Sea of Tranquility Staff Writer Carl Sederholm recently caught up with Bryan Giles from Red Fang, a stoner metal band currently touring in support of their sophomore release Murder the Mountains.
SoT: You've been touring with several lineups over the last year or so. How were the shows with El Caco,(a band we've covered and really like)? How is the North American Tour with Black Tusk going? (I'm looking forward to your stop in Salt Lake City). What touring plans do you have after this current cycle?
Giles: Hm, I can't say El Caco rings any bells. Maybe it was at a festival or something? Usually you don't get to see many other bands when you play festivals, so I probably missed them. We have only played 3 shows so far (Sacramento, SF, and LA), but the tour is going way better than I expected! We toured with BT in Europe and love those guys. Right now one of our favorite new Portland bands, Lord Dying are also with us and I love seeing those guys every night, too. After this tour ends we head straight to Europe for a few shows, plus some UK shows and we are
playing at ATP. Then we have to take some time off from touring to write and record a new record! We are well on our way with songwriting.
SoT: You recently released a new song ("Crows in Swine"). Is that song a hint toward the sound of the new album? How are things coming along for the follow up to Murder the Mountains? How are fans responding to the new song? Are you playing it on the road?
Giles: It is a hint as to what one of the songs might sound like. But we have a lot of new songs that sound nothing like that song. Some more drone-y stuff, some really fast kind of technical stuff, some kind of more "southern" groove songs, some kind of Jesus Lizard-ey stuff. We don't really know what all will wind up on the record. Fans seem to like Crows in Swine. There was a circle pit to it last night in LA. That was kind of crazy. We are playing another new one as well. And possibly one other one.
SoT: You guys are sometimes praised for your strong songwriting skills. Tell us a little bit about your songwriting practices. Do you write together or separately? How do you decide in what direction to take songs? How do you decide on lyrics? Is there a song on Murder the Mountains that has any special significance for you?
Giles: We usually start with an idea one of us brings in then we all jam on it for awhile and massage it until it feels natural to play instrumentally. Then Bryan or I take it home and work on vocals, then re-arrange it based on where the vocals need to fit. We don't ever make any decisions about what direction to take a song, we just do what feels right. Lyrics are often a very last minute thing that we do in the studio right before recording them. It is sometimes easier that way. Hank is Dead has special significance for me, because it is about my cat, Hank, who I had to put to sleep in the middle of recording the album. Everyone says this, but he really was the best cat ever. Even people who hated cats loved him.
SoT: What do you think about the current state of heavy metal music? How do you describe Red Fang's music? (I've always described you as a cross between stoner / sludge / and riffy).
Giles: Honestly, I spend very little time thinking about the current state of heavy metal. Usually I only think about it when somebody asks me about it. Of course I am aware of an increased interest in it right now, which I assume is what has more people interested in us now, but I don't really know. I think the best way to describe Red Fang's music is to quote someone Coyle, or tour manager/merch guy overheard at one of our shows, "I don't really like Red Fang. All their songs sound different!" We're just heavy music, we don't really try to restrict what type of eavy music we play.
SoT: I saw you in Salt Lake City a few months back when you played with Cornered by Zombies. I thought it was awesome the way you praised those guys and even watched their set from the sidelines. Are there other bands in local areas you've played that metal fans should have their eye on?
Giles: I love that band! They are both really incredible players. I hope we get to see them again. In Portland, people should check out Hungry Ghost, and of course Lord Dying. In Seattle, there is a great new band called Sandriders. I don't know if they are still a band, but we played with a band in Cleveland called Megachurch. In Atlanta I really like a band called Stallone.
SoT: What bands are you listening to these days? Are there any musical styles outside of metal that are influencing your playing and songwriting right now?
Giles: Yeah, pretty much all the styles that influence me are outside metal. I think that is one of the traps too many people fall into they get too isolated in their genre ghettos. I will tell you what I might put on a playlist, in alphabetical order, because I am looking at my mp3 player right now. AC/DC, Air (Virgin Suicides), The Beatles, Beehive & the Barracudas, Bill Withers, C Average, The Fucking Champs, Danava, Elliott Smith, The Equals, Federation X, Hot Snakes, Hungry Ghost, Jason Loewenstein, The Jesus Lizard, John Lennon, The Kinks, M.I.A., Neil Young, Soundgarden, Ty Segall, Unwound, YOB.
Sot: What can our listeners look forward to on the tour with Black TusK?
Giles: SLC is at pretty high altitude, so I predict some vomiting.