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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

HARD ROCK INTERVIEWS 2013 - KILL deVil hill - rex brown






The man needs no introduction at this point. After being in one of the biggest metal bands on the planet, Pantera and then later joining the now legendary Down, fronted by former Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo, Rex Brown is still flying high, this time with a new band called Kill Devil Hill which also features former Black Sabbath and Dio drummer Vinny Appice. After putting out their debut album in 2012, they are back again with their sophomore effort "Revolution Rise" which is a solid progression from their first record. We spoke to the legendary bass player to discuss everything about the band and the new album.


Andrew: Hey so how's things at the moment? What are you up to?



Rex: I'm just taking a little breather man, inbetween the road runs. Well actually I'm fucking working all the damn time. I've got a lot of stuff kicking here and doing a video series and then we can finally ditch this stuff for the rest of the year and upcoming year. And trying to spread the Kill Devil Hill word!



Andrew: Yeah I listened to the album yesterday and absolutely love the laid back groove of the music. Just tell us a bit about how the album came together.



Rex: We put our first album out last year in May and three weeks later the label just kinda said well we're going to shut down for a while and so we were left without gigs in the end and (they) pretty much said to go out and try to spread the word a little bit as much as we could. Being in a new band you pretty much have to reinvent yourself and start over, even though having being in one of the biggest bands in the world, that's just the way things happen. People don't know, they're expecting...this stuff does not sound like Pantera, doesn't sound like Sabbath. It should be on it's own merit. So at the end of the run last year we were pretty hot, about a hundred dates and did a run with Alice Cooper which is fucking wild because his audience is from fucking 15 to 68 year olds. So we were running pretty hot so let's go into the studio, Mark (Zavon, guitarist) had some riffs, I had some riffs that we had kinda accumulated or played at sound checks and stuff like that. So we went in and we were originally going to do the thing at Jeff Pilsen's (producer) house, just the drums and turned out that we got Jeff involved and he's a very, very energetic, upbeat, wild motherfucker so we ended up doing the whole record at his house. We did it in spurts, we did three songs and then would go back and I would fly back to Texas - the band's in L.A. I got Jeff involved real early and he goes 'well why don't we just do the whole record at my house' and he also plays in Foreigner so his schedule was all over the fucking place. So we just had to coordinate and you have to remember I was also right in the middle of writing my book, not in the middle of writing it but going through the final pieces of everything and trying to get that out and book signings and everything else. In hindsight it was really good because we did three songs and then tour so we got a little bit of the record there and then we see that this is the way the record is starting to come out, what do we need? Like take the song "Where Angels Dare To Roam". Are you familiar with the record?



Andrew: Fairly familiar, I listened to the album a couple of times yesterday so I know the songs.



Rex: OK cool. Anyway so we needed a shuffle in there somewhere and I always like putting a heavy fucking shuffle on our records. So having that little break inbetween instead of just knocking out a record in thirty days or whatever the hell it fucking takes. We had the opportunity to come back and have a listen and go OK this is the way this is kinda shaping up. We didn't put anything into sequence until the end, Mark Zavon is really good at sequencing the songs and the tunnings and stuff like that. Of course I am too but I kinda leave a lot of that to his department but there was a lot of stuff that we did have to figure out in the studio to finish this record. We wanted it to come out in for the first of the year which will set us up for next year instead of coming out right after, it's just not good timing. We want to put one out right before. In hindsight, it's one of those records that I'm really, really proud of and to be a part of. For me as long as my career's been, it's just a cool fucking record and rock n' roll needs a cool fucking record out there right now. And I'm not saying that this is THE fucking record but I'm saying this is a really good fucking record, I'm very proud of it.



Andrew: Yeah I think it's even better than the first record as well. Was there much that you did differently this time around compared to the first album in the writing and recording process?



Rex: Yeah pretty much. A lot of that stuff was already kinda written and they had gone through several bass players, just wasn't working out. So they called me and I had just had pancreatic surgery, major stuff done, trying to get my health back and this happened at a time when everything, the timing was just perfect for me. So between the first record...I had to put my stamp on it, approval and everything else and arrangements and stuff like that but the first one was done so quickly. I mean we had the drum tracks done in four days and then started layering everything else on it and before you knew it, it was time to get the fuck out of the studio which I like doing records like that if you have everything in place and that's a really good record but that's just a starting point. That band was only six months old at that point. So it's one of those deals where us being on the road and finding each other's strengths and weaknesses, it has to come from the four individuals. I don't want it to sound like Pantera, this has to stand on it's own merit. That would be so easy for me to go put a band that sounds like Pantera together and do it that way and play a bunch of covers. I've already been there and done that. Everything I put out, it's gotta have that stamp of integrity on it so to me, this is the right record at the right time.




