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Interview – John Sherman, Red Fang – January 2013

| 3 February 2013 | Reply

By Shane Pinnegar

If there’s one band on the 2013 Soundwave Festival line-up who are touted as the “next big thing” in metal, it’s RED FANG – guitarist/vocalist Bryan Giles, Aaron Beam handling bass and vocals, guitarist David Sullivan and drummer John Sherman.

Tagged a stoner rock band (a label Sherman disputes) Red Fang revel in the dichotomy – delivering an intense heavy metal wall-of-noise on record and on stage, then fooling around in their music videos, playing beer swilling rednecks, and generally taking the piss.

One thing is for certain – as any YouTube clip will tell you: Red Fang are a force of nature live, and they’re bound to be a highlight of this year’s magnificent Soundwave Festival.

Red Fang - John Sherman 01

100%: G’day John, it’s Shane here in Australia, how’re you doing, mate?

Good, how’re you?

100%: Very good indeed. Where are you at the moment, are you at home or are you touring?

In my home in Portland, Oregon. Looking out the window at grey, rainy weather, dreaming of being in sunny Australia.

100%: Well, it’s sunny indeed down here; we’ve just had a bit of a heat wave in Perth.

I’m looking forward to a heat wave. It’s winter here.

100%: We’ll make sure we’ve got the temperature turned up when you get here.

Good, good.

Red Fang 01

100%: So the big news is that, of course, you’re coming to Australia for the Soundwave festival, and obviously you’re excited about that.

Extremely excited, yeah. We’ve never been to Australia before, and I can’t think of a better way to introduce us to Australia, and introduce Australia to us, than a big fucking festival with killer bands, so I’m very excited.

100%: Excellent, are you doing anything special to prepare for the tour?

I guess I’m trying to raise my tolerance, because you guys like a drink down there!

100%: I’ve seen the videos and stuff on your website, I don’t know if you need to raise your tolerance too much.

Alright, well I’ll try to maintain my tolerance!

100%: There you go. Soundwave is a pretty huge festival and there are a lot of bands on the line up. Have you toured with any of the guys before? Are you looking forward to catching up with friends?

Yeah for sure, we’ve played a lot of shows and toured a bit with The Sword, and some of the crew from Anthrax – but not Anthrax themselves. We’ve just played a festival in Holland with Orange Goblin a couple of months ago, that was the first time we’ve ever met them and we had the same hotel, so everyone got to party hard that night, so I’m really looking forward to catching up with those guys again. Oh, and Graveyard. We played several festivals with those guys.

Red Fang 02

100%: Awesome. Who else on the line up are you mainly looking forward to checking out while you’re there?

Well I’ve never seen Cancer Bats, and I’ve heard really good things about them, so I’m looking forward to that. I haven’t seen Slayer in years, so of course I’m looking forward to that. Who else… Kingdom of Sorrow, we’ve toured with them before, it will be nice to hang out with Kirk. Hopefully I’m going to hang out with Kirk tonight actually, we’re heading out in Portland tonight, so we’re going to head down there in a couple of hours.

100%: Awesome.

I’ve never seen Tomahawk. Cypress Hill I’ve never seen, that could be interesting. So yeah, it’s a big, big festival. It’s kind of intimidating actually.

100%: There’re a lot of bands on the line up. Having been a veteran of half a dozen of them, it’s really hard to get to see everyone you want to see, running from stage to stage, but there’s never a dull moment, that’s for sure.

I hope that I have a chance to run around a little bit and see some bands. There have been other festivals that I’ve played that the band I want to see the most is playing right after we’re done, on a stage that’s 500 yards away but I can’t get there, I have to run around doing other bullshit and I don’t always catch the band I want to see. So hopefully we can catch… like I said there are at least six bands that I really want to see, and there’s a bunch of bands that I also have the idea and I like.

