Fireworks

Fireworks Magazine Online 81: Interview with Rex Brown

REX BROWN

Interview by Brent Rusche

His name will quickly bring to mind the bands Down, Kill Devil Hill and the legendary Pantera. However, after over twenty five years of recording and touring, Rex Brown found himself at an impasse and felt that taking a break was the only option. During his self-imposed exile, he slowly crafted songs which have manifested into his first ever solo effort, 'Smoke On This'. After a tenacious pursuit, Fireworks was awarded the opportunity to speak with this iconic and garrulous musician long associated with Heavy Metal. However, this album couldn't be further from that definition. A lively conversation ensued where we discussed the album, his influences and the people that have helped make 'Smoke On This' a reality.


Rex-Brown

Like most, Rex's musical influences focus around those nascent days as a young adolescent and provide wonderful insight as to the approach found on the album. Being of the belief that 'Smoke On This' has tremendous crossover potential, I think that fans of classic 70s Hard Rock, Modern Alternative Rock and even Grunge will find the album appealing. When asked about those influences that figured into his songwriting, Rex explains, "My influences go back all the way to when my sister left me records from The Beatles, The Stones and a lot of Turtles. I lived in a small town until I was about 11 years old and once I got to the big city it became Black Sabbath and Kiss...and this is now 1975 so 'Masters Of Reality' was on the deck. At the same time I was listening to Thin Lizzy and that progressed into this heavier Rock, like Foghat, then I discovered Humble Pie. Also, growing up in the 70s I was listening to radio in Texas, but the only thing that really 'got my goat' was ZZ Top." He then went on to mention one unlikely person in his life who was an early and constant source of inspiration. "My grandmother used to play piano for the silent movies back in the 1920s and had a little band as well that used to play in the Honky Tonks back when her county was still under Prohibition. She would tell me these stories about how they would get raided all the time. I just kept dragging her hand until she was probably in her death bed to [try and get her to] play me something. She was my musical muse."

Rex collaborated with longtime friend Lance Harvill on all songs. Being six years his junior, he brought a more modern Hard Rock vibe to the songs. The prolific pair ended up demoing twenty four tunes, with thirteen properly recorded and eleven making the final cut. When asked about his association and the writing process with his co-writer, he explains, "Dime[bag Darrell] and I knew Lance way back before Pantera was signed to Atco. He is an incredible songwriter and a Beatles fanatic, just like I am. When we do songs, I'll give him ideas that are really raw and then he'll make something cool from it. He'll then give me the stuff that is really polished and I'll strip it away. That is how we come to common ground and how we write and collaborate together. It's a meeting of the minds. His Pop sensibility is really incredible but takes on a different element when you put this raw, raspy voice on top. He knows exactly what I want and how to get it. I never have to go into rehearsal and say, "Nope, that's not the way that it goes, or nope, you're playing that wrong." Lance was influenced by his own stuff. I listen to some of Lance's music and it's definitely some of that Grunge vibe that you mentioned. He is definitely coming from that 90s sound where I'm more from the 70s and I wanted to bring those two together."

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine for Melodic Rock Music

This website uses cookies to help us give you the best experience when you visit. Cookies used for the essential operation of the site have already been set. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our Privacy Statement.

I accept cookies from this site


When it came to recording and assembling the album, it is clear that it was anything but easy. "I took maybe a year off and then we started putting these songs together for the record right after Lance moved to Nashville. Then I met Caleb Sherman who also played on the record and is my producer. Having Caleb involved with this thing...he is a musician and he can play anything. There is a lot of lap-steel [guitar] on this, there are a lot of different types of organs and keyboards on the album that really make up the bulk of that inner sound. Once [drummer] Christopher Williams was done in the studio, then it was either me and Lance or just Caleb and I working at night on vocals. When it came time to mix, Caleb and I were just scratching our heads saying, "Well, which guitar tracks are we going to use on this?" You can only use about three or four before it really starts just crumbling the mix ̶ and we had up to 96 inputs of guitars on every damn song! [Laughs] Towards the end of recording, we were trying to get the vocals to sound big and loud but I didn't like my voice. Finally, we listened to Tom Petty's 'Damn The Torpedoes' album and right then I told Caleb to remove all the effects, double the vocal and see what it sounds like, raw. I think that is probably the best move we could have done for this record. I drove Caleb crazy! We must have mixed this thing eighteen times. I would say, "No, that hi-hat is just too open. Close it." I drove him insane. He wouldn't talk to me for like three weeks after we finished. He wouldn't even pick up the phone [Laughs]. I drive people crazy, but that is how you get the final product. "

Things got to a breaking point with Rex while promoting Kill Devil Hill which was the impetus for him taking a break from music. "Well, Vinnie [Appice] didn't want to tour as much so I had to get another drummer. Also, the costs of being on the road were exceeding what I wanted to do with it and I just needed a break. I needed to stop and watch the grass grow and watch my children blossom because they were [already] teenagers."

