Red Fang: Creating An Empire One PBR Can At A Time

We've Set A Date!

Red Fang; the band that has conquered the international stage in just a few short years with their repertoire of stoner rock and an attitude for fun, all infused together in one big melting pot, have once again proved their popularity with fans with their sophomore release Murder the Mountains. Critiqued by few as the band who lacks any soul, Red Fang strive for simplicity, groove and keeping a raw energy intact. The diversity of their style cannot be so quickly dismissed. The band are soon to embark to the shores of Australia for the annual Soundwave festival; PBR under each arm to relish in their fortitude. Metal As Fuck caught up with guitarist Dave [Sullivan – Guitar] to chat about their almost immediate success, copious amount of tours and short attention spans.   

What began the story of Red Fang? “Yeah well the three of us had been playing in bands beforehand of course. I’ve been playing with John [Sherman - Drums] for over fifteen years now, I was living on the east coast [USA] Moved for school then to Portland; I moved into this house, I heard a practice session of this band and was like wow, this sounds great, I was asked to play guitar and I was like of course! Then there was Red Fang”. So what is it about the music of Red Fang that is so seductive to you all? “Well we try to unite the music that we all like and also music that we like to hear ourselves, so we write to this sort of method. We don’t try to find one particular style or sound, we don’t find one and grind it into the ground, we really like the variety – we like to keep it simple you know, we don’t like to think too much about it. We aren’t into all the technical stuff, yeah we like some of it but I mean we wanted to do something more straightforward and this is what makes the music of Red Fang stand out to us”.

The latest album Murder the Mountains; congratulations, the album has taken the world by storm! Firstly, were expectations to the response of the album fulfilled? “No, we didn’t know it was going to take off like it did, yeah we are so happy that it’s travelling really well. I was actually just talking about this the other day, just how we have been incredibly lucky over the past few years. It has been extremely busy [Laughs] but we are in the process now of preparing to head back into the studio to start the third album, so whilst on holidays at the moment we are getting back into song mode, it’s looking to be more aggressive this time around with a lot of Doom influence at this stage. Hoping to begin by April this year, we set a date for when we want it all finished, which is something we have never done and have been busy with touring over the last few months so we are feeling the pressure now. Touring is funny you know, by the end of it, you just want to get off that bus; you’re sick of everybody [Laughs] don’t get me wrong I love these guys but shit”. [Laughs] Its funny you mention pressure, I understand the band now has a new label (Relapse) and worked with a producer during the recording of Murder the Mountains, with the hectic schedule, the actual due date in effect; you are in fact finding pressure with this larger market, larger label etc? “Yeah! We have pretty much settled into the whirl wind of touring, but then you realise ‘wow I haven’t been home at all in 2012’ I think we did 100 shows in Europe, two tours of the US. The main pressure is when you are touring you don’t really have time to write, there is no space and you have no energy left after a show, but I mean hey, we’ve done it to ourselves with setting a date [Laughs] so we are just getting in the zone to write the new material”.

As busy as you were, with tours through Greece and Russia to name a couple, how have you all celebrated your new found international success? “Yes I loved touring through Russia & Greece, the countries were beautiful! I think I would like to do more sightseeing, I mean we would usually get to the venue, play a show then after travel to another venue. Um I’m not sure, I don’t think we actual celebrated at all as a band but I know for me personally, I bought a new amp, oh yeah, new guitars, new pedals. But as I said, after six weeks straight in a bus with smelly dudes, I’m like ‘I need a break’ I’ll talk to you guys after two weeks or so”. [Laughs] This success seemed to come in one big hit, the band are already known to the international stage in just a few years – what were the initial first five years like for Red Fang? “It was basically just doing smaller shows and small tours of the US. For a long time we didn’t have a manager or a booking agent so our drummer and bass player were doing it all; getting shows and what not. We had some really great shows starting out, I think what attributed to the success of the band was the music videos, it definitely got us exposure outside the US with it all being on YouTube and everywhere else”. I agree, I was shown a Red Fang clip, I think it was Prehistoric Dog on my partner’s iPhone on a random Sunday. “Yeah exactly, the clips have been the real kicker for the band”. 

Ok - so comparing the self titled album in 2009 to the latest through Relapse; what differences were there in the recording process this time around, specifically with introducing a producer? “The first album was interesting as it was a compilation type spread. Side A we recorded in an old house with my roommate, very DIY, very low budget. The second side was recorded in a small studio with our now sound guy – he is our sound guy for local shows around the States. So the first album was very DIY compared to album number two, the second was produced by Chris Funk who is not known for heavy metal music, he was however a really great facilitator and gave us some really great advice. We will be working with him again on the third album, the latest album is just has a little more slick, we didn’t want to lose that raw feeling when writing the music - that is number one with us, to keep those intricacies”.

Taking the no rules approach when crafting the music, a layered effect of styles, the anything goes if it fits attitude; have you always applied this method to the writing process? “It’s a little bit intentional yeah, we try not to stick with the same formula I mean we all have so many influences when it comes to music even outside of metal and rock. We feel this doesn’t keep us locked down to one specific genre but it opens it all up, we’re not afraid to think outside the box; it’s a lot of freedom. You know like if I head to a festival where they’re playing nothing but speed metal for instance, I get really bored, I burn out really quick and we all have short attention spans anyway”. [Laughs] Are there any challenges faced with this approach? “Well, let’s see – I think for sure the trickiest part would be sequencing all the songs and choosing the order of the tracks so there is no orphan at the end. We do have a lot of different versions of songs though, with the uprising of MP3s there are a lot out there and it’s hard to focus on an album as a set of songs in order with all the singles floating about so at the end it doesn’t really matter anyway what order you have it all in”. [Laughs] So with these different versions – do you sometimes perform songs differently whilst playing live? “Oh yeah, yeah we are notorious for changing a song live, it’s funny to watch as the fans will be like ‘this isn’t how it goes’ so like if one of our songs was recorded in say drop C we’d change it up live to drop D, keep you on your toes’. [Laughs] You crazy kids…. “Oh yeah”. [Laughs]

With the fairly diverse recording process do you feel that the end product compliments the original vision? “Yeah I think so, it’s hard to be happy with recordings generally, I mean you have an idea of how you want it to sound and I’m sure we came pretty damn close on Murder the Mountains. It’s hard to know when to stop though, when you know things are done, dressing it, does it need something else, I don’t know when to stop”. [Laughs]

So how are preparations coming along for the bands first Australian tour? Australia is pretty keen to see you guys, have you packed enough PBR? [Laughs] “Ha-ha yeah! We are so excited for Australia you have no idea. I’m sort of wondering though, I’ve been trying to sort out Australia’s weather for February, is it the rain season?” February in Australia is considered our hottest month of summer with the average temperature in the mid the high 30’s, which in Fahrenheit I guess about mid to late 80s, however its Australia, we can have four seasons in a day in some parts. “Yeah that’s like Portland as well. Australia is going to be great, we have Soundwave and our own shows with some great bands so it’s looking to be a great tour” What is next for Red Fang? “At the moment just focusing on this new album after a bit of a break, touring in Europe I think we’re up for Hellfest in France come June and we would love to come back to Australia in the near future”.