Local Rock Band Popular in the Early Aughts Gets Vinyl Reissue Courtesy Field Day Records

Red Animal War plays Three Links on Saturday, Dec. 23, with Casey Hess & the Alexander.

This month, a rock band that gained steam in Dallas in the late '90s is celebrating the reissue of one of its first albums. Red Animal War originally released Black Phantom Crusades through North Carolina-based Deep Elm Records (which took its name from the Dallas neighborhood).

“It opened a lot of doors for us,” frontman Justin Wilson says. Fifteen years later, local label Field Day Records is committing Black Phantom Crusades to vinyl.

Although the band went on hiatus in 2006, it has since played many one-off reunion shows. Now, a more permanent reunion seems to be on the horizon, and Wilson is excited to play songs from the first album again.

“We’ve always wanted to have it released on vinyl,” he says. “It’ll be nice to have an actual vinyl of the art and all the songs. We’re all super stoked.”

Black Phantom Crusades wasn't Red Animal War's debut, but 2001's Breaking in an Angel was more like a collection of songs and was originally intended to be two separate EPs. The band worked with renowned producer Ed Rose, known for his work with the Get Up Kids, Coalesce and the Appleseed Cast, but the process was rushed.

“We were halfway prepared,” Wilson says. “That was our first real album recording.”

Red Animal Ward had only a week to get everything recorded and mixed, and Wilson began losing his voice shortly into recording. Nevertheless, Breaking in an Angel showcased the band’s unique post-hardcore sound, a blend of Hot Water Music and Jawbox,.

Before recording Black Phantom Crusades, the band rarely played its material live. In between albums, it put out split singles and EPs, including fan favorite “77.”

So when Red Animal War released a full album in 2002 and began playing it out, it surprised the audience.
The band toured the States and Europe extensively, and songs such as “Mouse,” “Jambalaya,” “Photel California” and “When Fat Pigs Fly" quickly became live favorites.

Wilson says the songs they wrote in the early 2000s are just as relevant today.

“It’s nice to revisit that theme of what happens when you have a [totalitarian] theocracy on the rise,” he says. “That was the theme of the whole thing, for the most part. People feeling afraid they had no options because of the ever-growing Christian extreme type of mentality and every person getting swept up in wars.”

Wilson says he’s regularly practicing with drummer Jeff Wilganoski; they live near one another in Austin. Longest-tenured bassist Brian Phó lives in Los Angeles, but Wilson is trying to lure him to Austin as well. Only guitarist Matt Pittman still lives in Dallas.

While Wilson says there are no plans for a new album, those who attend the vinyl release show Dec. 23 at Three Links can expect to hear new music.

“Any future shows will have new material because we’ve been working on it," he says.

Red Animal War, 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 23, Three Links, 2704 Elm St., $8, ticketfly.com

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