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Bassist Rex Brown Talks New Kill Devil Hill Album + What Could Have Saved Pantera

Rex Brown
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Kill Devil Hill / Pantera bassist Rex Brown was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s radio show this past weekend. He talked about the new Kill Devil Hill album ‘Revolution Rise,’ performing alongside legendary drummers and what could have prevented the breakup of Pantera, among other topics. If you missed Jackie’s show, here’s her full interview with Rex Brown:

Full Metal Jackie bringing you two full hours of metal each and every week. We’ve got Rex Brown from Pantera and many other bands. Kill Devil Hill, brand new record out in stores now, ‘Revolution Rise.’ Congratulations and thanks for being on the show with us.

Thank you, thank you.

‘Revolution Rise’ in stores now and Rex, it takes a first album and then a tour to really mesh as a band, which you did. How did that growing period help in making this new record, ‘Revolution Rise?’

It was just the more you play, the tighter you get as individuals and feeling out where your kind of placement within where you want to go. We did the Alice Cooper run at the very end, and we were red-hot coming off that thing. I said let’s go in the studio. Vinny wanted to do the drums at his friend Jeff Pilson’s house and Jeff ended up producing some of the stuff for us, really good with the vocals. We produce all the stuff — between all of us we have 100 years of producing skills between us. We produced the music, and he was great with the vocals. Jeff’s a killer singer, so. We did them in spurts — we did three songs here and four songs there. We kind of knew coming in, we need this song we need that song. In hindsight it was very good for us. Logistics wise, Jeff was always on the road so we had to get in there at 7 o’clock or 11 o’clock in the morning and all that kind of stuff. But it turned out brilliantly. So you’ve just got to make the best record you can. That’s where the band’s at now and it’s definitely bigger, badder, and bolder than what we had on the first record.

Kill Devil Hill’s North American headlining tour now under way though late November. Rex, you’ve played with several great and different drummers, Vinnie Paul, Jimmy Bower now Vinny Appice. What’s a sure sign that as a bass player you’re locked in with whomever you’re playing with?

It’s knowing when not to play, sometimes, is more the answer to that question. If you’re a musician you’ve got to know where to lock in, where to, you know, keep it really solid. and having drummers playing on that backbeat, but every drummer’s different though. I’ve been blessed three times with three great drummers. It’s just finding that common ground, and then it lets guitarist Mark [Zavon] shine and singer Dewey [Bragg] shine on top of that, and it was time for me to take my turn on ideas. With the rolling bass lines and stuff like that. I’ve always used that approach all through my career really. It’s just learning when not. You don’t have to play all the freaking time. You just got to keep it really solid on the bottom and let everything shine above it.

For you, Rex, coming from Pantera and Down, Kill Devil Hill is starting brand new from scratch. It’s a lot of hard work establishing a band, obviously. Probably a lot of fun too, what’s been the most fun part about building something new?

Just the fire is back. Not that it ever left, but in a certain way. Phil [Anselmo] and I had been together 24 years when the Down thing just — I had to have surgery and all that kind of stuff. And these guys called and it just kind of landed in my lap and it just felt like okay. Even given what happened last year with that record, I think it was a really killer record, it was a great beginning. But when you have a record company that gives out after three weeks after the release, you’re stuck out there with your you know what in the wind.

With this one, it’s just more, it’s a solid path of where we want to go. We’re going to tour 16 months on this thing and just get out and meet as many fans as you possibly can. And when you have that hunger and that drive, you know we keep it family oriented, you want to keep going. You can make it a struggle if you want to, but it’s not really a struggle because it’s not that big a freaking deal. Nothing in life is that big of a freaking deal. You know what I’m saying? We keep trotting down the road and playing music and putting smile on people’s faces. That puts a smile on my face; I’ve done my job for the day. You know what I’m saying?

Absolutely. Full Metal Jackie with Rex Brown on the show with us, talking about the new Kill Devil Hill record, ‘Revolution Rise.’ It’s out now and, again, the North American headline tour is now under way. You can see the band through late November. Rex, how has the satisfaction you get from playing music changed over the course of your very long career?

That’s a hard one to say. Pantera was just one big whirlwind. It was just, it’s hard to put into words we worked all the time.

Did you not have a chance to stop and actually reflect and enjoy what was going on?

At the time we really needed to stop and do that, we all should have gone into rehab. When the band broke down, it wouldn’t have broken up. It broke down communication wise. Then the tragedy of Dime. Playing with Down then I found these guys; it added a new spark into what I felt. I’ve changed completely as a person and matured. Just a different feeling, but I still have that power back in the old days. I feel like I’m 10 years younger.

Full Metal Jackie with Rex Brown from Kill Devil Hill on the show. Pick up the new record, ‘Revolution Rise’ and see the band on this North American tour. It’s going to be happening though the rest of November and what can we expect beyond that? I guess it’ll be nonstop touring. Any other big plans?

We have a lot of big plans we’ll announce in December and it’s all-killer, that’s all I have to say.

Looking forward to that, we’ll keep you posted. Rex thanks so much. Appreciate you taking the time.

Thank you, darling. We always appreciate you.

Listen to Kill Devil Hill’s ‘Crown of Thorns’

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