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Rex Brown Talks Motorhead’s Motorboat Cruise, Pantera’s Legacy + Kill Devil Hill

Rex Brown
Kathy Flynn, WickedGoddessPhotography.com

Kill Devil Hill will be packing their bags in September, joining one of the heaviest lineups of the year aboard the Motorhead Motorboat Cruise. Loudwire had a chance to chat with Kill Devil Hill’s Rex Brown about joining the legendary Motorhead along with acts like Megadeth, AnthraxZakk Wylde and Down aboard the cruise. He also opened up about his thoughts on Pantera‘s legacy and shared what’s ahead for Kill Devil Hill. Check out our chat with Rex Brown below:

Kill Devil Hill are playing the Motorhead Motorboat Cruise. It’s got to be a thrill to get a chance to play on this bill with Lemmy. Tell me a little bit about your association with him and Motorhead over the years.

It’s always been a passing kind of relationship with Lemmy. I mean I don’t know how many times I’ve played with Motorhead and how many times I’ve been blown away by Motorhead. And you know, just passing through the Rainbow anytime that I go get something to eat in L.A., you always see Lemmy there. Well maybe not as much anymore. ‘Cause it looks like he’s back in clean health and I really hope the best for him, you know.

Have you had a chance to play a cruise before?

I’ve never been on a cruise boat before. I’ve been on big ferries that take you 12 hours across or whatever. But no, I’ve never been on a cruise ship before. I just never have wanted to, to tell you the truth. But this one sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun, just getting up there and jamming and being out to see just how much I can see. I think we play one show going out and one more coming back. So it’s going to be a lot of fun. Sounds like a paid vacation to me.

And looking at the lineup, there are so many of your friends on this cruise. Because of the confines of basically being relegated to the ship, you’ll get a chance to hang out …

Oh dude, that’ll be the whole thing. All the bands will be together. And that’s the cool thing ’cause when you do the festivals with a lot of bands on a bill, it’s just super cool hanging out with your buds and your friends and you know we’re on the road so much of the time and then we have our personal lives, so sometimes it’s hard to keep track of each other. But I’m just looking forward to hanging out and you never know when an acoustic guitar might break out or whatever and someone breaks out an axe and it turns into a jam. So while you’re sitting in the sun, you can’t beat it.

Plus, there’s so many things to do. This ship will go to Cozumel, Mexico, and there’s plenty of things to do on board as well as in port. Do you foresee venturing out, meeting with the fans and enjoying some of the other things the cruise has to offer?

You know, for me it’s always been about getting out there and shaking hands with the fans and stuff like that. I know there’s meet-and-greets lined up and things like that and plenty of interviews and I’m sure that stuff is going to keep me mighty f—ing busy. And the free time that we have, it’s just enjoy yourself. S–t, it’s a cruise, you know. And it’s all about metal. They invited me to do this thing and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve never done one before, but I’ve heard they’re pretty cool and I can’t wait.

Getting back to the lineup, I see Zakk Wylde. I see Philip Anselmo and the guys from Down. And I know you shared some stages with those guys here recently. Any thoughts on putting together a Pantera jam?

Aw man, you never know. If I gave that away right now we’d all be in trouble [laughs]. It just comes down to, ‘Hey, do you want to jam a song?’ That’s basically it. Philip and I have been in a lot more contact here recently. You know we did Download over in England and we’ve been on the phone a lot here lately. He’s been on the road for a year and a half and I’ve been on the road for a year or taking care of business or whatever I need to do, but my plate is full.

But if we had a little chance for both of us to have a breather back in July so we got on the phone and we’re talking. And it’s just really cool. You’ve gotta remember all that stuff. We’ve got a lot of history together. And our relationship is very, very, very solid and it always has been and everything else is cool man.

Can you talk a little about your relationship with Zakk, as well?

Oh man, Jesus! Zakk used to call me at six in the morning when he’d been up all night drinking and that was going on until I had my kids. But our relationship goes back a good 20 years easily. He’d call me at six [in the morning], and I’d be like, ‘Dude, was I on the top of your s–t list or the bottom?’

But that’s all changed now. We’re both sober now. And I saw Zakk [recently]. They came into town and so anyway I went to hang out with Father Zakk, as we call him, and went and saw the show and it was killer. But the thing between us, we text back and forth so much. We may spend like three hours instead of getting on the phone. You don’t want to get Zakk on the phone. I love him to death, but you can’t get him off … the phone. Ya get it?

[Laughs] Yes.

I love him to death, but it’s just much easier texting cause we send stupid texts to each other. He’s a very, very dear beloved friend who has helped me out in a lot of ways. And f—, he’s one hell of a guitar player, you know?

