Metal Mark of Ghost Cult Magazine recently conducted an interview with former PANTERA and DOWN bassist Rex Brown. You can watch the full interview below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On whether the material on his forthcoming debut solo album, "Smoke On This", is brand new or is comprised of older ideas:
Rex: "Both. I went down to Nashville. My buddy Lance Harvill is there. He's a great songwriter and killer guitar player and we just started throwing stuff together. He'd have a tune, then I'd take a part or he'd have this part and we'd do our thing to it. We kept demoing these things off. I was on the bus for 25 years and I finally said, 'You know what? It's time to take a break.' I've seen some cohorts burning themselves to death on that road. It's not your best. You got to take that time off and I felt that burn. I hadn't felt it like that in probably ever. [I planned on taking] two years, I didn't take but eight months and I was already back to what I was doing, which is writing songs. The most challenging part was finding the voice for this thing. Once we got that, then I knew what I wanted to do, which was make a fucking sonically infused rock and roll record. Look, everybody is expecting this metal record with me singing on it and shit. I don't care at this point. It is what it is. I'm very proud of it. We worked our asses off. I think I worked harder on this record than any… in a long time, I'll put it that way, in the last ten years, easily. It was fun again. I had to stop and go, 'Why do I do this in the first place? Why are you doing this?' There's more to making records than money and life than just doing it. It's more about leaving something like a handshake or a good word with somebody; that's what life is to me anymore. It's not about being a product and here I am being a product. [Laughs] At the same time, I have to promote these things. I feel really comfortable and happy where I'm at. I got a badass band behind me on this thing. We're going to take this out on the road in the fall. I need a vacation, but other than that, I'm good."
On whether he feels rejuvenated by stepping outside of heavy metal:
Rex: "It's a freedom that you get that you wouldn't be able to do anyplace else. I funded this record and everything else. We were trying to figure out how we're going to put the music out. I just don't want to be throwing it against the wall and seeing if the shit sticks. We went to quite a few labels, but I was sending stuff to eOne. Between Scott [Givens] and Bill [Meis] and Steve [Bertram] over there, I'm just in great company. Of course, two of my best buddies, [CROWBAR's Kirk] Windstein and Zakk [Wylde, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY] are over there. It just made sense. They've done incredible work with those of bands, but here's to the new Rex. I'm still the same motherfucker, but the whole thing is that I wanted to make a rock and roll record and I can. It's just that simple."
On why he likes classic rock:
Rex: "I've just always liked good riffs in the '70s and, also, there's so much good songwriting going in the '70s. The '80s, there was good songwriting, but you always had the poofed-up hair and whatever the fuck, so it distracted away from the music. Then the '90s came, and we've already been there and done that. The 2000s came and that took me for a roll. It was just time. People ask: 'Why didn't you do it ten years ago?' It's about timing. It's like a painter painting the same picture, but you're drawing a little extra doodle on the side. I wanted to scratch that and start a new drawing to something new. It is rejuvenating, but it's a lot of work too. At the same time, it's worth [it]. My reward for it was dropping the needle with my headphones and the stereo, for that first acid-take pressing and listen to it. Man, I could have shit gold. It was cool."
On whether he needed to do a record like "Smoke On This":
Rex: "It was something I definitely wanted to do. Then it became almost an addiction. It was like, 'Oh, shit. I need to make that better.' Or, 'What can we do to make that better?' A lot of the time it was getting used to the voice. At first, I didn't like it and we were trying different stuff, putting all this crazy crap on it, then we took it off. Then it became this raw, honest [album] [which is] what I was trying to go for in the first place. Nobody likes what they sound like on CD. You listen back and go, 'Nah. It's horrible.' Then again, it's who I am. It's me, it's real and it's coming out."
Rex worked on "Smoke On This" with his primary collaborator and old friend Lance Harvill, a Nashville-based guitarist and songwriter. "Lance was and is my main man on this," Brown said. "Everything we did was finely tuned, both musically and brotherly."
Drums were tracked by Christopher Williams, himself no stranger to diverse tastes, from funk music to punk. His talent has been utilized by country music star Lee Greenwood, the reconstituted BLACKFOOT and most recently, power metal legends ACCEPT. The album was produced by New Yorker-turned-Nashville-transplant Caleb Sherman, a multi-instrumentalist with work on records by LITTLE BIG TOWN and PORTER BLOCK, among others. "Caleb produced the project from a musician's standpoint," added Brown. "Not just a typical producer's standpoint, which was something I definitely needed. Between Caleb and Lance, we were a force to be reckoned with. They really pulled out the best in me." Peter Keyes, known for his work with LYNYRD SKYNYRD, can also be heard on a few tracks. All bass tracking came from Rex himself as well.
After leaving DOWN in 2011, Rex went on play with KILL DEVIL HILL, which has released two albums so far: "Kill Devil Hill" (2012) and "Revolution Rise" (2013).