Interview: Kill Devil Hill
Tue, 03 Jun 2014 12:55:44
"This thing is all over the fucking map," Rex Brown says of Kill Devil Hill’s second album Revolution Rise. "It's one of my favorite recordings I've done in quite some time. I'm really proud of it. There was a lot of hard work in this one. It's all coming together, and it's such a great feeling."
Revolution Rise makes a pointed statement for Brown. It sees Kill Devil Hill evolve into a viciously tight unit in the studio, matching their live prowess. It also unleashes some of the catchiest songs in hard rock right now. That's a fact!
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Rex Brown talks Kill Devil Hill’s future, Pantera's past, and so much more.
Do you feel like it brings the first album's template to a new level? In some ways, this could be Kill Devil Hill's debut.
You know, that's exactly something I was thinking. To hit your first statement, I just think this is bigger, badder, better, and just bolder. We really shine it through. Regardless of the first record, we had only four shows under our belts before we went into the studio. We rehearsed the crap out of that to get it where we wanted and did the record in 28 days. We were still learning how to be a band and whose fart we just smelled [Laughs]. Speaking of that, Dewey just pulled up! We're about to hit the road here. I'm super pumped. With any good record that comes out, number one the songs have to be there. The songs have to be there regardless. Then, you run into timing. I think right now is a really good time for a record like this to be out. I'm not really crazy about lumping in genres and things like that. There's so much trash out there that I don't want to lump in anything or get pigeonholed. You know what I'm saying? It's such a fickle fucking market. I want this to live on its own merits. You've got all this Facebook bullshit like, "It's not cool. It's not a Pantera record".
Well, look there's never going to be another fucking Pantera record because Dimebag Darrell is no longer with us. This is just us getting on down the line. I'm happy to be blessed again. If I was any happier, I'd start screaming and I'm scared I'd never fucking stop! [Laughs] That's just where I'm at in life, and it's a good place to be man. The musicianship in this band is so far above here. The first record we did was killer. Three weeks in, the last record company was shot. Their music division just halted shit. We were out there with our fucking dicks swinging in the wind and we had to do it on our own. It's really hard to do that. We did a hundred dates on our own playing for fucking alcohol sales. We went out on a great note and went back into the studio.
It was the right time.
Oh yeah, you know how bands used to put EPs out just to get a buzz going? That's the way I look at it. For the people who didn't get the last one because you couldn't fucking get it, this is the first taste. Here we are sitting and talking about it. There's a great groundswell.
You wrote some great catchy heavy songs.
Thank you! I hate to use comparisons to my last band, but you take a song like "Fucking Hostile" for instance. It's heavy as piss, but it's got that catchiness and that hook. Like old Agnostic Front back in the day, it had that element. It was catchy. We're not in that same realm, but you see where I'm going with it.
The band also comes out of the gate with its own identity.
You're playing with different guys so you have to fit in where you fit in. As a bass player, it's about knowing where not to play and then playing where you can. Vinny Appice and I have really locked up, and that's a given. Dewey is singing his fucking ass off on every song. There are great melodies and harmonies. I told Dewey at the start of this, "This is yours to fucking fly! Let loose!"
How did "Life Goes On" come together?
We'll do three or four songs. As we were doing that, we would go, "Well, we need this here. We need another heavy one". "Life Goes On" started out as a heavy jam. Then, we got to the middle section where it gets into the progression part we thought would be a lead. I came up to the part where the bass goes up and went, "Man, we need some keys on that!" That became the end of the record. It was the perfect way to end the record. Keep listening to that song after it keeps rolling, and you'll be pleasantly surprised at what happens on the end of it. It starts out heavy and gets to the point where this band can go both ways. To me, it's really good songcraft. Fuck what's hip or trendy. We're just Kill Devil Hill.
What about "Where Angels Dare to Roam"?
We needed a heavy shuffle on there. Dewey came up with that melody. It hit him. He came into the car and brought that back overnight. It fit perfectly. It's epic. There aren't many bands doing that heavy shuffle feel. Growing up in Texas, that heavy shuffle boogie is where I come from. It all comes from the old blues shit. Everything comes from fucking old Delta blues anyway. We wanted to make it heavy.
Is it important for the songs to have a visual aspect?
We thought, "How is this going to go down live?" The new record is so musical on all accounts. It just brings more to the fold. The chemistry just works so well with it.
What does this record mean to you?
Any musician will say, "Goddamn, this is my greatest work I've ever done in my whole fucking life!" As a whole for the four of us, this is just where we are right now musically. If it's anything, it's the shape of what can and will come. First we're tagged as a supergroup, which is just bullshit. Dewey Bragg and Mark Zavon are as goddamn talented as Vinny Appice and I are. This band makes sense to me, man. This is one of my favorite things I've done in a long fucking time, and it feels great.
How was the experience of writing your memoir?
The first word that comes to my mind is cathartic. There are certain stuff I look back on now like, "Nah, I shouldn't have said that" or "Maybe I could've put that differently". I'm just telling the story. I had really good seats. I told the story. It all makes sense in a broad stroke. You can't take one page out and say, "That's what it's about". You have to read that book from front-to-back. Then, it makes sense for you. We left 600-pages on the cutting room floor. How do you put your life into just 300-goddamn pages and so many words? That's part of the game you have to play in the literary world. I'd love to put a book out of all the funny and good times we've had. I've already done the homework of where I've come from. Though there are some funny anectdotes in that one, there are tons more to be told. My focus now is touring, growing that fan base, and putting this band on top. We've put the time and work in.
What do you think of now when you think of The Great Southern Trendkill?
It was more of an experimentation record than anything. It was going through a weird time between everybody else. The fame and fortune hits you. It's a bit weird. We always tried to stray away from that so we just said, "Fuck the world! We're just going to do what the fuck we want to do! Here it is. If you don't like it, suck a dick!" That's basically what that record means to me. There are some great musical moments in that. I hear a lot of people say that's one of their favorite records. I go, "Well, being there and doing it all, I need to go back and revisit it. It's one of those records I haven't revisited in a while".
What’s your favorite Kill Devil Hill song?