Red Fang
Red Fang
James Rexroad

Hard-Rocking Red Fang's Vulnerability is Scary -- To Them

For a hard-rocking band such as Red Fang, releasing a collection of reworked acoustic tracks can be a challenge. Earlier this year, singer Bryan Giles and guitarist Aaron Beam recorded three acoustic songs in a London studio that bore no resemblance to the group's beefed-up sound. Though supportive of the project, the front man had his doubts over whether he could pull it off.

"It's outside of my comfort zone, but, well, I figured I'd try it," the singer explains. "Acoustic Red Fang? I'm not sure if that's worth any money."

Listening to the tracks, though, Giles realized there was more to the band beyond its hazy blend of psych and stoner rock. Calling the recording "scary," the singer felt an unfamiliar sense of vulnerability in his music.

"Sometimes I hide behind fuzzy guitars, but it was fun because it made me think more about what I was doing," he says. "And no one's complained about it so maybe the fans are secretly hating me, but they haven't said anything on the message boards, so that's good."

Since releasing Whales and Leeches last year, the Portland natives have remained busy, touring the U.S., Canada and Europe. After a few one-off shows, they'll be opening for prog-rock outfit Opeth and In Flames in December, which will introduce Red Fang to a new audience that may not expect to hear their brand of sludge rock.

Over the years, Red Fang have won plaudits for their comedic music videos. Conceptualized by director and longtime collaborator Whitey McConnaughy, the band have done things as random as hanging out in a shower, throwing paper airplanes, eating food in tuxedos and, of course, guzzling beer, which has become an integral part of the band's image.

Though they are known for their good-timey drinking antics, including the game Beer Chug, in which, yes, you virtually knock a few cold ones down on their website, Giles says the group are trying to move beyond that image. "What I wanted was something more addictive, like Boggle, but people seem to like [Beer Chug]," Giles says. "We're trying to get away from the beer-drinking image because we're not a beer-drinking band anymore. We're older guys, and it's funny because people can relate to it, but we don't party 24/7, or at least we try not to . . ."

One of the band's career highlights came when they played The Late Show With David Letterman in January, "the most terrifying thing he'd ever done," Giles says, comparing playing the show to getting on a roller coaster with five loops. When they finished, though, they were ready to do it again. (The show's musical director, Paul Shaffer, watched their rehearsal and gave them notes.)

Red Fang don't have plans to record their next album anytime soon. "I would love to have another album come out next year," Giles says. "If not, that's fine, too. I'd rather put out a record I'm sure I'm happy about instead of getting it done because we have to. We're going to leave it open-ended and see where it goes."

Red Fang plays Day of the Shred, Saturday, November 1 at The Observatory, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana.

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