Red Fang

Tuesday, November 2, 2021 — 7:30 pm

Red Fang
Black Cat
1811 14th st nw Washington, DC 20009

Ticket Information

General Admission

General Admission
Price: $25.00
Fee: $5.50
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Event Description

Red Fang

Starcrawler

Warsish

Doors open at 7:30

 

RED FANG

“I like the idea of the record starting in a way that doesn’t make any sense at all for a
Red Fang record.”

That’s vocalist/bassist Aaron Beam talking about “Take It Back,” the opening
track—or “sintro,” part song, part intro—of Red Fang’s fifth album, Arrows.

“It reminds me of a time before people listened to music digitally—and they listened
to full albums,” drummer John Sherman adds. “There were often cool, spooky
intros—like fuckin’ Dio albums and shit. There are some weird sounds at the
beginning to get you in the mood before it blasts off.”

And blast off it does. After the woozy opening salvo of “Take It Back,” Arrows
launches into a super-rock trifecta of what Red Fang does best—from Melvins-esque
power dirge “Unreal Estate” into the anthemic title track into up-tempo banger “My
Disaster.”

Yeah, it’s been nearly five years since 2016’s Only Ghosts, but your favorite
beer-crushing, zombie-killing, air-guitar-contest-judging metal heroes are back in
action, doing what they do best—AND MORE. “This record feels more like Murder
The Mountains to me than any record we’ve done before or since,” Beam ventures. “It
doesn’t sound like that record, but Murder The Mountains was us doing whatever the
fuck we wanted, and that’s what this is, too.”

“We’re definitely exploring new territory,” says guitarist/vocalist Bryan Giles. “And
I’m very happy about that. I wouldn’t wanna be in this band if we kept doing the
same thing over and over again.”

Arrows was recorded at Halfling Studios in the band’s hometown of Portland, OR,
with longtime collaborator Chris Funk, who produced Murder The Mountains and
2013’s Whales and Leeches. “Chris is a major influencer as far as the weird ambient
stuff in between the songs and the creepy incidental noises within the songs,” Giles
points out. “I think he definitely creates an added layer of atmosphere that we
wouldn’t have otherwise.”

In an effort to compound said atmosphere, Sherman recorded some of his drum
parts at the bottom of a pool. Luckily, it was empty. “It’s actually a kick-ass skate
pool,” the drummer explains. “It was designed by Lance Mountain, if I’ve got my facts
straight. As soon as we decided to record there, I knew I would end up in the pool at
some point.”

“The pool was a big part of the record,” Giles confirms. “The drums sound so
huge—it’s crazy. But I was terrified of the pool because there was no railing. Every
time I walked by, I was afraid of falling into it. So it was a love/hate relationship with
the pool for me.”

The title Arrows was chosen through Red Fang’s patented and labor-intensive
selection process. “Of all the titles that got thrown around, that was the one
everyone hated the least,” Sherman explains. “Which is the case with every record,
pretty much.”

“It’s actually the same way we decided on the band name,” Beam chimes in. “It was
the only one where someone wasn’t like, ‘NO!’”

Arrows has the added bonus of a proper title track, which is new territory for the
dudes. “This is the first time we’ve named an album after a song that’s actually on
the album,” Beam explains. “We have other albums that are named after songs of
ours that are not on those albums. So this time we’re really fucking with you because
we didn’t fuck with you.”

It just so happens that the title track is also the lead single for the album—the
general public’s first taste of fresh Fang. “There’s some songs that are pretty clearly
Red Fang on this album, and others that maybe go a little further outside of what
we’ve normally done,” Beam explains. “‘Prehistoric Dog’ was clearly the song to pick
for the first single from the first record. ‘Wires’ was clearly the song to pick from the
second record. I’m not sure there was a clear frontrunner on this album, which could
be taken to mean that either all of the songs are kind of mediocre at best or there are
quite a few that could qualify as the lead single. So it came down to the ones that the
dudes who are making the videos liked best.”

Which brings us to director Rob McConnaughy, who created the pants-pissing clips
for “Prehistoric Dog,” “Wires” and many other Red Fang hits. “His way of presenting
us really works,” guitarist David Sullivan says. “That first video he did for us for
‘Prehistoric Dog’ gave us a big jumpstart as far as the band getting popular. And we
love working with him.”

Over the years, McConnaughy has helped showcase an aspect of Red Fang that most
metal and hard rock bands shy away from: Humor. “It suits our personalities,” Giles
points out. “I mean, I don’t wanna fight people, you know? If I look like I’m flexing,
they’ll be like, ‘Oh, I can take him.’ But if we’re making a joke, maybe someone will
wanna tell me a joke—or buy me a beer.”

