Once Bitten, Twice Shy

Members of local rockers American Fangs battle a self-proclaimed vampire on tour.

On the Road

Maybe the band should have expected strange things to happen when they headed out on tour with Hollywood Undead. Considering their own name, American Fangs, this couldn't have come as a complete shock. Because this sounds more like something that would happen in an episode of HBO's True Blood.

The Houston alt-rockers were winding their way through the upper Midwest with L.A. masked men Hollywood Undead when members of the quintet were involved in an altercation with a fan outside the La Crosse Center in western Wisconsin the night of May 14. According to the La Crosse Tribune, a 23-year-old man assaulted a guitarist for Hollywood Undead after throwing a barricade through the window of that band's tour bus. Fangs guitarist Nik Slimp was roughed up in the ensuing scuffle and wound up chipping a tooth.

Surely American Fangs hope no one tries to bite them at Free Press Summer Fest this weekend.
Courtesy of American Fangs
Surely American Fangs hope no one tries to bite them at Free Press Summer Fest this weekend.
Delbert McClinton says he has little trouble finding trouble in Houston.
New West Records
Delbert McClinton says he has little trouble finding trouble in Houston.

Oh, and one more thing. The alleged assailant, one Scott Mehtala, reportedly told police he was a vampire. Perhaps more pertinently, Mehtala told police he was high on heroin and had a blood-alcohol content of 0.12, the Tribune said.

Fangs lead singer Gabriel Cavazos remembers Mehtala as a large, "pretty intimidating" fellow. He says the band had already played their set that night, and Slimp and two other guitarists in the band were outside the venue changing clothes when they spied Mehtala apparently trying to break into the Hollywood Undead tour bus.

"They tried to calm him down, and he sucker-punched one of them, and the other two got to him and beat him up," Cavazos told Rocks Off last week on the way to the band's show in Clifton Park, New York.

Slimp is doing fine now, the singer adds, likening the battered guitarist's post-brawl appearance to that of the title character of '80s B-horror movie The Toxic Avenger.

"Actually, today is the first day we're like, 'Wow, you don't look like total crap,'" says Cavazos. "He looked like the Toxic Avenger. His face was pretty banged up. He had to have a tooth grinded down because one of his teeth were chipped from the punch.

"But it was good," he adds. "After the fact, we couldn't stop laughing."

The moral of the story, agrees Cavazos, is that "drugs are bad."

The singer says he was actually inside watching Hollywood Undead when all the vampire excitement happened, and that he enjoys mingling with fans after the group performs. Inside the arena, he chuckles about his vampire-fighting bandmates, "is where they should have been."

"I was [wondering], 'Where are the guys at?' and our bass player comes in covered in blood," recalls Cavazos. "He was like, 'You won't believe what happened.'"

Ironically, the show happened the same night that American Fangs' Sony-distributed debut album, American Fangs, was released. Eleven songs loaded with super-size pop-punk choruses and assorted nods to '90s alt-rock heroes like Weezer, it's a worthy heir to the buzzy but sincere albums once made by the likes of blink-182 and Foo Fighters.

Since it's also been completed since February 2012, Cavazos says playing songs they wrote awhile ago every night almost makes it feel like a different album.

"I don't think we're the only band that deals with that," he says. "But at the same time we're so proud of it, and we hadn't really had a chance to share it, that the newness comes right back. Especially when you're playing outside of Houston or to people who have never heard of us."

Although American Fangs has just been released, Cavazos jokes that the band has already talked about writing a song about the Great La Crosse Vampire Battle of 2013 on their next record.

"There's a bit of humor in some of our songs," he allows. "It would fit well, but it would all be for shits and giggles."

American Fangs perform 1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 1, on the Neptune Stage at the sold-out Free Press Summer Fest in Eleanor Tinsley Park, and open for Fall Out Boy at Bayou Music Center Friday, June 7.

Inquiring Minds

Still Crazy
Straight-talking Texas soul man Delbert McClinton has known some "brazen" Houston women.

William Michael Smith

It's noon, and 72-year-old Delbert McClinton sounds like he's just woken up and maybe had the first cigarette of the day. But he's a pro and is ready to talk about his career; his forthcoming New West Records album with old running buddy Glen Clark, Blind, Crippled & Crazy; and his experiences in Houston.

Rocks Off: You've been at this a long time now. Has there ever been a moment when you thought you'd just hang it up, try something else?

Delbert McClinton: Nah, not even once. I was lucky enough to get a little taste of success early on, and I just kept showing up. It's a cliché, but I really wouldn't trade what I do for anything.

RO: We were listening to the album with a friend who described "If I Could Be Your Lover" as "Sehnsuchtig."

DM: Say what?

RO: Yeah, I know. It's a German word that means regretful or filled with regret. Seemed like a perfect description of that song and that voice you get into.

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