More Rex Brown: On the Music Industry, Being "Cut In Half" & Pantera's True Story
Rex Brown, right, with Kill Devil Hill
Twenty years after Texas metal deities Pantera delivered their seminal Vulgar Display of Power, bassist Rex Brown is back with a new band, Kill Devil Hill. The monstrously heavy supergroup, formed by legendary Black Sabbath/Dio drummer Vinny Appice, plays Concert Pub North on Saturday.
Here's part two of our chat with Brown from earlier this week.
Rocks Off: The music industry has obviously changed a lot in the past decade. What are some of the new challenges that you face making a living playing heavy music now with Kill Devil Hill that you didn't when you were starting out?
Rex Brown: Well, I mean, this thing kind of brings me in a full circle. You know, it's back to doin' it yourself, the DIY process of when you're starting out, even though I've played arenas, stadiums and everything. Not that we thought we'd be on a grandiose scale when we put this thing out!
It's more about gettin' the music to the people, and it's a lot harder because people can't go physically buy a record in the stores. I mean, they can, but they're a lot fewer and more far between than it was before. You understand what I'm saying... You just really have to do your homework, but I'd rather this band be a grass-roots movement anyway. That's what it's all about.
Then again, the record's got so many great songs on it that I think should be on the radio. People are just stuck in this "classic rock" mode, and you know, that's not what I want to be. This thing has classic-rock elements to it, but at the same time, it's got its own this-year flavor. But we're not tryin' to emulate trends or anything like that. We're just playing music that we enjoy.
RO: Do you define success differently--
RB (Interrupts): Now, if you wanted me to say "fuck the music industry," well yeah, fuck the music industry! It's bullshit. It's complete bullshit. You know, people just go online and push a button and get one song, and that's not the way I grew up.
I wanted to see the album cover. I wanted to see the art. All I do is listen to LPs, and that's it. A CD, to me, is only for the car. I wish I could install something in my car that I could just put an LP on, but you know, I just don't have that in my badass truck.
RO: God, that'd be great.
RB: You know what I'm sayin'? (chuckles) Where you just put the needle on and let 'er fly.
RO: A couple of years ago, you were dealing with some pretty serious health issues with your pancreas. Can you give fans an update on your health?
RB: Aw dude, I feel a hundred and... well, 358 percent better than I did before they found out what I had. It was basically polyps in my pancreas. So now I'm shifting all gears. You know, I lost a good amount of weight out of the deal. It's taken a little time, to get more weight on out of muscle mass. I eat like a fucking bear; it's just my metabolism.
When they actually did the surgery, only about ten people in the country had had this done. It's just hard to put the weight back on. My muscles are still just kickin'. But as you get older, you know, some people gain weight and some people lose weight, especially after a major surgery.
They cut me in half, and cut my pancreas in half and left it that way. So, this is an experimental kind of deal. But I'll tell you what, I'll take this over five years ago any day of the week. I may look a little skinny, but I don't give a shit. I've always been a skinny fucker anyway!
It doesn't matter what I look like or whatever the fuck else. I'll still get up there and jam my balls off.
Kill Devil Hill's 2012 debut
RO: Badass. Now, I noticed your name online attached to a Music and Arts USA benefit next month in New York.
RO: Their mission is to kind of get kids interested in music. Who was it in your life as a young kid that turned you on to music?
RB: My grandmother. I was the last of 26 grandchildren. So, I'll just put it to you this way: My folks were, like, 40 when they had me, and I had a 17-year-old sister that gave me all the Beatles records and Stones records and all that kind of good ol' '60s rock and roll. So, I'm a child of the '70s, but my grandmother would play piano for the silent movies back in the day.
I was always intrigued with music, and I'm sure I drove her crazy when I was five years old and she had an upright piano when she lived in Ft. Worth. That's where my parents would take me often. I have a new book coming out on March 12, so everybody can read about that!
RO: Oh, cool! What's the title?
RB: It's 100% Truth, 101 Proof: The Inside Story of Pantera, by me. And it's great! I spent about a year and a half of my life writing this thing, so check it out.
Kill Devil Hill plays with Hindsight, Aramite and Wellborn Road, 8 p.m. Saturday at the Concert Pub North, 2470 FM 1960.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.