Andrew: Do you ever get tired of fans comparing your music, whatever you do like with Down and Kill Devil Hill to Pantera all the time or have you gotten used to it by now?



Rex: I think people want to put their stamp or whatever the fuck on it, they've got to point their finger at what it's gonna be. But if you're looking for a Pantera record, this isn't it. This is four different guys man, it's a different band and you can throw that fucking supergroup name out the window, I hate that, this is not a supergroup. Those other two guys who don't have the name or whatever together, those guys are just as talented as Vinny (Appice, drums) and I so what it comes down to is just a balance of everybody getting together, knowing their chops and writing great music. It's all about the song for me.



Andrew: The first track on the album "No Way Out" features Zakk Wylde who is an amazing guitarist. How did this come about?



Rex: What had happened was we were hanging out with Jake E. Lee during one of the sessions that we did for his record, he wanted me to play bass on one of the songs on this new record and I actually hadn't got in touch with Jake in a while, not since that song I recorded bass on (Red Dragon Cartel album). Anyway, that song we were going to get a guest spot somewhere, we didn't know it was going to be the first song on the record at that point. But let me just skip back a little bit, Zakk and I have known each other for years and years, very close friends and we were phoning each other and texting back and forth and you know how friends do that, sometimes you're busy and then sometimes when you have time that's when you chat with all your buddies. So that was a time in my life where that's what was going on and I was in L.A. and whenever I'm in L.A. I like hanging out with the Zakk's and all those kind of fun people. So I call Zakk at 10 o'clock in the morning and I think Zakk is up at about 7 o'clock and starts lifting weights these days so I go 'I got this track with your name written all over it, would you mind checking it out and see if you wanna play on it'. So he goes 'yeah just send me the track' and I'll be damned, about two days later he's got this finished...I mean if you close your eyes you can almost visualize the smoke coming off the fretboard. And it's not taking away from Zavon, Zavon is a monster in his own right! But that song we especially set aside for maybe someone coming in to play a guest spot on it and Zakk being available and being able to play on it was just...we didn't put it on the record because Zakk was playing on it first, that just came after the fact. So Zakk just sent the track back in just two days and I was like Jesus Christ! Just going back and forth with this engineer and he was trying to send it to us and I'm like 'wait I just gave it to you guys, how the fuck did he already put a lead!' and then we heard it and went holy shit! And then it turned out that was the song that we would release first from the record. So there you have it, it's awesome man!




Andrew: It sounds amazing!



Rex: It sets the vibe for the whole record and then you have "Crown Of Thorns" which I think to me is a track which I wanted everybody to hear first, that was THE track. That would probably be my favorite song and probably still is in my top 3 off that record. But then you have "Leave It All Behind" after that one, where is it going to go from there? It's just a good, well rounded fucking (record). These days I'm so sick of sub-genres and genres that I've already fucking written. This to me is just a good rock n' roll record, it's got that 70's vibe to it, that laid back feel and at the same time it will smoke you on some of the songs. Musically this is far superior to the first record as far as musicality and the bass, drums and guitar and then with Dewey (Bragg, vocalist) over the top of it, I told him this is your record to shine man, this is it. And Jeff just happens to be a great vocalist himself and he really brought out some stuff in Dewey that I don't even think Dewey knew he was capable of doing. Jeff brought out a piano right in front of the board and he'll sit and hit notes and whatever and he wasn't actually writing anything, he was just like well why don't we try to hit this note way the fuck up here on the keyboard. And Dewey is capable of doing all that, I'm just so proud of him as a person, he's come a long way man.



Andrew: Yeah he's got a lot of range in his voice, it fits the music perfectly.



Rex: The one thing with Dewey is it's confidence and his swagger on this record. He's one of those classic goddamn singers that are hard to find, I mean really, really hard to find. He's so laid back but he's goofy as fuck and a pleasure to be around all the time.



Andrew: How did you first meet him?



