Rex Brown, bassist for Platinum selling metal groups Pantera, Down and Kill Devil Hill. Rex Brown Interview May 7, 2012 with Jason Saulnier.
Rex Brown Interview
– What’s your take on recording Kill Devil Hill’s upcoming album being released May 22nd as a bass player?
Rex Brown Answer – I think my history kind of proves itself with many Platinum, Gold, number one records, top ten records, and the whole bit. Without patting myself on the back I do what I do, you know. I put my flavor on stuff and that’s the way I do it.
– Would you say that recordings get easier and easier throughout the years?
No, just depends on the songs you know. Some songs are easier than others. Depending on what your mind concept is and how you want to do the writing arrangements and the whole bit. It depends on the song. The bass player has to flow with it. Basically the band follows the bass player. Always has in Rock n Roll and probably always will.
– What’s your take on the latest Pantera promo video for the song “Piss” that was just recently released?
I really didn’t have any input in that. It was just put together for a contest kind of a deal. They got people from LA to come in and send in a video of them jamming out or whatever and he put it all out together and got them all in one room. Just kind of shows the energy and the punch in the mouth and all that kind of stuff of what Vulgar was about. But I had no input on that whatsoever, none of us did. We just let the director run with it and make a promo. Basically videos these days are nothing but promotional clips. They’re not videos anymore. A promotional item.
– How far is the Kill Devil Hill tour going in May?
We have 10 dates and just doing a little run up before the record. Then after that we got plans of touring for a year or so, dealing with promoters and agents and all that stuff. We aren’t on some big package so were just gonna have to do this thing ourselves and the best way to do this is hit the major markets, hit the places that are between 4 or 5 hours in between those major markets and do that on good dates and fly back another week and do it again that way, instead of going to Boston and spend your money on a bus driver and fuel.
– Would you say that touring now is easier in general?
I would much rather do it this way than that way, absolutely.
– Do you bring the social media with you on tour, do your own work and concentrate like that on the road?
Yeah, you have to, but also I have agents that take care of a lot of interviews and stuff for me.
– How many hours in a day would you spend on promotions?
Let’s put it this way, I was doing European interviews from 9 o’clock in the morning, take a break for lunch and then go about until4 inthe afternoon, and then several in the evening. I’ve been doing that since March.
– Where do you go shopping for your music today?
I really don’t, I just listen to my old record collection. There’s nothing really out there. If I do something like that I will download a full record. I won’t download just a single and usually it’s through iTunes or Amazon just like everyone else does. I’ve never illegally downloaded a song in my life. It just would kind of be hypocritical, wouldn’t it? So as a musician, yes, I pay for my music.
– Rex Brown do you do bass clinics and stuff?
No, in fact people have approached me to do that and so I am considering given the time frame if it’s in the right city where I’m going to be. I don’t know I just kind of always strayed away from that. I don’t know why I just like the mysterioso of it all. But I am considering doing it you know. Not for the money but I’d go to high schools and schools here around town here in Texas and show up and try to give back. You know like my kids are in band and I’ll show up and tell them about what I’ve done in my career and stuff like that. I’ve done a couple of things like that but I never wanted publicity or anything else from it. It’s just giving back that means a lot.
– What do you think of amplifier simulations of today?
Some of the stuff they come up with is crazy, some of the new stuff they have on Pro Tools. You can get any old amp you want and when you actually pull them up they sound pretty true. Let’s say you had an old Ampeg AV25 alot of people don’t know what that amp is. It’s an old 1970’s amp, just a really warm sounding amp like the old VR’s back in the early 70’s which were very cool and have different configurations with either 4X12’s or 4X10’s, and just match them through and kind of patch those sounds together and you can come up with all sorts of crazy stuff. Basically when I perform live I just prefer two 8X10’s or as many as I can get to fill the stage. Pretty much I just rely on two 8X10’s and kind of stack them down and use whatever flavor of head of Ampeg I want to use.
– Do you think in 10 to 15 years from now amp simulations will replace the real thing?
No, I don’t think it will. I think for people that are playing in garage bands if that’s the feel you want to get, cool. I can always tell the difference between the band that’s playing and a piece of computer that’s playing. You can be playing through that stuff all day long but if it doesn’t have that sound to it of the original… Direct sound is a completely different thing and a lot of guys direct it in studios you know, I can tell the difference between the two.
– Let’s talk about your hearing. Throughout all the years I am sure it is getting louder and louder on stage with the sound equipment. How is it doing for you performing on stage?
Let’s put it this way. You see six 8X10’s without having a PA system basically that was on the side with about four 18’s and couple 15’s and horns so my right side isn’t too good but I’m not completely deaf yet. If you’re not playing loud you’re not playing Rock n Roll. That’s all there is to it.
– There are people that don’t like to have the top speakers on. What do you think of that idea?
I had those racks and I have 4X12’s on top, sometimes it just depends on what venue you play that you might need them on an outside corner that maybe you’re not hearing the very top. But I always had enough amps where I could change and move this one and not really hearing it on this right side. So I would use that 4X12 for that purpose alone. It’s nice to have that opportunity to have that kind of stuff, but we were one of the biggest bands of the 90’s. You’re affording that in the endorsements that you are doing and you’re working your ass off for it, comes in handy.
– With the release of Kill Devil Hill coming out soon, what’s next in promotions?
We got 4 different singles going to 4 different radio formats off this record. One’s going to one affiliate that has a different format. It’s pretty cool, the way of dealing with it these days is a lot different. The way the industry is now it’s completely changed so you have to really broaden your base and try to get as many people as you can. Instead of putting out the one single to the four different types of affiliates that play different brands of stuff you can take an individual track and give it to these different affiliates of these. Say I give a track to Eddie Trunk or a track to Full Metal Jackie, a track to Jose (Mangin) at Sirius or give a track to all active rock radio that’s the key that’s definitely going to work this next Kill Devil Hill. For sure.
– So it seems to be a little more relaxed now for the artists?
I would not say relaxed, everybody’s just trying to squeak by and see what we can make out of it you know, out of its destroyed industry. It’s very much do it yourself these days and try to get it done you know. Try to save a little bit of money in your pocket without having to spend everything you have into promotions, on stuff that is not needed, like extra listening parties and stuff like that. I think it is great for the fans but every night we go out and sign autographs regardless after we play. It’s still a grass roots kind of movement, that foundation I think still will hold true for a long while. You’re talking about social media and the whole online media. I think that’s definitely a big plus, but going out and playing live and showing what your band can do is as important as everything you have, combined together. You got to put everything in the same basket and if you have to sell stuff out of your cars then that’s what you have to do, especially for newer bands.