Greg Prato of Songfacts recently conducted an interview with former PANTERA and current KILL DEVIL HILL bassist Rex Brown. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Songfacts: How would you say that the songwriting worked primarily in Pantera?
Rex: We would go down into the studio, and Dime would usually have something kind of mapped out of where he wanted stuff to go. He just had a massive amount of riffs, and of course, we would change those and maybe put in more parts or whatever.
Songfacts: What would you say was your greatest contribution to a PANTERA song as far as songwriting?
Rex: We were the three-piece kind of thing. You know, that kind of VAN HALEN stuff. So pretty much all the stuff that was underneath the solos, and any time there was a key change, that was me. And our arrangements a lot of the time, just depending, Phil [Anselmo, vocals] and I would work on those. But any time we changed into a key pattern, changes or stuff like that, was me. And me and Dime [guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott] worked on a lot of those riffs hand in hand — mine with his. He’d have this little part and I would come in with a different little section at the end of it; that’s what made the riff. But any guitar player in the band is going to come up with the majority of the shit a lot of the time. We had four very different individuals in the band, and it took all of us to make what I called the “magic in a box.” You’d put those four individuals together, and that was magic. Once you opened that box up, there were so many influences between all of us, and we would just pour them all into it.
Songfacts: And which PANTERA song would you say was the most difficult to finally complete?
Rex: Shit, dude, all of them! We were such perfectionists in what we did. Really, a lot of the time the thought process was thrown through the door, and it just came out naturally — it didn’t feel contrived. That was the beauty of it. Once we started really having to think about what we were doing, which was probably towards the end with “Reinventing The Steel”, we were trying to take something from each record and make it into who we are. When I listen back to that record — and I couldn’t listen to it for a long time, because of Dime — but I listen back to that record now, it’s, “Where do you go past there? How much fuckin’ more intensifying can you get than that, for doing what we wanted to do?” Our whole plan was to take a break and then we all reconvene, and it just didn’t turn out that way. But I’m sure if Dime was still around, we would still be doing whatever we’d be doing. But as it turns out, he’s no longer with us, which kind of sucks. We got robbed by some fuckin’ lunatic. It is what it is, and it’s a hell of a ride.
Songfacts: It’s a shame, because especially now, if you listen to a lot of the new bands coming out, a lot of the newer bands…
Rex: Every band out there wants to be PANTERA, I’ll just put it that way. I’m not patting myself on the back when I say that; it’s just fact. They’re trying to get the riffs and they’ll never have it. They’ll never get it. It takes the four of us. Special. I mean, you can’t just throw three of the original guys out of SLAYER and expect to sound like SLAYER, it’s just not going to work. Just one of them things, man. You run across that once in a lifetime and you just fight for it, and that’s what we did with the band. But it was all about the song. It was all about that melody, that “catch” that could suck people in.
Read the entire interview at Songfacts.