Kirk Windstein & Atomic Burger

00:00 January 26, 2014
By: Emily Hingle

 For a quarter of a century, the sludge progenitors in Crowbar have not only captivated local rockers, but music lovers all over the world. Vocalist/guitarist Kirk Windstein is the force behind the long-running band, and he is making sure that they cement their longevity with their upcoming album. “Crowbar’s 25th anniversary begins in 2014, and it’s time for us to do it for real. It’s been a lot of ups and downs, but I’m really happy where I’m at with Crowbar and life in general. The writing process has gone great, flowing really quickly without feeling rushed. It sounds like older Crowbar just twenty five years later. It’s more mature. We try to bring different elements to each record. We brought in more dynamics, more tempo changes, different time signatures…It’s not quite as aggressive and more melodic,” explains Windstein. Kirk Windstein is no stranger to melodic grooves. In fact, he is a huge fan of mellow music, and his band, known for having some of the world’s heaviest riffs, covered the song “Dreamweaver” by Gary Wright. “I just love 70s rock. I loved AM radio soft rock songs as a kid. “Dreamweaver” was one of those 4 o’clock in the morning, end of day’s work. But if I can take a song like that and make it sound heavy, it’s a challenge. We’ve been thinking about doing a cover of ”I’m In Love with my Car” by Queen,” says Windstein.

His foray into music was inspired by other 1970s pop and rock artists. “We had a piano in the house, and the first band I flipped on was Elton John. I took lessons for a little while, and I wanted to play ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ from day one. At 13, I decided I want to play guitar because of KISS. I just taught myself and play by ear,” explains Windstein. 

Windstein has performed around the globe, but he says nothing compares to our local dishes. “I’ve been in 42 countries, one, and I take the When-In-Rome philosophy. I had a Kangaroo Kabob in Australia, and, I must say, I did try the Rocky Mountain Oysters in Montana, but nothing’s like New Orleans Seafood. To be honest, my wife is such a good cook that I prefer to eat her cooking than go out,” says Windstein. 

The newly opened burger joint Atomic Burger located at 3934 Veterans Memorial Boulevard specializes in the American classics hamburgers, French fries, and milkshakes, and brothers Joe and Nick Spitale opened the restaurant because of a lack of quality in fast food. “We have a couple of kids and lead a busy lifestyle. We’re often forced to eat fast food, and we felt guilty about it: felt bad afterwards, didn’t really know what I was eating, there’s a lack of transparency. We wondered why fast food has to be this way; why does it have to be held to a different standard, why does the food have to so heavily processed, why can’t it just be real food that’s prepared quickly? We thought that we can buy high-quality food and trim it in-house; buy whole potatoes and cut it for fries. All of the products we have, we wanted to be proud of; that remains our goal,” explains Joe Spitale. 

Their extensive menu of milkshakes are not just high quality, but high tech; they are made using fresh ice cream, fresh ingredients, and liquid nitrogen. “We wanted to have items that we thought were best in class. We have hand-cut fries, house-ground burger, and we needed to do a milkshake. Typically, milkshakes are powered in a bag. You don’t have enough time to do hand-scooped ice cream in fast food, so we introduced a liquid nitrogen system [into the concept]. We had a local electrical engineering firm build a control panel for us. It goes straight from a homemade ice cream that we make here every day, add in whatever ingredients the customer chooses, then in about 25 seconds you’ve got a milkshake that’s literally made from fresh ice cream. And our milkshake system allows us to offer a variety. Nick and I gained about ten pounds working on the flavors. I had the system set up at my house and we made shake after shake until we felt good about the flavors,” says Joe Spitale. After opening late in 2013, Atomic Burger was immediately busy. “So far, business has been incredible. We’re way busier than we expected to be,” says Joe Spitale. 

The born-and-raised burgermen agree that the local rock duo The Generationals are high quality performers. Joe says: “They’re phenomenal. They’ve got an album called Actor-Caster that I just can’t stop listening to,” and brother Nick Spitale adds, “They’re my favorite local band at the moment.” 

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