Mark your calendar for the 6th annual Sabertooth festival! The psychedelic stoner rock microfest is back in Portland on October 16th. With headliner Red Fang and special guests Starcrawler, Here Lies Man, Wild Powwers and The Deep!
5:30 pm doors, 7 pm show
21 and over
$35 advance, $40 day of show, $40 advance balcony, $45 day of show balcony
"I like the idea of the record starting in a way that doesn't make any sense at all for a
Red Fang record."
That's vocalist/bassist Aaron Beam talking about "Take It Back," the opening
track-or "sintro," part song, part intro-of Red Fang's fifth album, Arrows.
"It reminds me of a time before people listened to music digitally-and they listened
to full albums," drummer John Sherman adds. "There were often cool, spooky
intros-like fuckin' Dio albums and shit. There are some weird sounds at the
beginning to get you in the mood before it blasts off."
And blast off it does. After the woozy opening salvo of "Take It Back," Arrows
launches into a super-rock trifecta of what Red Fang does best-from Melvins-esque
power dirge "Unreal Estate" into the anthemic title track into up-tempo banger "My
Yeah, it's been nearly five years since 2016's Only Ghosts, but your favorite
beer-crushing, zombie-killing, air-guitar-contest-judging metal heroes are back in
action, doing what they do best-AND MORE. "This record feels more like Murder
The Mountains to me than any record we've done before or since," Beam ventures. "It
doesn't sound like that record, but Murder The Mountains was us doing whatever the
fuck we wanted, and that's what this is, too."
"We're definitely exploring new territory," says guitarist/vocalist Bryan Giles. "And
I'm very happy about that. I wouldn't wanna be in this band if we kept doing the
same thing over and over again."
Arrows was recorded at Halfling Studios in the band's hometown of Portland, OR,
with longtime collaborator Chris Funk, who produced Murder The Mountains and
2013's Whales and Leeches. "Chris is a major influencer as far as the weird ambient
stuff in between the songs and the creepy incidental noises within the songs," Giles
points out. "I think he definitely creates an added layer of atmosphere that we
wouldn't have otherwise."
In an effort to compound said atmosphere, Sherman recorded some of his drum
parts at the bottom of a pool. Luckily, it was empty. "It's actually a kick-ass skate
pool," the drummer explains. "It was designed by Lance Mountain, if I've got my facts
straight. As soon as we decided to record there, I knew I would end up in the pool at
"The pool was a big part of the record," Giles confirms. "The drums sound so
huge-it's crazy. But I was terrified of the pool because there was no railing. Every
time I walked by, I was afraid of falling into it. So it was a love/hate relationship with
the pool for me."
The title Arrows was chosen through Red Fang's patented and labor-intensive
selection process. "Of all the titles that got thrown around, that was the one
everyone hated the least," Sherman explains. "Which is the case with every record,
"It's actually the same way we decided on the band name," Beam chimes in. "It was
the only one where someone wasn't like, ‘NO!'"
Arrows has the added bonus of a proper title track, which is new territory for the
dudes. "This is the first time we've named an album after a song that's actually on
the album," Beam explains. "We have other albums that are named after songs of
ours that are not on those albums. So this time we're really fucking with you because
we didn't fuck with you."
It just so happens that the title track is also the lead single for the album-the
general public's first taste of fresh Fang. "There's some songs that are pretty clearly
Red Fang on this album, and others that maybe go a little further outside of what
we've normally done," Beam explains. "‘Prehistoric Dog' was clearly the song to pick
for the first single from the first record. ‘Wires' was clearly the song to pick from the
second record. I'm not sure there was a clear frontrunner on this album, which could
be taken to mean that either all of the songs are kind of mediocre at best or there are
quite a few that could qualify as the lead single. So it came down to the ones that the
dudes who are making the videos liked best."
Which brings us to director Rob McConnaughy, who created the pants-pissing clips
for "Prehistoric Dog," "Wires" and many other Red Fang hits. "His way of presenting
us really works," guitarist David Sullivan says. "That first video he did for us for
‘Prehistoric Dog' gave us a big jumpstart as far as the band getting popular. And we
love working with him."
