Few Phoenix Bands Mix Party and Academia Like Red Tank!
There are some extremely intelligent punk bands in the Valley of the Sun. These are bands that have a whole lot more going on in their tunes than a general middle-finger-to-the-establishment affectation. But not many of them are putting as much thought into their lyrics as Clipper "Danger" Arnold and his confederates in Red Tank!.
According to the Arizona State University political science degree-holder, the band drew influence from a wide range of sources for their upcoming album, Bio/Feedback, including bands like Sonic Youth, Japandroids, The Reatards, AJJ, and DESTRUCTION UNIT. But they also found inspiration in the writings of French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, whose works include Anti-Oedipus, A Thousand Plateaus, and Capitalism and Schizophrenia, all of which Arnold says provided insight for the band's new album.
"I've just been really into [Deleuze and Guattari] recently. A lot of the new songs deal with their philosophical contributions and some of their nature imagery. Their work is like poetry. They talk about these philosophical concepts and the ways oppression is reinforced through academia and through narrative structures," Arnold says. "In their writings, they give 100 different examples of what they're talking about, from deconstruction of Noam Chomsky's model of language to the ways in which wasps reproduce, and you get this interesting kind of intersection of these different ideas that I think are really cool."
One song Arnold singled out as having been heavily influenced by the French duo is "Seattle (Elegy of Fractured Personhood)," a track he wrote whilst on Red Tank!'s inaugural last tour up the West Coast. Arnold said that during a day off in Seattle, he found himself alone in a friend's home who was hosting the band for a few days, and that friend had an acoustic guitar laying around, so he decided to try and put together some new material.
"It was a funny story: I finally psyched myself up enough to sit down and play, and the guitar was left-handed. I can't do shit with a left-handed guitar. But that's what lead to part of the song structure, because I could only play a handful of chords to write the song. So that's why that song is so lyrically dense and lyrically driven,” Arnold says. "It's interesting from a songwriting perspective, because if you really need to write music, obstacles like that aren't real obstacles. You can make them work."
The connoisseur of crowdsurfing said what the song is actually about is the spaces and culture that punk music breeds and whether they are better than the "hegemonic" structures they were formed in reaction to. In the track, the band is begging the question of whether or not punk music, the band itself, or even individuals are actively working to create "the best version of themselves" or going in a direction that is going to burn them out.
Red Tank! is so damn interesting because they have so much social and political commentary packed into their tunes, but even with all the heavy messaging it is still totally mosh-worthy to the point that it's almost impossible not to start slam dancing when they strike that first chord every set. Their last record, I Want You To Crowd Surf My Body At My Funeral, was a taste of the raw intensity that Arnold, Sam Russo, Jeff Habgood, and Erik Naranjo bring into the studio. But their upcoming record, Bio/Feedback, is that full-on catharsis and release that every heavy punk band hopes to accomplish in their music.
Red Tank! is scheduled to play Valley Bar on Wednesday, June 22.
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