And you talked about the history with Philip in Pantera and Down. Obviously Kill Devil Hill is your thing now. But what is it like to get up onstage with Philip now that the two of you are no longer in the same band and spending 24/7 together?

It’s more enjoyable getting up there and hey, I’m sure I’ll get up there and play some Down s–t. That’s inevitable. It happens every time. And I’m sure Phil will get up on our set and we’ll play something. That’s what’s been happening and we have so much fun doing it.

With Philip, we’re brothers, man. That’s all there is to it. We went through the darkest and heaviest times of our lives so we have a lot of history there. And I love, love, love that dude. We’ve both come a long f—ing way in this path called life. So getting up onstage with him, we don’t even have to say anything. We just look at each other and know. It’s that kind of bond.

And as far as me leaving Down, I was just going through some health problems and they needed somebody else. And I just got lucky to bump into these guys in Kill Devil Hill and I’ve taken over the reins in that. But it’s just one of those things where I think it’s helped Philip and I’s relationship where we can now share about having to spend the other 22 hours of f—ing hell everyday. With as much history as we have, we can kind of save the relationship just a little bit.

There’s no ill feelings there at all. When you have someone who you played with since the kid was 18, you have history there. Anytime we get onstage it’s magical. And that’s the one thing about Pantera. Every time you put the four of us onstage, it was magic in a box. It’s crazy, but we still have that between the two of us, regardless of who’s behind us. It’s charismatic, you know.

And in terms of Kill Devil Hill, one of the things since we last spoke — Johnny Kelly from Type O Negative is now on drums for the band. I love that guy as a drummer …

I do to! And there’s no offense to Vinny [Appice] whatsoever. It’s not boo Vince, yay Johnny. But I’ve known John since the early, early ’90s playing L’Amour’s in Brooklyn and just that whole New York scene back in the day. And we took out Type O Negative with Pantera and just became dear, dear friends.

I was going through a list of people who I thought could fill that spot when Vinny left and Johnny was one of the first names that came up. I called him on a Wednesday and he said, ‘Gimme an hour, I’ll call you back.’ And he called me back and said, ‘I’ll be there on Saturday.’ So he came in, sat behind the kit, did the first song and by the end of the second song, that was it. He’s just brought so much and he’s such a well-rounded individual. He’s just so much fun to hang around with. We like the same kind of music, we’re around the same age and I’ve been blessed with so many killer drummers in my life. Johnny hits it hard and he’s really come into this band and even in the short time that he’s been in the band, it just keeps getting better every time we play.

Have you started on a follow-up to ‘Revolution Rise’ or had the chance to put Johnny to work in the studio?

No, that’s coming up — probably sooner than later. The record company we had, I’ll just say it was a damn good record and we were really proud of it, and pretty much the record company split into pieces about a month and a half after the record came out. You’ve gotta have product behind you if you wanna go tour. You can’t just go tour for the sake of touring.

Yeah, and ‘Revolution Rise’ is a solid album, too.

That’s the state of affairs in the music business. They wait and see what you did in the first week of release. So it’s just been a constant struggle, and of course, going through drummer changes, it’s been a bit of a struggle, but everything’s gonna work out on it’s own.

Getting back to Pantera, what does it mean to you that the fans have kept Dimebag and Pantera’s spirit alive all these years later?

Dude, it’s all about the fans. And look, we left a f—ing legacy out there. Those songs aren’t necessarily ours anymore. The fans f—ing want ‘em. And you know, I never say never when it comes to talk of the three of us getting back together and doing something you know.

But at the same time, you have to walk on down life and do it on its own terms. I just stay true to what I know and we’ll see what happens. I hate this question, cause I can skate around it all f—ing day, but in the end, it’s up to the fans. That’s really what it’s all the f— about.

And for me, sitting on the sidelines, not that Kill Devil Hill is the sidelines, but look — we’re getting older. If there ever was a time to maybe come together, it’s now — as a tribute to the fallen hero or whatever you want to call it. It’s still that legacy of songs that you’re talking about. That’s what it’s all about.

I’ve grown on. It took me a long time to get through that. How do you lose your best friend, you know, especially when something as tragic as that happens? It’s not a blow that can be fixed. It’s one of those things that it’s happened and we have to get on with life. But it took me a while to figure that one out, and you still figure it out every day.

But like I was saying, it’s about the fans. And the music isn’t ours anymore, it’s the fans, and at some point it needs to be addressed — and sooner than f—ing later. And I would use that quote right there. I wouldn’t use anything else.

Our thanks to Rex Brown for the interview. Pick up Kill Devil Hill’s ‘Revolution Rise’ album at Amazon and iTunes. And if you’re interested in picking up tickets for the Motorhead Motorboat Cruise, which takes place Sept. 22-26, click here.

Watch Rex Brown + Philip Anselmo Recently Rocking Pantera Classics

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