Rex: Well the wierd thing was when I first heard these tracks, they didn't have any vocals on them. So when I first went in we were trying this rehearsal space that Vinny was given for fucking $20 an hour or whatever the fuck it was, it happened to be something Bill Metoyer who did the first two Slayer records, it was his place out in the valley in California. And I was going to Bill Metoyer's place, kinda blew me away and then I plugged in, blew a bass amp up and I heard Dewey sing and I just had goosebumps man. This is what I've been looking for, for a long fucking time, vocally and lyrically and everything. But having Dewy sing a song like "Why" on this record, the way he sings over it, I didn't write that track to start with but now everybody is really diggin the track. It's hitting the radio because of Dewey, the way he comes across. I wanted a heavy band underneath and then have somebody lyrically or melodically sing over the top of this stuff and making it cool. Not just some operatic singer but somebody like a new age Paul Rogers which I'm not trying to compare Dewey to but just some vocals that's out there that's kinda pushing the limit a little bit. That's what Dewey is to me, he's out there with 2 guys who have so much history behind them and then Zavon writes a lot for the band and a hell of a guitar player and a dear friend. I've been blessed, that's all I can say!




Andrew: Yeah I was going to ask how does it feel to be part of another great band after already having been part of some of the greatest bands in the last 20 years?



Rex: Somebody's watching out for me. I don't know who it is but it's a great feeling. I can't describe it but I know I have to give 150% every fucking day. I'm in better shape than I've been in ten years, I had some really, really bad stomach issues and there was a team of doctors and they got me on this program. I quit drinking completely, I don't even think about it and it's just amazing now. Like I said I got fire shooting out my ass every fucking show and it's brought back that hunger, that feeling that you have when you are starting anew again. I've got to reinvent myself with this thing, I'm not going to rest on my laurels of Pantera. You're just going backwards if you're doing that. It's not a Pantera record, plain and simple. It has me playing on it, I'm still playing bass on it. If you listen, some of the other tracks are completely fucking left field to Pantera to do it, that still is relevant. You can't put the two together musically even though you can because that's my style. I'm still playing the way I'm playing but it's a totally different band, four different indivuduals and so you just have to put that into conversation. Just musically I can't believe we've actually put out two records within a year of each other or finished two pieces of work like that within a year. It didn't come out within a year of each other but they were finished within a year of each other. But the progression between the first one and the second one is just bigger, it's badder and it's bolder and that's all I can say for it. And I'll let the music do the talking, like I said before it's all about the song man. If you don't have good songs, hang it up and get a lawn mower, start a landscaping business, whatever the fuck. I'm in this for the long haul, I'm a lifer man and that's all there is to it. So anything that I do has to be fucking that level, that's where my integrity is and I'm not going to put out a piece of shit, that's all there is to it. I could sit on the couch forever but why waste your time, I got a gift and I want to show it. That's just the way I look at it.



Andrew: That's good to hear! So what's the schedule for 2014?



Rex: Just hitting every fucking place and then some.



Andrew: Any chance of coming down to Australia at all?



Rex: Absolutely! In fact we are still waiting on final word but we might be coming over for Soundwave, a really, really good maybe. I can't announce it yet but I will tell you if we don't come over for this, we'll be over shortly. We got a lot of territory to do and what we're trying to do with this is put this band in a support situation now and blow this thing up and just take one fan at a time, do it grassroots just like we did with Pantera where we would make one fan at a time and so on and that's how you build up something like this. This record, American radio is playing the fuck out of this thing, we went from number 24 to number 3 in only three short weeks after this came out on college music radio which is nothing but people calling in and requesting this fucking thing. So they want to hear it and now it's crossed over to where they're playing it on Active Rock and that's hard to do in these days of fucking bubble gum bullshit saturated sub-genre crap that's out there. I guarantee this record will outstand any of this other bullshit that's out there a year from now. And that's what it's all about, you got to be out there, you got to be visible and that means playing from here to Timbuktu to get your word across. That means a lot of touring and hell I'm up for the fucking challenge man!



Andrew: Yep that's the way to do it. Well, it's been a pleasure speaking to you! The album sounds great, even better than the first one and I really hope you can come down to Australia next year. We would love to see you down here!



Rex: Oh Andrew we are coming, definitely! John said he'll get us there, I guarantee. He's already making plans, I'm packing my bags now! It will be sometime, if not this early part of the year then it will be in the fall for sure, abso-fucking-lutely! We got some other big things going on too.



Andrew: Sounds good! As I said, it's been a pleasure talking to you, thanks again!



Rex: OK brother, thank you Andrew! You have a good day now sir!




Rex spoke to Andrew Schizodeluxe 3rd December 2013





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