REX BROWN INFO:
Interview and Photos By: Brandon Marshall
n the outer banks of the Louisiana bayou, the sludge is brewing and bubbling, shrouded in a dense fog, while the "Eyes of the South" are slowly opening. Every couple of years or so, "The Ghosts Along the Mississippi" re-emerge to satisfy the power of the riff and as the.............
Wait! Enough with the cliches, this is not some one trick pony nostalgia band, it's the mighy stoner/sludge-metal super group known as DOWN, and on October 5th, they will be releasing their first official live CD/DVD entitled Diary of a Mad Band. With live tracks and behind the scenes footage during the band's first European tour in the year six, or "VI", Diary of a Mad Band will bring DOWN off the road and into your home, the safest way possible. Composed of EX-PANTERA members Rex Brown and Phillip Anselmo, CROWBAR, EYEHATEGOD, and CORROSION OF CONFORMITY's Pepper Keen, DOWN has proven to be more than a side project nearly 15 years after the band's 1995 debut NOLA.
Rex Brown is a freight train on bass that can bust through any wall, never missing a thunderous beat. With his signature style and tone, Rex continues to be one of the most respected and emulated bass players in all of hard rock and metal.
Speaking with us on the eve of the release of Diary of a Mad Band, Rex discusses DOWN, PANTERA, along with his new passion, ARMS OF THE SUN, and the musical legacy that he continues to pass down.
"After we finished the tour, we all said that we needed to go make a record,NOW!"
SONIC EXCESS: Diary of a Mad Band is DOWN'S first official DVD and live CD that is set to be released on October 5th. This isn't a typical live DVD filmed in one location, with an extra song added as bonus material. Can you explain how this is a different kind of DVD, and did LED ZEPPLIN'S The Song Remains the Same inspire Diary of a Mad Band?
Rex Brown: I wouldn't say that. We took a film crew, a director, and also a cameraman, on the road. It has a bunch of really different shots of us. We went to Europe with no product out, and we only promoted by using our name (DOWN) alone.
SE: Was DOWN a bit overwhelmed when going over to Europe, with no promotion, and seeing the fans just go nuts?
Brown: They went crazy! It was also very gratifying. We all have been over to Europe with our different bands, but not as DOWN.
SE: Now what took DOWN so long to go overseas? I know you have had huge touring cycles in the US.
BROWN: We just never ventured out much. We toured America and lost touch for about three years.
SE: Are you just as excited as the fans are to have it finally released?
Brown: I'm excited. Diary of a Mad Band was supposed to be out a year ago. We had legal troubles and hassles, from different parties involved, but finally we got it out! I'm happy to have it released.
SE: What do you wish was included in the DVD that did not make the final cut, or what do you wish was left in the editing room that's included in the film?
BROWN: There is tons of footage! Pepper (guitar) had to edit this thing. He was the one who really put the movie together, because the director went to prison, I believe. He was a crazy bastard. Pepper was in the editing room just putting it all together, and that takes time.
SE: In 2002, DOWN recorded a few shows during the "An Evening with Down" tour. Why wasn't the footage ever released or incorporated into the Diary of a Mad Band package?
BROWN: We just wanted to chronicle the year of "VI"; 2006, we call it the year of "VI". We just wanted to film us in Europe, and that was the whole deal; us getting the band back together, wanting to walk again, and then to start running. We just took off. That was the whole premise of that (Diary of a Mad Band). It was a time capsule in that frame of mind.
SE: DOWN is a very powerful live band. Do you think Diary of a Mad Band captures the raw energy of a DOWN gig?
BROWN: Like I said, it's (Diary of a Mad Band) just the chronological order. From the very first show that we tapped, we put it together; then the next show, and so on. You can just see us (DOWN) getting better and better. After we finished the tour, we all said that we needed to go make a record now.
"Once we all get into the mindset, that is when it's game on. We are getting close, but we are not there yet. We all still have something outside that has to be done."
SE: With a new CROWBAR album on the horizon, have DOWN'S recording plans halted, and will you be laying down the bass tracks or producing the record as you did with Lifeblood?
BROWN: I believe they (CROWBAR) just finished recording, and I wasn't a part of that.
SE: Has all the material for the next DOWN record been written, and has anything been recorded in the studio yet?
BROWN: Well, we have about three to six tracks, but what I think we are going to do is bundle these things together and record them. We will put like four tracks into a bundle, for $6.99 or something like that, and start putting those out and doing it all the time. That would be the ideal function of the band, instead of putting that one major record out that can be a pain staking process.
SE: So, instead of going into a barn like you did with Down II, writing and recording in 28 days, you're really taking your time and skipping a full release?
BROWN: Well, we are still going into the barn to get that heaviness and get it as stripped down as possible. We will have to see when we get there. I really can't speculate now, because I know it's not going to be this year; probably next year before anything comes out. With this band (DOWN) it just takes time. We all have different lives and things going on outside of this band. We just did a three-year touring cycle, so we have to get away from it for just a little bit.
SE: Is DOWN no longer viewed as a side project, and is this where everyone would like to put their energy full time?
