Zero and Below

Crowbar

Zero and Below

With a legacy that stretches back to 1990, Crowbar are among the sludge OGs. The New Orleans band’s 12th album brings back the suffocating doom of their early releases alongside the melodic heft of beloved albums Odd Fellows Rest and Equilibrium—not to mention new acoustic textures. “We really tried to mix it up a lot with the tracklisting,” vocalist, guitarist, and lyricist Kirk Windstein tells Apple Music. “I still always approach it as an album with two sides, as if I was flipping the vinyl and listening to the whole thing as one piece of work.” Lyrically, some of the songs on Zero and Below have specific meanings, but most are purposefully open to interpretation. “The way I am with lyrics, I really just write a lot of thoughts down,” Windstein says. “Some of the songs have an actual story behind them and some don’t at all. It’s up to the listener to decide what they think it means.” Below, he comments on each track. “The Fear That Binds You” “Believe it or not, most of the music we did for this song was originally written for Body Count. But by that point, they had already finished with drum tracks, and it was just too late. But I thought a couple of these riffs could turn into Crowbar riffs, and they did. It’s a ripping tune, so we decided to open with it.” “Her Evil Is Sacred” “That title was something that Robin, my wife, came up with. She always helps me a bit with stuff. I did a podcast with Jamey Jasta the other day where we listened to the whole new record together and he asked if the song was about the city of New Orleans. There’s really no exact meaning to that particular track, but now I can’t stop thinking about what he said, because I could see where it could be about New Orleans.” “Confess to Nothing” “Musically, the first riff is one of [guitarist] Matt [Brunson]’s riffs. I always tell people that I don’t write everything, and it’s true. I write more riffs than the other guys, but the riffs they do write are really important and really killer. This is a perfect example. So, I took that riff and ran with it for the rest of the song. Without it, I wouldn’t have had anything to feed off of. Matt even came up with the title. Jasta said it could be on a T-shirt—and it could. It’s a cool little saying.” “Chemical Godz” “I came up with the main riff and chorus, but the middle section is Matt’s and it’s beautiful. I laid a lot of harmonies on top of it, and it really takes you on a journey somewhere else. Lyrically, it’s one of the few songs that is pretty black-and-white. It’s about substance abuse, and we show that in the video as well. It’s easy for me to write about because it’s everywhere. Thankfully, with all the problems I’ve had, I’ve never had an opiate or heroin issue, but I have a lot of friends who have.” “Denial of the Truth” “I think I pretty much wrote all of this one, and it’s exactly what it was intended to be, which is a total doom track. In the beginning of the band, we had some doom stuff, but we got away from it a bit. Some of that stuff can be kinda monotonous live, especially if you’re a support act on tours. It’s not something we’d play supporting another band, but it’s definitely a song that I love and everyone seems to dig. When we’re headlining, I’d love to put it in the set.” “Bleeding From Every Hole” “I don’t even know how I came up with that title, but it’s a metaphor for just being in the darkest place you could ever possibly be, where mentally and physically you feel like you’re dying. I mean, it can’t get any worse than bleeding from every hole. But it’s a short, brutal song, hardcore with the drum beat and whatnot—a total upbeat tune. This one sounds killer at rehearsal, so it’s definitely going to be a live one. It’s actually going to be the second video as well.” “It’s Always Worth the Gain” “I was listening to the Motörhead record Rock ’n’ Roll on the way to the studio, and the title track is like an old-school call-and-answer thing with the drums and the vocals and this short little riff. So, I got to the studio and wrote this on the spot. It’s a little more rock ’n’ roll than a lot of Crowbar stuff—at least the verse is—but to me it’s really hooky and catchy. Lyrically, it’s about the music business. It’s talking about how cutthroat and stupid it is, and how bands are always in competition with each other, getting fucked over by labels and stuff, but learning your lessons as you go.” “Crush Negativity” “Thirty years ago, when I was trying to find myself as a lyricist, I’d write a lot of negative stuff where I was kind of like, ‘There’s no hope, give up,’ or ‘We’re all going to die’—just dark shit that had no light at the end of the tunnel. As I get older, I’m trying to be more positive with every aspect of my life. Lyrically, this song is still heavy as shit, but I think it’s important to give people hope. I’m saying, ‘You can get through this. I know it’s hard, but you can do it and you’re not alone’ type of thing.” “Reanimating a Lie” “This one is weird. Musically, I think Matt came up with the opening riff once again, and then I took it and ran with it. It picks up, tempo-wise, and it’s a lot harder at the end, as far as the aggression and everything. But lyrically, it’s really strange because it’s almost about a dying sun. I normally never write fictional or fantasy type things, but with this song I did.” “Zero and Below” “This is a great closer for the record because it’s got a really cool vibe. It’s epic in its own way, with a lot of guitar harmonies. And it’s the first time ever in 30 years and 12 records that we actually have an acoustic guitar on a Crowbar record, which was our producer’s idea. I was going to play a 12-string, but he said I should play a six-string and do octaves instead—which is exactly what a 12-string is anyway, but it sounds way better doing it this way. It’s different than anything we’ve ever done.”

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