Have you ever heard a band and thought to yourself, “Man, these guys should have way more fans. Why on earth aren’t they getting more exposure?” Of course you have. One of the bands that I have felt fell into that category is Red Fang. Part stoner rock, part grunge, pure metal; Red Fang has a sound that is immediately recognizable. As I’ve followed the band over the years, I’ve seen a nice evolution. The sound is still raw, but the structures have become much more polished. The pieces now seem to fit and I personally feel that the time is now for Red Fang. Armed with their new release Whales and Leeches, Red Fang is poised to take things to the next level.
Listen to the entire John Sherman interview below:
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Today, I’m joined by John Sherman. John is the lovely drummer for Red Fang.
Ah, lovely. (laughter)
First off, thanks for joining me today and welcome to the Unsung Melody family.
Yeah man. Happy to be here.
Let’s get started, I know you’re a busy guy today. You guys have had a huge summer so far. You’ve played some great festivals, seemingly all over the world. One festival I want to ask about is Download. I’ve seen it on television and it looks like the whole damn country is there. Was it as crazy as it appears?
Uhhhh, yeah. It was pretty crazy. That one was, we played a lot of festivals this summer. Some of them big, some small, but that was definitely one of the more intense, crazy ones for a band like us. You’d look around backstage and you’d be like, “Oh man, I’m pretty sure that’s the singer for Rammstein, but he’s not all covered in soot and blood. He just looks normal. Weird.” So, that’s fun.
You guys have been finishing things up on a new album recently. It’s titled Whales and Leeches and that was also a song title, on an independent release, I believe. what’s the connection there?
Well, we’re just not very creative I guess. (laughter) No. We always liked that title and it’s on our first album as a song. When we named the last album, Murder The Mountains, when we couldn’t think of a title, someone blurted out Murder The Mountains and that was the title of an even older song than our first record. A song that has never seen the light of day. So, we were like, let’s just keep with the tradition when we couldn’t think of a title for this record. So, let’s just name it after an old song. So, Whales and Leeches it is. You know, it sounds heavy. It sounds weird and I think, if I can come up with a better answer for that question, I’m going to before too long, but I also the idea that people can draw their own conclusions of whatever the hell they think Whales and Leeches means.
Now I know from interviewing Aaron before that grunge is a huge influence on him and I’m assuming the band is as well. Alice in Chains had a song called Whale and Wasp, could there be a bit of a hat tip in there?
I actually never really listened to Alice In Chains, so not from my perspective, but maybe. Sure, why not? (laughter) I heard that, that band has a new record out and it’s supposed to be pretty good, but I never really listened to them back when they were more relevant, but now I’m kind of curious. I’m going to have to check out their back catalog. I was more of a Soundgarden/Nirvana kind of guy back then.
That song in particular is an instrumental and I think you’ll enjoy that one. It’s a beautiful piece of music. With this new album, I thought I would make it very easy for you. Because everybody is going to ask you all of these same questions. In four words, describe this album.
Four words. Fast, Slow, Loud and Heavy.
I’ll throw my four out there. Epic. Heavy. Melodic. Badassery.
Ohhhh, I like it. I like your four better. (laughter) You’re much more of a wordsmith.
One of my early favorites is Blood Like Cream. Give me a little insight to that song.
Well, I can’t give you any insight into the lyrics, because I didn’t write them and I’m the guy in the band that never really knows what the lyrics are. I’m like, “Are you saying, screaming lions?” Everybody is like, “Yeah Dude. That’s what we’re saying. No.” As far as for writing that song goes, we were in the early stages of writing this record, we felt we had two songs that we felt were pretty good. We played them live on a US tour. Then when we got back, we were like, “These songs aren’t good enough.” So, we took both of those songs apart. We had one song that had two parts in it, that we could never figure out what to do with. So, we ended up breaking that song apart and then making two other songs and one of those songs is Blood Like Cream and the other is Behind The Light, I believe. Those two songs, used to be one song that we thought was pretty good, but I think we got two better songs by ripping it up and starting all over. So, that one was kind of a process and an emotional one. Because I’d get attached to whatever we would settle on. I’d be like, “Alright. Cool. It’s a good song.” Then Aaron and Brian would be like, “It’s just not good enough.” I’d be like, “No, no. It’s fine. Don’t fuck with it.” Then of course, we fucked with it and for the better I think. We got two better songs.
