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Red Fang

Red Fang

Interviewed by
Danielle Street
Monday 11th May, 2015 1:44PM

After a decade of churning out their unique brand of loud, heavy and fast stoner rock, Red Fang are finally making their way to New Zealand for the very first time. The four-piece are teaming up with capital city's own heavy metal masters Beastwars for two head-banging shows that are taking place across Auckland and Wellington this weekend, following a decent handful of appearances in Australia. 

The Portland group, who have carved out a reputation for releasing humour-laden music videos (like this one, and this one), are still riding high on the success of their third album Whales and Leeches, which came out late 2013 though Relapse Records. But despite their extensive touring schedule (which keeps them on the road for six months a year), the group have been making time to write some new material that according to guitarist/vocalist Bryan Giles, has seen them experiment with a slower, slightly dirge-like sound. UnderTheRadar caught up with Giles to find out more about the new album, as well as have a chat about Game Of Thrones, diamond encrusted speed boats, and quitting his day job to pursue the rock 'n' roll dream...

UTR: Hi Bryan, how are you? Are you at home in Oregon at the moment?

BG: Yes! I'm at my palace in Oregon.

Oh, you bought a palace with all that rock ‘n’ roll money?

Oh yeah. And my diamond encrusted speedboat is parked out front.

Speaking of palaces I’ve just been watching Game of Thrones, are you a fan?

Yeah, I’ve read all the books.

I had a feeling that might be the case. Do you like the show?

I love the show, I would probably enjoy it more if I didn’t know what was going to happen. But I think they do a really great job of it, especially since there is so much that goes on. Those books are long-winded, I mean, the guy will go on for four pages about what some dude is wearing and I’m like “I don’t care!”, but you can’t skip it because then suddenly someone gets stabbed right in the middle of it, so you can’t skip over anything. You’ve got to find out just how crushed the velvet is, you know what I mean? So it’s way more like candy to watch the show.

I guess there isn’t so much time for TV watching at the moment though you guys are on the road a lot. You're coming to New Zealand this month and I see you heading to Slovakia with Faith No More the following month…

Yeah! I was excited about that I’ve never seen Faith No More, and honestly I have to say that I haven’t bought their records so I’m not really familiar with them, but what I’ve heard on the radio I’ve really liked. And Mike Patton, well he’s a maniac, all that stuff like Fantomas and Mr Bungle and all that kind of thing… he’s gonzo! So I’m guessing I’m really going to enjoy the show.

They were here a month ago for a big heavy metal festival where they played alongside acts like Judas Priest and Soundgarden, who unfortunately weren't so good…

Oh, really? I really like Soundgarden they are one of my favourites.

I used to be a huge Soundgarden fan back in the day, but unfortunately Chris Cornell can’t reach the ‘Birth Ritual’ high notes anymore…

Oh no. But that’s not surprising actually, I mean, he was going to pop a nut on some of those songs.

So how much time does Red Fang spend touring in a year?

Ah, we started touring extensively, enough that I had to quit my job because they wouldn’t let me take that much time off, probably about three years ago. We average about six months a year. It’s not crazy, we still see our wives and girlfriends enough. It’s a good mix, I wouldn’t want to do anymore than that. We tour with Unearth and I think when they were touring heavy maybe 5-6 years ago, they were eight to 10 months a year, which just seems insane.

What were you doing for a job before you quit for the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle?

Ah, I was a bartender.

Ah cool. So you really are living the dream…

Yeah, I would say so. And I still have six months of the year to take my diamond encrusted speed boat out on the lake, it’s pretty good.

I was watching an interview with Red Fang from earlier in the year and there some talk about starting to write new material. Has that been happening?

We’re in the middle of that right now, yeah.

How does that happen? Is it a collaborative thing where everybody gets in to a room and works stuff out, or is it more separate…?

Well, it happens both ways. We woodshed at home, and then bring it in and we yell at each other about it for three or four hours and then we go home and woodshed some more. And then repeat. It’s fun. It really is fun, I enjoy it. It’s tough when songwriting because there is no right answer, you know, it’s a battle of opinions. Luckily, we have an even number of people in the band so that we are at constant impasses because two people like it and two people don’t. We need to get a saxophone player so we can have tie-breakers.

That would bring an interesting dynamic to your sound…

Well, he wouldn’t have to play. There is no place for saxophone in rock ‘n’ roll anymore, I don’t think.

If Jethro Tull can make a fiddle cool maybe you guys can work wonders for the saxophone…

Yeeeeaaah, I dunno. I think they are a little more accomplished than we are.

So do you have an ETA on the album?

No, not as such. We wanted to make sure we didn’t book any studio time until we felt pretty comfortable with the material we were doing. We want to be happy with it. We want the people who are listening to it to be happy with it too, of course, but we have to play it over and over. So we better be darn happy with it. We were thinking of recording in November of this year, but because of our touring schedule we certainly don’t have a full album of songs, yet, and we’d like to have more than a full album of songs so we have some to choose from. So we are thinking studio in March next year, so sometime in the second half of next year we should be putting out our next record.

Is it too early to say how it compares sonically to the rest of your work?

Well, as of late it’s jumping around in different genres. We try not to restrict ourselves to “oh this a Red Fang song”. So it’s fun, we have a bunch of different stuff, but in a general way it seems it’s a little more “dirgy” than some of our other stuff. Less beats per minute so far.

Cool, sounds interesting! And this tour with Beastwars is the first time you are coming to New Zealand as a band, I understand?

Yeah, I’ve been to the airport.

Oh, that’s not a very good time…

Haha, no I never left the airport. But yeah I’m excited to see New Zealand.

Did they not let you into the country last time?

That was it, yeah. It was a body odour ordinance I was breaking, or something, I’m not sure. This time I’ll take a whore’s bath in the airport bathroom before I try and pass through customs.

Red Fang are playing alongside Beastwars on Saturday 16th May at Kings Arms Tavern in Auckland, and then on Sunday 17th May at San Fran in Wellington. Head over here for more details and to buy tickets.