READ: Rex Brown's Pantera Memoir
, March 27th, 2013 11:19
In advance of its publication tomorrow, The Quietus presents an exclusive extract from Rex Brown of Pantera's new memoir
(Excerpt from Official Truth, 101 Proof: The Inside Story of Pantera by Rex Brown with Mark Eglinton. Reprinted courtesy of Da Capo Press.)
Tomorrow, Pantera bassist Rex Brown publishes his memoir of the US metal pioneers, Official Truth, 101 Proof: The Inside Story of Pantera (cover art above). The book comes after last year's reissuing of their landmark album Vulgar Display Of Power, in deluxe format, to celebrate its twentieth anniversary and is a written testament to the band's enduring success and a viscerally honest account of an unlikely life in the spotlight. In the following extract, from the book's opening chapter, we hear what life was like as the hurricane of success first began to envelope the band.
As fame took hold, we couldn’t walk down the street without getting recognized by fans. I reverted to the quiet, unassuming approach that underpins my personality and started looking for little fuckin’ dive watering holes to hang out and drink in without being harassed, somewhere close to the house so that I could get totally fucked up and get home quickly afterwards. Flying under the radar, you could say.
Even in interviews — a process I didn’t really enjoy anyway — I just kept to myself. I’d show up of course but then I’d just sit there behind a pair of dark shades and not do a whole lot of anything. I wanted to try to keep my personal life separate from the band — which was impossible — and I also knew the other three guys would have plenty to say. I was always the quiet guy that nobody knew much about. I just liked to fucking jam, and that’s the plain truth. If I’d wanted attention I would have had, like Vinnie [Paul, drummer], five bodyguards following me around.
I hated being asked the same questions all the time. Other times the journalist would try to make something up, and I knew immediately when they were trying to do it. You could always tell if these people (a) didn’t know shit about you or (b) were trying to get you to say something off the wall so the extra little headline got them paid a bit more. The ones who were genuine were cool, though, but you’d run into those on maybe one out of ten occasions. I’d get irate with the bad ones sometimes, especially in Europe. They’d ask me a dumb question and I’d just say, “eh, no” merely to piss them off. And then they’d get all irritated and ask, “well, can you tell us why not?” To which I’d just say: “Then this interview is fuckin’ over with, how’s that?”
I remember one time in Paris this guy turned up in a motorcycle helmet and leathers to interview Dime [Dimebag Darrell, guitarist] and me for some fucking French metal magazine. He started getting all François with us, asking stupid questions like: “well, why don't you have two more guitar players in your band?” What kind of a dumb question is that? We always wanted to go for the one guitar player, Van Halen–type of vibe, everyone knew that.
“Have you heard this one dude? Have you heard this motherfucker right here?” I said, pointing at Dime. “That’s all we need.”
“Well…” he said.
“There’s no ‘well’, dude. This is just the way it is. You want an interview or don’t you?”
“I am just asking the questions because blah blah blah…”
“You know what, you’re fucking out of here, dude.” And with that I took his helmet, threw it down the fucking stairs, and then I decided to throw his leather jacket, too — while he was still wearing it. There’s a pivotal point right there at the back of the collar, and another lower down near the bottom of the back, so you can grab it there and with a swing backwards, then forwards, you’re good to go!
That wasn’t the only time this kind of thing happened. Occasionally I snapped when somebody asked me stupid questions. In the end, instead of banging heads with the press, I tried to run from the media attention, and when you’ve got a load of money, escape is that much easier. The press likes to build you up and then blow you down like a fucking tower. A similar thought occurred to me the other day when I heard that they were blowing up the Texas Stadium where the Dallas Cowboys played for years. There were some great memories within that place — some great games and the whole bit — but all these people turned up just to watch the place fall to the ground. I thought: “haven’t you got something better to do with your day than being there to watch that?” They had some chick over there with a Kleenex box, crying, and I just thought it was the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. The press likes to do the same thing with musicians, build them up and then tear them down. Even worse, many people like to read about it.
Thank fuck TMZ wasn’t around back in those days, because I would have probably done myself in. I couldn’t have coped with that level of privacy invasion. I sure as hell didn’t get into all this to get my face on the cover of People magazine, and Philip [Anselmo, vocalist] certainly didn’t either. If fame came our way, then let it come when we were up on stage. But with Vinnie and, to a lesser extent, Darrell, things were different: it’s like they actually wanted all that attention.
The self-promotion and narcissism got so bad, especially by Vinnie. He would get our tour manager Guy Sykes to call from our bus into the strip club that we’re sitting outside of, so that we’d get in for free, sit at a VIP table, and the whole bit. As we’d walk in it would be Vinnie and Val, our head of security, and then someone would announce in a melodramatic fashion: “Hey everyone, it’s Vinnie Paaaaauuul from Pantera!”
Dime and I would be in the back, looking at Vinnie, and thinking: “Oh no, not again.” Then we’d stare at each other and say, “who the fuck is this dude anyway? Where does this shit come from? This guy wouldn’t be anything if it wasn’t for us,” but Vinnie just had to bask in the spotlight.
Official Truth, 101 Proof: The Inside Story of Pantera is available from 28th of March, published by Da Capo Press. You can pre-order the book here