Have Fun, Will Travel
Red Fang Drummer John Sherman Discusses Excessive Touring, Being Asleep in the Band's Van When It Rolled, and Driving a Station Wagon into a Stack of Full Milk Jugs
Sat, 2:45–3:45 pm,
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Red Fang have found that sweet spot between punk, hard rock, and metal. Punkers and rockers can dig it because it's not overly technical, and metalheads can dig it because it's smarter than bashing out three chords with some dude screaming on top of it. Less than a year ago, they rolled a van driving back from a Seattle show, but that didn't stop them from welding a plow to the front of a 1979 Impala station wagon, renting an airstrip, and driving the thing straight through inanimate objects—a four-foot-high stack of full gallon milk jugs, a heap of watermelons (one of which went through the windshield), a china cabinet (with china set), a pile of televisions, and much more—for their latest video, "Wires." It's hilarious, and you should go watch it right now, and then go to their set at Bumbershoot.
How is it going?
Good. Relaxing at home, finally.
You just got back from a pretty insane tour [Mayhem Fest], correct?
It was nuts; it was great. We've never done anything like that before, like a festival tour, so we didn't know what to expect.
Any wild stories?
No, not really. Everything ended up being really routine, you know? You wake up pretty early every morning and you're in a different city at a different venue, and you set up, try to get some lunch, and you play early—well, we were playing at two thirty-five in the afternoon. After that, you get your gear off the stage, and go to your merch tent and meet people, and then you go do press, and then go to dinner, and then everybody just parties in the parking lot. It got pretty routine, but it was a fun routine.
You had a bus for this tour. Correct?
First time we've ever been on a bus for a tour, and we shared it with this band called Unearth, who were really, really nice dudes. We got lucky. We didn't know who we were gonna share it with for a while there, but we all became fast friends.
I read you had to pay for it yourself.
Oh yeah, we had to pay for everything ourselves. Everything that happens, we have to pay for. It's not like we're on some big label with deep pockets. We're on a great label [Relapse], but they don't give us any money or anything.
You were in Europe before that.
The whole tour cycle started back in March, when we went on the Metalliance tour with Helmet, Crowbar, and Saint Vitus. Then we were home for about four weeks, and then we went to Europe for about a month, and then we went from Europe to Calgary to play a festival there, and we were there for five days, and then we were home for—oh wait, there was another tour in there I forgot! Before we went to Europe, we did two-and-a-half weeks across the States, and then we were home for a day, then we went to Europe and Calgary, and then we were home for 10 days, and then we did the Mayhem tour, which we just got back from last night.
Wow, what are you going to do with yourself for the next week?
Today I haven't left the house, but I'm running out of smokes, so I'll have to eventually. But for the next week I'm gonna try to find some work, because I'm broke, so I'll be begging for shifts at the bar I was working at before all this stuff started.
I gotta ask, what all went into the making of the video for "Wires," and how long did it take?
It took a lot longer than the first video [for "Prehistoric Dog"], especially because we kept leaving town. We started filming it before we left for that first tour in March, and we didn't get it finished, so we had to wait [until the next time we were back]. There was so much footage—hours and hours—that didn't make it in; there's only so much you can cram into a five-minute video. It was so fun to make, until we had to clean up at night.
Yeah, where was that? Were you filming on a closed course or something?
We rented a little airstrip out in Estacada or something, and that was great because there was no traffic or anything. And you could just get going really fast and destroy shit, but we always had to make sure it was super-clean, because planes were gonna be landing on it the next day, and we broke so much glass that cleanup was brutal—in the dark, in the rain, but we got it clean!
Your friend welded that plow onto the front of the car?
Yep, our buddy Thor welded it. He's a jack-of-all-trades. Anything that has to do with welding or sawing or screwing or bending, he can handle. We're pretty lucky to live in Portland, where we're surrounded by tons of talented people who are willing to work for cheap or free.
How do you like playing Seattle?
We love it! It seemed like it took us a long time to build up a crowd there, between our old band and Red Fang, but it seems like Seattle is willing to give us a chance these days, it's nice.
You guys rolled a van coming back from here once. What happened with that?
That was the first show of a tour we were doing with Valient Thorr back in—I want to say October. And we drove up to do the show, and the show ended pretty early because it was all ages, and the next show was in Portland, so we figured we'd drive back that night so Aaron could work during the day. So we left after the show, and three of us were asleep, not wearing seatbelts, and a deer ran out in the road, and Aaron tried to avoid it, and lost control, and I think we flipped twice. I woke up when we were just flipping, and it was fucking nuts. I was the only one who had to go to the hospital, but we were lucky. I had pretty minor injuries, I was just really banged up—we were all really banged up. We got back into town at about seven o'clock in the morning with no van, and some of the guys went up to the junkyard where they'd towed the van and got all the gear out and all the gear was fine, which was amazing. They brought all of it back, and we decided that we were kind of fit enough to play the show that night. So we played, and then took the next two days off of the tour to find a van to borrow, and we did and caught up with the tour in San Francisco. It was a weird tour. After that, we were all a little shell-shocked. Every time there was a bump in the road, everyone was like "Oh shit!"