“If you were to have dinner with the band, it would be closer to one of our videos
than, like, us walking in slow-mo through the fog with a goat’s head,” he adds. “I
mean, no one’s gonna believe that shit.”

Similarly, fans might not believe what the song “Arrows” is partially about. “If you’re
confused by some of the lyrics to that song, that makes sense,” Beam explains. “But
it makes reference to meditation. I started meditating six years ago, but I can only do
it when I’m not feeling too anxious. So, when I don’t need it, that’s when I can do it.”

Elsewhere, “Fonzi Scheme” was named after legendary Happy Days cool guy Arthur
Fonzarelli—if only because it’s in the key of his famous catchphrase, “Aaay.” Producer
Chris Funk came up with the idea of bringing in string players from the Portland
Cello Project to class up the track. “I would say laziness drove that decision,” Beam
deadpans. “We didn’t want to come up with any guitar melodies, so we hired
someone else to do it for us.”

Meanwhile, the opening riff of closer “Funeral Coach” was written 12 years ago. But
it took until recently for the song to blossom into its full double-entendre glory. “I
was driving around and I saw a hearse that said ‘funeral coach services’ on the back,”
Beam explains. “So the first thing that popped into my head was a dude with a
headset and a clipboard going, ‘Alright, dudes—more tears! Five minutes in is when
the tears are critical, or no one’s gonna believe that anyone cares that this person
died.’”

In a nod to tradition, Arrows will be available in formats that include all the drums,
bass, guitars and vocals. But it could’ve gone another way. “Our original idea was to
release the album with no vocals or guitar solos,” Beam explains. “If you want the
guitar solos, it’s an extra five bucks. If you want the vocals, it’s an extra ten bucks. So
basically people should feel lucky that we didn’t do that. You get to buy the whole
thing all together.”

Red Fang think of it as a generous display of gratitude toward their fans. “Yeah,” says
Sherman, “Thank you for buying our album, you lucky bastards.”

 

STARCRAWLER

Born on the streets of Los Angeles, Starcrawler is a band possessed by the spirit of its own hometown, every movement charged with a manic electricity. Since forming in 2015, vocalist Arrow de Wilde, guitarist/vocalist Henri Cash, bassist Tim Franco, and drummer Austin Smith have gone from bashing out songs in the garage to winning the love of such legendary artists as Shirley Manson and Elton John. They’ve also opened for the likes of Beck, Foo Fighters, Spoon, The Distillers, and MC5, bringing their unhinged energy to an already-fabled live show — a spectacle that’s simultaneously lurid and glorious and elegant as ballet. On their sophomore full-length Devour You, Starcrawler captures that dynamic with a whole new precision, revealing their rare ability to find a fragile beauty in even the greatest chaos.

 

 

Produced by Nick Launay (Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, L7), Devour You takes the feral intensity of their 2018 self-titled debut and twists it into something grander and more gracefully composed. With its more elaborate and nuanced yet harder-hitting sonic palette, the album came to life at the famed Sunset Sound, where the band spent their downtime playing H-O-R-S-E at the basketball hoop and drinking lots of Mexican Cokes. Adorned with so many unexpected flourishes — choir-like backing vocals from a local Girl Scouts troop, tuba and trombone riffs courtesy of Cash (the band’s 18-year-old musical polymath) — the result is a selection of songs radiating both raw sensitivity and untamable power.

Heavy and swinging and brutally catchy, “Bet My Brains” shows the psychic kinship at the heart of Starcrawler’s songwriting. “That song came from thinking about the mole people in New York and Vegas and the Catacombs in France, and the underground village of people who live in the sewers of the L.A. River,” says de Wilde. “I was fascinated with the fact that there’s whole other world happening right under our feet.” Cash adds: “Arrow and I hadn’t even talked about it yet, but I’d already written something about the same thing — about how these people’s eyes adapt to pitch-blackness, and they end up going crazy from never seeing the sunlight.”

Elsewhere on Devour You, Starcrawler drifts from the dreamy piano lilt of “No More Pennies” to the rock-and-roll disco of “You Dig Yours” to the pure punk vitriol of “Toy Teenager” (a song about de Wilde’s refusal to be abused the fashion industry, and about how “people look at my body and just want to put me on a platter”). And on “Born Asleep” the band lets their love for country music shine, slipping into a modern-day murder ballad spiked with pieces of hazy poetry (sample lyric: “I remember when you cut your lip, sippin’ on a soda can/And the time when you fell and tripped, screaming at the ice cream man”).