100%: When you guys finish on the stage, do you jump off into the audience and go round and mingle, and all that sort of stuff, or do you keep yourself pretty much to yourself?

No, if we can get out there and mingle, we do. I don’t like to keep to myself. We like to get out there and mix it up. If the opportunity is there then that’s what I’ll be doing.

I won’t jump off the stage though. I will not jump off of the stage into the crowd, I don’t do that.

100%: I meant figuratively, not literally, [laughter]. How does a band approach a festival slot where you’ve got thirty or forty minutes in the middle of a hot afternoon to make a big impression?

We usually only have thirty minutes, and we try to play the songs that people are going to want to hear and If we have a little more than 30 minutes we can kind of mix it up, and jam a little.  If we have an hour, which we won’t – not this festival I’m sure – but the perfect time for me is like an hour, an hour fifteen. That way we can really run through everything that we want to run through. But I think it’s important that we aren’t playing lots of new jams, especially playing a place we’ve never played before, because fans don’t want to hear new stuff; they only want to hear the songs that they’re familiar with.  They just want to rock out to the stuff they know.

Red Fang - Murder The Mountain CD

100%: Will you be playing a mix of tracks from both albums?

Oh yeah, for sure. If we have a thirty minute set then it will probably close to half and half, if not leaning a little bit more towards Murder in the Mountains, but, yeah they’ll definitely be some tracks from both albums, for sure.

100%: I mentioned that I had a bit of a look at your video clips, and I checked out your website last night, and your video clips are all quite amusing and it looks like you guys have a heap of fun; you’ve got a real image of beer drinking, stoner rockers who like a laugh. How close is that to the real you?

It’s close to the twenty-something year old real us. It’s not entirely accurate to the late thirties us, but its close.  The guy who directed the videos, he’s a good friend of ours and we’ve known him for years and years, so he knows our personalities. But he basically just amplifies those for the videos. He’ll say; ‘I know what you guys would do if you were seventeen, and that would be a sick video. We’ll buy a car and smash it up and it’ll be a great video.’ He’s right, so he takes these dreams and fantasies that we had when we were younger and turns them into realities. It’s pretty cool.

100%: So how do you feel about the tag ‘stoner rock’, or ‘stoner metal’?

I don’t really know if it applies to us, but I don’t… those terms mean different things to everybody, so, I don’t really care what people label us, but I wouldn’t use that term myself. I would say we’re just a heavy rock band, and none of us are really stoners, so…

Red Fang 03

100%: Listening to your albums, especially Murder on the Mountains, there’s more of a psychedelic trip going on than anything else, for my ears, you know the guitars swirl around a little bit, rather than any kind of grungy, stoner thing, to my mind anyway.

Well we like all that stuff. I like the grungy sort of thing, and I like the psychedelic thing. We all listen to lots of different types of music so we don’t stick to one particular genre, and we all have slightly different tastes, so we pull from all different sources for inspiration and then we filter it through us and hopefully sound like Red Fang. We definitely get inspiration from all sorts of different music.

100%: From the live clips I’ve seen, and from listening on record, Red Fang are a pretty intense band, there’s a big wall of sound & what you do on stage certainly comes across very powerful and concentrated. Are you more laid back off stage BECAUSE you get that side of you all out while you’re on stage?

Oh for sure, definitely. As you can tell by our video clips, we don’t take ourselves very seriously, but when it comes to the music we take that very seriously. When we’re just playing a live show, which is the purest form of what we do, then we’re having a good time, we can smile and stuff, but it’s not a joke to us. But when it comes to videos… the whole idea of a fucking video is just kinda silly, so I think it’s a disservice to try and take ourselves seriously to try and make some kind of dark video, I don’t want to watch that shit! Videos don’t necessarily have anything to do with the songs and the lyrical content, but they’re plenty more fun to make the way that we do it.

100%: So when you are travelling around on tour, do you like to be a bit of a tourist if you have a day off, or do you prefer to just save your energy for the shows?

