"We're Trying to Be a Real Band in the 21st Century": Title Fight Discuss Their Spacey New Album, 'Hyperview'
The young, wild sons of hardcore have grown up.
It's not often that a hardcore band releases an album inspired by Dinosaur Jr. and the Beach Boys, but Title Fight aren't most bands. Although the members are still relatively young, they've been playing together for over a decade, first in their hometown of Kingston, Pennsylvania, and in recent years, basically everywhere else in the world. This week, they release their ANTI- Records debut Hyperview which sees them eschewing hardcore's finger-pointing formulas in favor of something a bit more spacey and atmospheric. Chances are you'll like it but if you don't, please don't throw a note onstage that says "you're the worst fucking band I've ever paid to see," which actually happened to Title Fight's bassist/vocalist Ned Russin when they played in Portland, Oregon, with Quicksand. "I sent out a song to that guy when we played last time," he adds with a laugh. Read on to see what else Russin has to say.
Noisey: It's been a while since we heard from Title Fight. What have you guys been up to?
Ned Russin: The last tour we did was with Balance and Composure and we had from then until July basically free. We had a couple commitments. We did Coachella in April and some random fests and weekend stuff but had most of January through July to be home and write, so we tried to practice three to four days a week, depending on everyone's schedules. Then we would go down to the studio in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, once a month because it's only about an hour away and flesh out more ideas with [producer] Will [Yip] until July when we fully committed to the studio.
What's it like working with Will as opposed to say, Walter Schreifels?
At this point, it's second nature to us, we've done every record with Will. Walter produced the first record and Will engineered it and mixed it and did everything else basically. When we did the record with Walter, it was the first time working with a producer and we were 19 or 20 years old and really nervous about the idea of a producer coming in and being like, "this song sucks." Luckily, Walter wasn't that guy at all, he was way more relaxed and more of a coach. After that, we decided that working with a producer wasn't the overbearing experience we were afraid of so we met with a bunch of producers and then went to Will and were like, "You're our friend, you're a good musician, we know you're an intelligent guy, so you should just do this." So we did [2012's] Floral Green with Will and going with him this time again was an easy decision. It just feels like working with our friend we've known for our whole life even though we've only known each other for a few years.
How conscious was the direction of the new album?
I feel like we always try to go into each record doing something different. That's important to us, we never want to go in and make the same record again. So last January, we started to write this batch of songs. It was these heavier, more dissonant songs but with moments of grooves spread throughout, so the idea was that this was going to be a heavier record. Not like "metal" heavy but just darker. So we had been throwing around those ideas but once we got into the studio we gravitated toward a totally different batch of songs and that's what made the record. We had this idea to do this sort of style and when we sat down to record, we threw it out the window and went a totally different direction that we didn't expect to go.
Was pretty much everyone on the same page to scrap the old stuff and start fresh?
There was a bit of butting of heads at times, I think especially toward the beginning when it was deciding which direction we were going with the record. I think we had 13 or 14 songs and we were like, "If we pick this batch of ten, its a completely different record than this batch of ten." Only at those two moments when we were deciding the direction was there a little bit of turmoil. We weren't mad or getting in fights but certain people were just more apprehensive. When we heard the songs mixed and in sequence, everyone was fine with it and very excited but that leap of faith seemed a little bit much. I think now looking back, it’s more manageable than we thought it was at the time.
What's the reaction been like so far?
The press people seem to be into it, I guess that's cool. That's a weird world for me because it's something I don't understand. I appreciate it when people have nice stuff to say about me and when they don't, I hate them. [Laughs.] So it's hard for me to pick my battles with that. But the close friends I've sent it to are the people who say, "I really like the record but it took me a minute to get into it." I think the fact that it wasn't exactly what people expected means they had to sit and digest it and work through the songs. I hope that is how everybody will listen to it because there are definitely moments on the record that might catch people off guard but I don't think it's that different, honestly. It's definitely an evolution but it makes sense in the path of the band.
Title Fight, way back when.
Similarly, you've really built Title Fight without a lot of fanfare. Do you feel you've been able to sustain this band successfully without really worrying what the press thinks of you?
I'd like to think. We definitely put our priorities in a matter of writing music that we appreciate it and playing that music live and anything else is icing on the cake. We have to get our records out to press, do interviews, and pose for photo shoots every once in a while, which is stuff that's required when you're a full-time touring band—but we aren't seeking those things out for the most part. I love doing interviews and talking to kids for their fanzines, but we've always been a band that has more of a presence touring than being on social media trying to convince people to check us out. We're trying to be a real band in the 21st century which is a hard thing to do right now because there's so much that goes before playing music.
Finally, is it still true that you won't play shows that don't allow stagediving?
That's not necessarily true. I'm 24 now and at this point in my life, I'll play behind a barrier—but if you had asked me even two years ago, I would say, "No, never." The last time we played Philly before this tour we just got off, this kid stagedove and fell right on this head and we had to stop the show and he got taken out on a stretcher. He was fine. I heard he actually refused the ambulance and tried to get back into the show and the people at Union Transfer were like, "We can't let you back in, you almost just died." That really scared me and I don't want to say it set me straight but as a person who is playing a show and has people coming to see them, I feel a responsibility to keep those people safe.
Jonah Bayer is on Twitter - @mynameisjonah