Posted on by Oran

Portland-based stoner/sludge squad, RED FANG are back with album number five! Guitarist, Bryan Giles took a seat on the porch of his Portland home to tell us all about ‘Arrows’…

With a knack for constructing riffs drenched with bong water and Cheeto dust, RED FANG have emerged from their slumber to bring us their fifth studio opus, ‘Arrows’.

Guitarist, Bryan Giles is feeling chipper today as he sparks up another smoke on the steps of his Oregon home.

With their last LP, ‘Only Ghosts’ now four years in the rearview mirror, we delve into the bands new album to find out about the songs, the return of ‘Murder in the Mountains‘ [2011] and ‘Whales and Leeches‘ [2013] producer, Chris Funk, a possible Red Fang D&D-style comic/graphic novel and much more…

OD – Let’s just start with the new album ‘Arrows’. Did the writing begin as soon as you wound up the touring commitments for ‘Only Ghosts’ or did you take a break from things for a while before getting back into the saddle?

Photo Credit: James Rexroad © 2018

BRYAN – I wish we had a better system for writing on the road but we’re still in a van and if someone was playing the guitar in the van it would be problematic as we simply don’t have the space to record on the road. In saying that, we do tend to come up with some new stuff when we are sound-checking prior to a show.

Our front-of-house is kind enough to record some of our stuff and that can be a source of inspiration but in general, we usually wait until we can get home and we can woodshed and get into the mindset of putting new material together.

OD – The band’s videos have become almost a feature attraction in their own right thanks to your sense of humour and the mind of Whitey [McConnaughy, director]. When it comes to the video concepts, is there one member in particular that leads with inspiration, or is it a group effort?

BRYAN – No, that’s all Whitey [Laughing]. They are all his ideas. He will either send a text or an email and ask for us to get together for a beer or coffee and we’ll just start riffing ideas. He [Whitey] has created these alter-egos for each of us and so, it’s great to just let loose and have some fun with it all.

If he can make us laugh with his ideas, then that’s what usually passes the test for the video ideas. When we get together and we’re all just laughing our asses off, we know it’s gonna work. He’s never let us down yet.

OD – Bringing back Chris [Funk, producer of ‘Murder in the Mountains, ‘Whales and Leeches’] is something that you mentioned as being a laid-back and relaxed experience. This must have been a change from working with Ross [Robinson, producer], as he’s known for being a little intense at times?

BRYAN – I would say that there’s definitely a difference between those guys. I mean… Ross is an intense dude [Laughing]. People don’t write enough about why he’s so intense, and I can tell you that it comes from a place where he’s just got a really powerful drive to see music to its conclusion and strives to get the most out of the situation.

Ultimately, he’s a very passionate guy, who has a very deep love for what he does for a living. It’s not like he’s some kind of drill sergeant or anything like that, or he’s a dick all the time [Laughing].

In fact, he approaches things with so much love and passion that at times I’ve been like: “Well, I don’t care as much about this record as he does, I better get focused!” [Laughing]

But, yeah… working with Chris was a lot more relaxed in some ways. From a songwriting/recording standpoint, he’s a lot more passive but I think both techniques work really great. Some of my tracks on this album, I considered ‘scratch tracks‘ in order to get the drums to where we needed to get them. Chris really encouraged me to keep some of the original performance, because it just had something organic and fucked-up about it.

Turning off the critical part of the brain can be helpful in cases like this. In the past, we’ve had half-hour conversations about certain arrangements, and we just get in too deep with it. Do you know what I mean?

Sometimes it’s just nice to let it all flow without restrictions. I really liked that kind of approach, and am totally into doing more of it going forward.

Some things didn’t work so well, and others did. It was just a kind of trial and error situation, and when you throw in Chris Funk’s natural ear for weird stuff, the overall goal was not intended to be just a bite-size downloadable album, it’s a full album and I think we’ve really achieved that.

