Red Fang’s Aaron Beam Talks New Album ‘Whales and Leeches’ + More
Mark it down and remember it. Red Fang are primed for a breakout this fall with their new album, ‘Whales and Leeches,’ a blistering hard rock release that should translate well to the live stage. The disc arrives Oct. 15 via Relapse Records.
Loudwire recently had a chance to talk bassist/vocalist Aaron Beam about the band’s upcoming disc, and he also shares some info on the unique album art and an interesting experiences his bandmates had on the road partying with Slayer.
How much was your live show a consideration in terms of putting this record together? These songs seem tailor-made for the stage.
I personally don’t try to think about it. I just write it, just come up with the best possible studio version of the song, I guess, but we’re not real fancy, so we don’t usually have a lot of ideas that you know would lead to making a song unplayable live. There’s some keyboard stuff you know that was written on this record that won’t ever happen live, well I don’t know, I guess I shouldn’t say “never” but I don’t foresee happening live anytime soon. But I don’t think any of that detracts from the way we sound live ’cause of course all of the songs are hashed out and practiced, and they feel done to us before we go into the studio, so they’re already “completed” live songs, and then any kind of extra bells and whistles we add are just to kind of entertain us and [give] the songs have a little extra flavor for when you’re listening at home and you can’t see us.
Because obviously seeing us live there is more volume and it’s just more exciting because it’s unpredictable. But you kind of add some of that by adding extra little things to the studio recordings.
Getting into the album here a little bit. The single ‘Blood Like Cream’ has a great beat and is full of energy. Can you talk a bit about that track?
Sure, yeah and that was one that it kind of went through a pretty interesting evolution because we had … there’s a couple, two different riffs that we really liked a lot and we couldn’t find homes for either one of them and one of them actually ended up spawning ‘Into the Eye’ and it came out of the riff because we were trying to make into a song even back as far as ‘Murder the Mountains’ — it was just never working, and so we just wrote an entire new song and ended up taking that riff out of it.
Then we had this other riff that we had come up with a year or so ago and we loved both of them but we couldn’t figure out how to make them into songs, so we just crammed them together and we were playing it live for a while but it just didn’t feel … it was working kind of, but it didn’t feel quite right so I really took that kind of like main riff that I’m singing in the verses over in ‘Blood Like Cream.’ I took it home and I felt like it just needed to just kind of sit with that same note a lot longer.
It’s like a really just like two chords or something but it’s almost, all of it is just one chord that’s just driving and just keeps going with that one chord ‘cause like you don’t need anything else so that’s kind of what I was thinking with that one and yeah. [Producer] Chris Funk actually helped out a little bit with the arrangement of that one too to kind of tighten it up. He steered us away from the typical Red Fang thing of playing the intro to the song and then having like a two-minute instrumental ending, you know? He was just like, “Just end it, just have the chorus and let it just be done.” It made us feel kind of uncomfortable for a minute but I’m glad he stuck to his guns and made us do it that way ‘cause it tightens it up a lot.
An the album ends with another standout track, ‘Every Little Twist.’ It’s got an amazing groove and it would be great to hear more about that song.
Sure, yeah I appreciate it ‘cause that’s another one that we didn’t know how it was going to turn out. We really just had that one riff with the little, little, tiny variation and we tried some other parts with it that kind of broke up the groove a little bit too much so we just said “screw it,” let’s just jam on this awhile and we’ll just layer some stuff on it and see how it turns out and ended up being one of my favorite tracks on the record. It kind of has to go last because the feeling of it but…and I should mention that the title actually is taken from the song that originally inspired it, which is also called ‘Every Little Twist’ by a band Regraped.
I guess it was kind of mid-90’s. I got to be good friends with them and ended up playing in a band with one of them and that was kind of near the end of their band, they wrote that song and only got to do it a couple of times. I really liked it and I was just inspired by it to write that bass line, we kind of just played around with it for a while and eventually turned it into that song.
One of the things noticeable on your Facebook and Twitter pages is that you guys definitely pay respect to other bands.
Well it’s something that seems kind of obvious because we’re all sort of in the same boat, we’re all working really hard to maintain what we have, and to try to have some integrity and musically, and a lot of the people we support we really like them musically and also usually they’re good friends of ours. So we respect what they’re all about. I know they support us, so we support them right back and we also are always inspired by people that we encounter on the road or at home, or whatever. Like other bands that we play with or get to hang out with who are inspired by them on personal and musical levels. It just seems only right to acknowledge that.
Right on. Getting back to ‘Whales and Leeches’ — is there a story behind the title and the artwork and how it all ties in together?
The title is actually from an old song from our first EP I think that Brian wrote and we were struggling with a title like we always do and that came up and I think, we always liked that title for the song, actually same thing happened with ‘Murder the Mountains,’ which was also one of the oldest songs that we wrote and we couldn’t come up with a title for that record either so we went with an old song title. The artwork was all Orion [Landau], the in-house graphic guy from Relapse who is really, really good and he did all of the artwork for ‘Murder the Mountains’.
We’ve had a discussion with him about doing a more photographic kind of cover and artwork, and he wanted to do a kind of ’70s thing but it wasn’t quite working with the way that the album sounded and also just didn’t match our style. So we ended up shifting it into a Pacific Northwest themed thing which I think is perfect and I’m really happy with the way it turned out. I love that it’s all photographs or all nearly photographs instead of drawings or something graphic which is also cool, I’ve never thought of doing something like that, I haven’t really seen anything come out on Relapse that looks like that before so I’m really happy with it.
I was reading about a night the band had drinking with Slayer. Can you talk a bit about that experience?
I had already retired [for the night] at that point. But [the story goes that] all the other dudes were all standing side stage watching [Slayer]. I watched them from the front of house so I just went back and passed out. The other guys were friends with a lot of their crew; a lot of them had worked with Mastodon when we toured with them so I think that the guys were just hanging out and their production manager, a friend of ours, said, “If you guys want to come back and eat some of Slayer’s pizza, feel free.” So they got invited to the sort of foyer green room and were eating pizza and then she was like, “Come on back, you guys can hang out,” and it was Kerry King and Gary Holt back there and they were doing shots with them.
Then the Slayer dudes actually had to catch a plane to the next show so they were like “We can’t take any of this stuff with us so feel free.” I think they came away with a couple of nice bottles of booze and they had a bunch of like nice cheeses and meats but there was nothing to carry it in so [drummer] John [Sherman] was just stuffing it into plastic cups. So we had plastic cups full of meat, and cheese in the van for a couple of days. It was kind of crazy.
Our thanks to Red Fang’s Aaron Beam for his talk about the band’s ‘Whales and Leeches’ album. The disc is due Oct. 15 via Relapse Records and can be pre-ordered at this location.
Listen to Red Fang’s ‘Blood Like Cream’