Nathan Percy

Interview: Aaron Beam of Red Fang

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SoCalMusicToday.com recently caught up with Aaron Beam of Red Fang to talk about the band landing on the Mayhem Fest lineup, the band’s formation and new album Murder the Mountain, crazy tour stories from Europe and his recent unsuccessful attempt to get free stuff at the Jim Beam factory in Tennessee because of his last name (pre-interview). Make sure you catch them at the Mayhem Fest all summer long and check out the new record, out now.

It’s the first day of the Mayhem Festival, you guys have already performed on the side stages, what did you think of the crowd here on opening day?

We were excited to see that there are some people out there who have heard us before, I saw some Red Fang shirts out there. We didn’t know what to expect, we’re the odd band out, stylistically from what the other bands are doing, so yeah people were responding and there was a pit going on out there, but we’re not the style of people who are going to try to incite people on the microphone. We just play the songs and we’re pretty awkward, really, but people were getting into it without all that, so we were pretty excited.

How do you feel about some of the other bands you’re going to be touring with?

Well, I saw Straight Line Stitch and All Shall Perish, I do want to see Unearth since we’re going to be sharing a bus with those guys, they’re awesome dudes and I’ve never seen them live so I’m excited for that. All the bands here are very impressive.

I’ll try to make this as short as possible so you can head out to see them, but you’re on tour for a month and a half, when they chose you to come on board for this festival, what was going through your mind?

We were all kind of like, “Seriously?” I think some other people responded the same way because we’re pretty much an unknown band, although not completely unknown because our videos have done a lot to help get our name out there and the new record coming out on Relapse (Records), but when it was announced, it was before the record came out so there wasn’t as much name recognition, but our manager and booking agent were all about it and they’ve had bands on it every year, we had friends that have done it before and they’ve all said it’s awesome, you’ve got to do it. So at first it was, not that it wouldn’t be an awesome tour to be on, but does it make sense for us to do it, will it be weird or too strange, but everyone assured us it’s great, so we’re happy to be on board.

Hopefully this will promote the new album, it’s called Murder the Mountain, it’s your first album on Relapse, talk about the album.

We’re really happy with it, the first album wasn’t really a complete session, it was three different ones that we glued together into a full length, so this is the first record we recorded as a whole and we recorded way more songs than we needed that way we could pick and choose the songs that worked the best as a complete record. There were other songs that didn’t make the cut because they didn’t fit the sequence, but we feel they’re still great songs. We made a conscious decision to record more material than we needed so we could create the best possible album and the other thing that was different and more satisfying about this album is that it was more collaborative as far as the song writing, we all contributed a lot more toward each individual song and then there was also more input from our producer, who laid some other things on it, so we had the ultimate say on what went on it and it was nice to have those options.

Talk about the band itself, you formed in 2005, but I believe you all have played in previous bands before, how did you all join up to make Red Fang?

The way that Red Fang formed was essentially, that all our bands had broken up and all of us had known each other for years even from before that, we’ve known each other from music. David, John and I just started jamming in the basement and it was fun, but we weren’t really focusing it into songs and Brian had moved down to San Diego and we had convinced him to move back up to Oregon and he had a bunch of songs that he had written, so we formed the band around his songs, and that’s what I was talking about when I said the new record is more collaborative. A lot of the songs on the first record, he had already written, we just learned them and went. All three of us other guys had played in a band called Party Time before. That was the last band they had that broke up then Brian moved and blah blah blah, but then Red Fang formed as the next project.

So from the basement to Mayhem Fest now, you’re going to get to expose yourself to thousands upon thousands of fans, that means you have to feel like you’re getting somewhere, right?

Yeah, it seems that things are working out pretty well, we also came back from a tour in Europe which was a first for everyone except John was the only one who had ever toured in Europe at all, so it wasn’t just a first for the band, and Brian and I had never toured over there, it was way beyond our expectations. We played a festival over there called Hell Fest, it was probably around 5,000 people crammed in there to watch us which is by far the most we’ve played for and that was incredible.

Was it a little nerve wrecking beforehand?

It wasn’t really, partly because we actually had to drive overnight to get to that show from a show the previous night and we were all just out of our minds from exhaustion, we had a 12:30 p.m. Time, yeah, I was just focused on playing. I did take a nap on a concrete floor and used my shoe as a pillow afterwards…it wasn’t a very good mat and then immediately afterwards, got incredibly drunk and incredibly high, some guy the night before had brought us these beers at a show in Belgium, they were in 10-ounce cans and they were 12 percent alcohol…they were HORRIBLE, but I pounded two of those, drank another beer and then we also had the worst whiskey in the world in Europe, we had some leftover whiskey and terrible tequila and we were just thinking Let’s get rid of this stuff, into my mouth! Then we watched the band after us and then smoked part of a joint and passed out on my shoe. Stay away from the tequila in Europe, I didn’t feel so good afterward, but luckily there was some very good catering.

Who are you looking forward to seeing on tour?

Well, we want to see Unearth, definitely Trivium because I’ve liked them for a while and we share a booking agent with them, I’d like to see In Flames, they’re legendary amongst death metal bands, so I’m excited to see them. I’ve been around for a while, so I’d live to see Testament and Megadeth, it’s going to be awesome.

Finally, those who haven’t seen you or heard you guys before, what can they expect from your live shows?

Well if you’ve heard our recordings, hopefully you like them, it’s a lot more raw live. Somebody right after we played said something that was the exact right decision and I said I was going to write that down in my brain so I can remember for a later time because people always ask, but unfortunately I forgot it. It’s not raspy, but it’s just a lot more intense and present live than it is on the recordings, there are a lot of layers of extra shit on the record and the guitar isn’t like an assault, there’s one huge guitar sound basically because we all use the same hits.

Well it looks like fans were digging your stuff, you had a good mosh pit going and if all continues this could be a very good tour for you.

Yeah definitely, we’re still working on the set list because it’s only 30 minutes, so we’re going to figure out what songs will work best with the time frame, we have a lot of fast songs, but we started with slower stuff, so we’ll see what happens.

Well, if all goes well, maybe word will get out and maybe that Jim Beam factory will let you slide next time, have fun on tour and thanks for talking to us.

(Laughs) Hopefully, thanks for the time.

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