Former Pantera and Down bassist Rex Brown has kept busy since he stopped playing music with Phil Anselmo, joining North Carolina-based supergroup Kill Devil Hill in 2011. He released his first solo album Smoke on This in July 2017, and has since decided to go full-time with the project. In a recent talk with Loudwire, Brown explained his decision and detailed the shock of losing longtime friend and collaborator Vinnie Paul, with whom he'd performed since both were 15-year-old high school students playing in the jazz and lab bands.
"We started out professionally figuring out how to do it when we were 15 years old. We were in jazz band, lab band, together in high school and it was one of the most prestigious lab bands and the instructors, they had high connections to the Montreaux Jazz Festival and the seniors, we'd go every year and play a cover. So Vinnie and I spent a lot of time at sectionals and we were both extremely incredible sight readers. We'd gotten that in junior high."
"Vinnie was just an incredible drummer and I really miss the camaraderie of years past. It was just another phone call of, 'Are you sitting down?,' and I'm like, 'Oh my god, who is it now?' Never in a million years would I have thought it would be Vinnie. It's just wild, and it's insane. It started coming through in some of my lyrics, and I had to step back a little bit."
"It's just wild, and it's insane. It started coming through in some of my lyrics, and I had to step back a little bit," says Brown of the fateful call where he learned of Paul's passing, "I had to reflect on it and it's something you have to process. I learned the first time with Dime, and it took me years in therapy to get the fuck over. When those tragedies hit, you just pull your boots up as much as you can and you go."
Brown also confirmed his departure for Kill Devil Hill, deciding instead to focus on his own output and retire from the touring life. "I've just been going from one thing to the other to the other since I've been 17 with some breaks in between, but man I had to get off that road," the bassist announces, "With Kill Devil Hill, the guys are starting to gig again and with them, it's very amicable. They are some of my best friends in the world. I just felt like I was keeping a damper on them so might as well take care of this thing now. It's a very amicable split and everybody's happy with the whole deal."
He's also working on new solo music, and plans to finish a few tracks in the spring: "I've got 18 tracks in the can, and I'm gonna finish up all this stuff in March ... I've got more music in me and a lot of these songs just don't fit what I was doing before. I was always that Zeppelin dude in the fuckin' background with a joint in his mouth, and I loved playing metal.
"I just really need to develop this solo thing and knock it in its ass this fall. I'm a musician and I just need to follow my gut and that's just all there is to it."