“We truly are a band, not just a group of musicians. If you took away or tried to replace any of us, it just would not be the same.”
Just a few days before the two shows of Red Fang in Greece, Metalpaths talks with the bassist/vocalist of the band Aaron Beam. Great stories from the shoots of “Prehistoric Dog” video clip, upcoming album and other interesting things around the band and the music in general, all are here in the interview below…by Aggelos “Redneck” Katsouras
You started the band in 2005 but didn’t release the first self-titled album until 2008. In a time where everyone rushes to become known, did you want to take your time and do small and steady steps in the beginning?
The real answer is that we had no aspirations or hopes of “becoming known”. Although we all knew each other, we had never played all together before and we were just having fun doing that, and kind of left it there. It wasn’t really until the video for “Prehistoric Dog” that people started taking an interest and we were sort of thrown into this life.
I find very helpful the fact that you haven’t changed members so far. Is Red Fang a band where friendship has a significant role besides being professionals towards your music?
Definitely. Also, each one of us plays an important role in the sound of the band, and there is no one despotic leader handing out sheet music and commanding his disciples to do as they are told. We truly are a band, not just a group of musicians. If you took away or tried to replace any of us, it just would not be the same.
I’d like to know the feelings you had when you fulfilled both albums which took three years in between and after a lot of work I guess. Would you change something in their whole procedure or do you like them as they are?
Between the first and second albums? No, I would not change anything. We were actually done with the second album by January of 2010, it just took a long time for it to be released. And things seem to have been going pretty good for us, so, no, I would not change anything.
If I’m not wrong, you’re going to have a new album somewhere in October/November. How much part of the album is done? Are we going to listen to any new tracks on your upcoming shows or will you stick to the old ones?
That is correct! Mid to late October this year, if the production schedule is still okay. We are completely done with the album. Well, we have one more round of mastering to do, then it will be sent off. Oh, and we have to finish up the artwork as well. We are playing a couple new tracks from the album, on club dates at least. I don’t know yet how many we will incorporate into our festival shows, since the sets are shorter.
For many bands, the third album has proved to be the most critical in their whole career. What should we expect from Red Fang this time and how far will you take the sound we’ve already known so far?
You can expect some surprises! We did a couple things that none of us have ever done before, but I have no idea how that is going to be translated. It’s quite possible that everyone will hate the record. The only thing I can be sure of is that we like the record and are proud of it, and that is the main thing.
Another key part for the band is that you all use your voices and you make the result exceptional. Which were the influences of the band before you create it in terms of playing and in terms of singing?
Hmm. I think for singing, Bryan and I, it’s just kind of do whatever comes naturally. I don’t know think that I am trying to emulate anyone in particular. Musically, we all have a huge array of influences. I think it is tricky to start listing specific bands, though, because really anything I listen to could become an influence if it is appropriate. The most obvious one I’d like to point out is that the vocal melody for one of the songs on “Murder the Mountains” was inspired by a Christina Aguilera song. It sounds NOTHING like the original song, but that was what influenced me to write it, so…
You’ve done some of the best videos produced the last five years, a thing which adds a lot to the whole atmosphere you create. I’m curious to know if there’s any funny or interesting story behind their creation.
I remember during the filming of “Prehistoric Dog” Whitey was encouraging us to not drink full beers because he was worried we were going to get too drunk to be directed. What was he expecting? So, of course everyone got too drunk and the shoot took way too long. Bryan or John went in the bathroom to puke and Whitey got pissed and yelled at us, “What the hell? If you are going to puke, don’t do it off camera!!” So they both said, “Oh you want us to puke on camera? No problem!” So we set up that scene on the couch in front of the table with all the empty beer cans. It was so late, he had to put a bunch of lights outside the window to make it look like daytime. And you saw the results. Puke everywhere.
The American scene is on the rise the last years, especially on this heavy sound you play. We’ve seen many bands coming out and many others which are a little older becoming more popular. Is there flexibility on this sound that makes the fans addicted to it, or is it the right timing for everyone who wants to play like this? There’s also a tense of many bands playing a more ’70s approach. Do you follow the whole scene? Are there any bands you like a lot from you country or abroad?
I think the heavy bands that people are interested in are the more sincere ones and the reason why many of them are older is that only the sincere ones last this long. If you heart is not really in it, you just give up after a while. I don’t follow the scene too much because I am pretty busy as a parent and a husband and homeowner, and I am also close to 40, so that switch in my brain and makes me incapable of tracking new bands that has already been turned. But the bands I like right now that probably fit sort of into that mold are: Federation X, YOB, Truckfighters, Graveyard, Lord Dying, Indian Handcrafts, and many others I am forgetting this very moment.
I’m lucky to have seen you live and without this being a compliment, I really believe that you give much more in the gigs than what we listen to the albums. Is the stage a motive for the band, or does this sound become even heavier and makes the live performance sound larger too?
We are primarily a live band, and all the bands any of us have been in over the years have been more concerned with the live experience than with recordings. As we get older and having Chris Funk (our producer) involved has helped us concentrate more while in the studio on making an interesting-sounding album, but we always write songs wtih a mind to how they will come across live. That also helps answer your first question about why it took so long between us forming and putting out our first record. We were just doing shows, and recording was really kind of an afterthought, like, “Hey, we have all these songs now, maybe we should record them so we don’t forget them all.”
You’ve played in Greece before and had a great response, in my eyes at least. Do you remember the shows? Are there any other places in the world where you had a very warming reception? Which places would you like to visit and haven’t done so far?
Oh yes, I remember both shows quite well!! The first time we played An Club (with The Ocean and Intronaut) was the 5th show we had ever played in Europe, and was the first time anywhere in the world that I noticed people singing along with “Prehistoric Dog.” I could not believe it!! The second show we headlined and there were twice as many people there and it went pretty bonkers! Off the top of my head I can think of many places that gave similarly warm reactions – San Sebastien, London, Paris, Moscow, Budapest, Sao Paulo, Le Havre, Essen, Helsinki, Milan, Berlin, just to name a few. We are going some places on my list on this tour – Istanbul, Ireland, and Iceland. Some others – Japan, Indonesia, China, Argentina, Israel, South Africa. We’ll see if any of that ever happens!!
What is more important for a band in your opinion? Playing music that you like without caring that much about the fans and their reactions, or trying not to change your sound that much so that your followers don’t recognize you any more?
Number one is definitely absolutely more important. If you try to cater to what you THINK people are going to like, you are bound to fail. Because you will probably not make music people like and if you do succeed in that regard, then you are stuck playing songs you wrote for someone else that you yourself do not believe in.
There are only ten days left to see you, you may close this interview any way you find proper. Thank you for your time in answering these questions and we wish you a blasting show in Athens and Thessaloniki and a great new third album. Send a message to the worldwide Red Fang family.
All I can say is I sincerely appreciate the support we have received, and hope that everyone continues to come see us play. Thank you so much and see you in a few days!!