Hear an exclusive stream of the 6-song EP by Phil Anselmo's band Down here before it's release next week.
The only downside of Down, the members of the all-star metal band led by Phil Anselmo, have long complained, is arranging time for the group amidst their other commitments. But they think they've found a way to solve that. "Down IV Part I - The Purple EP," a sludgey, six-song set that drops on Sept. 18, is the first of four planned EPs the quintet hopes to release in relatively short order -- at least shorter than the five years since "Down III: Over the Under" came out. (Listen to an exclusive stream of the EP below.)
Listen: "Down IV Part I - The Purple EP"
"It's about getting people more music quicker," frontman Phil Anselmo ( Pantera, Superjoint Ritual, Arson Anthem, etc.) tells Billboard. "It's obviously easier to knock out six songs rather than 12 songs. Me personally, I hate doing full-length records 'cause it drains the f*** out of you. And (an EP) leaves ways less chance for songs that you'd consider filler songs to get through. I think it's the healthiest way for Down to continue to get music out on a reasonable schedule."
Guitarist Pepper Keenan (ex- Corrosion of Conformity) says he DOES still like to make what he calls "the giant records" (i.e. albums), but he likes both the efficiency of the EPs as well as the opportunity to change styles form one to the other. "It allows us to shift gears between EPs," Keenan explains. "With Down we have a couple of styles of songs, and it's sometimes heard to fit a particular song with an album, so we have to put it aside for who knows how long. Now we can we can create EPs that can shift progression and diameters as they progress. That's our idea -- in theory, at least."
Actually, Keenan says Down has "mapped out" where it hopes to take the other three. "We're not just shooting blindly," he says. While "The Purple EP" -- which marks the debut of Crowbar bassist Pat Bruders in place of Pantera alumnus Rex Brown -- is raw and immediate in a manner Anselmo and Keenan compare to Down's 1995 debut "NOLA" ("hamfisted is a term they both use) Keenan predicts "Down IV Part 2" will be more fleshed out like "Down III." The third, he says, will likely be "trippy, acousticy, mellow, cleaner, not bombastic, the kind of songs we've been talking about for years but can never place anywhere." And the fourth? "I'm assuming that one is just gonna be doom as f*** -- giant, bombastic, slow, bury-me-in-smoke type of things. Apocalyptic. We'll have fun with it."
Anselmo, however, prefers not to promise when the other EPs will surface. "We are the worst; we are liars of the first degree when it comes to telling the public or anybody else some set date or time for the next release!" he says with a laugh. "It always seems like five friggin' years go by, no matter what we say. But, once again, the reason we're doing the EPs is to get the product out quicker to our audience. That just means concentrating on a handful of songs instead of an entire record, and it works."
And, Anselmo adds, the other EPs might not continue the color scheme in their titles. "People are calling it 'The Purple EP,' but I had nothing to do with that," he says. "Left that totally up to..,the press, to the fans. I left it up to everybody else. Call it what the f*** you want, and we'll move on from there. I honestly don't care. I don't know what the next one's going to be called, if anything. The music speaks for itself."
Down kicks off an 11-date North American tour on Sept. 18 in Fort Worth, Texas. Anselmo says the group plans to play European festivals during the summer of 2013 and may book other tours during the interim.