATEGOD’s 30th Anniversary year, so we’re pretty much– we’re trying to– I don’t know what the fuck we’re trying to prove, we’re 50 years old, and we haven’t been home for more than three weeks this year. But it’s good, I think we’re proving to ourselves that, fuck man, we’ve gotten this opportunity with the band, we’ve done it for 30 years, let’s roll! That’s probably why Superjoint’s taking a back burner to that, you know?

And is that also what’s going on with Down also? Will there be another Down record?

Eventually. Eventually one day, I’m sure we’ll get back together and do something. But for right now, it’s the same thing. Everybody’s doing something different. Pepper’s [Keenan, Corrosion of Conformity, Down] doing COC, Bobby’s [Landgraf, Down] doing Honky and all that. Down’s taken a long break before, but hopefully something will happen soon.

 

As you know, I’m with Guitars For Vets and thank you so much for wanting to come on board and help us. We truly believe in the healing power of music and our mission is to help provide an escape, help take their minds off of everything they’re going through by learning guitar. Music is an escape, it gives people an escape, whether they’ve been through war or just every day life trauma. What are some moments you’ve had where listening to music, creating music has helped you get through a dark time? And if there are any songs that you’ve written during that time, that you’d like to share?

 

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is when our drummer Joey [LaCaze] died in 2013. That was a really bad time for us. As opposed to letting it get to us and everything, we immediately got another drummer and got straight back to work. It helped. Speaking for myself, it helped me occupy my mind during a bad time. 

When I got clean in 2005, that was a really bad time. I had a girlfriend that passed away in 2005, so it was really, really bad. I got clean, I went up to San Francisco, visited some friends, stuck to my guns and came home and then got a phone call that we were going to get together and do Down again. That was really a cool thing.

For me being a musician, it’s a great way to…Like if I’m sitting around my house and I’m all bored or bummed out or something, I’ll go to my garage and start jamming. It immediately puts me in a better mood. 

There’s definitely serious healing properties to it, like you said. 

 

We just had our first round of guitar lessons for the chapter here in Bismarck. The looks and the smiles on everybody’s faces were so amazing. It gives me chills to think about it. Music definitely is healing.

 

Yeah. I mean those guys, be it if they’re in action or not, they are away from their families and see a lot of things that normal people don’t see. I can imagine that music would be a great escape for anyone in a situation like that. I can certainly also relate to them with being away from their families, being in a place you don’t know about, stuff like that, just from touring. You don’t always want to be on tour. [laughs] Contrary to popular belief, you know? 

There’s definitely a way to relate there.

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