I conducted an interview with DOWN/ex-PANTERA bassist Rex Brown. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below. Rex didnt mind my weed smoke stinking up the room either.
Has all the material for the next DOWN record been written, and has anything been recorded in the studio yet?
Brown: Well, we have about three to six tracks, but what I think we are going to do is bundle these things together and record them. We will put like four tracks into a bundle, for $6.99 or something like that, and start putting those out and doing it all the time. That would be the ideal function of the band, instead of putting that one major record out that can be a painstaking process.
So, instead of going into a barn like you did with "Down II", writing and recording in 28 days, you're really taking your time and skipping a full release?
Brown: Well, we are still going into the barn to get that heaviness and get it as stripped down as possible. We will have to see when we get there. I really can't speculate now, because I know it's not going to be this year; probably next year before anything comes out. With this band (DOWN), it just takes time. We all have different lives and things going on outside of this band. We just did a three-year touring cycle, so we have to get away from it for just a little bit.
Is DOWN no longer viewed as a side project, and is this where everyone would like to put their energy full time?
Brown: Once we all get into the mindset, that is when it's game on. We are getting close, but we are not there yet. We all still have something outside that has to be done.
The [PANTERA] "Cowboys From Hell" 20th-anniversary edition was recently released. Does it seem like only yesterday that you were in the studio and now looking back? Are you completely happy with your bass tracks on "Cowboys"?
Brown: Oh, absolutely. I wish that you could hear them (bass tracks) a little better. It was just hard, number one, to capture that guitar sound live on tape and, number two, getting into the flesh in the mixing with Vinnie's [Paul] drums. The bass is in there, but you really can't hear it. Dime and I played a lot of the riffs together, but I don't regret anything. "Cowboys From Hell" was a groundbreaking record, from a band out of Texas desperately trying to get out there and let our talents be shown.
What's your favorite memory from those sessions, or that era, and did you realize how groundbreaking "Cowboys From Hell" was at that time?
Brown: We knew from a band's sense and that the four of us where trying to make a great record. We didn't know what it would do. Looking back now, production-wise, it was a heavy record that still has the hooks. We just pushed it to the limit and that was every record PANTERA ever did.
Why was the decision made to jump ship on everything prior to "Cowboys From Hell", and any regrets during the glam days?
Brown: Well, we weren't glam. We looked weird with our hair, but we always wrote heavy music. That was just the style of the day. If you grew up in that time, you either had some kind of weight kicking or you were just some band that would play in a garage. We did not want to play in a garage. We wanted to play in front of people.
Many PANTERA fans have been calling for a sort of reunion. What are your thoughts on that?
Brown: I just don't see it happening. It would be great in one factor, that we would play with Vinnie again and that it would be all sorted out. But, I think it would be... I just don't think it would be right without Dime. It was only the four of us, and I don't know anybody that can play like him.
In other words, PANTERA was four core members and four original members only.
Brown: That's it. I don't think you could replace one and just get up there and do it.
I want to talk with you about [Rex's side project] ARMS OF THE SUN. You guys are doing a couple of dates in Texas, and I haven't seen any dates elsewhere. Will you be planning a full tour?
Brown: Yeah! I'm shopping it to management as we speak! Everything is done on it (the album). We have twelve tracks recorded, sequenced, mastered, the whole bit, and we put it on our own dime. It's something that is a real passion for me. Usually when I do a record, I just turn everything off and do something else, but I have been coming back to this music. It's heartfelt and really good. We should have that out by the first of the year, and hopefully tour; doing radio events around the country and stuff like that. We would also like to go to England and break this thing wide open.
What's the reaction been like down in Texas from the people lucky enough to see ARMS OF THE SUN?
Brown: Amazing! We have people screaming for it. We are probably going to play a couple of more gigs here. We're not trying to make it into a big scene or anything like that, but the live shows have just been wild.