“So, you guys have been a band forever: You must get on each other’s nerves sometimes, right?”
They reply with a series of scenes familiar to anyone who has been on tour: limited personal space, messy equipment, peeing in the van, and killing time by browsing adorable pictures of piglets.
Well, okay, maybe that last part is uniquely Red Fang.
The Portland-based “stoner metal” band have been together for 12 years, and while they’ve seen a fair share of shenanigans on the road, the band’s actual tour rituals are a bit more sincere.
“Every show we make a point to all look each other in the eye and shake hands as a way of re-centering ourselves before we start the show,” says bassist and vocalist Aaron Beam. “It’s an important moment to remind ourselves that we are up there for each other.”
That kind of camaraderie is crucial for a band that has spent nearly a year on the road since the October 2016 release of the quartet’s fourth album, Only Ghosts. They spent the summer overseas, and will be doing a short jaunt down the West Coast this month, stopping in Phoenix at Crescent Ballroom on October 26.
While recording Only Ghosts, it took Beam some time to shake his live show habits — and get comfortable tracking with headphones on. “It’s a very different experience than playing live and can be pretty disorienting,” he says.
The band worked with legendary producer Ross Robinson, who has collaborated with hard rock icons like Korn, Deftones, Slipknot, At the Drive-In, The Blood Brothers, and Fear Factory.
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As accomplished as they are, Red Fang felt up to the challenge of working with someone with such an impressive resume.
“I think our main goal was really just to be true to who we were in that musical moment of the band’s life and to try to challenge ourselves more with the writing and recording process,” Beam says.
That openness to creative ideas is obvious in the band’s hilarious music videos, which have become a hallmark of Red Fang. Pulling in millions of views each, they feature everything from blowing through a $5,000 video budget to a terrifying beerpocalpyse, where they have to save their precious Pabst Blue Ribbon from zombies alongside Portlandia star Fred Armisen.
Although these videos feature some wild story lines, it’s clear that the Red Fang you see in them is the Red Fang you get. Gruff and grizzled and riffs unflinching, they don’t add too much spectacle to their live performances.
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“We’ve always been a meat-and-potatoes kind of band. Well, maybe more like wild rice and salmon since we’re from the Pacific Northwest,” Beam jokes.
“We don’t really mess about with theatrics. We want the focus to be on the music and not on our hairstyles or clothes or whatever,” he says.
“There is a place for that in the music and entertainment world, to be sure, but it’s just not in our band.”
Red Fang play Crescent Ballroom on Thursday, October 26, with Fireball Ministry and All Souls. Tickets are $20 at Ticketfly.