This fall, I had the humbling honour of meeting up with Rex Brown, one of my bass idols, while he was on tour promoting his new record Smoke on This… I spent the day following him and his awesome bandmates around the venue and capturing the magic of the night. This video, for the song “Faultline”, is the result of that day. But to be honest, the 14-year-old-Randy was kicking me the whole day, unable to believe that I was shooting a music video with one of the greatest metal bassists of all time from one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time. You see, my story with Pantera started about 26 years before…
Back in 1991 when I was 11, my parents separated for good. My dad moved out of our house in Columbia, South Carolina and moved out to Ft. Worth, Texas. I started to split my time between Ft. Worth and Columbia. My dad remarried and I gained a new brother and sister in the deal. My new brother was several years older than me and was into metal. I was already listening to a lot of stuff, but he turned me on to his favourite band who was also local, Pantera. Everybody around Ft. Worth was talking about them and how they either knew them or “their brother went to school with them”. They were local heroes.
Vulgar Display of Power came out in 1992, and I hadn’t heard anything like it before. I wasn’t listening to hardcore or punk so I didn’t yet know the influence that Phil was bringing to the band. But it was the heaviest thing I ever heard. My blood brother (Scott, who you will hear me talk about often), saw them open up for Skid Row in Columbia and he also saw them when we were living in Germany on the Far Beyond Driven Tour cycle. It wasn’t until July 13th, 1996 did I finally get to go with my brother to see them live in Dallas at the Coca-Cola Starplex. A hometown gig. That made a young metal fan proud! It was the “Tour of the Gargantuas” with White Zombie and Eyehategod for The Great Southern Trendkill. I love Eyehategod, but this was the first time I had heard of them and they were booed off the stage after Mike shouted “Fuck Dallas!” because the crowd couldn’t wait for Pantera. That’s a silly footnote, but when I look back on it now, it reminds me of how big Pantera was. I mean, the exposure was great, but back then you really didn’t want to open for them!
This would be the near-fatal night that Phil overdosed after the show. I woke up to my granddad coming into the room to tell us that the “heavy metal dude we saw last night is dead. It’s in the paper”. Me and my brother freaked out and jumped to the TV set. No internet back then, kiddos. Luckily, the news report told the full story that Phil had recovered. But it was the first time I felt the close call of a music idol of mine meeting his end.
Sadly, eight years later my brother and I, separated by several thousand miles, would together hear the report of another member of the band passing, unexpectedly. But that’s a story for another time…
I think, over the years, I have owned more Pantera shirts than any other band. I remember one time my brother had to turn his inside out at the high school because it had like 27 pot leaves painted on it. Pantera will always hold a special place for me and my bro, musically. Like a secret that two close friends share. Like it’s just yours and doesn’t belong to anyone else in the world.
And Rex was one of my earliest inspirations as a bass player. He always played in the pocket and grooved like no other. I would later buy a Spector Bass guitar (because Rex played Spectors back in the day). To have had the opportunity to make this day-in-the-life-of video with Mr. Rex Brown was truly 26 years in the making and I am humbled by the ever-mysterious path that our lives take us. Thanks for letting me in and believing in the idea, Rex. You’re the man. See you on the road!
FreqsFact: If you look closely in the video and at the end credits, you will see my buddy Marcel from Guitar Magazine, who’s appeared in several films at FreqsTV. We have now shared time in videos with Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar and Rex Brown. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s nearly half the members of Down.