Dear Chester, I only realised a few days ago that it’s nearly been a year …
US blues metal monolith’s Red Fang don’t have the biggest profile down under, but that’s not gonna stop them hitting our country’s live circuit like a raging bull next month.
With 3 extraordinary, unique and simple-yet-sophisticated records under their belts, the band are set to bring their riff fest to all major capitals, and take in regional centres like Geelong and Newcastle along the way.
We caught up with vocalist/bassist Aaron Beam to get the low down on how the band was feeling ahead of their debut Aussie headline run, as well as how their 2016 monolith Only Ghosts brought up trauma for the band to deal with as a collective.
HYSTERIA: Hi Aaron! Where are we catching you at the moment?
I’m currently at my local bar, just looking at the snow. It’s not necessarily freezing, but there’s so much, so it’s impossible to get out.
The band has gone on the record saying that Only Ghosts is their most personal record to date. How has this been playing out in a live sense for you all? Is the band just more attached this time around?
The songs are full on for all of us, but we still try to keep things fresh when we play live, as well as trying to help the crowd have a good time. Some of the songs are disturbing in that I’m talking about things that are really close to me, and I keep second-guessing myself, because it’s like flagellating myself. I guess that was my mistake putting that down!
What’s the most relatable song to you now in the set?
I would say that Flies is interesting, because the verses are mine, and I talk about some nasty stuff, but then it segways to a more lamenting chorus, and that’s helpful to me because when I’m really aggressively going after a verse, it helps me not to freak out over those things that are unpleasant from the past.
You can’t do New York and LA and call that an American run. You must play the back pockets and small towns, because it’s part of the fabric of the country.
[ Aaron Beam ]
This sounds like the first time the band had strayed into those personal themes—do you think you will return to these things again, or is this crossed off the list?
I’m still in-between on that. The recording process was unpleasant enough that I would love not to do that again, but it was also really gratifying. I guess we’ll see as a collective where we land. If you asked me to go back and talk about those things again I’d say, ‘Fuck you’, but I’m proud of us for doing it. We’re songwriting now, and it’s been really fun just sitting down and playing little dumb things, just doing it, and I think that’s an important part of it all; just enjoying the process. People over think it so much, and weather it’s good or bad is not the point, so we’ll see. I’m kind of a permagrump when it comes to song writing, so I try and leave my day to day angst in the music.
How does touring with those grumpy tunes change the creative process? Now that it’s a full time gig, I’m sure that the writing for this LP looks very different?
We try to make it what it was before, and to a degree it can be even better. We recorded our first LP just for fun, and then Murder the Mountains wasn’t on a label, so there was no goal or timeframe, we just thought ‘let’s do another record’, and that was really great. When you write with a label over your head it can just feel rushed. The songs seem like more of a grunt than a passionate expression of creativity, not that we want an Aria or anything & I like the heart of punk rock, but we have more to say than just immediate blasts, so with Only Ghosts we wanted to let the songs breath a bit. We’re writing now, and we’re not saying, ‘we have to write a record out by this time’, but we’ve more committed time to writing, so that’s what we’ll do all of April. Right now, we have a month before we go out again, and I’m enjoying just doing it, so I think we’re back to where we were with Murder the Mountains where we have lots of time to just jam to enjoy, not because it’s a contractual obligation or anything.
The studio environment sounded beautiful for Only Ghosts, staying in beach-front places in Miami and just allowing everything to relax while writing. Is it possible to keep that same atmosphere when you go out on the road? How might that change of pace effect the new songs as you all try to calm down again?
That experience in Venice was very informative for everyone involved. We got to know each other way better—there was lots of sharing of unpleasant truths in our lives which will stick with us for life, but it means that we know each other’s triggers, what our lives are like more than we ever have before. We still just muck around, but we’re more connected now. We know what breaks each other’s hearts while still making a fart joke. Fart jokes are so weird! Men just talk about it all the time- it’s bizarre.
This Aussie run takes a lot of the country in for a band that doesn’t have the biggest profile comparatively to other bands from the States. It’s great to see the band doing regional dates, and so exciting for those communities, but it also seems like a way bigger risk. Does Red Fang often try to do things differently from other groups when it comes to the music game?
We were talking to a guy who did these massive festivals in South America, and he told us about a time he booked Bruce Springsteen to play this 2,000-people club or whatever. Springsteen got excited because it reminded him of when he was just starting out and beginning to break through. It’s funny with touring musicians, because you need to think globally and all the different places as if it was your country. You can’t do New York and LA and call that an American run. You must play the back pockets and small towns, because it’s part of the fabric of the country. I can’t take any real credit for where the tour ended up going, but I’m so excited to play smaller towns, especially if they usually get neglected, so that can make people freak out more, which is a exciting thing!
Red Fang Australian Tour with special guests Drunk Mums dates below:
Thursday May 10, The Brightside, Brisbane QLD
Friday May 11, The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle NSW
Saturday May 12, Manning Bar, Sydney NSW
Sunday May 13, Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC
Tuesday May 15, Barwon Club Hotel, South Geelong VIC
Wednesday May 16, Fowlers Live, Adelaide SA