Oh yeah, if we have a chance to be a tourist I love it, but we rarely do. Usually when we travel we only get to see… we spend so much time in transit, and we only get to see the area where the venue is, you know? Like, for example, when we went to Moscow, I was so excited, I’d never been to Russia, and all I got to see of Moscow was about three blocks around the club. We just didn’t have time. So I went all the way there and we had an insane show, one of the craziest shows we’ve ever had. That’s the reason we’re there, we’re not there to take pictures and everything, but it’s nice to get out.

100%: I noticed that you toured parts of the former Soviet Union, and Greece as well last year, I was going to ask, how was that experience musically and culturally, but I think you’ve just summed that up pretty well there.

Greece was kind of the same way. It was really insane, enthusiastic fans. They went bonkers. I really dig that kind of show.

Red Fang - John Sherman 02

100%: From what I hear, Soundwave are pretty good and they make sure that all the acts are looked after and there’s a little bit of time off, so if you do get some time off in Australia, what are you looking forward to doing?

I don’t know, I don’t know about any particular attractions that I want to check out, other than you know, I just want to walk around and explore cities, and drinking establishments. That seems to be the best way to make new friends.

100%: Yeah I’ve got to agree with that, having travelled a lot, that’s the way to do it.

You’ve got to get loose and conversational.

100%: Absolutely. So John, if you could go back in time magically and be a part of the making of any one album in history, which one would you choose?

Sheesh! Probably, if it had to be just one, maybe Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti.

100%: Nice. What does that album mean to you?

It’s the most epic, I think, of the Zeppelin albums, and Zeppelin is pretty much my favourite band of all time. John Bonham is definitely my favourite drummer of all time, so I don’t know. It just seems like the most epic album with the best drummer. I would love to be part of that. I don’t know what I’d do. I couldn’t add anything to it.

100%: Just be a fly on the wall, that’s the way. So finally, mate, what for you is the meaning of life?

The meaning of rock?

100%: The meaning of life, but you can give me the meaning of rock too, if you like.

The meaning of life? Shit man, I guess having a good time and being rad to everybody around you. Being happy and trying to keep everyone around you happy.

100%: That’s veering very closely to Spinal Tap drummer saying ‘Have a good time all the time’.

Yeah, he’s got it right, for sure.

100%: Thanks very much for your time, all the best for the tour. We’re looking forward to seeing you when you get down to Perth.

Alright man, we’re looking forward to being there.

100%: Thanks man.

RED FANG tour Australia as part of the mighty Soundwave Festival in February and March, plus play a couple of Sidewaves:

***Australia 2013 dates***

Feb 23      Soundwave Brisbane – RNA showgrounds ***SOLD OUT***

Feb 24      Soundwave Sydney – Olympic Park ***SOLD OUT***

Feb 26      Melbourne – The Palace, with Kyuss Lives and Orange Goblin

Feb 27      Sydney – Metro Theatre, with Kyuss Lives and Orange Goblin

March 01    Soundwave Melbourne – Flemington Racecourse ***SOLD OUT***

March 02    Soundwave Adelaide – Bonython Park ***SOLD OUT***

March 04    Soundwave Perth – Claremont Showground  ***SOLD OUT***

***European Festival dates***

May 31      Madrid , Spain       Auditorio Miguel Rios, Sonisphere Fest

June 01      Barcelona, Spain        Parc del forum, Sonisphere Fest

June 14      Interlaken, Switzerland   Greenfield Festival

June 21      Geneve, Switzerland        Fête De La Musique

June 22      Clisson, France          Hellfest

June 26      Milano, Italy           Solo Macello Festival

June 28      Roitzschjora, Germany   Flugplatz Roitzschjora, Full Force Festival

June 30      Dessel  Belgium           Grasspop Metal Meeting

July  06       Bingen, Germany           Bingener Open Air


Category: Interviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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