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Portland band Red Fang brings music to Oakland

Helena Guan

Oakland’s Stork Club hosted Red Fang, a heavy rock band based in Portland, Oregon on Mar. 29. They describe their music style as “high-powered, classic Northwest street metal.”

The band was initially divided over whether the city of Portland influenced their style. “It’s dark and gray,” drummer John Sherman said.

“I think [we] are also influenced – unconsciously – by the bands around [us],” said bassist and vocalist Aaron Beam, who originally moved to the city for college.

David Sullivan, who plays guitar, admitted, “It’s an easy place to make music, and there’s a lot of music going on there.”

Red Fang’s music is influenced by everything from science fiction books and movies to failed relationships and day jobs. When asked what his day job was, Beam said, “I don’t have one, and that’s a big influence.”

“I wanted to create songs that motivated me to play,” said Giles, who plays guitar. “I used to create confusing music on purpose, but [with Red Fang] I wanted to make easy punk rock that’s fun to listen to.”

But easy doesn’t have to be simple; the band takes pride in presenting a mish-mash of stylistic elements.

“I like that we have a lot of weird elements, like weird time signatures and things like that,” added Sullivan. “We’re a band that likes being able to create any sound we like without staying with one specific genre or style.”

Giles, Sullivan and Beam all studied piano as children for various reasons. While Sherman didn’t take piano, he first got into music through what he heard at his local roller skating rink. All the members agreed to having been influenced by the music playing at the arcade.

The band began taking shape over three years ago, when Sullivan and Sherman played together in their band The Mercury Birds in North Carolina. Meanwhile, guitarist Giles played in his band, Party Time, and while Sullivan and Sherman had heard of it, they hadn’t played together before.

Sherman eventually moved to Portland, and Giles moved to San Diego following Party Time’s disbandment. After a brief separation, they all came back together in Portland, recruiting Beam, and Red Fang was born in 2006.

“We all like the same music,” said Sullivan. “We play well together, and we get along as friends, so it works out.”

Red Fang’s first album, self-titled, was released on Mar. 10, 2009 and is available at Hot Topic and Best Buy-two places the band didn’t expect it to be. The band is glad that Red Fang is out, and are ready to start working on a new one.

For more information on Red Fang and samples of their music, visit their website at