War Stories

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While the band is busy trying to impress audiences in other cities, it's still trying to win over Dallas audiences as well. Seems like until the last year or so, people had never heard of Red Animal War in Dallas, or if they had they didn't pay much attention. But the band's been gaining fans slowly and surely. The group has been together since 1998, and its members have been together much longer. Wilson and Pittman played in Kid Tested, starting when Pittman was 15. Pho, Wilganoski and Wilson were, at one time or another, all in another band, The Briefing Room, around the same time. Wilganoski also played some with Kid Tested.

"It finally all kind of whittled down to one band," Wilson says. "Me and Matt and Jeff started playing with Jamie [Shipman, Red Animal War's first bassist]. And then The Briefing Room wasn't a band anymore, so Brian wasn't really in a band. And then Jamie left. We'd all known each other before the band. We've all played with each other somehow."

"I was actually in the band before Matt was," Pho points out.

"Oh yeah. Brian was at our first practice, and Matt wasn't," Wilson remembers.

"They told me the wrong place," Pittman says. "I was there waiting with my amp and guitar at your house." He points at Wilson.

"Brian was trying to get us to kick Matt out of the band," Wilson continues, laughing. 'Dude, you don't need Matt Pittman. I can play guitar.' Remember that?" Everyone laughs.

Red Animal War played mostly in Arlington at first (at the now-defunct Zombie's, among other places) as well as at a few clubs in Fort Worth and Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios in Denton, where booker Kris Youmans got the band on the bill for some good shows. The group has kept up its relationship with Youmans; he's helping book its next tour, scheduled to begin in July. (Red Animal War is hitting the road with Baltimore's Sand Which Is, who's Big Crunch label is releasing a split single featuring one song each by both bands around the same time.) Of course, at the time, at the beginning, Youmans wanted to...

"He was trying to kick me out, too," Pittman says.

Wilson says, "Yeah, Kris Youmans was trying to get us to fire Matt, too, but he definitely helped a lot."

They didn't have as much help in Dallas, at first. As the band played more shows in Dallas, it made more friends, got better shows. Playing with bands like Chomsky and the pAper chAse helped. Playing with Doosu helped even more. One Ton Records boss Aden Holt took a liking to them, including the group on the first installment of his Buzz-Oven project, which distributes free three-band compilations to area high schools and follows them up with a handful of all-ages concerts featuring the bands on the disc. Red Animal War is good enough on its own, but to get people to notice that, it needed help.

But no one helped the guys learn that when you turn up in a grocery store well after midnight--scruffy from being away from home for a few days or a few weeks, sweaty from that night's show--it's probably not a bad idea to leave the video camera in the van. Just so you don't attract even more attention to yourselves. That one they had to learn on their own.

Except Red Animal War needs to attract attention to itself--maybe not that kind of attention, necessarily--so the next time the band comes to town, more people will be at the show, more people will buy records, more people will notice. More more more. And people are starting to notice, even fans as far away as Japan and Germany. Of course, the members of Red Animal War aren't sure the writers who have reviewed Breaking in an Angel in a handful of foreign 'zines are fans. They don't even know what they're saying.

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Zac Crain
Contact: Zac Crain