Well the end result is all that matters, because no one is going to remember what you played on tour.
Exactly. Even the band, we forget about the heartache, and the pain, and the blood, and the sweat, and the tears once it’s all over. It’s like, oh yeah, we have good songs and we can just jam these. During the process, it’s frustrating. When you’re a democracy, like this band is, it’s kind of hard. It’d be easier if there was just one guy who said, “Here are the songs, learn them.” But it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun for me.
One song on the record, for me at least it’s truly a showcase of you guys are and what you are capable of and that is Dawn Rising. That song is just fantastic.
That is my favorite song on the record.
There ya go. We have similar tastes my friend.
Yeah. That one was also really hard for me, because it’s just so slow and simple. As a hyperactive drummer, it’s really hard for me to lay back that much. There’s a fill in the middle of that song, where, when we were writing it, everyone was like, “Right here. It’ll just be a drum break. Then we’ll come back in.” I was like, “Fucking shit.” A drum break. Man, I’m going to have to come up with some kind of crazy shit for a solo. Then, kind of just out of spite, I thought, “I’m just going to do the simplest, stupidest fill I can think of, and it turns out to be my favorite fill on the whole record. (Vocally mimics the drum fill) It’s just, I’m not tooting my own horn, it’s not a hard fucking fill or anything, but for some reason, that fill as super simple as it is, just makes the song even heavier to me. And we’ve got Mike Scheidt on vocals, so that’s pretty amazing.
You guys worked with Chris Funk again on this album. What was it that drew you guys back to work with him on Whales and Leeches?
Well, last time, we just had such a good time working with him, he made everything so easy. So, we just figured, we talked about other possibilities, but we figured, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” How easy is it, just to stay in town. Do it where we’re comfortable. Chris is in town. We did it in the same studio, same engineer. Vance Powell mixed it again. So basically, it was the same team as last time.
Okay, I’ve gotta ask, what the hell is that on the album cover?
(laughter) That is an amazing collage of awesomeness by Orion Landau, who did the last cover. I’m pretty excited about it. I’m really excited about some of the limited edition special packaging that’s coming out with the first couple of runs of this. It’s pretty impressive. I don’t really know how to describe what’s on the cover really. How would you describe it?
Ummmm. It would be, was it Rockwell that sang Somebody’s Watching You? It would be an owl with Rockwell as the backing band. I’m really not sure what I would say.
(laughter) I love that. I used to love Rockwell.
There you go then.
Man I wore that tape out. Orion is just a master of digital arts, I think.
It’s very cool. I give you that. I just wasn’t really sure if it was tying in with something. I was just trying to get a little insight I guess.
We just got together with him and just threw out a bunch of ideas. We’d give him a bunch of ideas and then he comes back with something that is totally above and beyond, and totally different than anything that we were thinking of. We’re just like, “Fuck yes. That’s it.”
John, I always try to end on a random question. So here goes; I was reading over some of your guys blog and I found it hilarious, couple that with your videos and I have to wonder…Why the hell don’t you guys have a television show or at least like an internet web series?
Man. That is a good question and as fun as that would be, we just don’t have time for it. Maybe one of these days, but we spend so much time on the road and when we’re not on the road, especially this last three months we had between Australia and Europe, that whole time we were either writing or recording. We haven’t really had much of a break, like vacation style break in a long time. So I don’t know if we could ever fit that in, but I would love to do something like that.
I think if you could just have someone be a fly on the wall and catch everything as it happens, even if you just did webisodes or whatever.
Well, if you saw the reality of what happens and then you compare that to the videos, those videos are not documentary’s. You know? (laughter) That’s a highly elevated version of the guys we wish we had been when we were 19 or something. You might get pretty bored if you were just a fly on the wall.
Well, we’ll store that one in the old back pocket and hopefully we can see something come out of that later on.
I will say this, I have a new kitten in my home and you are the first interview that I’ve conducted with a cat asleep on my shoulder. So congratulations on that.
That’s great man. I’m a newly a cat guy. I just discovered I’m a cat guy and I got two cats less than a year ago and they’re awesome. Super rad cats.
We have an older cat and she’s uhhh, well, she’s a bitch and then (laughter). Then we have a new kitten. Her name is Maggie and she is rambunctious. John, I appreciate your time and hopefully we get caught up on the road.
Preview or purchase Whales and Leeches below:
Red Fang – Blood Like Cream: