Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Smoking riffs, gnarly beards and....pad thai? Red Fang prepare to bring mayhem to Hartford

Red Fang deal in the type of whiskey fueled musical badassery that should endear them to all lovers of kick ass riff rock, for both the beer chugging beard-o's and beardless hell raisers alike. They do a great job of mixing an up-yours attitude of doing-it-yourself with some of the best riffs this side of the Melvins or Clutch.

This fearsome foursome from Portland, Oregon has been building their following through great music, relentless touring and a couple of hilarious music videos that capture the band in all their dude-tastic glory. They have come a long way since I saw them open for the Fucking Champs and Birds of Avalon at a VFW hall in Wallingford many years ago.

The first of these videos, for “Prehistoric Dog,” a track off their self-titled debut CD released by Sargent House in 2009, shows the band running afoul of some angry LARPing nerds in a park. The video perfectly captures the essence of a band that is as much about self-deprecating fuck-it humor as they are serious about shredding as tightly as a frog's asshole.

“That was 110 percent the director Whitey McConnaughy’s idea. He just took us to a bar and explained the concept to us. We were laughing our asses off, so we just knew it would be good and to be honest we wouldn’t be quite on the radar without it,” said guitarist/vocalist Maurice Bryan Giles.

This clip helped raise the band’s profile quite a bit and eventually lead to a deal with Relapse Records, who just put out the band’s sophomore effort, “Murder The Mountains” earlier this year. They definitely don’t succumb to any slump on this one, as the band, which also includes Aaron Beam (bass/vocals), David Sullivan (guitar) and John Sherman (drums), steps up to the plate and delivers a fine slice of riff rock, tempering their frantic pace with slower tempos, lush atmospheres and great songwriting.

Giles said that they were very pleased on how the record turned out and will put some of the credit to producer Chris Funk, who is more known for producing indie rock bands like the Decemberists, than anything approaching hard rock or metal. Using an outside the metal box producer has worked wonders for fellow label mates Baroness and Tombs, who used John Congleton, another noted indie rock producer for their latest, critically acclaimed platters. So it was a bit of risk that paid off.
“Chris approached us and expressed interest in producing the record. I was a little leery at first because the Decemberists sound totally different from us. But he persisted and we found out that he has an appreciation for all types of music,” said Giles.

In fact, the band and Funk formed a fruitful creative partnership in the studio. The band members were pushing each other and Funk would encourage them to take their music wherever they thought it should go.

“Chris is a great producer, great motivator and good with getting the ideas out and getting them done,” said Giles.

The biggest difference between “Murder” and their debut is that the newer one sounds a little more produced and works with differing tempos throughout. Giles said that the first one was more of a punk record while this one has more diverse ideas and sounds.

He is completely right in that regard, because if anything “Murder The Mountains”, shows the band stretching their songwriting wings a bit and going a little outside of their comfort zone. It’s a diverse record with a diverse amount of sounds and tempos because some of the songs on it are older while some are newer. It just takes their sound in some newer directions.

While the record is easily one of the best pure hard rock experiences of the year, the band once again turned to McConnaughy to make a video for lead single, “Wires”. This one shows how the band spends a check from their label and features a cameo from comedian Brian Posehn, who utters a hilarious one liner, and once again captures the band in their ragged glory.

“The characters in the video are very close to who we are. I admit it, I’m a dude,” said Giles.

But don’t let the beards fool you, the band are also, shall we say a bunch of foodies. For instance, there is a recipe for Red Fang Pad Thai by Beam in Steve Seabury’s awesome metal themed cooking book, “Mosh Potatoes”. And it is delicious. (Trust me, I got the book for a girlfriend who is way into cooking and collecting cookbooks and she cooked me this and it was really good.) Even though, that wasn’t the only recipe submitted. Giles submitted a recipe for something called Chicken L’Orange, but was denied. This recipe includes ramen noodles, an egg, diced chicken and orange marmalade.

“It’s what I call budget fancy. It’s from my salad days,” said Giles with a laugh.
Luckily they have the music thing going for them, as you can see them on the Jagermeister Stage at the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival which plays the Comcast Theater in Hartford on Sunday, July 24, where they will be bring their wild and woolly rock to the masses.

Get there early, you might just discover a new favorite band and if you want some cooking tips, I’m sure they’ll give those to you, too.

Mayhem Festival
Comcast Theater
61 Savitt Way
Hartford CT
Sunday July 24, All Ages, 2:15 pm, $25 - $75

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