Rex Brown On Moving On, Kill Devil Hill & Smoking Dope With Dio
RO: So they're in L.A., you're in Texas. How did the songwriting process work?
RB: I would go down there for three weeks and stay with Mark Zavon, the guitar player, and then come back home for a little break and we'd write over the phone.
It's just so easy now that you can go back and forth and just send somebody something and add on your different parts.
Of course, being there in person and rehearsing is totally different, but we kept everything on tape that we saved when I was in L.A. Everybody put their own spice into it, and it just kept growing and growing into this monster. We'd just send it around until we had final tracks, and that was the staple of what we'd use in pre-production.
That's basically how it worked. You know, I have this little voice recorder, probably like the one you're using right now, that I can plug into and send whatever to Mark just right over the phone, anytime I like. I'll send him these little-bitty riffs or whatever.
We have a whole lot of brand-new material, actually, but we've gotta tour off of this record a lot first. I don't want this thing to go to waste! We have a lot of territories to hit, starting with Houston on Saturday night!
RO: You've been lucky to play with some incredible drummers in your career. How did your chemistry develop with Vinny Appice?
RB: My chemistry with Vinny goes back to the festival days, when he was playing with Black Sabbath. They had just put out Dehumanizer in '92, and that was about the time that Pantera was coming up. So, we did a whole lot of festivals like the Monsters of Rock.
I remember this gig like the back of my hand! This Monsters of Rock in Italy was in the middle of this fuckin' dirt field, and me and Phillip and Ronnie James (Dio) and Vinny smoked a joint before they went on.
And so Phillip and I sat behind Geezer's stack, so your back's to Geezer, who's my favorite bass player. I just kept watching him interact with Vinny, and then 15, 16 years later, here Down is opening up for Heaven and Hell in all of Canada, Australia and Japan, and I would just sit every night and watch what Vinny was doing.
He's just one of those drummers that you just can't take your eyes off of. He clicks, but he also moves. He doesn't move against the song, he moves with it, and kind of lays on the backbeat a little bit. I really enjoy the way that we hook up together now and make it as tight and as solid and heavy as it is. But I love the melody on top, with Dewey singing all the harmonies that go along with it. That was what I was looking for for a while.
RO: What's your favorite song off the new album to play live?
RB: It depends on any given night. That's like saying, "What's your favorite book?" I like playing all the songs: "War Machine," "Rise From the Shadows." I just dig playin', man, that's all there is to it!
Kill Devil Hill plays with Hindsight, Aramite and Wellborn Road, 8 p.m. Saturday at the Concert Pub North, 2470 FM 1960.