Red Fang: "There's Definitely Going to Be Beer and Lots of Zombies"
A new source of intensity adds to the fiery, riff-heavy attack on Red Fang's third album. With a relentless touring schedule leaving little time for songwriting or recording, the band felt the deadline pressure seeping into their music.
Promo Red Fang
Sandwiched between the Australian Soundwave Festival in February and a European festival tour in June and July was a three-month, back-to-the-wall burst of creativity.
"It was pretty stressful. We're not very good at writing on the road. We basically don't do it at all. On the little breaks we've had from tour, we were trying to write here and there," says drummer John Sherman. "We had some of March, then April and May to write and record the whole record. We just had to set a deadline for ourselves and not do anything other than go to the fucking woodshed and jam. We'd never really written like this before. It was more like every day going in, whether we felt like playing music or not, and just jamming."
"The good thing from that is when I listen to it, there's a sense of urgency to this record that I like. The stress came through in a pretty cool way and I'm super happy with it," he says.
Whales and Leeches, the Portland quartet's third album and second on Relapse Records, is dark and adventurous, 13 songs that sit at the intersection of stoner metal and hard rock built from big riffs, dynamic tempo changes, and lyrics about vampires, zombies, and other dooms and destructions.
The progression Red Fang (Sherman, Bryan Giles on guitar and vocals, Aaron Beam on bass and vocals and David Sullivan on guitar) has made from 2009's Red Fang to 2011's Murder The Mountains to now is clear, with more riffs, more time changes and a stronger sense of turbulence throughout Whales and Leeches.
"That has something to do with us not really having a chance to keep editing and editing," Sherman says. "Sometimes songs are awesome and they come out of nowhere and they're done in one day. Sometimes they take months and you keep fucking with them and keep fucking with them and you can't remember where it started and how to get back there and you make them worse. We didn't have the time to waste to fuck with these songs much, so they're a little more organic. The first creative outburst is pretty close to the final result on these songs."
Another change on Whales and Leeches was bringing in guests, like Mike Scheidt (Yob) and Pall Jenkins (The Black Heart Procession). Scheidt's contribution in particular turns the sludgy 7-minute "Dawn Rising" into a spine-tingling epic.
"We write these long, slow, doomy songs every now and then and often they don't get put into the set and then fade away," Sherman says. "We've been working on that, just the bass riff of that song, for a while, and once we put it all together and finally finished writing the music, played through it a couple times, we said 'All right, we gotta get Mike to sing this.' It's perfect for him and he'll make it sound way better than we could."