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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    It’s homecoming for Bryan Giles of heavy rockers Red Fang

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    On average, metal is a genre that’s used as an often undeserving umbrella term. For anything that sounds harder than Foo Fighters, unfamiliar listeners are quick to label something as being “metal.” While Portland’s Red Fang is often subject to such a generalization, calling the band metal is pretty damn inaccurate.

    “Sometimes we’re ‘70s rock, sometimes we’re grunge, but probably least of all metal,” guitarist/vocalist Bryan Giles, a former Tucson native and UA student, said. “We just say ‘hard rock’ because that pretty much gets all of it.”

    There’s a swaggering gait to most Red Fang songs that’s characterized by a deep low-end sound and lumbering bass lines, as well as a retro headiness that invokes a desire to pound a beer and rip a bong. Those elements lean toward the stoner rock category, which makes a bit more sense. Since Portland is a less-than-fostering metal locale, Red Fang had to step outside of the typical bounds of the genre.

    “For us, starting a band here, it was a little hard finding where we were supposed to be,” Giles said. “I don’t think we’d go over so well opening for someone like Liz Phair, but the metalheads have seemed to enjoy it.”

    It’s not just metalheads that revel in Giles’ visceral lyricism or Red Fang’s alternative take. Teaming up with video producer Whitey McConnaughy, the band has released a series of tongue-in-cheek videos that have garnered a collective three million views. Maybe it’s Red Fang’s love of Pabst beer or that the video for their song “Wires” finds the band crashing a dilapidated station wagon through walls of watermelons and milk cartons, but it’s brought their appeal into a spotlight of sorts.

    However, it’s not enough.

    “Metal doesn’t have that kind of breakout success in general,” Giles said. “Even a band that does really well is still ‘in’ metal.”

    That’s the direct effect of an umbrella label such as metal. A band such as Red Fang, that is deserving of a second look and whose crossover appeal could serve it well in a variety of markets, gets pigeonholed and somewhat restricted. It seems to be an American trait that will be tested on Red Fang’s first headlining US tour, as the band’s sound has been well received overseas, evidenced by both of the band’s European headlining tours.

    “America’s one of the top producers of heavy rock acts, so people get really good shows so often that they could be harder to please,” Giles said. “Europeans are more open to more styles, whereas Americans are more like, ‘I only listen to speed metal.’”

    Regardless of where Americans stand on genre-blenders such as Red Fang, Giles is excited to be back in Tucson — even if it is just for a brief while. With his family still here, he feels that there’s an element of Tucson that he can call home, and Red Fang’s show at Plush on Halloween night is just a stone’s throw from his college bungalow in the Pie Allen neighborhood.

    Though he did do a brief stint at the University of Arizona, it’s obvious that Giles’ calling was elsewhere.

    “I couldn’t even get through Liberal Arts,” Giles laughed. “I must have been doodling in the margins or something.”

    Follow us on Twitter @wildcatarts and follow K.C. @KristianCLibman.

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