Red Fang released their fourth studio album back in October via Relapse Records, and Only Ghosts did not disappoint. Continue reading
Red Fang’s latest album Whales and Leeches (Relapse) has taken the Portland based rock outfit to new heights and placed in front of new audiences they never imagined seeking out.
During their album cycle, the band appeared on Late Show With David Letterman, a popular US late night television show that usually features well known actors and celebrities, as well as larger named musical acts. On this particular date, Red Fang made a rare network television appearance to perform “Blood Like Cream,” with Paul Shaffer joining them on keyboards.
Band guitarists David Sullivan and Bryan Giles both shared their experience, and whether they actually got to meet Letterman himself.
“I didn’t see him until we walked out there. He was on stage and I got to shake his hand, then he disappeared. There was no communication,” said Giles.
“It was pretty limited with him. He came over and shook our hands, made a little joke at the end, but we didn’t really get to hang out with him and see what he’s like. I love David Letterman,” said Sullivan.
When the confirmation email first came to the band, various forms of sarcasm erupted and it took a bit of time until they realized the email was real.
“When we first got this email, it was like ‘I wanted to check you availability to play The Late Show.’ I was like…is this a joke?,” said Sullivan, remembering that moment.
“At least two of us wrote back ‘ha ha. Hilarious’, said Giles.
“It didn’t seem like something would to a band our level. It was awesome. I didn’t really sleep much the night before. I was pretty nervous. We got there and we did a little line check and then Paul Shaffer came in. He agreed to play with us. It was awesome. I’ve never been on a big TV show like that before. Everybody was super cool. I think it turned out cool I think. It was definitely nerve racking for me,” added Sullivan.
Aside from the excitement within the band, breaking the news to their friends and family became a bit more challenging.
“We weren’t really supposed to say anything until there was an announcement. I remember telling my girlfriend, ‘you’re not going to believe this…we’re going to play on Letterman!’ She was like ‘really?!’”
“It was crazy. For me, it seemed out of our reach. It didn’t seem like something that would happen to us. It’s like a dream. I’m stoked I got to do it. That was a huge show,” Sullivan said.
The band has also worked with a couple of well recognized faces on their music videos. Actor and musician Fred Armisen (Portlandia and now band leader on Late Night With Seth Myers) appears on their “Blood Like Cream” music video.
“He started up being in bands. He was a musician before he was a comedian so it makes sense,” said Giles.
“He was real nice. We’re not best buds with him. He works and lives in Portland, but it’s not like I can call him up and ‘Fred…get us on the show.’ That would be cool, but…maybe we should just try that! Why not? We have a little connection to him. Worth a shot I guess,” said Sullivan.
“He does Portlandia. I think he has a house in Portland. He lives half the time in Portland and half the time in New York. So I think he was wrapping up the season of Portlandia and was nice enough to agree to do it,” added Giles.
The band also worked with comedian Brian Posehn appears on their 2011 “Wires” music video, off their Murder The Mountains album.
“He was here [Portland, OR] and we were looking to have somebody fancy on our video. We were limited to when we could do the shoot. It was two weekends were the only options and then we had to wait until summer. One of the two weekends everyone was able to do it. He was so happened to be in town doing three shows. He was in town for a couple of days. He was also really nice. He likes metal,” explained Giles.
Sullivan added, “We had met him before. We were on tour in somewhere in Florida. He was playing down the street. We were fans of Brian Posehn so I think they went down to the show to see if they could sneak in and ended up meeting Brian. ‘Hey we’re playing down the street. You should come to the show.’ “
“He came to the show. He digs metal. We became friends and when the video came up, we’re like ‘hey when you’re in town, we’re doing this video’ and he was nice enough to do it.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Rock ‘n roll is definitely alive inside of The Troubadour and the energy is definitely at a high as the crowd eagerly awaits the return of Oregon rockers Red Fang. The packed crowd is ready for a high energy show and they definitely got that.
Opening with ‘Malverde’ (off their last record Murder the Mountains), Red Fang set the pace with their riff driven rock n roll sound and rarely allowing the tempo to relax along the way. The riffs come a flowing throughout each song, while their punk esque demeanor to their sound adds a different flavor that makes them desirable and somewhat dangerous sounding.
Guitarist Bryan Giles and bassist Aaron Beam traded lead vocal duties throughout their set, each giving a different feel to each tune while the crowd screamed along to each song. Much of their set list consisted of songs from Murder The Mountains while including songs from their newest album Whales and Leeches. Songs like ‘Crows in Swine’ and ‘1516’ hit the crowd hard, but they still managed to absorb the blow without any setbacks. They took in each song as if they were regulars in their set for years.
Their other guitarist, David Sullivan, quietly worked in his guitar magic, occasionally adding his tasteful riffage, while drummer John Sherman bashed away in stride. They also brought out guest keyboardist Roger Manning for a one time appearance on ‘Blood Like Cream’. The latter part of their set list ended with three songs from their self titled release. ‘Sharks and ‘Prehistoric Dog’, and the surprise encore tune ‘Good To Die’ left the crowd with a lot more rock than they originally bargained for.
Red Fang definitely lives up to their hype alongside the current wave of dirty riff-driven rock bands such as Baroness, Torche, Mastodon, and Clutch, while carrying the flag with pride. Oregon should be proud and music fan should take notice if you haven’t already.