Listen, we have seen Red Fang’s promo videos. We’ve witnessed their love of the grog. And at the risk of sounding guilty of cynical lifestyle profiling, surely asking Bryan Giles to compile a tour diary sounded overly optimistic. How reliable a witness could the Red Fang guitarist/vocalist be after being jammed on a van for six weeks straight on another continent, only to be let loose around showtime under the summer sun and in the proximity of the rider? You couldn’t blame a man for missing out on some of the details. Shit, no. But here’s how Giles remembers Red Fang’s summer in Europe:
“We flew straight to Madrid. I believe we flew in, landed and played that same day. Yeah, it was great, Sonisphere was startling; jet lag then playing in front of a big crowd like that. We had days off towards the beginning of the tour but I think we did fourteen shows in thirteen days towards the end there, and that got pretty tiring. It was always pretty exhausting because the first ten days of the tour we didn’t have a van, it was all flying from one city to the next. We’d play show, get very little sleep, go to the airport, play a show then straight to the airport. I guess in that way it was pretty good that we started out that way because if it had ended that way we’d have all got crazy. Once we got to our van we had bunks, so we sorta had a home. But [flying] was the difficult aspect of that tour, for sure. The van we had this time out was like a small bus; it had nine bunks but it was pretty cramped. There were seven of us living in it, and you’re living in parking lots. But this is the first time we travelled in Europe with sleeping accommodation in the van; usually we are sitting bolt-upright in molded plastic seats, and that’ll wear you down, too. That was our saving grace—we could sleep. I would like to say I was mature enough but no: I partied pretty hard . . . I did take some days off. I took about a week off on the tour when I was ‘on the wagon’, as they say.”
“Greece is great. That was our third time to Greece and the crowds there are really enthusiastic, very supportive. It’s good for the ego—people jumping around and stuff. The guys who were taking care of us gave us this amazing seafood, probably one of the best tour meals I’ve ever had; copious amounts of seafood right on the Mediterranean. We got to swim in the Mediterranean—the first time for me—and it was full of trash. But still, it felt great. Once you swam out past the trash it was beautiful.”
“Unfortunately we didn’t get to play Turkey because of the rioting. It seemed as though we were still going to be able to but the police were apparently too heavy-handed with a protest that was peaceful, they ended up tear-gassing the crowd and people were hurt. It just seemed like a really bad situation. We still had every intention of playing that show up until two days before when the promoter’s office was tear-gassed. At that point they decided to cancel these shows because the atmosphere was changing, it could have gotten worse. I was really sad ‘cos that was one of the shows I was really looking forward to. Apparently Istanbul is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.”
UKRAINE AND RUSSIA
“I would say the Eastern bloc, Russia, had particularly rabid fans, especially Russia. It’s very difficult to get visas; the paperwork is pretty extensive and expensive so I think a lot of bands opt-out of touring up that way. But it’s super-fun, and the kids are really appreciative, so every time we can tour there we do. I think they were similar; there wasn’t a drastic difference. I mean, they were united until, what, like fifteen years ago, if my history serves me well. I didn’t go overboard [with the vodka], as I recall, but some of those drinks are pretty dangerous; I think sometimes people get sick pleasure in trying to poison people who are coming to visit their country. We’ll go to Bavaria or something, and they are known for their beers, but because of our videos where we drink these very inexpensive beers, people bring us the worst beer of their country.”
Live in Plan B, Moscow
“We’ve played the Bastard Club in Osnabrück three or four times now, and that is always fun, very punk rock, and the guy who runs the place is really nice. That’s one I always look forward to. A lot of the shows we were playing were festivals, which is a cool experience, but playing a dirty rock club can be more satisfying. I’m getting used to the festivals, and often the changeover between bands is long enough that you can get your monitors sounding pretty damn good. Sometimes there is a language barrier where it’s hard to communicate with the monitor guy and you are asking for more vocals and you get more kick-drum. But, for me, I try not to expect anything from my monitor and just put the bare minimum in there, and as long as I can hear my guitar and my own voice, and the kick and snare, I am pretty safe. I would say the worst beer in Germany is Desperados, that tequila-flavored beer? It’s disgusting. It really is vile, but they promote that stuff like crazy. There’s ads for it everywhere, so someone must be drinking it. God knows why. We also played the Matrix, with I think is a sex dungeon half the time. I was taking my smoke breaks on a bondage bench, which was a little disturbing; I’m not sure how often those things get bleached.
Jamming “Bury Me In Smoke” with Down @ With Full Force Festival, Germany
“I had know idea I was gonna do it. I knew Aaron and John were gonna do it but no one mentioned it to me. I thought, ‘Well, I’m definitely gonna watch this, it’ll be amazing.’ I got side-stage and their guitar tech said, ‘You’re gonna play on this song!’ I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘You are gonna play the song!’ And they’d already started the song. He was like, ‘I’m going to show you how the song goes . . . In a minute.’ I was like, ‘The song is going on now, maybe you should so me how it goes now.’ I’m standing there half-way through the song, finally he puts the guitar on me and they kick into the final riff, and he just points at the frets as they are playing it. I thought, ‘Okay, that’s pretty straightforward. I think I can do it.’ Thirty seconds later he pushed me out there, I plugged in and started playing in front of God knows—20,000 people or something. It was really fun. They’re goofy dudes.”