BROWN: Once we all get into the mindset, that is when it's game on. We are getting close, but we are not there yet. We all still have something outside that has to be done.
"I don't regret anything. Cowboys From Hell was a groundbreaking record, from a band out of Texas desperately trying to get out there and let our talents be shown."
SE: The Cowboys From Hell 20th anniversary edition was recently released. Does it seem like only yesterday that you were in the studio and now looking back? Are you completely happy with your bass tracks on Cowboys?
BROWN: Ohh absolutely. I wish that you could hear them (bass tracks) a little better. It was just hard, number one, to capture that guitar sound live on tape and, number two, getting into the flesh in the mixing with Vinnie's drums. The bass is in there, but you really can't hear it. Dime and I played a lot of the riffs together, but I don't regret anything. Cowboys From Hell was a groundbreaking record, from a band out of Texas desperately trying to get out there and let our talents be shown.
SE: What's your favorite memory from those sessions, or that era, and did you realize how groundbreaking Cowboys From Hell was at that time?
BROWN: We knew from a band's sense and that the four of us where trying to make a great record. We didn't know what it would do. Looking back now, production wise, it was a heavy record that still has the hooks. We just pushed it to the limit and that was every record PANTERA ever did.
SE: And two years later, you took it to a whole new level (pun intended) with Vulgar Display of Power. Can we expect another re-issue in 2012?
BROWN: Ohh yeah. It's going to be the next three. (Cowboys From Hell, Vulgar Display of Power, and Far Beyond Driven)
SE: No The Great Southern Trendkill?
BROWN: I'm not sure. If it's in demand, we will do it!
SE: Why was the decision made to jump ship on everything prior to Cowboys From Hell, and any regrets during the glam days?
BROWN: Well, we weren't glam. We looked weird with our hair, but we always wrote heavy music. That was just the style of the day. If you grew up in that time, you either had some kind of weight kicking or you were just some band that would play in a garage. We did not want to play in a garage. We wanted to play in front of people.
SE: Many PANTERA fans have been calling for a sort of reunion. What are your thoughts on that?
BROWN: I just don't see it happening. It would be great in one factor, that we would play with Vinnie (drums) again and that it would be all sorted out. But, I think it would be...I just don't think it would be right without Dime (guitar). It was only the four of us, and I don't know anybody that can play like him.
SE: In other words, PANTERA was four core members and four original members only.
BROWN: That's it. I don't think you could replace one and just get up there and do it.
SE: I want to talk with you about ARMS OF THE SUN. You guys are doing a couple of dates in Texas, and I haven’t seen any dates elsewhere. Will you be planning a full tour?
"I have that same spark that I had on Vulgar Display of Power. That's the way I feel about it now. It's not what's to be expected out of me. It's more song orientated and really good music"
BROWN: YEAHH! I'm shopping it to management as we speak! Everything is done on it (the album). We have twelve tracks recorded, sequenced, mastered, the whole bit, and we put it on our own dime. It's something that is a real passion for me. Usually when I do a record, I just turn everything off and do something else, but I have been coming back to this music. It's heartfelt and really good. We should have that out by the first of the year, and hopefully tour; doing radio events around the country and stuff like that. We would also like to go to England and break this thing wide open.
SE: ARMS OF THE SUN doesn't sound like something you do on the weekends to jam with your buddies.
BROWN: This is a labor of love for me. It's some serious songwriting.
SE: I guess we are just going to have to keep checking out armsofthesun.com for some material then.
BROWN: Yes, and it's real bad ass. Our webpage is getting a makeover, and we are setting up the business.
SE: How would you describe ARMS OF THE SUN's music to someone who has never heard it?
BROWN: THE BEATLES on acid!
BROWN: Amazing! We have people screaming for it. We are probably going to play a couple of more gigs here. We're not trying to make it into a big scene or anything like that, but the live shows have just been wild.
SE: I can't wait to check this out. Sounds like ARMS OF THE SUN has given you quite a new spark and fire. Would you compare it to the early PANTERA days?
BROWN: I have that same spark that I had on Vulgar Display of Power. That's the way I feel about it now. It's not what's to be expected out of me. It's more song orientated and really good music.
SE: What else do you have going on right now?
BROWN: I'm also a father, and I am taking care of my family. It's nice to be home and to be able to do that. I have twins, a boy and a girl that are 10 years old, so they take up a lot of my time with football, cheerleading and the whole bit. These kids are great kids and sharper than I am.
SE: Do they take after their dad musically?
BROWN: My daughter plays guitar and has lessons once a week. I got my son a drum set for Christmas. When he tells me he wants a teacher, I will bring someone in, but, until the day he does that, I'll let him do it on his own. You have to learn for yourself what you're playing and get used to the feel. He knows how to play regular beats, but I'm not going to push it on him.
SE: Is he playing "Becoming" yet?
Brown: (Laughs) No, that's going to be down the road.
SE: Any last words?
BROWN: For the fans, stick around! There is going to be a lot of great music. Keep the faith and smoke whiskey!
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