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Fangs A Lot: An Exclusive Interview With BRYAN GILES Of RED FANG

By Krishta Abruzzini, Pacific Northwest Writer
Thursday, June 3, 2021 @ 8:37 AM

"One of the first reviews I ever saw, this girl wrote about us saying, ĎRED FANG, theyíre older gentlemení. Older gentlemen? Shit, I think we were in our mid-thirties then. My god. What do they think of us now?"

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Live Photos By Krishta Abruzinni Photography
Band Photo Credit: James Rexroad

My editor sends several interview/review opportunities to our fabulous group of writers daily. I gloss over a lot of them, some I take a second look at and contemplate taking, which typically and swiftly gets nabbed by one super-zealous writer that Iím sure has every device he owns hooked up as a red hotline with an alarm to our editorís every opportunity.

It was a calm morning, coffee in hand, music playing in the background when I opened my email and had to do a double take at RED FANG sitting on my desktop in an email from my editor. Iím pretty sure I heard the background music come to a screeching halt just as a record would scratch to an abrupt stop. RED FANG, Yaíll. Itís mother-effin RED FANG.

I immediately got on my own hotline (more of a warm-line compared to Mr. Speedís) to my editor and hoped beyond that Mr. Gusto with the Musto hadnít seen this opportunity yet, because this one is mine. I evidently got there first, because I got confirmed for this one. Suck it my associates, especially Fast Fingered Finnley. I seriously got the most rad assignment that has practically ever been offered to KNAC.COM. RED mother-effin FANG.

I fell madly in love with this band years ago after watching their video for the song, "Wires". Typically Iíll dig a song and then check out the bandís videos, but this was the opposite. The music is heavy and crunchy, laden with that SABBATH-y 70ís vibe that I adore. Their videos are all boy, poking and destroying and blowing shit up. Zero pretensions. Hands down, this is one of my top ten picks of all time best bands ever in the history of all bands.

For the first time in 5-years, on June 4th, 2021, the band is releasing a new studio album titled, Arrows and can be ordered HERE.

Another epic and hilarious video has been released for the title song on the album, "Arrows", which can be seen on KNAC.COM HERE. As a follow up (ďHave we done this before?Ē) to the video "Wires", this one features the boys spending their entire labelís video budget on a Katana Sword, and of course, all the things they can destroy with it. The video was directed by Whitey McConnaugh, best known for making the underdog larping heroes classic, "Prehistoric Dog".

I recently caught up with Bryan Giles for KNAC.COM:

KNAC.COM: I just sent you a picture my friend Sarah posted on Social Media of her introducing her 3-year-old son Luca to RED FANG. (See photo)

GILES: Heís adorable!

KNAC.COM: Living in Portland, let me just get my fan girl out of the way first. You guys are obviously our National Treasure.

GILES: [Laughs]

KNAC.COM: I was on the crew for the PDX Spotlight team when you played the Wonder Ballroom a couple of years ago. I did all the photos, my husband did the video, and we had such a great time with you guys! You were all fantastic to work with! (Check it out HERE).

GILES: Aww. Awesome!

KNAC.COM: You guys are like the ultimate boy band, with the best videos ever. Like, blowing shit up, playing heavy music, drinking PBRs. I guess thatís kind of a weird thing to say it like that, butÖ

GILES: Well, weíre old men, so. [Laughs]

KNAC.COM: Okay, youíre one of the ultimate old men bands. [Laughing]. Iím the same age, so crap.

GILES: One of the first reviews I ever saw, this girl wrote about us saying, ĎRED FANG, theyíre older gentlemení. Older gentlemen? Shit, I think we were in our mid-thirties then. My god. What do they think of us now?

KNAC.COM: You guys have some of the best videos ever. Like just heavy, crunchy music, destroying and blowing shit up. "Wires" started my love affair with you guys and I judge every video from every other band off of that one. Performance, serious videos, girls dancing, the expected, is just, yawn! Now a new familiar video with "Arrows". The Katana Sword is epic. Prehistoric Dog. Who comes up with the ideas?

GILES: The majority of our videos were done by a guy named Whitey McConnaugh. I think we started making videos with him back in 2011, maybe? That was for "Prehistoric Dog". Weíve been chasing that dream for a long time for him to do videos for us. Even when we were in a band called PARTY TIME, John and David and I were just big fans of his work. I donít know if youíve ever seen a video for a band called PANTHER? It is crazy, because the whole video takes place inside a cardboard box. Itís got like a working turntable, itís made out of cardboard, a dog and a cellphone. Whitey made all of these things, and itís so great. He makes such great videos happen on a shoestring budget. Even back then, weíre like, ĎOh my God, it would be so amazing if he would make a video for us.í

KNAC.COM: Well, like a dog, I donít know him, but I love him. Haha.

