There was no better way to begin our day at the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival than with a chat with Kingdom of Sorrow’s guitarist and vocalist, Kirk Windstein. Let’s add onto that last statement. Kirk is also the guitarist of Crowbar and the main man of Down. So we should refer to him as the ultimate “metal multi-tasker”. Along with all that musical talent, Kirk also has a vibrant and extremely modest personality, which you Shockya readers will get a dose if you keep on reading.

On July 27th, we got to attend the 2011 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ. The metal music festival had a fierce line up, which included Megadeth, Godsmack, Disturbed, Trivium, Straight Line Stitch, All Shall Perish, In Flames, Machine Head, Suicide Silence, Red Fang, Unearth, Dr. Acula and Kingdom of Sorrow. Flooded with fans donned in their favorite band’s t-shirts, Mayhem was the place to be if you could wither the grueling heat.

The beating sun was not slowing Kirk down one bit. The “metal multi-tasker” filled us in on just about everything that’s going on in his life. Check out our interview below as he discusses Mayhem, Kingdom of Sorrow, Crowbar, Down and Justin Bieber. That last name was not a typo. See for yourself!

How has the tour been going?

It’s going good. We are over the hump. We are like 21 days down and 17 to go.

How has the heat been treating you?

Some days good; some other shows not so good. It’s been literally ridiculous.

Pretty brutal last week right?

Ya, like young kids in perfect shape are like passing out, getting IV’s and shit.

How’s the crowd responding to your music so far?

Really good. We are basically a new band, but Jamey and I have been around forever.

How is it making time for Kingdom of Sorrow with Crowbar and Down?

Well, Jamey beat everybody to the punch and made the commitment to this back in December. I just got back form Europe with Down right before this. Then I have three days off, play two shows with Crowbar then I have a week off before I start a three and half week Down tour. So, I just crammed this right in between. This is usually my summer break.

Do you ever record with one band and tour with another simultaneously or is it split pretty evenly between the bands?

It used to be split. Down is my main priority then Crowbar is like close to second. Because of Jamey’s ties, whatever you want to call it, to Hatebreed obviously, so he’s always with them and he has a new solo thing coming out that he is promoting as well. It’s really a side project for us and just an opportunity for us to let everybody know that, ya it’s a side band, but we are not just a bunch of friends f**king off. It’s real music and we really know what we are doing. For me, there are plenty of days where I rehearse with Down and Crowbar. Maybe I am in the studio with Crowbar and rehearsing with Down in the day, some shit like that.

How does Crowbar and Down influence Kingdom of Sorrow’s music?

Crowbar is basically me. I do 99% of the rifts, all the vocals, lyrics, all that shit. With Down, it’s really everybody. It’s a group collaboration. With Kingdom of Sorrow, me and Jamey work together. So it’s really good to work with talented people that have a different…I mean you can’t get any different, he’s from Connecticut, I’m from New Orleans. It doesn’t get that much different, culturally in the United States. It’s like being from Denmark and having a band with a dude from Portugal. Other than sharing the same language, we come from a whole different background. It makes it interesting; it’s cool.

Have you gotten time to check out the other bands or is it just interviews and playing?

Interviews and playing and signing. I haven’t really seen anybody, except In Flames, who are great, on the side stages. I have been able to see everybody on the main stage and I have seen Megadeth, a few times and everybody else. Seen Godsmack a lot too; they put on a great show. Megadeth’s great, been a fan since day one. It’s work. Even though I have a pass, I can’t watch from the seats, so I put in for a ticket if I want to watch. If I have a friend coming, I put an extra seat for me, so we can sit and watch the show like a fan and I don’t have to be sweating all alone. Cause I can watch from the side of the stage, but you can’t hear anything or see anything. I’m a fan. I want to watch Megadeth jamming. I am in the crowd, so it’s cool.

That’s a great idea! Any plans with Kingdom of Sorrow after Mayhem?

Not this year. It will be a while, maybe in the next few years.

What about after Mayhem with Down and Crowbar?

Ride for Dime with Crowbar on the 19th of August, a show in Baton Rouge with Crowbar on the 20th, Down starts a US tour, September 1st in San Antonio and runs through the 24th of September, record with Down in October and go to South America with Down in November and probably Europe with Crowbar in January.

You don’t stop. What do you do when you have complete downtime?

