Segments from an Interview I did for Spotlight Report
Spotlight Interview, by Mark Snedden, Aug 3rd, 2017
Rex Brown needs no introduction, as half of the power house Pantera rhythm section alongside the one and only, Vinny Paul. Pantera were not just a metal band, but a metal band who built a following and a success projectory during the nineties, when other metal bands were going under and struggled to sell records and fill small venues.
Outside of Pantera I would like to draw attention to two pieces of his work amongst his vast discography. First with Jerry Cantrell, on Cantrell’s solo album Boggy Depot. Rex played on five tracks and his bass work on this album is nothing short of astonishing. After numerous other collaborations, Kill Devil Hill, releasing two albums and touring in support of both pieces, now, in 2017, Rex is releasing his first full solo album, Smoke on This, where he is lead vocalist, guitarist, bass player and songwriter. This offering is quite laid back with a heavy crunchy sound, catchy melodies and a refreshing sincerity. I was fortunate to catch up with Rex to talk Smoke on This…
Rex, how did your album, Smoke on This come about, essentially meaning, why a solo album now?
“Why not. Why the fuck not! I have a bunch of songs that I wanted to people to hear, you know, that I wanted to hear. They take you to a different place sonically. This is infused rock n roll and it comes from inside of me, who I am. I have been playing metal all of my life. I was on the road for twenty five years living it and breathing it. And I needed to slow down and take some time. A different direction, and you know something more rooted in what I am.
So the minute I did this and with a buddy (Lance Havrill), you know the jamming thing, we started to put tracks together. And from there it came together. There is nothing contrived or any agenda. This is rock n roll in its purest form and it is a part of me. So you know, why not now, this album is ready for now and is who I am and what I am a part of.”
Has it been difficult, reinventing yourself as a solo artist?
“The songs came so easily man, it was ridiculous. I have so many riffs taped on phones and lying around, and things musically sitting around for so long and it was time. So Lance and I just started listening and working on them. Playing through the sounds and extending them out to where they need to be. It was one of those things where you get to a point. I have done all I can at this point, in direction is was heading, and I need a DIFFERENT PATH!
You know, why did I start doing this in the first place? I got into this for pure fact that I love playing music. And I got lucky with the people who worked around me and we just nailed this album. It was a real organic record and it was something that needed to come out. I’m not sayin that it’s the best album in the world but it is where I am and what I want to be and that says a lot. No one has control over this. I own it, or we own it as the musicians who played on it, and nothing else.”
Now to Smoke on This, as an album, it has a real groove with a sense of purpose, how does it feel for you, now looking back on the finished product?
“I got so close to it and I had to take breaks away from it. Every note I either played or whatever, it was a labour of love. I fought with it, played with it and I lost myself in it. My heart and soul and the reasons I am a musician are on this album and you can feel it. I put on my acetate of the album and I hear all different things every time I listen to it. It is a personal record and I am only just getting my feet wet. This is just the start, the door is open but I have got a lot more of this in me that needs to come out.”
I have read about your collaborator on the album, Lance Havrill, and you have mentioned him earlier, but what is his relationship to you and how did he contribute to the album?
“Lance had some songs and we took them. At first we played them safe and them we bastardised them. It as a fifty fifty split you know. It all just mashed together through jamming them and bringing them out. We have done another record before so I know him and he knows me. We know our strengths and weaknesses and you know we were just doinin it for fun. We have enough for a double album, because it is who we are and what we do. Things just came out and it worked. I think these songs work so well together. The way we put them together and what each of us brought to the table.
Lance was my ears for the sound, he knows what I want to hear and I know what he can do, and do well. It’s not rocket science! You can take the boy away from the farm but you can’t take the farm away from the boy. And this is how it is, this just comes out of us, it is from the heart.”
Is your solo project going to be something that you are building a career around, or will it be albums that as a musician you just have to release, for you and that different path you were talking about?
“This is something that I can pursue and this product is the start of this. I want to make this and develop this as this keeps me alive and drives who I am. Every album that I have out has had integrity. Shit I could have made so much money with working on other projects and offers that I have had over the years but I haven’t. This is where I am, and I see myself in a number of years. My effort and my attitude is all I can deal with, you are only as good as your last song and last gig and I keep this close to me.
I don’t think too far down the round, I need to live now, live it now, and make the most of what I have and make sure that what I do has integrity and it’s real. So we will have to wait and see but I am plannin on having this around for some time.”
So how is Smoke on This, a real rock album?
“You know I wanted to go back and kiss the essence of what I could do on a rock album. It has been a blessing in disguise and something that I was getting tons of accolades over even before it was released. It seems like you burn yourself out before the album comes out and then you go out and play it for whoever is going to listen.
This is a total album, one that you need to get in to and listen from the start to the finish. There is a lot of colour and difference in there and I urge people who give a damn, to really listen to it. Listen to it as an album should be.”