The members of Portland’s thunderous, riff-happy Red Fang don’t necessarily regret documenting their unquenchable thirst for really cheap beer in a series of music videos. They certainly weren’t subtle about it. In the video for “Prehistoric Dog,” for example, the band builds armor out of discarded Miller High Life and Tecate cans in order to fight off unruly LARP enthusiasts. “Wires” follows the band through a quest to blow a $5,000 Relapse Records royalty check, including a stop at a liquor store to stock up on Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Throw in a booze-filled air-guitar championship in “Hank Is Dead” and a fight with a pack of zombies determined to drink all the beer in the world in “Blood Like Cream,” and the penchant for imbibing starts to seem more like a persona than a coincidence.
We wanted to find out exactly how deep the band’s love for discounted beer goes, so we bought four cans of some of the cheapest malt liquor we could find and met guitarists David Sullivan and Bryan Giles backstage at the Summit Music Hall before a recent show. We asked them about their reputation as a “beer band.”
“We’re actually trying to get away from that,” said Sullivan. “We like drinking beer, but being the ‘beer band’ is a little tough. I like the whole idea of drinking beer and playing rock and roll, but I want people to know we’re not drinking all the time.”
“We’re not as big a [pair] of knuckleheads as we seem in our videos,” added Giles.
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However, we had already bought the beers, and they were getting warmer by the minute. The musicians were excellent sports. When we set the four cans upon the table, Sullivan perked up. “Oh, man — Camo Black Ice? I used to start off my night with this!”
They may not be in a “beer band,” but they definitely know their stuff. What follows is Red Fang’s ratings of some last-ditch brews.
Crazy Stallion (5.9 percent alcohol by volume)
Sullivan: This is good. It’s got a little bit of the hairiness that a malt liquor has, but it’s not bad at all. It reminds me of Schlitz. I’ve had a lot of these. I think people hear “malt liquor” and think it has bad connotations, but I think it’s good. Score: 8/10
Giles: I think it’s brutal! I don’t drink malt liquor, because it’s like getting a hangover before you’re done drinking. The can makes it look like they used to carry this type of stuff around in cowhide sacs. Score: 5/10
Pit Bull (10.2 percent ABV)
Sullivan: It looks like it’d be grape because of the purple dog.... Ecch, I don’t like this one as much. The bubbles are too tiny or something; it’s almost a little too smooth. It’s not gross, but I know I can’t drink a whole one of those — it’s not bubbly enough. Score: 6/10
Giles: This kind of beer would make me more legit on the streets. People may think, “Oh, he might have a gun.” Just look at the can! There’s a pit bull behind a fence. Why is it behind the fence? Well, not because it’s friendly. He’s mean, like me. Score: 4/10
Camo Black Ice (10.5 percent ABV)
Sullivan: I used to drink this stuff for fun. Right now, I’m sleep-deprived enough.... I’m in a great mood after having just a couple sips! Score: 8/10
Giles: I have no history with this stuff, so I’m giving it a four. Score: 4/10
Four Loko Watermelon Flavor Malt Beverage (12 percent ABV)
Sullivan: I found a place recently that had a root beer stout. It tasted like really good root beer candy with, like, a hint of Jägermeister. It’s kind of like how this tastes like watermelon candy — only this is gross. Score: 3/10
Giles: Nope, I can’t. Score: 0/10