When bassist Rex Brown takes the stage at Concert Pub North tomorrow with his new supergroup Kill Devil Hill, he'll be carrying a significant musical legacy along with him. As a founding member of Pantera, Brown helped to export a unique brand of dynamic Texas metal around the world in the '90s, a groovy, punishing sound for which he and his old band mates remain revered across the state.
In the third and final portion of our interview with Rex, Rocks Off discussed the anniversary of Pantera's breakthrough, feuding within the group and his forthcoming book, 100% Truth, 101 Proof: The Inside Story of Pantera.
Rocks Off: Obviously with Pantera, every time the band played a show in Texas, there was an extra bit of magic in the air. Those were shows that were circled on the calendar. Do you get that same feeling now on the road with Kill Devil Hill?
Rex Brown: You know what, that's what I was saying about coming full circle. I think I got the hunger and the flame that I had with Pantera, especially in the early days of really trying to get people to get off on the music and put a smile on their faces. Now that the record's been out for a little bit, it's a lot easier to do that because they know the lyrics.
We had been on the road for a couple of tours before we did this thing, just trying to spread the word. Now that it's out, you know, it's just basically gettin' people to get into it. And by the third song, I'll tellin' you -- they're into it. This band is just... I've been blessed, man, three times with really good, charming musicians, and I've been lucky, you know? So, really, what else can I say? I'm still around!
RO: It's been a very eventful year for Kill Devil Hill, obviously, but it's also been an active year for Pantera, or at least the catalogue. The 20th anniversary edition of Vulgar Display of Power was released, along with a new single from that era, "Piss."
RO: What do you think it is about that album that has made it such a landmark in the history of heavy metal?
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RB: Well, number one, it was a breakthrough record for metal, you know? What we were doing then, nobody was doing, and it's just one of those magical records where everything flowed.
To me, it's like, I'd try to go to bed, and I just had so much adrenaline that I couldn't wait to wake up the next day to go to the studio. And you gotta remember, we had just played almost 300 dates the year before with Cowboys, and we were just coming up with all this brand-new, incredible-sounding stuff, you know?
Metallica had just done the black record, and it kind of left a hole in where we were heading, you know, or where the genre was heading. They went with a softer sound. And I love that record, by the way -- I didn't at the time!
So we found a little hole, and we decided, "Well, look, let's make this thing the best that we can," but it really just came so natural. It's just one of those things that you can't put your hands on or actually touch. It's just one of those feelings, you know?
RB (continued): And who would have known that I'd have this riff called "Piss" that we wrote and had forgotten all about it? I mean, we used it on "Use My Third Arm" on Beyond Driven, but at the same time, it was just one of those kind of deals where we had forgotten about the whole track that was put together around it.
So I was kind of flattered that Vinnie (Paul Abbott) actually found that in the vaults and put it out. And it did really well on radio! The first time ever for a Pantera song, 20 years later.
RO: Do you have a favorite song from that record?
RB: Nope, 'cause that whole thing is one big masterpiece. There's no way you can take one song out from the others. If you took one out, you wouldn't have the whole caboodle.
RO: Obviously, from a fan's perspective, the relationship between Vinnie Paul and Phillip Anselmo hasn't been great since Pantera split, and particularly since Dimebag Darrell passed away. Have you ever felt caught in the middle between those two when they've been butting heads?
RB: Absolutely! I've been in the middle between those two guys. I was in the middle before any of this shit ever happened, when Dime was still alive, you know, and you can read all about it in the book. I just don't want to give everything away right now, when you can go pick it up and check it out.
But yeah, I was in the middle. Sure! I was the main go-between. You know, I helped found this band named Pantera.
RO: How did you deal with it?
RB: How did I deal with it? Just like any other human being. You just take it a day at a time and do what you gotta do. Believe me, everybody wants to know all that he-said, she-said bullshit. Well, check out the book -- you'll know!
RO: Can't wait! So, tell me what fans can expect from Kill Devil Hill on Saturday night.
RB: It's gonna be loud, it's gonna be ass-kickin,' it's gonna be something you might not have seen in a long time. It's a good, solid fuckin' heavy band with a lot of pride in it. So bring your grandmothers and your dogs and whatever fuckin' else!
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Kill Devil Hill plays with Hindsight, Aramite and Wellborn Road, 8 p.m. Saturday at the Concert Pub North, 2470 FM 1960.