American Fangs:
Everybody Knows Where You Keepin' It At

American Fangs pic #2
(l to r) Kow, Kirkland, Gus, Shultz, & Mitch.
Photo by Ryan Booth.
It was the one song that got me hooked; I'll admit it. I accidentally heard "Le Kick," arguably the crowning moment off H-town quintet American Fangs' self-titled debut EP, while meandering around online, and once it slammed in, as full-force and in-your-face as the song's title suggests, I couldn't pull away.
I was utterly bowled over by the combiation of streetwise snarl, Foo Fighters-esque arena-rock guitars, and party-time rhythms, and couldn't believe I'd somehow never heard of these guys. How could something this fully-formed, this raw, this badass have exploded without me getting wind of it before now?
The band's still in its early stages, for sure, but they already sound confident and fiery beyond their years. SCR hit up the American Fangs guys with some questions, and frontman/singer Gus was kind enough to answer in his own inimitable way.
American Fangs play Friday, April 24th, at Mango's (403 Westheimer; $8), along with The Manichean & Heptic Skeptic, and also Friday, May 8th, at Fitzgerald's (2706 White Oak; 7PM, $10), along with Dremnt The End, The 71's, Female Demand, & A Dream Asleep.

SCR: First off, where the hell did you guys come from? You almost seemed to have appeared out of nowhere -- were you all doing other musical things around town before American Fangs?
Gus: There's a thin line between anger and hunger; we ride a unicycle right down the line. We've had some fun musical endeavors in the past, together and individually...I'm sure you would love to know what those were.

