Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Yesterday, on an inconsequential strip of medianed Iowa road, between a McDonald's and what used to be a Blockbuster Video store that's now been transformed into a sad pawn and loan shop but still looks unmistakably like a Blockbuster Video store, two young men could be seen drag-racing (as much as they were capable of) through this commerce district, in the middle of the afternoon. They were loud and aggressive and didn't get further than 60 feet before they had to stop at a stoplight. They screeched to a halt and that was that. It was pitiful and depressing, but, at least they tried to get a good roaring peel through a neighborhood dominated by old snow and the smell of cooking French fries. It was the most excitement this stretch of road's seen in a while, but it can't really expect much of anything more. The entire scene that played out over 15 seconds is not unlike the scenes that play out continuously all over the place, involving cars and kids or nothing in particular, other than a deep-seeded sense of boredom and feeling half-alive. There was no sense to this act, but that doesn't in any way make it extraordinary. It makes it quite normal, even if it stood out because of shoddy mufflers. We had one young man, alone in his car, doing what he felt would be an interesting was of interacting with the other young man, alone in his car. It was like a conversation, a handshake, even if it looked dumb.
Red Fang, from Portland, Oregon, taps into not just those feelings that would lead two people to drag a couple of shitty family cars over these salted winter streets near the Burlington Coat Factory, but it also taps into what they're hoping they might get out of such an endeavor, stunt, fling, whatever it should be determined to be. The music is stiff and ragged, raging out of these men, accompanied by spittle and gristle, maybe a little blood. They're all about taking that empty feeling and making something of it. They write about people who might be driving along, alone in their car, and are suddenly struck with the impulse to crash the car into a wall, just to see what might come of it. They might think about what might be the worst that could happen, only briefly considering that the impact could kill them, a split second before striking. They speed ahead, letting all of the harsh light fall over them, knocking the empty beer bottles and cans off the back step and into the lawn, thinking about all these solitary pursuits that they put themselves through. They might drive home through that French fried smell every day and only think about how hungry they are - nothing else. They'll get there, take their shoes off and wonder why they didn't pick up a bag of burgers. They're not going out again though. They've got beer in the fridge and they'll survive. They think about empty castles and crashing cars. It covers a lot.