Portland metal-punk scholars Red Fang

Red Fang photo by Tim TronkoeSimply put, Red Fang aren’t here to mess around. It’s no wonder so many fixtures in high rock royalty have taken these Portland natives under their wings – when you take four learned scholars of riffology with a penchant for injecting their unique brand of doom-ridden metal-punk with a dose of good, (mostly) clean fun and put them under the umbrellas of renowned labels like Sargent House and Relapse, heads are bound to turn. Between the band’s no-bullshit attitude towards songwriting and their relentless work ethic, it’s certainly evident that Red Fang are in it for love of the game.

Drummer John Sherman kindly shared with us some details on the band’s third full-length, Whales and Leeches (due out in October via Relapse Records), as well as some thoughts on Portland living and learning from living legends.

Whales and Leeches is actually the title of a Red Fang song that was originally released as early as 2006 (and later in 2009 on your self-titled debut LP) – what prompted you to use that title for the new record?

We have always had a hard time coming up with album titles.  The first album we just gave up and called it Red Fang.  For the second album we went back and forth on dozens of titles that none of us could agree on until someone shouted out something like, “I always liked the title Murder the Mountains”, which was a song we wrote years ago, but never released.  Obviously, that stuck.  So we’ve run into the same problem with this new album.  Hemming and hawing about what to call this fucker and someone says, “Hey, I always thought Whales and Leeches sounded pretty heavy” or something.  “Can we name our 3rd album after a song that was on our first?”  “Fuck it, I don’t see why not!  The song “Houses of the Holy” is not on the album “Houses of the Holy” and if it’s cool with Led Zeppelin, who are we to question?”  So, that’s basically what happened.

Were there any specific new goals, creative or professional, that guided the process of making Whales and Leeches?

Well, the goal that we’ve ALWAYS had is to write songs that WE like and not try and box ourselves into any specific genre or style.  We all have very different tastes and, obviously, there are shared tastes like loud and heavy, but we try to write what feels good and not worry about if it “fits” a certain sound.  One difference this time around was a deadline.  We spent so much time touring over the last few years, that we didn’t have much time to write.  We started writing new riffs and revisiting old ones last Fall and really buckled down in the months between Soundwave tour in Feb and our European tour that started at the end of May.  So we had about 3 months to write and record and we used every second.  There was a lot of writing in the studio and making changes between takes and, as usual, writing lyrics moments before recording them.  Down to the wire!  But I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.