Oh, man -- now I do, for sure. C'mon, give. Seriously, I've got a gigantic interconnected map of bands and musicians in this city; I want to see how y'all fit in there.
Part of me doesn't want to answer this question, not out of shame, but mainly because when we started playing shows we would get the "American Fangs, formmerly..." And we would read this shit in the paper -- like, really? Because what we're doing now has nothing to do with the past. Just the future.
Who all's in the band, by the way?
I'm Gus, the lead singer, Shultz on guitars and vocals, Kang on lead guitars and vocals, King on bass guitar and vocals, and Mitch on drums and text messages.
How did the band come together? How long have you been together? And how did you end up recording so quickly after starting?
It's safe to say we've been together for about two years with common setbacks, but we've all been co-defendants for several years. After much of our past attempts at trying to "be a band" slumped, we told ourselves, "remember back when bands just slayed? no BS, no buttfuckin', no haircuts, no hypes? Let's take it back to that." We all remembered what it was like to get loud and not give a fuck about the light at the end of the tunnel, or the possibility of a deal, etc. It was all about slaying. Fuck playing it safe.
When we started we wrote several tunes that we loved, although the response we were getting when we played out was the equivalent to your girl throwing up in your mouth. After several months of not doing anything, our bass player, Kyle, sent us all emails that included alot of our songs he had recorded by himself. It was such a surprise and a slap in the face that we decided to get together a couple times to see if we still felt that way in the studio. We wrote a few more tunes and agreed that before we played any shows we would record an EP. We took our project to Jerry Nettles' spot, City Hall Studios here in Houston, and got to work.
American Fangs record cover
And following on from that, how did you end up sounding like you do? You're an odd band in that you're pretty much a rock band with some punkish energy and influences, I'm guessing, but you're not really "punk". Does that make sense?
I follow you but we're not the products of "what's hot" or the latest new black, which is probably why that sounds we sound the way we do. We're mid-to-late 20s fellas that are against contributing to whatever the new hot demographic for getting people on a bandwagon to sell records is. Most of this started DIY, and we still carry that mentality with us. We tend to embody influences and outlooks from the far left, along with old or unorthodox approaches to making sure you shake that leg!
American Fangs pic #2
Photo by Ryan Booth.
Influences from the far left? I got that there was some politics lurking behind the lyrics in a couple of the songs; anything you can elaborate on?
"Far left," like... Sam the Sham & the Pharoahs -- he wrote the song "Wooly Bully" -- or Shyne...influences, genres; sometimes it's just visual stimulation that inspires a song. They don't necessarily have to be from the far left...but we definitely don't get ideas from the shit that's been in regular rotation for the past five-to-ten years on your local radio that's still deemed "new."
Was there a particular idea behind the name of the band? I'm asking because it seems to capture you guys' sound pretty much perfectly.
It's funny you say that, 'cause we feel the same way! I had the name "The Fangs," and a lot of the content and attitude is, dare we say, American as fuck? We are American as fuck.
What's the reception been like to the EP? Had you been playing a while before releasing it?
The response to the EP has been just what we wanted. Some people find it refreshing. Some take it as their own personal throwback, which is great cause it takes us back to your second question. Bringing that vibe back is good, and feels good. Like an old pair of kicks you thought you lost, but you didn't lose 'em, you just piled a bunch of new designer clothes on top of them and then realized you paid way too much to look like a tip. (Tip = dick, if you ain't know.) And some people just don't get it. Which is okay. They'll get it in a couple of months.
What's a typical American Fangs show like? I have yet to see you guys live, so I'm trying to picture it in my head.
Pretty rowdy. The stage ends up trashed. People lose teeth. The sound men and crew are pissed. The people continue to thrash long after we're done. It gets you fired up; it definitely gets us fired up.
Who does the songwriting? Is it a group effort?
It just depends. Everyone in the band is a songwriter. Most of the time the songs that we keep end up writing themselves. We're all on the same page; we keep them when a song is being birthed, and it's lighting a fire under us from the get go.
What's next? Any plans to tour outside Texas and beyond? And are there any plans for a followup to the EP? Please?
We've got a May 8th show at Fitzgeralds downstairs, and after that we'll be recording our full-length album, due out Fall 2009. We're going to be on the East Coast much of the summer and after, doing some Afro-punk shows, as well as SummerFest in Milwaukee.
American Fangs pic #3
Gus. Photo by Clare Bear.
"Afro-punk shows"? Like for the movie/festival over in Brooklyn? And how'd you get hooked up with SummerFest? That seems like a long ways from home.
Yessir, the movie/festival in Brooklyn! Looking forward to that, most definitely! SummerFest was just something we've been inquiring about for awhile, and we're know getting to sink our teeth in.
No title for the album that's coming out this fall; if we don't end up doing a self-titled, I'm sure the album name will be something that will result in a nice big censorship sticker.
Have you started writing songs for it already? Just wondering if it's going to be along the lines of the EP or something else entirely.
We have already started the full-length. If you enjoyed the EP, which we'll say was like driving 90 mph in a school zone, the full length is like that same vehicle catching fire then exploding in front of that school and having all the kids go "YES!"...'cause we all know...that rules.
Any bands you like here in town right now?
Mechanical Boy, Fat Tony, Female Demand, Young Mammals, The MacKenzies, Bolt, American Sharks, The Last Starfighter, Perseph One, Sideshow Tramps, to name a few...
Okay, I normally hate to ask about the meaning of a song, since it's often totally subjective, but I have to know: what the fuck is "Le Kick" about? I should note that that song, in particular, blows me away every damn time -- it's like the Foo Fighters at points, Rancid at others, and I don't know what besides.
We're glad you dig it. Our guitarist Shelby and I mashed up lyrically on this one. It's just about the trouble we used to cause as boys before this band and the trouble we get into now as a band.
I appreciate, by the way, that you posted all the lyrics to the EP songs up on the MySpace after the EP was out -- I tend to get frustrated when I can't understand what somebody's singing, so it's been a big help for me. What made you decide to do that?
When we play live there can be a lot to digest, whether it's the energy or the whole atmosphere itself. We don't want people to think we're just shitting out of our mouth, though...even if that would be equally as gnarly.
A lot of people want to know what's being said, and we wanted our EP artwork, which Shelby designed, to illustrate more of the political, social, financial, religious, and outrageous content our songs include, rather than be a cute picture of us and lyrics to each song neatly printed in cursive.
So there are no photos and no lyrics in the EP, just sick artwork. END