One time I was in Sweden and a kid with a cassette asked me if I had heard of a band called Down”
W (Nando Machado): Hello, Pepper, how are you? Can you hear me?
PK: I hear you, where are you at?
W (NM): I’m in São Paulo, where are you now?
PK: I’m in my garage in New Orleans.
W (NM): New Orleans? Ok. First of all, let me introduce ourselves. We are a podcast called Wikimetal, we are the number one Heavy Metal and Hard Rock podcast in Brazil. So, thank you for your time, thank you in advance.
PK: Great, thank you.
W (NM): So, just to start, you still play for Corrosion of Conformity, I was wondering, because the other day I spoke with Dan Lilker from Nuclear Assault and talking about the 80s and they were saying that they are probably the first Heavy Metal band that merged Punk and Hard Core influences into Heavy Metal, but he said that at the time there were other Hard Core bands that did the other way around, they started at Hard Core bands and they started mixing Heavy Metal influences, what do you think about that?
PK: Well, C.O.C was a Hard Core band that started putting in Metal shit, that was how it went, with C.O.C. The first C.O.C record was blatantly Hard Core. Basically, here is how it went down, back in the day, as you got better playing your guitar, you became more Metal, it’s pretty much how it went.
W (NM): How about your first contract? Can you tell us a little bit about that story?
PK: Back in the old days, me and Phil… Phil was in Pantera and I was in C.O.C and we were both doing pretty well, Phil was doing really well and the rest of the guys lived in New Orleans. We came home and started a band called Down. So, I made our tomato logo, xerox it on the sheets, spray crayon on the sheets, we were pretty serious and we started making three song demos, ‘cause back then we traded cassettes on the road with other bands, all the time, that’s all we did. So we made a three song cassette and called it Down and I put a little Jesus’ face on it and shit… so I was doing a tour and played it with kids and I was like “Man, we heard this band Down and…” “No, no, check it out”. So I gave him a copy of it and I knew they were gonna trade it and we wanted to see how far it would get. So one time I was in Sweden and some kid came up to me with a cassette and asked me if I had heard of a band called Down, so it got all the way through Europe in the underground, so nobody knew it was us. So we kept making demos tapes of it and then finally we played a show one time and somebody videotaped the show here in New Orleans and then it got to the record people, it got to Warner Brothers and they found out it was people they already knew about. So they found us and that was it, we were busted.
W (NM): That was a very good strategy and very interesting story, thank you.
PK: Me and Phil were just basically testing to see, back in the early 90s if the underground still existed, we were curious about tape trading and all that kind of stuff and wanted to know how far people were going and searching out music and me and Phil were excited about finding new bands and cool shit from around the world. It was very life affirming that the underground existed and we were excited about that and continued from there.
W (NM): That’s great. How would you do if it was today with the Internet, what do you think it’s the main difference between them?
PK: Screw it, dude, fuck the Internet!
W (NM): Do you miss those days, those tape days?
PK: I love it. Dude, if you saw my garage, I have about 4,000 cassettes, all of them, saved.
W (NM): So, you don’t have an iPod?
PK: No, no.
W (NM): Do you still listen to tapes?
PK: I should have an iPod, I guess. I got some demo tapes from the 80s that would blow your fucking mind, man. Killer bands that never got signed.
W (NM): I believe you, man, I believe you.
PK: I still listen to them, dude. “Chaos Wars”, they fucking ripped. There were 80s Thrash bands that were just destroying music, man. Never made it, but I got the cassette in my garage.
W (NM): Would you choose one song that makes you lose your mind completely when you hear it on the radio or wherever you are?
PK: Yeah, Chemical Warfare.
Phil doesn’t take no for an answer, he’s crazier than he’s ever been”
W (NM):How about your cafe or your bar in New Orleans? What kind of music does it play there, Le Bon Temps Roule?
PK: Le Bon Temps Roule.
W (NM): Yeah, French. My French is not that good, sorry.
PK: It’s kind of Cajun French, for “let the good times roll”.
W (NM): Yeah, I understand, but my pronunciation of French is not the best.
PK: Not mine, either. It’s a bar I used to hang out at as a kid and once I made a little bit of coin, money, the old man wanted to sell it and I was the only dude that hung out there and had enough money to buy it, so I bought it and I kept it like it is and it’s basically a New Orleans music club for New Orleans musicians to “cut the cheese”, to become better at what they do. I have a lot of black bands, a lot of African horn players that play there and get their shit going, I don’t charge cover charge, it’s always free. So you get these kids in there that are fucking ripping. It’s not a Heavy Metal joint at all.
W (NM): Well, that sounds good enough. Could you invite our listeners to go there and maybe do some tourism in New Orleans.
PK: If you’re from Brazil and you want to come see the real shit in New Orleans, come to Le Bon Temps Roule, for sure.
W (NM): Can you choose another song now for our listeners to hear? Maybe a Down song that you’re really proud of.
PK: Oh, let’s see it, Down’s…shit.
W (NM): We gotta play some Down, man.
PK: “Beautifully Depressed”, that’s pretty cool, and then “There’s Something On My Side”.
W (NM): Tell us a little bit about your relationship with James Hetfield. I mean, everybody knows that you participated on their documentary, right?
PK: Yeah, we became really good friends through mutual respect, we really love the Deliverance record, we became friends based up in that and we became really tight friends for a long time and I travelled the world with that guy, we had a fucking blast. We are still tight, he’s a wonderful person, he turned his life around, he’s completely sober right now, which is fantastic, he was one of those people who had to be. In his work, he had been drunk and fucked up everywhere across the globe and was just tired of it. So, we are still tight, we are not as tight as we used to be, because I still drink a little bit. As for the AA people, they kind of throw out their old friends, but he still sends gifts on my birthday instead. We are not hanging out at the bar like the old days. He’s a wonderful person, he’s done a lot to me, I appreciate it. We are still good friends and Hard Rock fanatics.
W (NM): What do you expect from the shows in Brazil? Is this your first time in Brazil or you’ve been here?
PK: First time in Brazil, never been there. I’ve always wanted to go there without even being in a band. If you saw my house right now, it looks like being in Brazil, you know?
W (NM): All right.
PK: Just the attitude of what I think Brazil is about is very similar to where I’m from in New Orleans. In terms of United States, there’s probably nothing closer to anything in Brazil then New Orleans.
W (NM): Yeah, I believe you, man.
PK: I can’t wait to see that end of things. And to jam in Brazil and play music there being a dumb 15 year-old Punk Rock kid playing in a garage is a pretty big deal, you know? So, I’m very excited about that end of it also. And I guarantee you we are gonna expect a lot from the crowd, because Down songs are pretty thumpin and heavy shit and Phil doesn’t take no for an answer, he’s crazier than he’s ever been. He’ll stop within the middle of a song if the crowd is not going ape, you know.
W (NM): So, just for us to finish, man. First of all, thank you for your time, we look forward to seeing you live in November. Just leave a message to all your fans in Brazil and invite everybody to the SWU Festival.
PK: Everybody in Brazil get your asses out in the show to see Down, you won’t be disappointed and we have a huge respect to people down there and we cannot wait to get down there jam and you better give it back or we’ll fucking leave.
W (NM): That was excellent, it was really nice talking to you.
PK: Ok, welcome, see you soon in São Paulo.
W (NM): Thank you, you guys.
PK: Bye, bye.