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Kill Devil Hill: Rex Brown’s “musical journey”


Rex Brown’s enthusiasm about his new band with Vinny Appice, Kill Devil Hill, can only be matched by his refusal to talk about the Down case. Tired of being asked about his health, he even implies that his ex-colleague Phil Anselmo may have distorted reality a bit when talking about his health issues as he announced the bassist’s departure from Down. A departure Brown credits to musical reasons, his “musical journey” in which Kill Devil Hill seems to be the next step, a spontaneous and simple band who’s lyrics and artwork aren’t to be read too much into.

However, though he insists that there is no bad blood between him and his colleagues from Down and Pantera, we can’t help growing impatient about the release of the autobiography he’s currently working on to know what actually happened.


Interview.

« [I got] a call like that, saying: ‘Look, we’re looking for a bass player’… I was kind of not satisfied with where I was going with the band I was in.

Radio Metal : What initiated this collaboration with Vinny, Mark and Jason?

Rex Brown (bass guitar) : Actually, they’d been working on this project for six months or a year before they called me. They were looking for a bass player who could fit the kind of stuff they were planning on. I’ve known Vinny for a long time from festivals, at the time of Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, even back in the Pantera days and with Down. We became good friends. We would often meet at the catering or something. When we were supporting his band, I would often take a joint behind the amps and watch Vinny play. So to get a call like that, saying: “Look, we’re looking for a bass player”… I was kind of not satisfied with where I was going with the band I was in. He sent me the tracks and I said: “Leave the bass tracks off, so I can get a feel for myself”. That’s the way it started off. About a year ago, I spent several days with the guys at a convention called NAMM in Los Angeles. We rehearsed, and there was some magic in the room. We started playing all these songs, and then days went by. I would go down once a month, we would rehearse and I would stay for a week or two. And it turned into this monster! We started scanning around for record deals, the whole thing. Then somebody came to me and said they wanted to check it out, because they’d heard that me and Vinny were playing together. But without the other two guys in the band, we would have been shit. Anyway, that’s the way it kinda came around. We played a date in April, five in August, and went right into the studio. Immediately following the studio, we went out on tour for about four or five weeks. We showed we were a band that could get out and play live. Without any product whatsoever or any publicity, we kind of succeeded in what we needed to do. It just got better and better every night. That’s where we are now. We’ve finished the record, it took us three times to mix the thing. It’s coming out it March. Very excited about this project. This is something that will be going on for a long time. We’re a band, we’re getting along great. It’s a very positive feeling.

Musically, was it more what you were looking for, compared to Down?

I think it’s totally different. It’s just part of what I call my musical journey. I just happened to be invited in this band, but they made all the difference in the world. There was nothing going on after I left Down. They did some stuff and I had some medical issues. Now’s the time, man. I’m gonna get up there and kick some ass!

About the recording of this record, you declared: “We are going old school meets new; no sample drums here!”. Do you think that modern productions are too clinical, too inhuman?

No, we’re just regular dudes, jamming on the music we’re influenced by. Me and Vinny playing together, we have a very solid, heavy bottom end. We have incredible skills from Mark Zavon, and also Dewey Bragg singing on top of it. It’s a new band, man. We’re not trying to revive the past, but we wanted to have an older kind of sound, with some new melody over the top. That was one of the main concerns when I got in the band.

« Phil is not a doctor, don’t believe what you read. Phil and I are very good friends. We’ve made a pact with each other, that we wouldn’t talk about each other’s music. »

The artwork shows an empty chair with a book and a skull. Right above the chair, there’s Jesus Christ. What is the meaning behind this artwork?

Whatever you want to believe it is, man! It’s just an album cover. It associates the brand name of Kill Devil Hill with the music that is inside of it. There’s no big story behind it, or anything else. Somebody just made it up for us, and we decided to go with it.

The lyrics of this album are very aggressive and dark, and talk about wars and fighting. Where does all this anger come from?

Anger? I don’t think so. A lot of these lyrics are true, they’re real. There’s fighting going on around the world. There’s no anger to it. You got the wrong point.

(Note : about Down) « There’s no animosity going on there. As part of my musical journey, I’ve moved on. »

What is Kill Devil Hill for you guys? Do you consider this project as your main band now? Is it the same for all of you?

Yep.

How do you see the future of this band? Do you plan to tour?

Oh yeah. We’ll be touring for the next year and a half. We’re going around the globe, putting our band out, kicking ass all over the world! That’s all there is to it. I didn’t join this band just to make a record. I want to get up there and play it for everyone.

About your departure from Down, Phil Anselmo spoke about your health issues. Can we ask you to update us on how you feel today? Are you in good health?

Number one: Phil is not a doctor, don’t believe what you read. Phil and I are very good friends. We’ve made a pact with each other, that we wouldn’t talk about each other’s music. That would be cruel for the fans. I talk to Kirk [Windstein] all the time, I talked to Pepper [Keenan] just last week. There’s no animosity going on there. As part of my musical journey, I’ve moved on.

« Ok, let me just say this, for you pessimistic fucks out there: my health is 300% better since I had this operation. I feel fine, I feel like I’m 25 again. »

So everything Phil said about your health isn’t true?

He’s not a doctor. I don’t want to talk about it.

OK.

Ok, let me just say this, for you pessimistic fucks out there: my health is 300% better since I had this operation. I feel fine, I feel like I’m 25 again. I had some problems with my pancreas, that’s taken care of now. I went to the doctor two months ago, everything is fine.

Can you update us on the book you are working on?

You’ll just have to read it, man! I got approached by this big company to do a book. We’re about 80% done with it. It will be out in the Fall, and anybody can read my history and my personal feelings about went down in Pantera, the good times and all that kind of good stuff. It’s just a memoir.

Interview conducted on february 7th, 2012 by phone.

Transcription : Saff’ (with Chloé’s help)

Kill Devil Hill’s website : www.killdevilhillmusic.com



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