As far as band names go, What Great Fangs is one of the best I’ve had the pleasure of hearing. First finding them through Creighton Hill, who is their “howler,” What Great Fangs lives up to its name live. They grumble and growl, roar and roll, yelp and yell, holler and howl, shriek and snarl at their shows. Heed what you’re hearing as they will give you a proper, petrifying punishment when they perform.
A 5-piece Southern Metal band from Wheeling, WV, WGF foraged to find each other. Creighton Hill – vocals, Brandon von Fehr – guitars, and Sean Calangelo – drums, put together the pack after the Maritime Militia members, of which Brandon and Sean were a part of and Creighton produced videos for, dispersed. John-Mark King – guitar, played with Creighton in Carnea, and finally Josh Berka – bass, was brought in and the band began.
What Great Fangs has a sound that is burrowed in metal beginnings but they have seeds of a different sound that have sprouted. Their tree has metal roots with very versatile branches that are beginning to bloom. With many members that have clocked tons of band time, WGF is a biting breed of a band. They put on a legion-like live show in which songs don’t get stuck in your head, but leave a “thriving pain,” in which the only medicine is more, more, MORE!
WGF were on West Liberty University’s T.V. show Noise Violation two times, lead off for the Boston-based band Lions Lions, competed in and captured the Altar Bar Battle of the Bands in Pittsburgh, and can be seen searching for another first place finish in the Gorilla Music Battle of the Bands at the Rex Theater in Pittsburgh on April 14th.
Sara Fincham: Let’s just start with the band name. So intriguing! What’s the story, who came up with it?
Creighton Hill: Thank you. We came up with a lot of band names we liked before we settled on WHAT GREAT FANGS. At one point I was pushing really hard for “Fearsome Beard” (it would have been such a good band name!) and for a while we were considering “Swing Wolves” but then our drummer Sean had to write a paper about us for one of his business classes and once we saw WHAT GREAT FANGS written down on paper we agreed we all loved it. Also WGF is close to WWF and who doesn’t love old school pro wrestling right?
SF: Your live shows are something to see. You exude so much energy and interaction. What is the live experience like, for you, the band, at your shows?
CH: I can’t speak for the rest of the wolves but I think we could all agree that it’s a feeling unlike any other. When I’m jamming with those guys and I have the absolute privilege of sharing a stage with them and we’re playing in front of a crowd that often contains some of my best friends such as Tim Napolitan a.k.a. Crow Hardly, I just get this feeling like if I don’t go all out I might explode. If it wasn’t so awesome and so much fun it might actually be kinda scary.
SF: What do you hope the fans feel or get out of going to see one of your sets?
CH: Again I can’t speak for my brothers but I know what sticks out for me. We played a show in Monroeville, PA one time with a bunch of really awesome bands and met some totally cool people. The place was full of positivity and everybody was just having a real good time but some of the kids there seemed a little nervous about just cutting loose and really getting into the music completely. During our set I said “I don’t know if you guys know this or not but you only get to live this moment once so you can make it just another show or you can make this one a show you’ll never forget.” I don’t know if anybody took that to heart but I meant it.
When people come to our shows I want them to have the same feeling I’m feeling. It’s like this intensity that lets you just go all out and completely indulge in the moment whether that’s moshing or dancing, doing jumping jacks or something. Just letting go and not being embarrassed or nervous to have a good time. That’s what its about for me and I want the people at our shows not to deprive themselves of that either… oh and the ladies can just soak up as much Brandon Von Fehr sexiness as possible during our set!
SF: It seems like most bands take a couple turns with other line-ups before finding a fit. You knew a couple of the guys from bands before. What about them made you approach them for WGF? And how is it different being behind the scenes producing videos as opposed to on the stage singing?
CH: I knew I wanted to start a project with John Mark and Brandon because they were both very talented but more importantly they were guys that I enjoyed hanging out with. The fact that they could play guitar like they were born to do it was just an added bonus. John Mark and I worked together prior to WGF in a metal-core band called Carnea that ended very abruptly leaving us both eager to keep making music. A while after that Brandon and Sean were in a kind of Indie rock group called Maritime Militia that experienced some local success and came up with some really cool songs but they eventually decided to break up. I went to their last show thinking “I better snatch these dudes up before this band gets smart and gets back together!” Fortunately for me they were both ready to start a heavier musical endeavor and once Brandon introduced us to his cousin Josh we all became close friends really quickly. At that point the final line-up was set in stone. WGF was born!
The videos are really just a fun way for us to show that we aren’t a bunch of hard-asses who don’t know how to have a good time. We like to have fun and we aren’t ashamed of it even if some people think smiling and laughing isn’t “metal.” When we play shows we don’t want people to come up to us as nameless fans and beg for our autographs or something like that. We want people to enjoy watching us play as much as we enjoy performing for them and each other and then feel free to hang out with us after our set and get to know us. We keep that in mind when we’re in front of the camera and on stage. The videos let people know they can approach us as friends and in fact hopefully encourage them to.
SF: Is it hard balancing being true to metal roots with adding your own mark, musically? What do you think you do different that makes you so diverse?
CH: Just like with any other musical genre its difficult at times and we’ve hit a couple speed bumps here and there. We all have fairly different musical backgrounds (I grew up listening to punk rock, hip hop, and country music before getting into hardcore music!). I think that’s a good thing though. We draw our inspiration from some really talented metal bands as well as some not so metal bands and we’ve been pretty content with the results.
I think one thing that sets us apart is that we put as much conscious effort into making our songs fun as we do in making our music heavy or crazy. We enjoy coming up with brutal breakdowns as much as we enjoy writing a tasty riff that people can just groove with and bang their heads to. It seems like most heavier bands aren’t really aiming for that right now.
SF: Obviously you all have had a lot of experience, being in other bands or in any aspect of making music. What is the most important thing you’ve learned from your time spent?
CH: I’ve learned a lot about music through being in bands and going to shows and meeting bands but what’s really cool is what it taught me about myself. I’ve considered and reconsidered some things in my life. I’ve had jobs I ended up not liking, I’ve had relationships and friendships that ended up not working out and I’ve done things that I ended up regretting in the long run but I’ve always been so glad that I chose to dedicate at least a portion of my life to music. Being in bands and going to shows and meeting people through these musical encounters has been responsible for the best adventures of my life and it will probably play the most significant role in my future. Music has always had my back and all the things that come along with it; the people, the good times and the drama, for better or worse it can provide so much that nothing else can. That’s the most important thing I’ve learned so far but I’m sure there are more lessons lined up for me down the road.
SF: What upcoming shows do you have? Let’s promote and get the word out about What Great Fangs!
CH: We will be opening for Black Plastic Caskets CD Release show at Goodfellas Bar and Grill in McMechen, WV on Friday March 23 and of course our we will be competing in the Gorilla Music Battle of the Bands Finals at the Rex Theatre on Carson St. in Pittsburgh Saturday April 14th. The battle is an all ages show and tickets are only $8 in advance. As we always like to do, people can expect a little something extra when they buy a ticket from us.