And it's Monday night in Manchester for Red Fang again. A schedule-stretching five bands took the stage at Moho Live. Of the supporting cast, the phenomenal Black Tusk were especially striking; a fireball of punk energy and savage beardy metal heft. Their brief soundcheck allocation seemed to concoct a mix comprising of the old, reliable Everything Louder Than Everything Else. Red Fang must be pleased as punch at the volume of punters they're dragging off Broken Britain's streets. The club was swarming, and from 'Wires' onwards, they stirred up a reyt drunken hornet's nest. The 'Fang can now tick off this corner of Europe as conquered. Beforehand, I collared super-bearded guitarist David Sullivan and drummer John Sherman for a chinwag. Truly genial fellows, though you'll notice that the more mellow David is occasionally overwhelmed by John's twister of enthusiasm.
BR: I've read a few interviews, and not many people have asked about your lyrics. I don't know if you guys have a massive part in that, but what sort of subjects do you tend to gravitate towards?
John: We're probably the wrong guys for that: the other two guys do most of the lyrics, Dave's written a few.
David: I wrote lyrics for one of the songs on the first recording...
John: But I can think of some of the themes that they're writing about: depression, and... frustration are in there, and then there's just fantasy stuff. Like 'Prehistoric Dog' is about, dogs coming from outer space to destroy the world (laughter) And y'know, 'Hank is Dead' is about Aaron's cat, Hank, who was fuckin' awesome, the best cat ever.
BR: Oh, so it's sort of like an elegy?
John: Yeah, he died right before his first son was born, so once you know that, the lyrics are really obvious.
BR: Your videos are funny and inventive, and they've attracted people to the band. Now, you obviously don't give a shit about people hating you [for this], but what would you think about someone who might think you're an 'internet sensation', or Johnny-come-latelys calculatingly playing up to a beer-swilling persona to get attention?
David: We got lucky.
John: Yeah, there's definitely no calculation to what we do, but what it is for me in a nutshell is that we're very serious about the music, and that comes first. Then the lyrics come second, and then it's 'Oh, let's make a video', and by the time that comes around, we just wanna have fun with the videos. We feel stupid on camera anyway, so we might as well have fun with it, and if draws people to the music, then great!
BR: On something like 'Throw Up' or ,'Into the Eye' you could easily have wandered round a barn with blood on the walls, scowling...
John: Yeah, that's not fun to watch.
BR: Were you ever tempted to 'play it cool'?
David: No, not really, that's not our style. Too many rock and metal bands are all like 'Tough' (he assumes a coiled spring position), macho...
John: There are bands I love, and songs I love and I find out they've made this video, and it's fucking boring; I wish they hadn't made one!
BR: We get sent, and listen to so much music that you could say occupies a similar space to yourself. It's all becoming a blur of fuzzy desert riffs and fantastic cover art. Are you conscious of this, and what do you think helps you stand out from the crowd?
David: Oh...I dunno. Do we stand out?
BR: Well, my theory is that you've got songs, rather than just riffs....
David: Oh yeah, we definitely try to focus on songs...
John: We all used to play in bands that were just about the riffs. And it's hard for us to dumb it down, basically to make a song, to take away some riffs that we think are cool, like “Does that riff really help the song?” We weren't used to thinking about the song, until we tried to start making ourselves think about the song, right? Especially me and Bryan, he was in this band Last of the Juanitas and I was in Shiny Beast, which was all about breaking up song structures, not just 4/4 time signatures...
BR: You've been on the road for quite a while now, and I saw you supporting Mastodon. That was awesome because I'm not sure everyone knew you that well, but by the end of the set everyone was getting into it, jumping around.
John: I think we made some new friends on that tour. It was great for us, and those Mastodon guys are just really friendly, really generous, just really nice dudes. We did a tour with them in the States, and half way through that tour they asked us to come to Europe with them.
BR: Is there any particular moment from your time on the road that you're constantly re-living or having flashbacks about?
David: I can think of one which I'm constantly re-living, which is 'Where's the bathroom?' It's kinda silly, but a lot of times...another one is 'I'm in the van, trying to sleep, we're trying to eat or whatever and I'm up in the loft and can't really see what's going on. Are we at the club, or are we at a gas station, and even if I don't really need to go, I make an effort to go to the bathroom, because I hate being stuck in the van and needing a piss.
John: That's what you relive the whole time? 'Where's the bathroom? I gotta go there, ha ha'.
John: As far as like a fun, fantastic moment, I'm reliving in my mind?
BR: Yes, probably something you'll always remember....
John: For me, the thing that happened within the last year was in March, when we toured with Saint Vitus and we did a Dust cover and Wino sang it with us in our hometown, well, now it's our hometown, in Portland. I'd been a huge Vitus and Wino fan since I was a teenager, so just playing drums, looking at the back of Wino singing, with us onstage, was just something I'll never, ever forget. That's it, that's the pinnacle.
David: That was a good one.
BR: I hear a little bit of (former 80's hellraiser, now reformed W.A.S.P frontman) Blackie Lawless in the vocals on 'Wires'. Is that an accident?
David: That's gotta be an accident! That's Aaron – I think Bryan is the only big W.A.S.P fan. That would be a major shock [to Aaron]!
BR: If the world was to end tomorrow, how would you recommend our readers spend their final hours?
John: Doing whatever the fuck you wanna do!
David: Yeah, have a good time I guess.
John [Now shouting over the first band cranking up in the adjoining room]: Do what you want to do, not what someone else tells you to do!
Posted: Tue 17 April 2012