Red Fang’s Brian Giles Says You Can’t Write About Teen Angst at Nearly 50
Red Fang guitarist Brian Giles was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program to discuss the band's fifth album, Arrows, which comes out June 4.
The record is the first from the Portland, Oregon-based stoner rock troupe since 2016's Only Ghosts and was finished a while ago, but the release was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Having all that time to essentially sit on the album didn't tempt Giles or anyone else in the band to start tinkering with the finished product, however, as he insisted that it was best to leave things as they were as getting everyone on the same page can sometimes be difficult.
Giles also shed some light on "Why?" which is a cover song from the children's TV show, Fraggle Rock, that was originally created by The Muppets founder Jim Henson.
Read the full interview below.
Red Fang tends to work in a very piecemeal way that sometimes leads to musically unorthodox results. What does that collaborative process reveal about your interaction as people?
Oh, geez. I don't know. I'm not the most social person. I agree that we're definitely a very different personality and maybe that shows through the music. I'm not exactly what you'd call a social butterfly. You're not inviting me to a party.
We're premiering a brand new song called "Why?" What can you tell us about that tune?
That song was basically an Aaron [Beam, bass] song and he presented it to us initially, because we were doing a cover of a Fraggle Rock song for a reboot of Fraggle Rock. They never did make that program [editor's note: the reboot went into filming production in early 2021]. I was a fan as a kid.
We still loved the music and so we decided it deserved more of a life than just the dustbin of could-have-been ideas. It's pretty. Enjoy!
Red Fang, "Why?"
Absurdity is often at the heart of Red Fang, such as "Funeral Coach" on the new album. Why does the odd or unlikely creative inspiration make for better songs?
People get bored of love songs and and there's only so much you can say about teen angst, especially when you're almost 50. I don't think anybody's going to take any advice from us about teenage angst anymore.
If you take a subject matter and then write about it in a way that obscures it, people sort of can come to their own conclusions about what a song is about and probably come up with better lyrics than the ones I come up with.
Red Fang, "Funeral Coach"
The recording timeline for Arrows was dictated by inspiration and ideas rather than a schedule. Why does working in a nonlinear fashion make the process more enjoyable?
We hate schedules. I didn't get in a rock 'n' roll band so that I could check my trapper keeper. You've got to enjoy the freedom of being a flaky musician.
I love the trapper keeper reference!
Arrows was finished a year-and-a-half ago and was then delayed by the pandemic. Suddenly having that unlimited time, how much creative impulse was there to rework what you had?
It's a painful process for us to all agree on [something], even really incidental things within a song — is it an A or an A sharp? It only happens for one tenth of a second — does it matter? And the answer is, yes, it matters to all of us in varying degrees.
Once we can all settle on something, I can just say, "Yeah, that's done." If I've got creative inspiration, I'm not going to waste it rehashing an idea — I'll just come up with a new idea.
Arrows is available in multiple formats and features some pretty creative packaging. What's most important when it comes to presentation being representative of your music?
For me, packaging doesn't matter at all. I'm not a collector. What matters to me is having the music. As formats keep changing, the music is key.
I do have a vinyl collection and I still think that holds up as far as something you can hold in your hand — the size of the artwork is still important. You get the CD, you put it on your computer and then it's a coaster for a little bit. And then it's in the trash. People don't throw vinyl in the trash, do they? They better not.
Thanks to Brian Giles for the interview. Get your copy of 'Arrows' here and follow Red Fang on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.
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