All throughout the album, Starcrawler taps into the kinetic chemistry they discovered soon after forming — a process Smith describes as a “slow-burning candle of finding the right people to play with.” In assembling the band, de Wilde first contacted Smith after seeing a Facebook photo of him playing drums (“I hit him up and he came to my birthday party, and then he turned out to be a really good drummer,” she recalls. “Right away it was like, ‘Jackpot!’”) In searching for a guitarist, de Wilde next approached Cash, a fellow student at her performing-arts high school in downtown L.A. “I saw him one day and thought, ‘That guy looks cool,’” she says. “‘He’s carrying a tuba, he’s got long hair, I’ve seen him wearing Cramps T-shirts: he’s gotta know at least something on guitar.’” But while Cash has since emerged as a monster guitarist, her instincts were only partly right. “When I was younger I didn’t want to play guitar, I wanted to play the drums because my dad played guitar — although sometimes I’d take a broomstick and jam along to AC/DC live footage,” says Cash. “It wasn’t until Arrow hit me up that I realized it was meant to be.”

Starcrawler then finalized their lineup with the addition of Franco — an old friend whom de Wilde reached out to after a moment of strange serendipity (“I was in the car with my mom and stressing out about finding the right bass player, and then Tim and his brother turned out to be on their bikes right in front of us,” she says). With their early band practices mostly consisting of Runaways covers, the band quickly bonded over a shared love for L.A.’s most unglamorous spaces. “I’ve been obsessed with Hollywood Boulevard ever since I was little,” notes de Wilde. “People travel so far and spend so much money to see it ’cause it makes them think of Marilyn Monroe — when in reality it’s so disgusting, which is why I love it. But really a lot of the L.A. that I grew up with and reminisce about is kind of fading now.”

As an antidote to the toxic mildness overtaking so much of the city, Starcrawler’s live show has only become more outrageous over the years, an element strengthened by their increasingly telepathic connection. “We all know each other in a much deeper way now,” says Smith. “Like, Arrow knows exactly when I’m going to hit the crash cymbals, so she moves to match up with that. It’s completely changed how we play together.” Prone to spitting fake blood and slapping phones from the hands of crowd members, de Wilde has proven to be a once-in-a-lifetime performer, captivating enough to command a room with just the widening of her eyes. “We want to put on a real show and give people some kind of escape from all the shit going on in the world,” she says. “And with the album, I want people to put it on and feel excited, and hopefully get goosebumps. I always want there to be a dramatic response.”

 

WARISH

With a name like Warish, the San Diego noisy punk-metal trio assured listeners they were in for a maniacal bludgeoning from the get-go. But the band has never been as dark and bitingly vicious as the wholly ominous Next To Pay. The band’s mix of early AmRep skronk, dark horror rock and budget doom antipathy is taken to a whole new level on this 13-song invective. “‘Next To Pay’ is about a sense of imminent doom, everyone is going to die,” vocalist/guitarist Riley Hawk says. “It’s not the happiest record, I guess.” To say the least. On the title track opener, Hawk screams through shredded vocal chords with the tuneful rage of Kill ‘Em All era James Hetfield and the seething desperation of Kurt Cobain. “This album is more of an evolution, it’s a little more punk-heavy,” Hawk says of the group quickly founded in 2018. “We figured out what our sound was.” And with that evolution comes a change in the lineup. Original drummer Nick (Broose) McDonnell plays on about half of the songs, while new drummer Justin de la Vega brings an even tighter urgency to the remaining, more recent tracks. Bassist Alex Bassaj joined after the debut album was recorded and here showcases muscular and melodic low end previously missing. Riley Hawk is also the pro-skater son of Tony Hawk. Inspired by early-Nirvana, The Misfits, The Spits and Master of Reality-era Black Sabbath, Next To Pay keeps things heavy and pummeling at all times. The guitars are heavy and powerful, though decidedly not straightforward cookie cutter punk; more like Greg Ginn’s and Buzz Osbourne’s wiry contortions, and occasionally drenched in chorus effects. The rhythms bash right through it all with aggressive force ensuring that nothing gets overly complicated. Warish’s cover of 80s Dischord Records punks Gray Matter turns the emotive flail of “Burn No Bridges” into a Motorhead style basher. Next To Pay will be available on LP, CD and download on April 30th, 2021 via RidingEasy Records.