Pepper Keenan of Down

by Cynthia Jo
Staff Writer

Pepper KeenanPepper Keenan, guitarist for Down, takes time to call HardRock Haven’s Cyndi Jo in between sound-check at Thursday’s Sept 9th show in San Francisco. After years of touring since their last effort Down III: Over the Under, Pepper talks about the much overdue album, new bassist Pat Bruders, drinking lots of beer, and ghosts.

Hardrock Haven: Hey, Mr. Keenan, how are you this fine day?

Pepper: Good, I’m in San Francisco.

HRH: Awesome, how’s San Fran treating you?

Pepper: Everything’s fine.

Hardrock Haven: Good. And the tour, overall, how’s that going?

Pepper: Good, we’re having a blast. We always have a blast, which it’s what’s all about.

Hardrock Haven: Yeah, any stories you can share?

Pepper: What’s happens on the road stays on the road lady. (laughs)

Hardrock Haven: (laughs) Right on. So you’re on the second week of the tour, and tomorrow you’re playing Anaheim, how’s playing in Southern California different from playing in any other city?

Pepper: It’s been a while since we’ve been down to Anaheim. I don’t know if we’ve played The Grove before. It will be great. It’s California we always have a good time there. We were in Utah yesterday.

Hardrock Haven: Yeah, you have a lot of excited fans out here who are happy to welcome you back.

Pepper: Yeah, always a good time.

Hardrock Haven: So the tour ends at the end of September, what are your plans after that?

Pepper: After that, we are going to work on the new record.

Hardrock Haven: Oh good.

Pepper: Yeah, as soon as we are done with that we are going to South America and doing about three weeks down there and wait and hope the new records will be out by early next year. Hope it’s amazing because we just want to get back out there.

Hardrock Haven: Where are you recording the new record?

Pepper: We are recording it in our studio out in the swamps. (laughs)

Hardrock Haven: (laughs) That sounds like fun. Are you working with any producers?

Pepper: Nope, we’re doing it all by ourselves. We’ve always done it all by ourselves. I think we kind of have it figured out by now.(laughs)

Hardrock Haven: For sure, and you’ve done an awesome job.

Pepper: I’d like to think so.

Hardrock Haven: Yeah, so with the touring for the last few years, do you have any more material to do another live CD/DVD?

Pepper: Maybe, when have some more material or good recorded shit. We did a really good show in Japan so we would like to put that out a little later.

Hardrock Haven: Very cool, so going back to the new record, any influences that have come up for being on the road that you would like to share?

Pepper: Well we’ve pretty much come up with the concept, similar to the last three albums. We are going backwards, kind of more of the NOLA direction. It’s going to be very greedy heavy guitar, we’re really excited.

Hardrock Haven: Awesome. Any lyrical themes you can tell me?

Pepper: Nah, no. (laughs)

Hardrock Haven: (laughs)

Pepper: I’m not going to tell you any of that, you have to wait until it comes out.

Hardrock Haven: Ok, fair enough. We’ll wait for that then.

Pepper: It’s gonna be pretty brutal though.

Hardrock Haven: How do you find influence on writing riffs, or music in general?

Pepper: At this point in the game we know what to do. We kind of vibe off from each other.

Hardrock Haven: What are you looking forward to the most when you tour Latin America?

Pepper: Well after the album is done, we’re going to have a huge blowout and be super excited to play a bunch of new material.

Hardrock Haven: Any bands you would like to tour with next summer?

Pepper: There this one band called Ghost. We’re really fond of, we all love them very much. They’re from Sweden. If no one has heard from them, you should really check them out.

Hardrock Haven: So do you prefer to be in the studio or on the road?

Pepper: Ou. Tough question. I think the reward of being in the studio is going on the road. You can’t do one without the other.

Pepper KeenanHardrock Haven: Right. Any rituals you do before you go on stage for the shows?

Pepper: Yeah, yeah we save all our energy to make it loud.

Hardrock Haven: Do you specifically have anything you do before a show a show?

Pepper: Drink a lot of beer. (laughs)

Hardrock Haven: (laughs) I’m sure that’s always a good time.

Pepper: Yeah. it’s always a party.

Hardrock Haven: So you just literally finished a sound check as you’re speaking to me.

Pepper: Yes, we did.

Hardrock Haven: Good?

Pepper: Yes, good as always.

Hardrock Haven: Any new songs you’re going to throw out on us tomorrow night?

Pepper: No, not yet.

Hardrock Haven: Same set list for all shows?

Pepper: We try to change it up a bit, add some from time to time. We just got a new bass player so there needs to be some new material he can learn as well.

Hardrock Haven: Cool, how’s working with the new bass player? Pat Bruders, right?

Pepper: Yeah, he’s great. He plays with his fingers so it’s a different ball game.

Hardrock Haven: Cool. I’m a bass player myself so I know that’s always better.

Pepper: Well, cool. Come early to the show and show us what you got. (laughs)

Hardrock Haven: (laughs) yeah if only. Going back to being on the road and all that, are there any fans you’ve come across with crazy requests?

Pepper: We had a fan come out to this sound-check that came out to see us all the way from Jordan, so we have crazy fans from all over the world. We try to play it off with that. Go to as many places as we can. It’s a big mad heavy metal world.

Hardrock Haven: Yeah it is. Is there anywhere specific you would like to tour.

Pepper: At this point we’ll go anywhere. It’s all fun. Everywhere we go it’s fun to play.

Hardrock Haven: Do you ever fly out family to see you play?

Pepper: No, not really. Sometimes if we do it’s for Europe.

Hardrock Haven: So before I let you, because the show is about to start, is there anything you would like to let the fans know?

Pepper: Just that we appreciate everybody’s support and we wouldn’t know what to do without them. The main reason we do this is to play live and we know the extreme support of the bands and we do appreciate it.

Hardrock Haven: And we appreciate you playing awesome music.

Pepper: Yes, and we will continue to do so all around the world.

Hardrock Haven: Well thank you so much for this opportunity, been a big fan for so many years. Have a good show tonight, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Pepper: Yes, for sure, thank you. We’ll see you tomorrow.

Hardrock Haven: Alright, bye.

Photos appear courtesy of Chris A.