Surfing With Whales and Leeches- Red Fang

Red Fang "Whales and Leeches" press photos 2013

Over the past two years, Red Fang has made its name known across the music world with its raw, riff oriented rock sound and continuing to win over new fans on every stop along the way. Audiences have slowly discovered their latest release, Whales and Leeches, through their wild music videos and their extensive touring schedules.

Guitarist David Sullivan talked about their experiences over their recent album cycle. “We’ve been touring a lot, so we’re staying in people’s minds and playing shows. Video’s definitely help (‘Crows In Swine’). We just had a new animated video come out and stoked how that came out. I got to meet the animator, this guy Adam Avilla last night and talking face to face. That was kind of cool.

Most of our videos, our friend Whitey McConnaughy lives in Portland. We see him around all the time. This was a new person for us to work with,” he said.

Guitarist Bryan Giles of Red Fang. Photo Credit: Kaley Nelson

Guitarist Bryan Giles of Red Fang. Photo Credit: Kaley Nelson

After spending last winter supporting Opeth and In Flames across North America, and taking part on the Desertfest in both the UK and Germany, the band is about to headline a tour with Whores and Wild Throne, which also hits Knotfest in Devore, CA.

Guitarist Bryan Giles spoke about their past year of touring, and at the time of the interview, were completing the Opeth and In Flames tour. While musically opposites from what Red Fang is about, they have made it work around sharing stages with a variety of artists and winning over their fans to capitalize on the moment.

We’ve been lucky. I’ve always had that worry in the back of my mind when we do a new tour with bands that are different stylistically from us. I don’t know how the crowd’s going to do…every since we were just starting out it was cool to see playing with death metal bands and the crowd seemed to enjoy it, even though we were not exactly what they were playing. I’ve built some amount of confidence…yeah the music’s totally different but it’s still got distorted guitar and blasting drums. We have that too so here we go. Hopefully people will like it,” said Giles.

Guitarist David Sullivan of Red Fang.

Guitarist David Sullivan of Red Fang, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photography.

Neither Giles nor fellow guitarist David Sullivan knew how they were selected to open for the Opeth and In Flames tour, but playing in front of early arrivals at these packed shows did help them gain new fans.

I’m not sure how we got picked. We had done a tour with In Flames a few years ago. We did this Rockstar Energy Mayhem tour and they were on there. We met those dudes and became friends. I’m not sure if they were like ‘we really dig Red Fang’ or if they requested us. I’m not sure how it happened,” said Sullivan.

I’d like to think it was the case. But I don’t know,” said Giles.

We didn’t know the Opeth guys. All super nice guys. I don’t know how we got chosen for this but it worked out great,” added Sullivan.

Bassist/vocalist Aaron Beam of Red Fang. Photo Credit: Hillaire Jason

Sullivan and Giles both talked about their home turf of Portland, OR, where the Northwestern US music scene has grown like wildfire and other artists have began to attract attention from around the music world. Talks about a new grunge scene may be premature but something special seems to be in the air there.

I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s a new movement. It does seem like there’s a lot of activity,” said Sullivan.

It could be Relapse moved there a couple years ago. So some local stuff is getting seen by a pretty big underground label,” said Giles.

That’s true. That might have a lot to do with it. Relapse moved their headquarters from Philadelphia to Portland. I’ve never thought of that. It definitely could have something to do with it,” added Sullivan.

It’s growing. There’s a lot of people moving to town. It’s just crazy how many crummy high rise apartments are going in. It happens to every city but Portland has been a sleepy city for a long time. Now things are going to grow, and a lot of young people moved there for artistic reasons. For being on the West Coast, it’s probably one of the least expensive cities to move to. Everything has increased,” concluded Giles, about the growth to their city possibly leading towards a rising music scene.

John Sherman of Red Fang. Photo Credit: Kaley Nelson

John Sherman of Red Fang. Photo Credit: Kaley Nelson

Talks about a new album has been circulating for some time, but Red Fang has been taking their time to work on it, reportedly due out sometime in 2016. They both shared their thoughts on how the new album may shape into.

We don’t really know what it’s going to be. We’re not trying to pick a certain genre – we’ve got some punk, kind of fast stuff, some more stoner-y stuff. We’re all over the place. It’ll sound like Red Fang. We don’t have a set goal in mind that I can express except to make music that we dig and we like,” said Sullivan.

That’s the only rule that we have. We must all enjoy it. It doesn’t matter if we end up doing spaghetti westerns as long as we’re all on board with it…,” said Giles.

I don’t think it’s going to happen…,” responded Sullivan.

I don’t see it happening either but you never know. But I’m not taking it off the table…,” said Giles, in a semi-joking overtone.

It will sound like Red Fang but I don’t know what specifically it will be like,” concluded Sullivan.

Both of them would not rule out any musical directions, and fans of the band should not rule out anything.

We’ve always said we’re not going to restrict ourselves to any one style. It still follows somewhere in the range of heavy music. It’s not like we’re trying to be strictly stoner or strictly thrash. It’s whatever we enjoy,” said Sullivan

Giles summed it up best as a response, semi-joking, “Thrash sounds too exhausting. I think we’re too old to be thrash.

By Rei Nishimoto