Hang out with my wife and I have a daughter from my ex-wife, so I see her as much as I can and spend time as much time as I can with her. She’s starting 3rd grade the day I get home. At home, I don’t go out to eat; I mean I go out to eat and drink beer, but I don’t go to bars and shit like that anymore.

Any chance your daughter will be into metal?

She’s Justin Bieber right now. It came out of nowhere too. I asked her six or eight months ago, what do you think of Justin Bieber? She’s like, he’s yucky Papa. Then one day, literally, I show up, get her and take off to have a fun day or whatever and she’s got a pink ‘Got Bieber?’ shirt and I’m like what’s up with that? She’s like, oh Aunt Amy took me and the boys, to go see the movie and it’s great! Then the next week, she’s like I need the DVD, I need the Justin Bieber doll and all that shit. So, I don’t know if she is going to get around to metal…

Ever check out Justin Bieber’s music?

Well, actually I watched a lot of the DVD with her and he’s actually a really talented kid. He’s good. She made me watch all that and my current wife, hopefully last one, asks what does Hailey think of Selena Gomez? Does she like her? Is she jealous? And I ask my little girl, do you like Selena Gomez? She’s like no! She doesn’t say hate, but she’s like I don’t like her at all.

I read she gets a ton of death threats.

I bet she does. She’s like I wish he was eight and I was his girlfriend. I’m like, okay…

You’ve toured throughout Europe. How do European fans compare to American fans? Who’s crazier?

Shows in England, Ireland and Germany are pretty crazy, a lot of the eastern places. We’ve played with Down a lot in Russia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Istanbul, Turkey, that kind of shit. We’ve played with Metallica over there and those people go crazy because they don’t get to see many bands. Only big bands like Metallica go there. We wouldn’t go there on our own cause our record isn’t even available, but Metallica could fill a stage anywhere in the world. Europe is a little more maniacal; they are diehard fans. Crowbar has been around for 20 years and Down has been around almost that long. Our first record came out 16 years ago. They still come to all our shows, buy all our merch and buy all our records. Over here, people are like into something and the short attention span is gone. In Europe, they are diehards. I mean most bands, who have ups and downs in the states, the second biggest market is Europe. So they can live forever playing in Europe.

You ever get time to site see in Europe?

This trip I just returned from. It was my 30th time there. That’s 19 years on. This time I made it big point. When I first started going there, I would site see a bit, but it was kind of hard. There was no cell phones and no computers. We couldn’t find where shit was. There were different currencies in every country. It was crazy. This time, I am like you know what this is about my 15th time or something in Paris, I’ve seen the Eiffel Tour like way….I’m like, oh there it is. So I’m like f**k this, we are going to do it this time. We woke up, had a day off in Paris and me and a bunch of the crew guys and Down jumped on the metro train and took it down to the Notre Dame Cathedral then we walked to the Louvre then walked to the Arc De Triomphe then walked to the Eiffel Tour, which was about six hours with a few beer stops on the way. Then went to a pub and was like f**k this, we are taking a train back.

Since you’ve been doing music for around 20 ears, how has technology impacted your music? With all the new software?

Management and publicists do all that to keep our fans informed and up-to-date. I mean really it is just killing music as far as downloads. Nobody, except like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, are selling records, but there’s a plus and a negative to it just like everything else. The plus is how easy….I just posted on Facebook. It’s a great tool. I put like new Down US dates just announced and like zillion people hit me up. It’s a great tool for promotion and advertising, but people are lazy now. My dad was asking me, what’s this deal with the record industry? Why don’t people buy records anymore? I said to him, do you want me to show you why? It was 11 o’clock at night and was raining outside. I’m like give me band, Rolling Stones or whatever. On iTunes, you see that buy right there, hit that right now and I’ve got the record. Even if the store was open, you could get in your car, go out in the rain, drive there, walk into the mall and whatever….He’s like, got it! So it’s too simple to not.

Do you have any tips for aspiring metal bands to have a lengthy career in this industry like you have had?

Quit now! No I mean, honestly be original. I’m not like super popular, definitely not rich, but I’ve had 20 years plus of touring, longevity and making music, which is what my passion is. We are not really popular because we do our own thing. It’s different. Be original. Everybody has days where they’re like oh this band’s really hot. You could be a band putting records out and they will change your sound and be like this or change your… You know what f**k off and just do what you do, believe in it, stick to it and if you’re good, it will eventually pay off.

Those are great words to end with!

by Lonnie Nemiroff

Kingdom of Sorrow

By lonnie

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