Bassist REX BROWN Talks Debut Solo Album – “This Record Was Meant To Be Listened To On Vinyl”
May 19, 2017, 11 months ago
Lance Hall of WJSC-FM’s The Silk And Steel Power Hour caught up with former Pantera and Down bassist Rex Brown to talk about his debut solo album Smoke On This.
On his first solo album, Smoke On This:
Rex: "I wouldn't say it sounds like classic rock, but I would say I was influenced by it. Yeah, I had a really good time. I had a really good friend in [Nashville-based guitarist and songwriter] Lance Harvill and we wrote a bunch of songs, starting putting a team together and created this chemistry in the studio and it started coming together. We said, 'Well, we'd better put something together.'"
On writing the album in Nashville, Tennessee:
Rex: "Yeah, I've been to Nashville [before]. There's always been a plethora of good players, but I never left the studio. It's all listening to old vinyl and about writing the songs. It's all about the song."
On his recent PledgeMusic campaign:
Rex: "I had never done that before and someone goes 'Oh, would you like to do the Pledge fund?' They got me into it and I went 'You can't beat that. At least these people can get a place to get the music and also get a place to get vinyl. That was important for me with this record. This record was meant to be listened to on vinyl."
Multi-platinum selling artist Rex Brown has debuted an all new single titled “Crossing Lines”. A lyric video for the song is available for streaming below. Brown will release his new album, Smoke On This…, on July 28th via Entertainment One Music (eOne Music).
“My motto these days is ‘Shake some shit up,'" Brown declares about the new LP. “I’ve had my ups and downs, like anybody in this business. I wanted to feel like a true artist again, where I can write and record songs without worrying about any of the bullshit.”
“Crossing Lines” is also available on all streaming platforms and as an iTunes instant gratification track, meaning fans who pre order the LP today will the the track as a download instantly. The artwork and track listing are available below as well for the first time along with both digital and physical pre orders options.
Brown continues, “We're not going to necessarily cater to metal fans, but the guys who grew up with Pantera, a lot of them love all the same stuff that I grew up on, too. This is just something else I'm doing for fun, man. And musical Freedom. Fun has to come into it or I'm not going to do it. I've had a tremendous career and now I feel like I’m thirty years old again. This has given me that freedom I needed.”
“I’ve got so much more in me,” Brown enthuses. “I’m just getting my feet wet.”
Brown’s solo debut strips away any boundaries and preconceived notions, reveling in a newfound freedom to express all of the various shades of the man whose name is out front. The song “Fault Line” helped him find his voice. “That was the very first one I sang. After I got that one, I knew that I could do it, and Lance was my biggest motivator in finding that voice. Up until that point I just wasn’t sure.”
From there, there’s the brilliantly straightforward “Lone Rider,” the monstrous In Through The Out Door vibe of “Crossing Lines”, the Pink Floyd reverence of “Best Of Me”. “Get Yourself Alive” is something of an ode to “Strawberry Fields Forever”, but with a swift-kick of rock n’ roll. It’s rich in nuance, with Indian tandoori and layers of vocals. The extremely catchy “Grace” is “something you would never expect to hear off a Rex Brown record and that’s exactly why I did it. It’s just a really great song, period. Bottom line.”
Lyrically, the songs are both personal and universally relatable. “Buried Alive” is a deeply moving and confessional song about the loss of Dimebag Darrell. “I drowned myself in cases of whiskey after he died. I was drowning in that black water and I had to find me, ya' know? It's one of those songs that really kind of just came out. ‘You're on your own now, Jack. What're you gonna do?’ The whole record is really cathartic.” Conversely, “What Comes Around Goes Around” could be about “your mailman, your neighbor, or your wife. It’s saying, ‘you made your bed, lay in it. I’m clean on my side of the street, how's your’s going.”
Rex’s solo album is full of mojo and the force of character, determination, and nerve. He tracked lead vocals, rhythm guitars, and bass, working with his primary collaborator and old friend, Lance Harvill, a Nashville-based guitarist and songwriter, on the album’s songs. “Lance was & is, my main man on this. Everything we did was finely tuned, both musically & brotherly.”
Drums were tracked by Christopher Williams, himself no stranger to diverse tastes, from funk music to punk. His talent has been utilized by country music star Lee Greenwood, the reconstituted Blackfoot and most recently, power metal legends Accept. The album was produced by New Yorker turned Nashville transplant Caleb Sherman, a multi-instrumentalist with work on records by Little Big Town and Porter Block, among others. “Caleb produced the project from a musician's standpoint,” adds Brown. “Not just a typical producer’s standpoint, which was something I definitely needed. Between Caleb and Lance, we were a force to be reckoned with. They really pulled out the best in me.” Peter Keyes, known for his work with Lynyrd Skynyrd can also be heard on a few tracks. All bass tracking came from Rex himself as well.
Who is Rex Brown? To the industry, fellow musicians, and a legion of fans around the world, he’s the bassist for Pantera, one of the biggest hard rock and metal acts of the past few decades, alongside Nirvana and Metallica. They had Number One albums with minimal support from traditional commercial outlets and went platinum several times over. Pantera rode a groundswell of underground loyalty, earned through several years of blood, sweat, and road beers. Five major label albums, countless international tours, and a series of carnage-filled home videos cemented a legacy as large as their massive riffs and the band’s insatiable appetites for mayhem, authenticity, and brotherhood.
“Get Yourself Alright”
“What Comes Around...”
“So Into You”
“Best Of Me”
“One Of these Days”
“Crossing Lines” lyric video: