Hey Shredder

7 questions for guitarists

David Sullivan

Red Fang

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Red Fang by Alicia J. Rose

I have raved so vigorously and so often about Red Fang’s sophomore joint, Murder The Mountains (released April 12 on Relapse), that I’m concerned some will think I’m exaggerating. Trust me, I am not. This is hard rock at its thick, possessed, boogie-addled best. They snarl but there’s no Cookie Monster grumbling, and the whole mess of it leaps at you like a quality spook in a funhouse. Oh, there’s doom aplenty – voices murmuring ‘succumb’ and trap door musical drops – but they’ve got two badass singers, a punishingly good drummer, and two guitarists that suggest what a big syringe of punk juice might have done to Thin Lizzy’s Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson. Put simply, this band connects with everything it swings at.

David Sullivan (guitar), John Sherman (drums), Maurice Bryan Giles (guitar, vocals) and Aaron Beam (bass, vocals) possess serious chemistry, the kind that allows a band to grow exponentially from their debut to their follow-up…and their self-titled 2009 debut is fucking awesome – the kind of slab that makes you glad there’s giant speakers with low end that vibrates your balls while you whip your neck around uncontrollably. That animal vibe persists, to a degree, on Murder The Mountains but they’ve worked in something like sophistication. The songs whip into unexpected places and then, just as smoothly and unpredictably, rush back into the familiar tune. It’s a bit like what Iron Maiden does sans the operatic posturing and busier-than-it-needs-to-be musicianship. Red Fang can play but they’re smart in not letting things get too smart. This music wallops you in the belly, makes your head swim AND isn’t dumb or evil baiting nonsense. In fact, their lyrics are a nifty hornet’s nest to poke around in, if one’s down for a few welts.

The predominant flavor in Red Fang’s music is guitars whipping one around, having their way with the listener, who usually offers up no complaint for their groping. So, we’re pleased to offer some six-string insights from Mr. David Sullivan (who I met briefly at the SF Metalliance gig and found to be a very cool dude).

Favorite effects pedal? Why?
On stage my pedals are minimal: the foot switch from the amp and a tuner (and occasionally an MXR phaser). The Sunn Beta Lead amp I use has two independent channels and with the foot switch I can get channel A, B or A and B.

I do have other pedals though – an Octave pedal, a Mini-Muff, a Black Big-Muff, a Heavy Metal pedal, an MXR Phaser and a few others – but live I basically just use the Beta Lead foot switch and a phaser, which I really only use for one part of the song “Prehistoric Dog.”

I did use some other pedals when recording Murder the Mountains: A Z-Fex Box of Rock and a crazy fuzz pedal called the AssMaster.

Tastiest guitarist — i.e. not just soloing but also overall playing — currently working six-strings?
Hmmm… I can’t pick just one, so I’d have to say Angus Young of AC/DC, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, and I really like Elliot Easton from The Cars, too.
A guitar solo I never get tired of listening to is…
The solo in “The Bomber” by The James Gang; The Cars’ “Just What I Needed”; At the Gates’ “Slaughter of the Soul”; and the guitars in “Wild One” by Thin Lizzy are amazing – pretty much all Thin Lizzy guitars are amazing.
Preferred brand of axe? Why?
I play a 1972 Telecaster Thinline. It has the Fender Wide Range humbuckers unlike most Telecasters, and the tone knob has a range that I can get a wah wah effect with. It has been basically my only guitar for about 20 years.
AC/DC, The Beatles, Radiohead or The Byrds – which one gives you the biggest guitar boner? What makes them SO sweet?
AC/DC!!! Just so solid, good and raw.
One lesser known guitarist folks should check out is…
These guys aren’t exactly “unknowns” but I think people forget about how awesome the guitarist from The Cars, Elliot Easton is, and also Steve Stevens, who played with Billy Idol, and John Fogerty from Creedence Clearwater Revival. Also, I must give a shout-out to the two guitarists from Polvo, Dave Brylawski and Ash Bowie.
What aspect of being a guitarist always makes you happy?
Freedom of expression. For me, there is no “right way” to play a guitar – you can play with your teeth, with a bow, with a drill, whatever. There’s a direct connection between what your hands are doing and the sounds that you create. So many ways you can get sounds out of a guitar.

And there’s a bitchin’ new video for “Wires” as well, but the good folks at Monster Energy Drinks won’t let a fella embed it, so peep it over here. Directed by Whitey McConnaughy, who gets these boys into some quality destruction.