Rex is nothing short of a seasoned pro in this thing called the music business. When asked to comment, he did not hold back. "Look, artists these days don't get paid shit on a goddamn record. It doesn't matter who you are, you make your money from touring. After being on the road for all of these years, I had to go tell myself, "Well, you're going to have to do it." I had to take a fresh, fresh look at myself to see if I am up to doing this...and I was.

Rex's final thoughts are short and sweet, just like the album he set out to make and by all accounts, more music is clearly on the horizon. "I'm proud as fuck of this record. I wouldn't release something that I didn't think was 'up to snuff'. This just shows a new side of me and I've got another full record [of material] that I'm ready to go back into the studio and record."

Share this on the web.


Comments (0)add comment

Write comment

security image
Write the displayed characters


busy

Latest Reviews on Rocktopia

William Shatner - 'The Blues'
13/10/2020 | James Gaden
article thumbnail

One of his best albums to date.


Latest News on Rocktopia

Status Quo bassist ALAN LANCASTER dies aged 72
26/09/2021 | Central Electronic Brain



Alan Lancaster,
founding member and bassist for St [ ... ]


Member Login



Calendar

<<  October 2021  >>
 Mo  Tu  We  Th  Fr  Sa  Su 
      1  2  3
  4  5  6  7  8  910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Search Here

Shout Here

Latest Message: 2 weeks, 6 days ago
  • Berny : RIP Alan Lancaster! :(
  • Berny : @Barneypippa: I forwarded your mail to the Fireworks team. You should receive a reply asap.
  • Barneypippa : My magazine (#96) hasnt arrived yet - should have been here last week
  • Rocktopia Te : @bakerstreetish: Pls. check your email for download instructions.
  • bakerstreeti : Hi, I just bought digital download #96. How will I be able to receive/access it? First time on this site. Thanks!
  • zom414 : Have they been posted out yet? Not received mine yet but may have the release date wrong!
  • Johns Band : Received glossy Fireworks 96 and one of best ever. I am still looking at pictures and "Revisit The Gods AOR Festive" should be great. Probably get download from issue 101 to save on space & it is read to me from audio voice. Already got Robben Ford Instrumental album "Pure" great stuff & Freddy King singing & guitar I love, so Bernie Marsden new album I will have on Amazon Prime. If you are into 70's Rock then new Help Yourself 6 CD Boxset + info will be good for you plus expert to pay no more
  • Berny : Fireworks #96 is out now! :)
  • Berny : @Paul wiv: Pls. check your email!
  • Paul wiv : I have paid for issue 92 but it hasn't downloaded yet.
  • Berny : @Adamson: Bitte kontaktiere mich direkt, meine Mailadresse lautet «email»
  • Adamson : kann man hier auch auf Deutsch schreiben? denn ich hätte eine Frage?
  • KI2000 : Wow, issue #95 has to be the BEST one so far. Congratulations guys!!
  • Hysteria : GREAT MAGAZINE! Keep on rockin' guys!!!
  • Berny : Fireworks Magazine #95 is out now!
  • Berny : @Paul wiv: Many thanks for your purchase, pls. check your mail.
  • Paul wiv : I have bought issue 89 on download but it has not appeared on my account
  • Berny : @pomper: BOTH of your mails were forwarded to the Fireworks Team, please contact me directly at «email» should you still haven’t received a reply.
  • bpomper : trying to confirm my fireworks 94 order with no answer from team rocktopia??
  • bpomper : i ordered fireworks number 94 but never got a conformation other than my paypal receipt. can you confirm it went out. i have transaction id if you need it
  • Berny : @ALL: Should you have any questions about your Fireworks orders, pls. contact me directly at «email»
  • Berny : Hi @Stuey6666: You are using two user names on Rocktopia. All current orders were assigned to your second account, pls. check your mail again.
  • Stuey6666 : Hi Berny - ordered 4 issues last week - still not arrived - have checked spam etc not there. cheers stu
  • Berny : @Adolfo: I've also just sent you the magazine via WeTransfer. But please check you junk mail folder, the mail was definitely sent earlier today.
  • Berny : Hi @Adolfo: Have you already checked your spam folder? If the mail cannot be found, pls. contact me at «email»
  • Adolfo : «email»
  • Adolfo : My e - mail
  • Adolfo : I don't have any e - mail.
  • Berny : @Adolfo: Pls. check your e - mail for download instructions.
  • Adolfo : I have order the #94 but I can't find the download

Only registered users are allowed to post

Follow Us

FacebookTwitterYoutubeGoogle

This website uses cookies to help us give you the best experience when you visit. Cookies used for the essential operation of the site have already been set. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our Privacy Statement.

I accept cookies from this site