OD – There’s a real dirty, analog sound to ‘Arrows’ that was somewhat absent on the last album, or should I say a little more present on ‘Arrows’, was this the desire prior to entering the studio?

BRYAN – Well, at the start we discussed things with Chris and he was all for blowing things out and getting experimental. I was all for it as I’m a huge fan of “noise” and love bands’ like The Cherubs and Throbbing Gristle, etc. There’s almost a lo-fi sound to the album which I like.

I’m not sure how it will stand up to alongside a pristine, half-a-million production-style album and it’s not supposed to. ‘Arrows‘ is its own entity and should be listened to as one body of work. It’s like a filthy basement…[laughing] A filthy basement that I wouldn’t want to clean up.

OD – I know you’ve been sitting on this album since 2019, so now I’m assuming you just wanna get back out there and do some live shows. Are there big touring plans for this album, as we’ve only had Red Fang perform in Ireland once back in 2013?

BRYAN – If I was in charge of the world, I would say: “Hell Yeah” but we put off overseas travel because we want to make sure that we are playing shows where everyone is healthy.

We are most likely gonna put off doing any shows outside of America until 2022. We’re all vaccinated and are just waiting it out until things get to a better situation. What’ the forefront for us is that we’re not inspiring people to get sick. The worst nightmare is to inspire a super-spreader event.

I mean, Red Fang’s music is good but not work dying for. We’ll be hitting the US from mid-October to mid-November but I’m sure you’ll see us at some festivals next year, as well as some club shows. I intend to differ to wear a mask and even though people don’t know that, the point that needs to be understood is that this is not about anything else but people’s health.

OD – Since being in lockdown, did you find yourself falling in love with albums from your past once again, and if so can you share a few?

BRYAN – Yes, I’ve really been engaged in home recording. I never used to be interested because there was just too much tech stuff that got in the way of the idea [Laughing]. However, I finally got my head around it and have been busy laying down some ideas and I’m working on a very bizarre project with a friend of mine, Chris Koffman.

OD – Can you shed some like on it?

BRYAN – [Laughing] Well… it’s a concept album, written by our future selves in the year 2042 when the world is about to end. I must say my songwriting has become very good in my old age [Lauughing]

OD – What the name of this project?

BRYAN – Are you ready? It’s called…’SUPER VOLCANO 2042‘! It’s going to be difficult to find because it’s from the future and no labels are interested in future music. I gotta say, I’m having so much fun with it all. I’m like: “I wonder what this digital flute will sound like…” [Laughing]

OD – Have you been re-visiting any albums that you’ve not heard in a long time since the lockdown?

BRYAN – Actually, I’ve recently got a new dog who is pretty active so I’ve gotta take her for some long walks every day and that’s given me the opportunity to go back to some albums and listen to them in their entirety, which has been really cool as I normally wouldn’t have the time to do that usually.

So, I’ve been listening to full discographies, like a lot of the old Genesis stuff and BeeGees, etc. It’s really interesting to go back and find out how those bands came to the sound they are so well known for. Kind of like the origin stories of each band, which has been really interesting, especially bands’ that I like but only know one or two albums from them.

OD – Would you be open to a Red Fang comic/graphic novel should it be offered to you? Perhaps the origin story of ‘Chompy’ [the band’s Sabertooth Tiger skull]?

BRYAN – Yeah, I’m open to ideas for sure. My passion project for over a year is a D&D module with features ‘Chompy‘ and it’s all set in D&D land and the band members are all warriors that are hunting for ‘Chompy‘.

OD – Will this be a video game?

BRYAN – No, I’m thinking of this as a print project. In Dungeons & Dragons, they call certain episodes of a game “modules” and you can play your character from previous campaigns, as an adventurer which is really cool. Kind of like role-playing books.

I’m hoping this will become a reality as I’ve been working on it for the last year-and-a-half so you can expect to see it in about 2023.

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Red FangArrows‘ is out now via Relapse Records. Pick up a copy via this link or stream from any popular streaming sites, but always try to support your local record store.

Oran O’Beirne

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