Rex Brown's Psychedelic Throwdown

DEEP BENEATH THE SABBATH-LIKE sludge of Down lies the righteous rumbling of Rex Brown.
By Brian Fox ,

Rex Brown (center) and Down

DEEP BENEATH THE SABBATH-LIKE sludge of Down lies the righteous rumbling of Rex Brown. Crafting countermelodies like a heavy-metal Macca, Rex deftly darts between the twin-guitar attack of the hard rock supergroup to cinch with drummer Jimmy Bower. The dynamic duo’s deep connection is in evidence on Diary of a Mad Band, Down’s new live CD/DVD documenting a wordof- mouth tour of Europe that culminates in a dominating performance at the Download Festival in Donnington, England.

Down tends to take long breaks between albums. What’s behind that, and how does this new CD/DVD fit in?

There was a lot we were dealing with as a band—Dimebag Darrell’s death, getting clean, Hurricane Katrina. The DVD pretty much chronicles our learning how to walk again. At first we’re crawling, and by the end, we’re a full-blown powerhouse.

What gear are you using these days?

I’ve been playing through an Ampeg SVT-VR. That amp is unbelievable—you set the volume at “two”, and it’s fryin’ you. I’m fixing to bi-amp with Ampeg’s Pro Neo cabinets: a 1x15, a 4x10, and a 2x10. I’ll get the punch from the 10s, and the low end from the 15. With three stacks like that, I think it’ll be one hell of a sound.

For basses, I’m using Czech-made Spector NS-2s. I’m also playing a Spector RXT bass, which looks like a Telecaster Bass. Spector will be launching those at the NAMM show.

Does wearing your bass as low as you do make any aspect of playing easier?

No, it’s a lot harder, and it really tears your back up. I’ve started wearing it higher; now it’s right around crotch level, so I’m cool with it. [Laughs.]

When you’re not playing with Down, you’re busy with your other band, Arms Of The Sun. What’s new on that front?

We just finished an album, and it’s really f’n good. It’s totally different than anything I’ve done before. It’s like a ’70s hard rock band, but it doesn’t sound retro. Picture the Beatles on acid, through Marshall stacks.

Down, Diary of a Mad Band (CD/DVD) [Down Records/ADA]

Basses Spector NS-2, Spector RXT
Rig Ampeg SVT-VR (studio), Ampeg SVT-4PRO (live), Ampeg 8x10
Effects Ashdown Chorus Plus, Morley Wah, MXR Phase 90, MXR Bass Blowtorch