With the release of their 2011 album, “Murder the Mountains”, the Portland based jam/’stoner” metal band Red Fang played some festivals that normally wouldn’t be the best suited for a band like theirs. The band embarked on slots at the Rock on the Range festival and on the traveling Rockstar Mayhem Tour this summer. For a so-called “stoner” metal, festivals like this don’t feature the band’s brand of sludgy metal. But according to bassist Aaron Beam, the festivals went better than expected- even though they stuck out like a sore thumb in the sea of radio friendly rock bands at Rock on the Range.
But since the band’s self titled release back in 2009, Red Fang has been quietly building up a fan base and this year’s inclusion on those festivals only helped the band’s cause. Now that the band is off the festival circuit, they recently scored a big tour as the guys in Red Fang will be opening up for Mastodon on their upcoming tour.
As the band was rehearsing for that tour, I had a chance to speak with Beam about the recording process the second time around, as well as their experiences on those festivals this past year.
Here’s my interview with Aaron:
AM: How did the recording process fare this time versus your debut?
AB: I think it went a lot smoother and we were more prepared this time out. With the first album, it was 3 separate recordings merged together for the debut. With the new album, we had more songs that we ever needed- we wrote 17 songs, recorded 14 and then paired it down to 10 songs that made the album. We had never worked with a producer before, so it was good to have another voice in the room and trying to improve things. But once we were in the studio, it took maybe 6-7 days to put together the basic tracks and vocals and things went fast.
AM: Were many of the songs written way before the band went into the studio?
AB: Some of the songs were written 2 months before we went into the studio and some were written closer to when we went into the studio. But there was one song, “Hank Is Dead”, that was written prior to me even being in the band. It was written 6 years ago and the other guys had the riffs, but it never had any lead vocals. But it came out really good.
AM: How do you feel the band’s live performance has improved over the years?
AB: I think we f— around a little less live now then we used to. But with all of the shows we’ve done over the years, I think we’ve become tighter live. But at the end of the day, we’re four dudes getting up there and rocking on stage and we blaze through those songs. There’s no pyro or lasers or anything like that, just us and our music.
AM: Your videos seem to be humorous, which is a rarity in metal music these days. Do you feel it necessary to lighten up the mood a little?
AB: We absolutely try to keep things light. Metal is pretty easy to lampoon these days and we’re not going the spike wristband and eyeliner route with our videos. We’re just dudes who like hard rock and have fun with the videos, but also take the process seriously as well. With our videos, we’re not making light of the music, but just a different way to show some fun in the videos.
AM: How did a band, that’s a bit different than the normal band on the Mayhem Fest- fare on that festival?
AB: To be honest, we didn’t know what to expect going into it. In some respects, we were the redheaded stepchild on that tour and thought we’d get a lot of hazing. In reality, it wasn’t like that at all- it was like metal summer camp and the other bands were helpful and didn’t hate on us at all. We shared a bus with Unearth, who’s been doing tours like that forever and they know the score. They had all sorts of coolers with beer, two different tents to party and it was about as supportive as could be. There were some days that we were backstage, rolling dice and having a great time.
Red Fang opens for Mastodon at the Fillmore Detroit on Wednesday, November 16th. Tickets range from $25-$35 and are available at www.livenation.com. Additional tour dates and band info can be found at www.redfang.net.