Niclas Müller-Hansen of Sweden’s Metalshrine recently conducted an interview with basist Rex Brown (KILL DEVIL HILL, PANTERA, DOWN. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metalshrine: [The members of KILL DEVIL HILL] all played in kinda different bands. [Drummer Vinny] Appice in [BLACK] SABBATH and DIO and you’ve been in PANTERA and DOWN and [guitarist Mark] Zavon with Stephen Pearcy and RATT. It’s quite different kinda music when it comes to metal. How did you all meet?
Rex: Shit, I’ve known Vinny for some 20-odd years and played festivals with him and getting high with him and Ronnie James Dio. I think Philip [Anselmo, DOWN/ex-PANTERA singer] and I first met him in ’92 or something like that. Long story straight, they were looking for a bass player for this project they had and we met Mark Zavon and he did a couple of demos with Dewey Bragg [vocals] and Vinny really liked what he heard and they heard that I was looking for a gig, which I at that point kinda was. Philip and I have worked together for so long and we don’t talk about each other’s music now. We’ve made a pact that we’re not gonna make a big deal of it, because it’s just nonsense. The more you give to the people that wanna put shit out there, the more you’re susceptible to it. Phil and I get along fine, everything’s cool with DOWN. I just wanted to play something new. I had another project in between. DOWN had basically come off the road after two and a half, almost three years and I wanted to do something different and this kinda landed in my lap. They sent me these tracks and my next-door neighbor has a full-blown studio in his house in this real nice neighborhood. Opened up there and just played bass and put my own thing on it. Once I did that, I got back to them and they were getting calls and moving forward and when the tracks were done it was like, “Are you into it? What’s going on?” and in fact he (Vinny) came down for a week and hung out. Anyway, there’s a big convention every year in L.A. for the music merchants and about 20,000-30,000 people…
Rex: NAMM, which is huge, and I had to go there and do stuff for my endorsements and I hadn’t been there for a couple of years, so I brought a bass with me and went to rehearsal and it’s so cliché to say, but once we started playing these songs it just clicked, man. There’s something about it that just really worked. We had to work at it and I would go fly down every three weeks, four weeks or something like that and stay with Mark and got to know him real well. They’re just great people and it works really well for us. We’re a young band but it seems like we’ve been together for a long time and that’s important. To have that musicianship and the whole bit together, it really makes it special. We took this thing on the road just to see what the crowd reaction was gonna be, after we recorded the record, and the fuckin’ fans were crazy for it! So if that’s any indication on what’s to come in the fall and year, shit, I’ll take it! It’s like going back to your past. You got it in front of you every day and then make the best of it. Every night it just got stronger and stronger to the point that it’s kinda scary how killing this band is gonna be.
Metalshrine: Cool. [Your upcoming memoir, “Official Truth, 101 Proof: The Inside Story Of Pantera”], is it all done?
Rex: Oh, no. It’s about 75% done. It just needs some work on it. Dude, I’ve just been working nonstop since… you know, we started this book about a year and a half ago and I’ve got about 60 or 70 hours worth of tape. I rented this little beach house. This cozy little place that I got for like 300 bucks a week and all we did was to sit and talk. We got it all on tape, everything that we needed and so we’re writing chapters now and editing the whole bit and all that goes into writing a book. It should be out by the fall and it tells the story of PANTERA, from my eyes. Just my interpretation of it, nobody else’s. You know, I never really got in the press and talked about anything. Music for me is my main goal, that’s my journey. That’s it for me, but I never talked about it and I was approached by someone and I thought that it’s probably not a bad time to do it, so let’s do it now.
Metalshrine: Was the plan from the get go to just focus on PANTERA?
Rex: I think it has to do with the way I grew up and all that stuff that kinda comes into play with a success story. It’s gonna have its good times and bad times, but it’s not gonna be anything that’s gonna be overwhelming to anybody. Like I said, it’s just my personal interpretation and my story of what went down during those times. There’s a lot of good stories and a lot of funny jokes in it and the whole bit. I don’t wanna make it too serious. That’s all I do, is read all these autobiographies by all these cats that are coming out. It’s not a very easy lifestyle, and like I said, I’m just telling my side of the story and maybe it needs to be heard.
Metalshrine: When it comes to you memory, do you really have to work hard remembering stuff?
Rex: You know, I’ve got an iPad and when certain stuff pops up in my mind, I’ve got it in my backpack, I’ll put down these little things that I can tell my writer and say, “Yeah, OK, I remember this. Let’s put this in the book and it’ll make a cool chapter for this!” or whatever. I’ve got pages and pages of that and he takes it and puts it into his words. It just takes a lot of time. I want this to be a book that reads like I’m talking instead of some journalist going, “Well, he went down to the pub.” So it takes a lot of work, but he’s starting to get a hold of my lingo, language and the whole bit so it’s going well.
Metalshrine: Your health, Rex? Are you OK these days? [In 2009, Rex was diagnosed with pancreatitis, a sudden inflammation of the pancreas which can have severe complications and high mortality despite treatment. — Ed.]
Rex: Ah, yeah, man! The whole thing with the health deal was just that I had a bad pancreas after so many years. I couldn’t figure it out. I had these polyps inside my pancreas and I’d go to the doctor and say, “Doc, I’m in extreme pain and I have no idea what’s going on!” and we went through CAT scans and the whole bit, and he goes, “Rex, you gotta quit drinking!” And anyway, after about five years of this bullshit, I found some doctors here in Dallas who are cutting edge and they removed all the polyps. They actually cut your pancreas in half, and dude, I’m telling you, I haven’t felt better in five years. I’m happy as can be. I’ve got a brand new band, I’m recently divorced, I’ve got my kids and every day is just looking up better and better. I don’t think my personal problems has anything to do with the music. I’m just not one of those guys. My personal problems are stuff that I have to deal with. That’s just the way I am. I appreciate everybody’s thoughts and prayers. I didn’t wanna do anything until I had it behind me and show the fact that yes, Rex is back!
Read the entire interview from Metalshrine.
“Time Time Again” audio stream: