We caught up with Portland, Oregon-based band Red Fang, fronted by Aaron Beam (bass/vocals/guitar/keyboards), Bryan Giles (guitar/vocals), John Sherman (drums) and David Sullivan (guitars). Over the course of their 16-year career the band has released four studio albums (Red Fang (2009), Murder the Mountains (2011), Whales and Leeches (2013), and Only Ghosts (2016), joined Fred Armisen in an epic battle against invading zombie hordes, in addition to creating unforgettable music videos.
We sat down with Aaron following the release of their new album ARROWS. An album he feels has enabled the artist to be less self critical while writing and recording the album. Freed up to let the production process happen more organically than they are used to, instead of trying to control each and every aspect. He explains that the inspiration behind their music is very much a focus on a compulsion to express themselves.
Describing their music as grunge style, what makes their sound stand out according to RED FANG is the combination of influences each of the 4 artists bring to the song writing table. Offering the songs they produce a far more depth and layer that their fans can really engage with.
For Aaron specifically, his favourite record on their latest album is the song Arrows. “I really labored over that one for a long time in the woodshed, and it took a moment of 4am inspiration to finally knock it into shape, and I did so in a manic fit of home demoing, and I love the way it turned out!”
Seeking to provide their listeners with music that lyrically gravitate towards darker led subjects Explaining that in one way it is an attempt to purge some personal demons. This being said, Aaron points to the band being generally lighthearted who love comedy and “dumb shit”. Ultimately, with a focus on conveying the complexity of the human experience.
Opening up about mental health; anxiety and depression, Aaron references his analogy of wearing glasses. Highlighting that he does not feel anyone thinks there’s anything weird or sensitive about someone who wears glasses (ie. “oh, he must have trouble seeing, so he wears glasses to see better)”. “I guess I hope people’s brains could be changed so that statement feels the same as “my friend has such-and-such mental health issues, so she is doing this particular treatment to manage it.” no big deal.”
He explains that his personal experience with depression started around the age of 16 or 17 with a lot of really dark feelings about not mattering to the world and nobody caring about the artist at that stage of his life. “I was never suicidal, I just withdrew from society. I suffered from pretty serious bouts of depression through maybe my early 30s?” Going through cycles of things being fine and then feeling paralyzed and incapable of participating in the world. He explains that whilst he still gets down sometimes, he has found time to be his greatest healer!
The band have a noticeable social media following, and Aaron explains how very early on, he was super diligent about maintaining their myspace band page. “I think utilizing myspace to make our music available to anyone with an internet connection, and then actually replying to people was pretty danged important”. This being said, finding people in the music industry that were a kin to the music they were producing was critical. Aaron explaining that he only wanted to work in a collaborative band setting. His advice is to not just try get into the music industry. But instead to focus on loving what you do, and if you continue this path, you will end up in the right place. To let it happen organically!#watchthisspace