Welcome to Napalm Flesh, your home for all things brutal! This week, our faithful darkhearts, we have an interview with the awesome stoner-rock outfit, Red Fang, a band whose star is rising faster than you can say "pass the PBR". Hailing from Portland, Red Fang was taken under the wing of Relapse Records and producer Chris Funk, who helped them perfect their infectious brand of groovy stoner sludge on acclaimed album Murder the Mountains. Since its release in 2011, the band has been touring the world like madmen alongside bands such as Mastodon, The Dillinger Escape Plan and The Sword, as well as appearing at last year's Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival, and were one of the select few acts chosen to inaugurate Metallica's Orion Fest this summer. They made a stop here in SLC just recently, tearing up Bar Deluxe, and we kidnapped guitarist Bryan Giles for a few minutes to find out how all this success and nonstop globetrotting is treating these badass groove monsters. We also have an exclusive review of the new Hypnosia compilation at the end of this post for curious ears!
SLUG: How was your first trip touring Europe?
Giles: Europe was amazing! We didn’t expect it to be nearly as rad as it was. We had that tour booked, and then, after, Mastodon invited us to go, so that really positively affected the shows. We were hoping for 50-100 attendants, and most of the shows were sold out. I was like, you’re kidding! I’m pinching myself still. This band is relatively new, but I just turned 40, and I’ve been touring since I was 22, so to have anything sell out that has my name anywhere on it was crazy. People were really nice and they treat you really well.
SLUG: What was your favorite country/city on the Euro tour to play?
Giles: Russia was out of control. We played St Petersburg and Moscow, and [in] both of those towns, those kids were going fucking bonkers! I think they were sort of starved, musically. You have to get visas and there’re a lot of hoops to jump through to get over there, so I think a lot of bands opted not to. In Moscow there was a line of kids waiting to stage-dive. It got to the point where we didn’t have room onstage to play. There was one kid waiting who was headbanging right next to me, and he got his hair caught in my tuning pegs. I’m trying to get my guitar back, and he’s trying to get his hair back from my guitar… it took me ten minutes to get all the hair out of my tuning pegs the next day. I was like, poor kid. But he’ll remember that show forever.
SLUG: It seems like your fame has been growing exponentially over the past year. How has that experience been for you?
Giles: It’s exciting! I’m a worrier, so I guess I’m just trying to enjoy it while it lasts, and hope it does.
SLUG: What inspires your songs?
Giles: Lots of different [things]., we all contribute. It usually starts with a guitar or bass line, and then we just try to marry the two of those together, and if we get a verse-chorus-verse thing happening, then we start working on lyrics. If the lyrical part is strong, we’ll make that part longer—if not, we’ll make it shorter. Occasionally, someone will write more, but it’s definitely collaborative.
SLUG: You guys were also one of the select elite appearing at Orion Festival….tell me how that happened.
Giles: I don’t know! It’s cool. Supposedly Metallica picks the band themselves, but I have a hard time believing Metallica knows who we are.
SLUG: You guys have done a few benefit shows up in Portland, which is awesome. Can you tell me about them and the causes they supported?
Giles: We did one for the Pixie Project, for which we were actually compensated, but it was a benefit show for animal shelter programs. And then we just did one for an underfunded high school that was sued by the parents because they were being forced to pay lab fees for art classes, and the court upheld the lawsuit, so now it’s not mandatory to pay your school fees for art. So now the school doesn’t have the funds to maintain its art program since so many parents are opting out of paying. We raised a chunk to help, but it was more about the awareness of this loss. For me in high school, what kept me alive was going to art classes. Hopefully this will help out those kids. I mean, art is good for you.
SLUG: Tell me about this awesome new vinyl pizza picture disc of Murder the Mountains!
Giles: I think it was probably Matt at Relapse Records. He just opened several new pizza joints in Portland, and it’s really good pizza! I think he probably had pizza on the brain, and wondered which band on his roster would want a pizza on their disk, and all the other bands are way too macho for that. Our friend Donovan made the pizza, ate the pizza (which was delicious) and they took a picture of it for that.
SLUG: Speaking of discs, when can we expect new work from Red Fang?
Giles: We’re planning on demos in September, and then real-deal studio in January. I would like to have a spring release. The problem is we’ve been touring for so long without a break, and we don’t really have a technique for writing music on the road, so this break in the fall will be spent writing. [Bassist] Aaron [Beam]’s wife is in several bands, so she’s gonna hand off their kid, and he’s gonna be the stay-at-home dad and she’ll be rock-and-roll mom for 2 months. It’s a good thing for us, to have these blacked-out dates where we cannot play shows. Now we’re forced to write.
SLUG: How do you feel about the current state of metal?
Giles: I think it’s doing good. It’s growing. A lot of the brands of metal that are really big now—like metalcore—I have a really hard time getting into;it’s not my taste, but I see musicianship in it, and it’s really impressive on that level. A lot of bands I’m paying attention to are going more towards melody, which I enjoy, because it seemed like the cookie-monster thing was lasting way too long. I’ve been listening to Truck Fighters, Tweak Bird is excellent, Big Business, and one of our local Portland favorites, Lord Dying. Metal is strong, and it’s evolving.
Exclusive CD Review
Hypnosia = Pleasure to Kill era Kreator + Demolition Hammer
Hypnosia are under-appreciated Swedish hessians that were playing balls-out, death-influenced thrash in a time before the "thrash revival" had become a commodifiable monster for mustachioed hipsters and pop-punk festivals to glom onto. The group hung up their boots and jackets (which probably boasted a considerable amount of studs) in 2002, and so Horror Infernal is a compilation of demo material, namely Crushed Existence ('96), The Storms 1997 Demo and the Violent Intensity mini album (1999). Hypnosia takes the gurgling, bottom-feeding brutality of Euro death and infuses it into their own metal concoction, pulling a swinging, testosterone drenched mutant baby of burly riffs, gargantuan growling and caterwauling solos from the muck. Sprinkle some Sodom and Possessed covers liberally atop and you've got a fiesty metal casserole for the diehards. Hidden gem that deserves some recognition. –Dylan Chadwick