GILES: Heís a very interesting guy. He called us up and was like, ďIíve got an idea for a video,Ē and we talked about his treatment for the "Prehistoric Dog" video, and we were like, ďThis is just amazing.Ē He pulled it off.

KNAC.COM: Thatís the one with the larpers? [Laughing]

GILES: Yeah. It was only 3-days of shooting and he got a special effects guy, I mean, he pulled this thing together and it looks fantastic. After that video, we werenít sure where we were going. What our future was. We didnít have any touring planned. Aaronís son was on the way, and we were just kind of like, maybe weíll just stop and then that video came out and it created enough attention that we started getting offers for tours and shows and that kind of thing. The videos are really a fun part of being in the band and theyíre also pretty important to remind people that we are still a band.

KNAC.COM: So June 4th is the dropping, Iím not sure why they call it that, of your new full-album release, Arrows.

GILES: Yeah, itís called dropping so you can pick it up. Someone dropped it, so you can pick it up.

KNAC.COM: Great. Now I feel like a grandma asking questions. [Laughing]. Like someone young telling me something is fire. Okay.

GILES: Hey man, all I know is LOL. BRB. Iím hip. [Laughing]

KNAC.COM: Itís been 5-years. The fans are pretty excited about the new release. [Raises hand]

GILES: We were supposed to release this last year in May, and then the quarantine started and it wasnít immediately obvious, but as the weeks crept on it became more clear that there would be no touring. People who know more about the music business than I do say itís kind of suicide to release an album without any tour support. Beyond that, the world was thinking about hoarding toilet paper, they werenít thinking about getting records. So it made sense to hold off. Here we are a year later finally able to release it, which Iím very excited about. Still, we donít have any tour plans until October. So here we are a year later, still not able to tour, but I think that weíre turning the corner with the pandemic. I think there are rays of sunshine in everyoneís life, hopefully our record can be one of those rays of sunshine.

KNAC.COM: I love that. Speaking of rays of sunshine, in your writing process, do you guys take from life experiences, are there deep meanings in the lyrics, or is it more the audible side of it just sounding cool?

GILES: It varies. There are some songs that have too much damned meaning. [Laughing]. Obviously songs like "Prehistoric Dog" is about a dog from space, shredding your face. Címon, you donít have to read too deeply for that one. There are some though that have so much, to the point that I donít even talk about some of the songs. It kind of runs the gambit. I personally kind of cull, not necessarily from personal experience, but my angst well, and itís not so literal. If I have a vague something to yell about, I sort of come up with words and sounds that do sound good together, but also express what Iím feeling. Lyrically, I write more of the abstract. The beauty about lyrics and one of the reasons Iíve never been a fan of lyric sheets, is that for one, I think that people mishear lyrics and come up with better lyrics than you have. People think that weíre saying something mega awesome, and weíre talking about doing laundry or something. The fan has a role to play. Music means something different to everybody. To some people, it means, turn this radio off.

KNAC.COM: You guys used Chris Funk again as producer for this.

GILES: Yeah. Our last record we recorded down in Venice Beach and it was a really cool experience. We got to live at Ross Robinsonís (KORN/LIMP BIZKIT) house. We were just really in it for 5-weeks. It was wake up, have coffee and start recording. It was really immersive. It was a cool experience, but as we get older, itís hard to just drop everything and move to another city and do that. We get along with Chris really well and I was happy with the first records, and he was available, so yeah, I guess the short answer is yes, the obvious choice.

KNAC.COM: Does the California sunshine kind of change the mood of your songs?

GILES: That was funny. He created this little soundproof box in his basement and he lives right on the beach. The box was really hot. So we were in there with our swim trunks and flip flops sweating like crazy, in this intense dark room, gritting our teeth, because capturing what you want, to where everyone is happy is stressful. Itís a fun kind of stress, because you know where youíre going with it or you know youíre going to get there. But then weíd take breaks and weíd go outside and thereís people going down the strand with cotton candy and inline skates. Itís like, what is happening? You go from your torture box to the opening of Threeís Company. The lighthearted vibe of a day off being right outside the door really didnít have too much of an impact, except to remind us we were in a box.

KNAC.COM: You guys incorporated a hurdi gurdi for a song? Why? Whoís playing it and how did you acquire one? Iím hoping thereís a story behind this.

