Rex Brown "Official Truth, 101 Proof" Co-Author Mark Eglinton Interviewed

Mark Eglinton
Originally published on September 30, 2013 on SoundCraveMagazine.com
Official-Truth-101-Proof

Hi, I am with Mark Eglinton co-writer of the Rex Brown book “Official Truth, 101 Proof: The Inside Story of Pantera”

How are you tonight?

Doing well, thanks. It’s late here but I’m excited to chat!

Well we thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

Is co-writer the correct term for your involvement in the book?

Hmm, in strict terms, I suppose so. It implies that all you do is a ‘proportion’ of the writing but that’s not all there is.

I prefer it to ghost-writer, as they are normally not credited.

I was going to use the term ghost-writer, but that implies other things as well.

It does, it suggests that the subject wrote the book because the ghost’s name often isn’t even known. In this case, it was a collaboration

True, Well, we read the book and enjoyed it very much. I guess we can start out with the first logical question. How did you come into this project?

I interviewed Rex for a previous book of mine about James Hetfield. He was really helpful and provided great insight. We kept in touch thereafter and I suggested he write a book. Then I heard nothing for a while until he called me in the middle of the night and said ‘ Let’s do this.”

Really? What was your first reaction?

I knew he’d do it. Really it was a logical thing to do – at least in my opinion. Pantera were huge, still have a massive, active fan base and no book by a band member existed. It was the perfect series of circumstances. And also, Rex was the quiet member and they sometimes have most to say.

In comparison to the many Metallica books that exist. I always felt that the Pantera story was one that needed to be told.

Absolutely – anyone interested in Metallica knows the story. NOBODY knew the Pantera story. And a dramatic story it was.

Yes it was. I was very moved in the beginning of the book when Rex spoke about his interaction with Vinnie Paul at Dimes memorial. The sort of carried me thorough the whole book. Was it tough going back to that time with Rex?

For him it was. He had never discussed it in this way. Certainly never so openly. In fact the whole process was an emotional process for Rex because he’s not naturally very expressive. Not that that’s a bad thing ; it’s just how he is.

I was very hurt for Rex when Vinnie Paul in plain words blamed him for his brothers death. Was that part hard to bring out of him?

From what I recall, that was in one of our earliest conversations and it was something Rex was hurt and confused by.

Do you feel like that story was a focal point of the book?

I wouldn’t say it was focal, but it was key, if for no other reason that nobody knew it was ever said. I personally think that the comment should be known. It paints things in a slightly different light than the press etc had painted it.

That is very true. Is that why it came out early in the book?

We discussed it and we were very keen to make the beginning of the book such that you just couldn’t put it down. So to do that we had to cut to a really compelling scene. I think we succeeded from that perspective.

Also.. Stories that start at the beginning are predictable. We almost started at the end and then explained how we got there.

Absolutely, he also called out some other people who were there like Eddie Van Halen. Was that a concern for Rex as he described the scene with you?

Calling him out? Not at all. Anyone who was there will confirm that Eddie’s behavior was deeply inappropriate.

From that point on in the book, you could tell he was very anti-Vinnie Paul. Did you see it that way and was that a theme you were comfortable with as a writer?

I’ve said this before but it really wasn’t a case of being anti Vinnie Paul. Anyone can see that Rex has been vilified over the years to some degree so all we were doing was painting a picture of all the people involved, from Rex’s perspective. He was really hard on himself at some points too. That’s how life is. We all have faults, we all have good points. It’s a balance.

More then anti-Vinnie Paul, he seemed very angry at him and used the book to lash out at him at every turn. Did you ever fear the story you wanted to tell would shift?

Again, I don’t think it was all anti-Vinnie. I just happened that some of the stories that stand out were about Vinnie. There was never a fear of the focus shifting, no.

Ok, so.. you get the phone call from Rex, what happens from that point?

We started working out ideas on Skype – putting the overall narrative plan together, Then from there we spent time together building the book from the ground up. I met him while he was on tour with Down a few times – most notably when they were with AC/ DC in Romania and then we spent a couple of weeks together in Spain. Spain was where the book came to life – in very trying circumstances

Can you explain?

There was a lot of negativity flying around and lots of behavior that was hypocritical. I don’t like a couple of guys in DOWN and they were very cynical about whether the book would ever get done. That certainly motivated me to make an even better book.

Were those people former members of Pantera?

