This is not the story of a typical rock’n’roll band.
“In music, everybody wants to be part of something big,” explains American Fangs frontman Gabe Cavazos. “But sometimes we zig when others zag. We stick out like a sore thumb. And that’s ok. We create our own vibe.”
That vibe — loud guitars, big hooks, punk rock attitude — has already won American Fangs a fervent fanbase and a number of big-name (and wildly diverse) tours, ranging from Saul Williams to the Deftones to Chevelle. And it’s a vibe that’s more than apparent on the band’s debut album, American Fangs, the first release under rock promoter/manager Bill McGathy’s new record label In De Goot Recordings.
Typical or not, that’s a pretty strong start for any band, especially one hailing from the rather atypical music Mecca of … Houston.
“It’s not necessarily what people think of when they look for great music,” admits Cavazos. “But there’s a lot of talent here.”
At least enough talent to put together AF. “We all were in different groups, but we go together because we realized we all had the same idea of what we wanted a band to be,” says the singer. “And that’s grown into an amazing bond.”
That idea was American Fangs, a name that struck a strong visual tone and, as Cavazos puts it, exuded the right “who-gives-a-shit” attitude….something the band also brought to the stage. “There was a lot more anarchy early on,” Cavazos admits. “But it was exhausting, like musical whiplash. In the end, we’re a fan of songs. We want to share those, have people enjoy it, and not necessarily have anything else overshadow the music.”
One person who caught on early was Bill McGathy, a rock industry vet best known for his work with Shinedown, Neon Trees, 3 Doors Down and Grammy-Award winning Halestorm. “He saw us just as we started, and stuck by us from the get-go,” says Cavazos. “Finally, one day he just said, ‘go record something. I wanna release this.”
To capture the band’s wild side on record, the band enlisted producer Mike Watts (As Tall as Lions, The Dear Hunter, Brand New). “Mike’s really cool,” says Cavazos. “He saw us at a showcase a long time back and he was the only person who came up and asked how we thought we sounded. He saw our potential, but he doesn’t spare us any feelings if we sound like shit. So when it came time to do this record, we were like ‘we want that guy.”
The end result is an adrenalized blast of loud guitar rock, underlined with dynamic musicianship and emotional honesty. First single “Pomona,” named after “the goddess of fruitful abundance,” is a revved-up radio anthem full of “whoa whoa whoa” chants. Meanwhile, other standouts like “Riot Food” come off as cranked-up power pop, while “Apple of My Eye” recalls the best of 90s alt-rock.
But the band also shines during slower moments, like the ballad “Sorry” Says Cavazos: “That’s about the brief period of time when I was homeless as a kid. That song means a lot to me. Mike pushed me to dig deep on that one.”
With the record finished, the band is hitting the road with Hollywood Undead and Falling in Reverse, and converting a whole new audience. “I’m psyched: people will see we’ve got an energy when we play live,” Cavazos says. “There’s a rhythm there. You can tell we really believe in what we’re doing.”
Just don’t expect a typical rock’n’roll concert.
“That’s true, though even I’ve had to tone it down a bit,” says Cavazos, laughing. “I can’t always be in people’s faces or climbing stuff during every song. But it’s nice to go to a show and see people cut loose, see girls having a blast. It’s something that’s been missing from music for a while now.”