Portland Oregon’s finest riff slingers, Red Fang, are stopping off at The Middlesbrough Empire this month so Jake Carr Smith had a little chat with vocalist and bass player, Aaron Beam, about the tour and all things Red Fang.
You’re stopping off at The Middlesbrough Empire during your UK tour with Mastodon, but how important is it to you to play these slightly smaller stages for headline shows?
Our roots are absolutely in the tiny, stinky punk club realm, so it feels very natural for us to be able to keep playing shows like that. It’s hard to describe the difference explicitly. They have a very similar energy, but I guess the thing about a small club is you can feel the breath of the crowd on you and you feel, I don’t know, more actual danger.
Do you pay much attention to the rock press? And if so, are you pleased with the reception your latest album, ‘Only Ghosts’, has received?
The older I’ve got the less I’ve paid attention. I was so proud of the accomplishments we made with ‘Only Ghosts’ that I read almost no press at all – it felt irrelevant to me. I do like it when we make music that connects to people since that is the point of this art form.
To my ears, the album is your most ‘radio-friendly’ work, yet still maintains that ‘rough-around-the-edges’ feel. How important do you feel melody is in heavy music?
I think it is paramount! Melody doesn’t mean pop, but it is wherein the hooks lie, and music without hooks is mostly lost on me. Slayer is full of hooks. You can sing ‘Angel of Death’ or ‘Raining Blood’ right now, I’m sure of it. Or ‘March of the Fire Ants’ by Mastodon. For almost all the most successful bands, no matter how brutal, I can almost guarantee you will be able to find hooks.
Let’s talk about the Mastodon tour. Red Fang and Mastodon on the same bill just seems to fit. What is it like sharing a bill with those guys? Do you feel their success has paved the way for bands like yourself to make an impression in the rock scene?
I think we are a perfect match! I definitely appreciate the success they have had, and the fact that they are interested in passing some of that along to us, but I think really almost any band is going to find success if they are 1) Making music that connects to humans on an emotional level and 2) Can keep their shit together enough to stay together, go on tour, and keep making more music.
A lot of your music videos feature you guys chugging many cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon but the beer is (sadly) pretty impossible to come by over here in the UK. How will you adapt to this?
Ha! We’ve been dealing with that since the very first time we ever came to Europe! The first tour we ever did over there we had lots of people coming up to us before or after the show saying, “Hey, we know you guys love PBR. We can’t get that over here, but we brought you 40 of our country’s shittiest beers and we made sure they are nice and warm from being in our trunk all day.” When I’m in the UK I prefer ciders! And in general, I’d rather drink a regional delight. We can get plenty of PBR here at home.
Red Fang play The Middlesbrough Empire on Friday 8th December. Tickets, priced at £16.50 in advance, are available from themiddlesbroughempire.co.uk.