Red Fang Members Talk ‘Whales and Leeches,’ Busy 2014 Touring Schedule + More
The relentless road warriors of Red Fang are known for rocking eardrums from coast to coast and around the world. The band has been trekking around in promotion of their new album ‘Whales and Leeches.’ During their recent New York City stop at Bowery Ballroom, we had the chance to speak to bassist and vocalist Aaron Beam and drummer John Sherman.
Beam and Sherman provided a humorous and witty conversation about a somewhat stressful time during the creative process of the new disc. They also talked about influential music scenes that they each grew up in as well as trying to figure out the hectic touring schedule for 2014. We also get to the bottom of why medicated butt wipes are so important for them. Check out our interview with Aaron Beam and John Sherman of Red Fang below:
How has the tour been, how have you been getting along with Cancer Bats?
Aaron Beam: Oh those guys are awesome!
John Sherman: I don’t like them as people. I like them…they’re just not good people. [Laughs]
If you could tour with one band that you haven’t been out on the road with yet, who would it be and why?
AB: Big Business, we’ve played shows with them but we’ve never toured with them and why – it should be obvious. [Laughs] But in case it’s not, it’s because they’re good friends of ours and they’re an awesome band. It would just be fun to hang out with them and play shows with them.
JS: Soundgarden, because –
AB: Because they’re really good friends of ours…
JS: [Laughs] I would love to tour with them.
You guys are based in Portland, Oregon, but did you grow up there? If so, what was the music scene like there when you were younger?
AB: No, I kind of grew up there – I moved there when I was 17 ... I guess I first started getting into music when I was in Colorado but as far as the Portland music scene in the early ‘90s, it was pretty great because it was so ignored. It was nice because it meant that people did whatever they wanted, there was no outside pressure or eyes looking at them and evaluating what was going on. The X-Ray Café has a pretty big influence on the whole scene because they had this interesting policy of booking bands and paying bands. You got paid no matter what, even if it was a dollar – your whole band would just get paid one dollar.
They were just really into anything that was super weird. The first band I ever played with there had an accordion, bassoon, bass and saxophone in it. It was obviously a really good band that everybody was super into. But it was just that line-up and they were like, “Okay you’re booked, no problem.” It was just a lot more accepting of experimentation. It was an interesting place to be for music in the early ‘90s.
Talk about ‘Whales and Leeches.' What does the album title mean to you?
JS: What does it mean to you Aaron?
AB: It means, “Ah, we have an album title and we don’t have to think about that anymore.”
JS: You think Brian [Giles] knows what it means?
AB: Yeah it was a title of a song that he wrote to one of our earlier songs. It’s a song about how much he loved going to school. Not really. He would be able to tell you more about where the title comes from.
When you guys first heard the title ‘Whales and Leeches,’ what did you think about it?
AB: I thought it rhymed really well with the next line of the song which is, what is it? Oh there is no line about whales and leeches in the song.
JS: I don’t know. I don’t know our lyrics. I’ve just always liked the title, it’s creepy and heavy and weird.
AB: Yeah because whales and leeches would never associate with each other.
JS: But you want to know what’s going on.
AB: Yeah, why are those whales and leeches hanging out together?
JS: And we can’t tell you. You’re just going to have to dive in and figure it out for yourself.
Well I think you guys are ahead of the game because Pixar might make a film in 10 years about whales and leeches and their awkward yet nurturing friendship.
JS: This is true. Interspecies love is trending right now.
AB: Especially in my house.
I’m not sure I want to know anymore than that, Aaron. How was the recording process for both of you on this record?
AB: Really relaxing, we had plenty of time, we weren’t stressed out about it at all - actually the recording part was totally great. Creating it was more stressful than we anticipated it. With recording, we just stuck with the same people, the same studio and we tried to keep everything as consistent as possible.
JS: And as comfortable as possible, due to the stress level leading up to the actual recording.
What was so stressful about the whole creative process?
JS: We’re not very good at writing on the road and we’re on the road so much. We had little bits and pieces and we would start to get somewhere and then we’d have to go on tour. Then we’d kind of forget where we were so then we just said, “Okay we’re going to be home for three months, let’s book studio time at the end of that and we just have to write every day until we have enough.” We did but it was really stressful.
AB: John also quit smoking during this.
JS: Yeah, I quit smoking right at the beginning of the process. So I got a little more stressed than everybody else but I’m still not smoking and I think we have a pretty good record.
AB: It works, especially with playing the songs live in front of people -- that was the other thing -- half of the songs we never played live once before recording them. Now that we’re playing them live, I’m actually more confident about the record.
What does 2014 hold in store for Red Fang?
AB: Yep, touring, lots of touring, all year – Europe for sure, Australia, possibly Japan. We’re trying to get to South America again for a short run. We’ll probably come back to the U.S. again and go over to Europe again. Then we’ll see what happens in the fall.
JS: It might be Europe, Europe, Australia, Japan, U.S.? That sound right?
AB: U.S., then Europe, then South America.
JS: Europe again? Yeah we’ll go wherever. I want to go all over, I want to hit Southeast Asia. We’ll see what happens.
What are some of your favorite places to tour?
JS: France. It just seems like the music fans there are just apes--t. They’re just super excited about having a good time. We’ve always just had a really good time there and the wine is delicious, the food is great.
AB: Yeah, I mean Europe is great. I think every single show we’ve played in France has been sold out.
JS: It’s insane, even though some shows are super small it’s still been a crazy good time.
With all of this upcoming touring, what is one thing you must have on tour with you, no electronics?
JS: Oh, medicated butt wipes.
AB: Yeah, mine is Gold Bond Powder for sure.
JS: They both have something to do with your butt.