Portland power metal monsters Red Fang have been raging hard since 2009, when the quartet released their self-titled debut record. They doubled down back in April to bring us a second release, the ’70s infused crusher of a sophomore album entitled Murder the Mountains.
Produced by The Decemberists guitarist Chris Funk, Murder The Mountains is a leveling up of both sound and depth for the band, with attitude for miles and a gloriously infectious sound. The results have been tremendous, and with the world catching on Red Fang is riding the wave while on tour with Dillinger Escape Plan and Mastodon.
Check out the pyromaniacal video for Wires off the band’s new album:
Bassist and vocalist Aaron Beam chatted with Antiquiet about touring with one of the biggest names in metal, how they decided which songs made the cut for the new release, and the occasional Britney Spears indulgence.
What do you expect from your upcoming tour with Mastodon?
I think that musically and stylistically we fit with Mastodon really well. We’re hoping that there are a lot of Mastodon fans that will appreciate what we do and will come out to see us and will like us. And we just hope to have a good time with those guys and with Dillinger, who I hear are pretty awesome guys. So I’m looking forward to just meeting those guys.
What’s your equipment of choice when you’re on the road?
We all use SUNN Beta amplifiers, they’re like a late 70s’ hollow space head, and we sort of started using them by accident. We just use some old beat up guitars, although we just got some new ones that we’re gonna try out and see how those work. But yea, I have JL bass, Bryan has a Mustang, and David has an old Fender Telecaster thin line from 1972 or something.
Is that the same equipment you use during recording?
It’s all the same for recording as it is for live. We get a pretty distinct sound from those SUNN Betas, and so we try to capture more or less what we sound like live in the studio. That’s the only way to do it really.
Murder the Mountains is your second album. What’s the major difference in sound from the debut record?
I think that there’s more collaboration on the second one. More people contributed more secondary parts on this one than on the first one. The first record, of course we worked together on it, but this one you hear a broader array of influences because all four of us listen to different kinds of music. And so that comes into what we all are writing. It’s just a little bit more diverse I guess.
I heard you guys recorded way more songs that you needed for this album. How do you feel about the tracks that didn’t make it?
They’re good, they’re solid tracks. Some of them we didn’t even finish mixing, so maybe we haven’t even finished writing them. They just wouldn’t have necessarily worked in the sequence of this album. And we’ve released a few of them already as just bonus tracks, like we made outtakes of “Black Hole” available as sort of a teaser for this Mastadon tour.
And we made one of them available on the deluxe iTunes download edition of our record. We’re happy with the songs, they just didn’t fit in with the sequence of the record. It would have made it a lot longer than an LP.
What made you guys decide to go in a comical direction for your music videos, such as Wires and Prehistoric Dog?
Well the lyrical content for Prehistoric Dog is pretty ridiculous. It’s about dogs that come from outer space and destroy all humans. So the lyrics are pretty ridiculous already. But also, some of our videos are more entertaining. A lot of directors try to do a very clever video that just hinges on one trick. So once you see the trick you’re like ‘Okay I get it,’ and then you’re bored with it.
Or the typical video is just people standing in a field or in a warehouse or something, and the camera just shakes around a lot. Those are boring also. We’re cracking ourselves up all the time in real life, so we wanted to make a video that reflected our personalities. It doesn’t really reflect the music but it does reflect our personalities.
I know there have been instances when you’ve invited audience members on stage. Do you prefer smaller, more intimate shows to the larger arena shows such as Mayhem and this current Mastodon tour?
Well Mayhem took a little bit of getting used to just because it was so big and outdoors, and the people were a little further away from us because of the guard rails. But you just interact with people in a different kind of way at those shows. And then you do get to have a personal interaction with them because you usually do signings at your merch tent. So you get to meet each one of them face to face and you end up interacting with them even more personally after the show.
As far as while we’re performing, they’re two different things. It’s kind of how you love two of your children equally but in different ways. We played a show, and I realized it is possible to play a big arena show and make it feel like an intimate little show. When we played this festival called Hellfest, it was in a tent, which I think helped a little bit. It was huge, but it was packed so it still had that same kind of energy that a small club show would have. So I can’t really say I prefer either one; I like both.
We’ve got a couple questions out of left field from Portugal. The Man frontman John Gourley, who we asked to add some flavor to the mix. If you could make one of your band members eat one thing, what would it be and who would eat it?
Hmm…I’ve seen John and Bryan throw up plenty of times, so I don’t need to go in that direction. But on the other hand, I guess I would say I personally have eaten a lot of crazy things. I’ve eaten a live cockroach, so I’m probably the right person to ask because there’s nothing I wouldn’t eat and there’s nothing I’d get grossed out by. So I’d like to see Bryan try to eat an entire ostrich egg omelet.
Is there any guilty pleasure music we should know about? I’m specifically asking for music because we all know you nerds love L.A.R.P-ing.
(Laughs) It’s hard for me to say that I have any guilty pleasures anymore. I don’t really feel guilty about anything that I listen to. I listen to some pretty ridiculous stuff. When we’re driving a favorite of Bryan’s is “Sexy Back” by Justin Timberlake. I like some Britney Spears; some of the old stuff its much better.
We’ll get pretty mellow in the band sometimes and listen to some Neil Young. I guess there’s a couple of things that I listened to in high school that I still think are great, but won’t necessarily listen to when people are awake. Like, I love The Descendants, which would probably be my guilty pleasure right now.
If Red Fang were a Voodoo doughnut, which flavor would it be?
It would be probably beer and cigarettes. It would taste so good.
Keep up with Red Fang and their dates with Dillinger Escape Plan and Mastodon at the band’s official site.