Five Questions with Buck Down

Dwight Easter has 5 questions for Combine’s Buck Down ahead of their performance at the “Songs of Protest” themed 2019 Veer Music Awards on February 12. See the Happenings Calendar Event for more details.


by Dwight Easter

Norfolk, VA. Released by Caroline Records 1995. “A reckless, hard, and full of amazingly rich guitar feedback, Norfolk, VA is a solid debut from an interesting and original band.”

Dwight: How political and weird will the Combine performance be?

Buck: We only have about 15 or 20 minutes to play, so that doesn’t leave a whole lot of room. A lot of that will depend on how quickly the music comes together. We have about a week of rehearsals together before the show. If the songs get tight pretty fast… we’ll have more time to scheme together anything that would broadly fall under the banner of stagecraft.

Aside from that, Combine’s music wasn’t inherently political when it was written (other than maybe addressing the social politics of a small town music scene) so it’s probably not going to be incredibly easy to reverse engineer something overtly political into it. Unless of course we end up writing something new……

Dwight: Do you feel an obligation to speak for the folks that identify with your writings?

Buck: Probably. Getting a microphone stuck in front of your face and the explicit permission to be the loudest guy in the room is sort of an awesome responsibility, and an incredibly easy one to abuse. Combine was always very proletariat and inherently blue collar, at the time we started. We were all doing factory jobs, and the sound of the band is actually pretty heavily influenced by the repetitive mechanical sounds generated by the automatic presses Daryll and I worked on all day.

But we were always about the little guy, and I think we always felt it was sort of our responsibility to carry the banner for all the “less cool” people in the scene and once we became a national act, we definitely felt the responsibility for being the ambassadors for our little southern town that was often left off of anyone’s list as being one of the cool scenes of the time. Naming the first album NORFOLK VA was a very deliberate choice, and I’d like to think that there was a bunch of folks that saw themselves when they saw us onstage, or in the press or whatever.

Members of Combine circa 1996, Xavier Darryl Lewis-bass, John Corbitt-drums, Buck Down-guitar and vocals.

Dwight: Will there be new material?

Buck: I’d be pretty surprised if we didn’t end up writing a new tune. As I mentioned, we have about a week of rehearsals, and the plan is to get together every day before the show. We always spent a lot of time at rehearsal improvising, and most of our tunes were written that way, so I fully expect that something like that will bust out a new tune. It’s also very easy for me to see this sparking an entirely new record if we end up catching fire.

Dwight: Have you maintained contact through the years with your band mates?

Buck: Absolutely. Me, John and Daryl have had a group messenger thread running for a few years straight now, where at least one of us will ping almost every day or so. Daryl and I even did a design job together a few months back. We all talk online damn near every day.

Dwight: How would you describe your artistic growth through the 20 years post Combine?

Buck: The beautiful gift Combine gave me was a name and some credibility in the music industry. Every single dollar I’ve made in the music biz in the last 25 years or so is built off of the connections I made from being the lead singer in Combine. What it’s done is made me enough money to keep doing it as a job rather than a pastime. It has afforded me the chance to expand my vocabulary. I went from being in a punk band to a giant techno funk act, to a roots soul band, and then into an electro swing DJ project, and now back to something that sounds not incredibly far off from where Combine left off.

My concern now is that the way the music business works now, kids today won’t get that shot. My fear is that we won’t see the next Bowie, or Prince, or Dylan simply because there isn’t enough money generated by making recorded music any more to sustain someone long enough to get really good at it. It took The Beatles making something like 14 records before they made Sgt. Peppers. My fear is that from this point forward we’ll only see music that’s made by 20-year-olds in the cusp of time between graduating high school and having to pay astronomical rents, and whatever rich kids that don’t have to work make.

Combine Songs Available on bandcamp. Pay What You Can!

Visit Combine’s bandcamp

View Buck’s latest release “All the way Down” Recorded and mastered in Los Angeles, California:

About Dwight Easter: Digital folk artist, family man and bread merchant. Some of the best moments in my life are experiencing the power and influence of great art. I came up in the Norfolk era of the M80’s, Buttsteak, and Antic Hay.

Dwight and Buck, or Brian as he was known in those days, were good friends when I met them back in the early ‘90’s.  Dwight, Buck, and Mark Jacobs were familiar faces at every show in town back then, and soon began their own bands. The rest, as we say, is rock’n’roll history.  Dwight is currently a father living in Hampton Roads, creating art, and busting ass managing Panera Bread restaurants locally. Buck lives in California and continues to rock.

- Debra

5 QuestionsDwight Easter