Over the years, McConnaughy has helped showcase an aspect of Red Fang that most
metal and hard rock bands shy away from: Humor. "It suits our personalities," Giles
points out. "I mean, I don't wanna fight people, you know? If I look like I'm flexing,
they'll be like, ‘Oh, I can take him.' But if we're making a joke, maybe someone will
wanna tell me a joke-or buy me a beer."
"If you were to have dinner with the band, it would be closer to one of our videos
than, like, us walking in slow-mo through the fog with a goat's head," he adds. "I
mean, no one's gonna believe that shit."
Similarly, fans might not believe what the song "Arrows" is partially about. "If you're
confused by some of the lyrics to that song, that makes sense," Beam explains. "But
it makes reference to meditation. I started meditating six years ago, but I can only do
it when I'm not feeling too anxious. So, when I don't need it, that's when I can do it."
Elsewhere, "Fonzi Scheme" was named after legendary Happy Days cool guy Arthur
Fonzarelli-if only because it's in the key of his famous catchphrase, "Aaay." Producer
Chris Funk came up with the idea of bringing in string players from the Portland
Cello Project to class up the track. "I would say laziness drove that decision," Beam
deadpans. "We didn't want to come up with any guitar melodies, so we hired
someone else to do it for us."
Meanwhile, the opening riff of closer "Funeral Coach" was written 12 years ago. But
it took until recently for the song to blossom into its full double-entendre glory. "I
was driving around and I saw a hearse that said ‘funeral coach services' on the back,"
Beam explains. "So the first thing that popped into my head was a dude with a
headset and a clipboard going, ‘Alright, dudes-more tears! Five minutes in is when
the tears are critical, or no one's gonna believe that anyone cares that this person
In a nod to tradition, Arrows will be available in formats that include all the drums,
bass, guitars and vocals. But it could've gone another way. "Our original idea was to
release the album with no vocals or guitar solos," Beam explains. "If you want the
guitar solos, it's an extra five bucks. If you want the vocals, it's an extra ten bucks. So
basically people should feel lucky that we didn't do that. You get to buy the whole
thing all together."
Red Fang think of it as a generous display of gratitude toward their fans. "Yeah," says
Sherman, "Thank you for buying our album, you lucky bastards."
Born on the streets of Los Angeles, Starcrawler is a band possessed by the spirit of its own hometown, every movement charged with a manic electricity. Since forming in 2015, vocalist Arrow de Wilde, guitarist/vocalist Henri Cash, bassist Tim Franco, and drummer Austin Smith have gone from bashing out songs in the garage to winning the love of such legendary artists as Shirley Manson and Elton John. They've also opened for the likes of Beck, Foo Fighters, Spoon, The Distillers, and MC5, bringing their unhinged energy to an already-fabled live show - a spectacle that's simultaneously lurid and glorious and elegant as ballet. On their sophomore full-length Devour You, Starcrawler captures that dynamic with a whole new precision, revealing their rare ability to find a fragile beauty in even the greatest chaos.
Four albums in, the convenient and generalized catchphrase for Here Lies Man's erudite sound - if Black Sabbath played Afrobeat - might seem a little played out. But Ritual Divination is perhaps the best rendering of the idea so far. Particularly on the Sabbath side of the equation: The guitars are heavier and more blues based than before, but the ancient rhythmic formula of the clave remains a constant.
"Musically it's an opening up more to traditional rock elements," says vocalist/guitarist/cofounder Marcos Garcia, who also plays guitar in Antibalas. "It's always been our intention to explore. And, as we travelled deeper into this musical landscape, new features revealed themselves."
The L.A. based band comprised of Antibalas members have toured relentlessly following their breakout 2017 self-titled debut. Their second album, You Will Know Nothing and an EP, Animal Noises, both followed in 2018. Third album No Ground To Walk Upon emerged in August 2019. All of them were crafted by Garcia and cofounder/drummer Geoff Mann (former Antibalas drummer and son of jazz musician Herbie Mann) in their L.A. studio between tours. Ritual Divination is their first album recorded as the full 4-piece band, including bassist JP Maramba and keyboardist Doug Organ.