No – Phil is great. We got along from the first time we met because we both love boxing. Phil’s so enthusiastic about everything, it makes him so much fun to be around. Then, when it’s game-time, he gets up there on stage and does what he does. from side-stage, I was blown away by what that man does. An amazing commander of audiences – maybe the best ever. The reason : he IS a fan, so he knows how to relate.

Why do you think there was such negativity from members of Down, at that point there would have never been a Pantera reunion?

I don’t think it was anything to do with Pantera actually. I think it was personal issues/ insecurities, but who knows. All I know is that they tried to make things difficult. I’m Scottish – I don’t get easily put off.

It was Rex’s story to tell, was he aware of the negativity?

We never discussed it and we never let negativity enter the equation at any time in the process. We had a job to do, we knew how to do it, so it was a case of getting it done.

I am sure there were many conversations, what was Phil’s take on the creation of the book?

I have no idea. Phil and Rex have a very mature approach to each other’s projects, that is they don’t discuss them in public. A lot more people should adopt that kind of policy!

Absolutely, how long did it take for you to complete the book?

From start to finish, maybe two years. It seemed more like 20

LOL!

Were you a metal fan before writing your books?

I’ve been a metal fan 30 years, yes.

Was the Pantera story one you wanted to know as a fan before the project or did it turn you into more of a fan because of it?

Both I think. I was always a fan but I would be lying if, after sitting with Rex for weeks, that I didn’t become a bigger fan.

Did you have to separate how you felt as a fan to get to where you could work together professionally?

I don’t think being a fan does any harm. But -like any job – you have to focus on the processes that need to be done to get the job from point A to point Z . It just happens to be a lot more fun than the process of putting together a latte in Starbucks , I guess.

Early on you mentioned your James Hetfield book. “James Hetfield – The wolf at Metallica’s door” Was the process the same for that that project?

Totally different. That was an unauthorized biography so I was on my own.

Does that mean no feedback from James and just lots of research?

Correct. Lots of research, lots of interviews with people who worked with/ know him – all of whom were amazingly helpful.

There is a negative stigma with the word “unauthorized”, did you go into the project that way or was it circumstances that changed how you would go into the book?

I think the negative stigma came about because there are a lot of awful books of that kind out there which are no better than wikipedia. In my case, I wanted it to stand out by sourcing brand new information- some of which we couldn’t publish for legal reasons. That was annoying.

Without going into the entire book who is the James Hetfield that is portrayed in the book?

Having met the man twice, I know he’s a much nicer guy than he is sometimes portrayed. He’s a complex, very intelligent man who knows his business inside out. Talk about all-time greats within any genre of music not just heavy metal – he’s right there.

Were the meetings for your purposes of the book or were they just random meetings?

I met him in ’86 after a concert in Edinburgh that they played on that amazing tour with Anthrax. He and Cliff Burton came into the bar I was in. Then I met him again 2009 sometime.

Have you received feedback from James regarding the book?

Nope – nothing. I do know that there was copy kicking around the Metallica offices in San Francisco that Kirk Hammett was looking at. That’s good to know.

Is it tough for you putting all that work into a book and you cannot just call him up and talk about it? Almost like you had to do the whole project behind a closed door.

That’s what unauthorized means. You’re on your own. I really enjoyed the process and am mostly happy with how the book turned out. Part of the format had to include brief reviews of their albums – that part I didn’t enjoy. I mean, how do you review Master Of Puppets and do it justice!

You can’t, Without trying to get you sentimental, if you could communicate a message or thought to James what would it be?

I don’t think I have anything particularly to say to him. Metallica have been a huge part of my life and through the process of working in this industry I’ve come to realize that people are just people. The fact their image is plastered all over billboards and their records are played on the radio doesn’t change that. We’re all human beings. I think some fans lose sight of that and make these people something they aren’t.

What’s next for writer Mark Eglinton?

I have a couple of things in the works. I don’t just focus on music orientated collaborations. A good life story is a good life story and I enjoy other interests : sports/ movies etc. That’s not to say that if a great rock memoir collaboration came along, I wouldn’t do it- but it would need to be the right project and the right person.

Last question, What was your review of Master of Puppets?

Haha. I can’t remember exactly what I said ( buy the book to find out, people) but it was life-changing for me when I was sixteen. Then, as I got older, I learned to appreciate it more.

Thank you Mark!