GILES: Honestly, I donít remember who actually did that. Chris Funk was actually the one who showed me how one of those things works, and I was like, that is amazing. Itís like The City of Lost Children or something. Itís such a creepy, antiquated, like black magic instrument. I love it. I think he and David were the oneís playing it. I donít think I ever put my hands on it. I didnít want to get a curse or something.

KNAC.COM: Itís the haunted hurdi gurdi.

GILES: You never know. If youíve ever heard one of those things go...yeah.

KNAC.COM: You played the trumpet when you were younger. Have you ever thought about somehow incorporating a horn section? I mean, if thereís a hurdi gurdiÖ

GILES: Well, we have strings on this new record. I have recorded a free association trumpet thing on a record a billion years ago. I love the trumpet. That thing is great. Horns. Thereís definitely a place for them, but you can fuck up pretty good. Some bands can knock it out of the park. Bands like ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT, their horn section is on point and it really adds to the songs. Their first record, Paint As A Fragrance, I didnít even realize for the first year, that there was a horn section. It just really beefed up the chorus and made a much bigger sound. With the strings on our new record, I mean, I donít want to do some adult contemporary thing, but it didnít turn out like that at all. I think itís really additive. The two gals that did the string arrangements, they really approached it seriously, and itís drama. I love drama. I mean, not in my personal life, butÖ

KNAC.COM: What is a day like for you guys? Are there day jobs? Is it possible to earn that big paycheck from your label Relapse, enough to pay the overdue electric bill? [Laughs]

GILES: If weíre touring, it is our job. Mainly because we just donít have the time to have a regular job. I rode the fence. I was working as a bartender for the first 5-years we were a band, and then there was a tipping point where we booked so many tours in a row, it was like, alright, this is just a total asshole move asking somebody to cover my shifts for 3 Ĺ months and expect to have my shifts back after. You just donít ask somebody to do that and realistically think youíre coming back. I guess that was 2011. Like I said, if weíre not touring, it does not generate enough to live on. Iím on the dole still, for better or worse. Johnís been doing construction, Aaron is doing stop animation with the local movie studio, so, you know, hopefully we can all quit those jobs soon.

KNAC.COM: Weíre all kind of floating through this thing. Iím grateful that we have some support at least for the gig economy, or so many of us would be in big trouble.

GILES: Yeah, I hear ya.

KNAC.COM: Okay. I have a soft bet going. My husband says I should mention his beloved amp, which is a 1976 Marshall JMP 50 watt. He says I should mention it to you because itís just effing cool, I have no clue about it, but heís betting you guys may use Orange or vintage Marshall amps. I told him it may be something altogether different. I like to be right, soÖ

GILES: We use Sunn Beta Lead and Beta Bass amps.

KNAC.COM: So Iím right.

GILES: Yeah, well, exclusively live anyway. In the studio, weíve used the Orange Tiny Terror before. We used the Orange Thunderverb, which is an amp which is too fancy to tour with. In the studio we use Orange, and use Orange cabinets on tour. As far as what heads we use on tour, I mean sometimes itís a fly-in and itís not realistic to bring our heads, but the nice thing about them is that they fit in the overhead compartment. Kind of a pain-in- the-butt to lug around airports, but itís worth it. I would say 95% of the time Iím playing a Sunn. You know, weíre just not gear obsessed people. The whole reason I started playing a Sunn was because I had always played a Fender Bassman 50. We started PARTY TIME and it became clear immediately that a 50 watt Bassman is not loud enough to play with John because he has big drums and he plays them like they owe him money. So I canít hear myself. Iíd turn every knob all the way up, and I still couldn't hear myself. When we started RED FANG, Aaron was already a collector of Sunns. He already had 3-4 of those heads, so it started out as convenience. He used my old Traynor cabinet and I used his Marshall cabinet, and we just kind of divvied up the equipment we had amongst each other to put it together, and it was mostly just so we could be loud enough. After a while, and doing some recording, we realized we liked bass and guitars all using basically the same amp. They have distinct sounds certainly, and the way we play is distinct, but itís nice to have that homogeneity. Itís like the cream cheese spread of distortion. Itís very pleasant. For me, I think it really works. Unifying things sonically.

KNAC.COM: Do you have a favorite song from your catalogue with RED FANG?

GILES: I think maybe "Humans Remain Human Remains" is still one of my favorites. We still drag it out every once in a while.

KNAC.COM: Thatís a good one. Hey, thanks Bryan for your time today. I love you guys and hope to see you out there very soon!

Be sure to check out RED FANGís official website: https://www.redfang.net/

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