Jaworzno [Metalfest], yeah that was very metal. The highlight for me as far as that show went was that the backstage was a lake. We got to swim for much of the day and the show turned out really well. We played late in the evening and it was cool, we ran into some old friends, Unearth. We got to chum around with them and some of the guys from Down. It was good to finally play Poland. The crowd was great.
Fete de la Musique! This one was memorable because—I think it was organised by the city—it was outdoors, and I wasn’t sure what to expect because it was like for everybody, there were tourists walking around, there were octogenarians, little kids with snow cones. It was cool. It wasn’t very big, a little park, maybe a thousand people or so, but it was really energetic. A naked man and woman jumped on-stage during our encore and danced around naked for pretty much the whole song, which was sorta distracting. They stay loose in Europe.
The Gigors-et-Lozeron show was moved to La Croix, and that was really fun. It was an outdoor show; it was in rural France, in the middle of nowhere. I mean, La Croix has maybe a couple of thousand people in it. A lot of people travelled for it and it had a holiday vibe. We love Hellfest. Y’know it’s funny, my recollection of it was that I did not play very well. I felt like I was really trying hard to play and it just felt hurky-jerky. I didn’t feel like I screwed up but I didn’t feel like I gave it as much energy as I could have, but I just saw a video that they put together with really good camera angles, really good definition, good sound, and there were mistakes, a few fluffs, but it was pretty right-on. We did just fine, which I am glad to report because we want to be invited back.
“I remember Eurock Eenes being a lot of fun, Belfort, France. That show was pretty amazing. The stage we played on was built onto a lake, so the front row of the crowd was on this sandy beach. Neurosis played. They were supposed to headline that festival but they booked their airline tickets before they knew when they were playing. There was no way they’d make their flight if they played it. They got a hold of us a week before and asked if we’d switch places . . . I mean, if it wasn’t Neurosis, we wouldn’t want to play against the main bands on the other stages but it was Neurosis so we did it. We played their slot, they played ours. I wasn’t sure how that was gonna go because, like I say, we were playing against Blur, I think. But it turned out pretty well. We got full lighting. We got the headliner’s treatment, all the lights and all the stuff we wouldn’t have got on our regular slot. For all intents and purposes, we were the headliner. It was the longest set we’ve ever played. We were slated for an hour and fifteen minutes. It worked out fine. I didn’t pass out, and that lake was awesome . . . They had speed-boat rides—I could have easily spent a couple more days on that lake.
Graspop got crazy. There was a lot of drinking going on and by the end of it no one could walk in a straight line. They had an acoustic band doing rock covers from the ‘70s to the ‘90s, and that went on for hours. I don’t think they stopped for three hours, and the one break they had the bass player kept playing the tune to “Iron Man”, and there must have been hundreds of people chanting the melody to “Iron Man”, not the lyrics but just chanting the melody. It started feeling a little sketchy, I was thinking, “Man, people are getting out of hand.”
Download was amazing. There were just so many amazing bands at Download and it’s great just to be able to see bands and backstage is more of a party environment. When you are playing clubs, after a while the green room starts to feel like a prison because there is not a whole lot going on back there, and if you don’t feel like talking to strangers you’re stuck. At a festival, it’s massive. There are a lot of people there who you know from past tours and worked with in the past, so it’s like catching up with old friends, and that’s something I enjoy about festivals.
Luckily I traded some t-shirts for a hoodie, because I had lost my jacket weeks before. Luckily they were the first place that had jackets; that was a couple of days before Iceland, and Iceland was cold. That was the primary thing I remember: I got a good jacket. That show [at the Poolbar Festival] was awesome, and the town [Feldkirch] is beautiful; they’ve got a castle, it’s really small and old but it’s beautiful.
Iceland was incredible. I am so happy that we ended our tour there. It took a long time to get there, we flew out of Stuttgart and it took about seventeen and a half hours from the time we got out of our van until the time we finally got to our rooms. We flew into Reykjavik and took a small charter plane for an hour flight; the town we played in was furthest east you can be in Iceland, and it was just so beautiful. The geography is alien. It’s crazy. It is a volcanic island, the moss . . . I dunno, it’s Lord of the Rings or something. Creeks just come out of the rocks, meander across the moss-covered lava rocks and disappear. There are sheep wandering around, snow-covered mountains, and we were right on the ocean—or at least an inlet to the ocean. It was spectacular; the view was incredible; the water was really placid. And at this time of the year the sun never goes down. That was really surreal. Having drinks with people and the party would start getting fuzzy and out of control at one or two in the morning, there are people falling all over the place and you can see them as clear as day. That was pretty weird.
“Eistnaflug is a really cool festival. They guys who run it are really, really nice. They had a heated pool and water-slides and stuff. We took an extra day off. We arrived, had the next day for recreation, and the next day we played. It really was a vacation. I ate whale! I had whale sashimi and barbecued whale: it was not an endangered whale, I hasten to add, but in any case they do quite well in that region and there’s no chance of them going extinct, so I didn’t feel bad. And it was really delicious, so I can see, unfortunately, why other whales in other parts of the world are endangered because they are really tasty. They are cursed with being delicious! I hate to say it. I’m always down for trying new foods; but if you wanna eat whale, don’t eat it in Japan because I can’t support that at all, in Iceland, try it. On our way home we flew back to Reykjavik but had a five-hour layover. We went to the blue lagoon, which is their biggest tourist attraction, these hot springs—it was even more surreal, the water was this light-blue and milky. We got to swim in that for a half-hour. It was really relaxing and a big part of why I didn’t go insane on the flight home.