Ritual Divination continues with an ongoing concept of HLM playing the soundtrack to an imaginary movie, with each song being a scene. "It's an inward psychedelic journey, the album is the trip," Garcia says. "The purpose is a ritual where you are divining the true nature of reality. The divination is seeking to lift the veil of inner space."
Likewise, musically and sonically, the album is self-reflexive. "On this album the feel changes within a song," Garcia says. "Whereas before each song was meant to induce a trancelike state, now more of the songs have their own arc built in." Similarly, the guitar sounds themselves herein eschew the fuzz pedals of previous recordings, going for the directness of pure amp overdrive and distortion using an interconnected rig of 4 amplifiers. And, here, the well-versed live band is able to record as a unit, giving it much more of a live and dynamic feel.
Rough Trade named the band's self-titled debut in their prestigious Top 10 Albums of 2017. BBC 6 & Classic Rock Magazine deemed it among the year's best, as well as countless other press outlets singing its praises. Each subsequent album furthered the band's reputation for genre-smashing rhythmic experimentation, topping many year-end lists as well as earning features from countless metal and indie rock outlets, plus cover stories in weekly papers.
"We're very conscious of how the rhythms service the riffs," Garcia explains. "Tony Iommi's (Black Sabbath) innovation was to make the riff the organizing principle of a song. We are taking that same approach but employing a different organizing principle: For Iommi it was the blues, for us it comes directly from Africa."
Ritual Divination will be available on LP, CD and download on January 22nd, 2021 via RidingEasy Records.
Wild Powwers are a dynamic trio who come from the dark, dank corners of a basement in Seattle, WA. Throughout their several years relentlessly writing and touring as a band, they have grown their sound using the vastly different influences in their lives. The result being "the sort of carefree grunge riff-rock that gets better the dirtier it gets. Each layer of meticulously gnarly distortion, each off-kilter lyric, drenched in garage-echo reverb, is pure Pacific Northwest filth"- KEXP.
They are often challenging themselves to write something completely different from the song before, and their upcoming album "What You Wanted" is the best representation of who they are and what they bring to the table yet. Produced by Sam Bell, (R.E.M., Minus the Bear, Weezer, Taylor Swift), and mastered by Ed Brooks, (Pearl Jam, Death Cab For Cutie, R.E.M.), "What You Wanted" runs the gamut from straight up punk rock ("Real Deal Phil" and "Pageant") to strangely beautiful psychedelia ("Tricky and "Chrome). Cathartic angular rock ("Sucks") intersects with gorgeous, shimmering melancholy ("Decades") and the many melodic shades in between. Showing a wide array of influences skillfully blended into a sound all their own; this album is a beautiful journey. Honest, raw, and relatable - it's "What You Wanted."
Portland, Oregon's The Deep have emerged from the pandemic with a more potent concoction of their rock and roll primordial stew. On their latest EP, "The Crimson and The Gold," (Desert Records, recorded with Justin Phelps at The Hallowed Halls) the band continues to blend vintage Northwest sounds with low desert stoner blues, with a pinch of prog thrown in for good measure. From the full sonic assault of banger "Judas Cradle," it's clear the band means business with the lyrical refrain "drive my point straight home / with shackle chain and rope."
"I saw this torture device in a museum when I was on vacation in Portugal," says singer Scott Wagner (ex-HTSOB). "I was like, ‘wow the people who think of the devices themselves are even more messed up than the people who use them. And then I also thought "I can think of a few people I wouldn't mind seeing strapped to that thing."
Drawing musical inspiration from different eras and styles of rock has fueled The Deep's evolution. From the leaden groove and monster rhythm section boogie of "Down The Well" to the epic prog opus "Coming Of The Storm," the band continues to explore new territory both live and in the studio. Vocally, too, the new material represents a leap forward.
"We've all got an appreciation for a lot of different genres," offers guitarist Scott James (ex-NovaCycle). "Stylistically, we can change things up from song to song, but the one constant is that the songs have to rock."
"My only real criteria," adds Wagner, "is that I have to want to listen to my own band. There's nothing worse than not being into your own band. That's not the case this time around."