Red Fang | Interview with Aaron Beam

Relentless agitators, road warriors and bastions of vicious & loud sludge rock, Red Fang have recently unveiled their third album and second for Relapse Records, the deliciously raucous 'Whales and Leeches'. Phil Weller managed to track down bassist and vocalist Aaron Beam between tours and ask him a few questions about this highly acclaimed new effort.

Speaking to the band Black Tusk recently, we got talking about how Red Fang seems to have just exploded in recent months. Your new record 'Whales and Leeches' has been receiving acclaim everywhere and your playing bigger venues now, how do you view it all?

"Well, it kind of hurt my lungs and left leg to explode, but I have a very good surgeon and I am feeling much better now. As far as how I view the growth of the band? It was totally unexpected, I don't know how to explain people's interest in us, but I am very glad for the opportunity to have some adventures while it lasts!"

You toured with Mastodon in 2011, do you feel that was a positive catalyst in terms of the bands reaching more and more people?

"Absolutely. The timing for that tour was perfect. The Hunter was sort of the most straight ahead of all their records, and that matches a little better with us, musically. Their fans are a devoted bunch and they trust Mastodon's taste, so it was nice to have a lot of them show up early to see us play."

So, for those who haven't heard 'Whales and Leeches' how would you describe it?

"A big, ugly, blood-sucking beast."

Visually both the album cover itself and the accompanying single covers are very impactful, how much input as a band did you have in the artwork for the record?

"We met with Orion, the designer, to discuss ideas. He presented us with an idea of some photo collage stuff, but it was more desert/biker style, which didn't really work for us, so someone (probably Orion) came up with the idea to do something more oriented towards the Pacific Northwest. I think the hybrid animals thing was his idea too, probably to reflect how diverse our influences are. If you listen closely, you can hear a lot of different things in there."

Was there a different approach when it came to writing the record, or are we simply hearing a band getting better at what they do?

"I appreciate you saying that it is better! Everything about our approach was the same, except that it was very, very different in that we only had 2.5 months to write the whole thing. Every other recording experience any of us had before was more like, "Well, we have been touring for a couple years, and we have 10 new songs now, I suppose we should record them for posterity." In this case it was, "We have to write an album. Let's stop touring for a few seconds and write some songs!"

Despite the ferocity of the songs of 'Whales and Leeches' there does seem to be a psychedelic tinge to it all, what was the thinking behind that?

"No thinking. Just feeling. That is what we felt like doing, so we did it."

Finally, what does the future hold for Red Fang?

"There is no way I can know! Well, I know we will be doing a lot of touring for W&L for the next year or two, and we will work harder to write songs in our down time, since we can't really write on the road. My hope is that we can grow to the point where we have a fan base maybe not as big as but at least as devoted as Mastodon's, so that we can start bringing bands with us we really really like who maybe nobody has heard of and expose them to a wider audience. Much like Clutch and Mastodon did for us."

Phil Weller is a freelance writer with over 4 years experience of journalism under his belt. Having created pieces for the likes of BBC Radio 2 and reporting on the London 2012 Olympics, he began writing about the music he is passionate at the turn of the year. He and now writes for various sites including Planet Mosh, Manchester Rocks and Sludgelord. Follow his deluded ramblings @philipweller.