Interview with Title Fight - London, Ontario - April 2011
By Alex Young
Photos by Srah Ready
As a hardcore punk band, Title Fight packs a sonic punch that’s as subtle as a fist to the face. The band cut their teeth playing basement shows and garage gigs in Kingston Pennsylvania, and after releasing five demos and contributing to countless hardcore compilations, they finally have given birth to their debut album that’s simply entitled “Shed”, found on the indie kingpin label SideOne Dummy.
SideOne Dummy has a reputation for signing prestigious underground sensations and shoving them into public consciousness. Current alumni with the label include Anti-Flag, The Gaslight Anthem, and Big D & The Kids Table. Title Fight spoke with Lithium Magazine recently, bringing us up to date with their tour alongside Canadian punk sensations Comeback Kid. They also spoke about what it’s like working with a record label for the first time, and the current state of modern punk rock.
Alex: Considering the name of the band is Title Fight, do you feel that “Shed” was your shot at the belt, or a shot at making a name for yourselves?
Shane: I don’t think we looked at it that way, but sometimes a debut full-length for a hardcore band is not like a make-or-break thing. But a lot of bands don’t even get to that point. The fact we were able to do it in a nice studio with a producer on a cool label that definitely made us think it should be a definitive Title Fight release. I think it is.
Alex: What was it like going from releasing albums on your own to joining Sideone Dummy? What are some of the pros and cons of stepping it up to that whole other level?
Ned: It’s a pretty big difference and it’s been pretty cool so far. The main thing is going from releasing it on Run For Cover Records, which is our friend Jeff; he runs it out of his bedroom in his apartment, to doing it with Sideone Dummy who has an office in Los Angeles. We get bombarded with emails all day long, “Can you approve this?” “Can you give us this information?” It’s cool that they spend so much attention on detail, but it’s a bit…
Ned: It definitely is overwhelming, but it’s cool at the same time because that means it’s going to be a bigger deal than anything we’ve ever done before. We’re happy with it because it’s definitely our best release, we spent the most time with it, and hopefully it’s going to be worth all the attention that they’re giving to us.
Alex: How did the whole tour with Comeback Kid fall into place?
Ben: We did a tour last spring, it was us, Comeback Kid and the opener was revolving, so we knew those from last year and we got along pretty well. We got an offer for this tour, originally it was going to be five dates, but then it turned into eight and we decided to do it because we’ve never done a proper run of Canada before. So we thought it would be cool to do it with our friends in Comeback Kid who are from Canada, who we know do pretty well up here so we’re pretty grateful for this experience.
Alex: Yeah, and how has the experience been so far?
Ben: It’s been good! It’s just a run of Ontario and Quebec. The French Canadian dates were a little far out there for us, I guess because I don’t think our name has been exposed to those parts before. But that’s what’s cool; we can go there and play to a bunch of new faces and a bunch of kids who have never heard of us before. But the shows around here (Ontario) have been awesome for us.
Alex: What are some of the advantages of playing to a bunch of people who have no idea who your bands is and have that element of surprise to sucker punch them out of nowhere?
Ned: I think it’s cool because a lot of people that go to shows with expectations of what they think a band is going to be like, they already know who it is and what they think about them, they already know they’re own perception. So going to play to people who have possibly never heard of you before, they’re just watching you play, listening to your songs and judging you off that.
Alex: There’s no preconception attached to it.
Ned: Our first record has been out for two years now; we recorded it in December of 2008. We’ve had it for a long time, but we’ve sold a bunch of CD’s on this tour which is crazy for us because we’ve had it for a long time. I kind of feel like its old at this point, but these people are picking it up, which is a good sign, I feel like.
Alex: That it’s just starting to catch on now at this point.
Ned: It’s cool because these people seeing us might not be going crazy or singing every word but they’re interested in us and they go and they pick up the CD. We’re gaining new listeners, gaining new fans, and getting out there and playing to new people. It’s a cool experience you don’t have all the time, because we’ve been across the United States and we pretty much know what we’re going to be involved in when we play across the States. But playing in new places, playing in Canada or anywhere across the world, it’s a completely different experience, it’s really unique.
Alex: What are some of the advantages to gaining fans through touring and word of mouth and exposing people to your entire sound rather than being a viral sensation or having people know one song?
Ned: I think that’s something that we pride ourselves on, we’re a band. You know?
Alex: Not a one hit wonder.
Ned: Exactly, we’re not a one hit wonder, we’re not a band with a cool Myspace layout, or the most tweets in the world or anything. We have fun playing the shows because to us, that’s what being in a band is about. We’ve been going to shows since we were little kids, we’ll still go to shows when we’re home and even when we’re out on the road we’ll play a show, pack up and see another show at night. It’s what we like, and we put everything we have into playing live, writing these songs and performing them. I think it shows, at least I hope so. A lot of people are really receptive to us when we play live, that’s something I’m really proud of, we play shows and we care about it. We’re not doing this as a popularity contest; we do this because we care about it. I hope people can relate to that.
Alex: What’s it like to play punk now compared to ten or twenty years ago when there were rules about what was “punk” and what wasn’t, rather than focus on your own sound?
Ned: I think being involved in punk and hardcore is something that’s still unique and is a rebellion to all other types of music, and that’s what I like about it. It’s not your everyday, average thing. You can’t turn on the radio and hear Bad Brains in a typical setting; you can’t hear the Cro-Mags or Black Flag because it’s not socially normal. I think that’s cool, I think that’s something a lot of other genres in music don’t have. It’s a popular genre and it’s important, but at the same time it’s not your everyday average thing. There has been a lot of popularity gained since it started, bands being on major labels in the nineties, even as far as getting on MTV - Quicksand touring with Anthrax and all that stuff. It’s crazy how far it’s come, but at the same time it’s still an underground movement, if that’s what you want to call it, and that’s what attractive to us, it’s the music.
Alex: Yeah, it’s not stapled on an image like what color your Mohawk is or where you got your leather jacket. It’s born in basements, and like you said, record labels in bedrooms.
Ned: That’s what kind of people we are and that’s why we’ve become involved in the music that we like. No matter what happens, there’s going to be bands that are expanding and bands are going to get bigger, you look at bands like Fucked Up that are going on tour with Arcade Fire in Europe. Stuff like that is crazy to think about, and I don’t think it could have happened twenty years ago. Now, in 2011, all this stuff is happening and it’s cool. I hope it’s always progressing and moving forward, but at the same time stays true to its roots by being this revolt to everything that is considered normal.
Alex: Yeah. That’s all I need, so thanks for taking the time to chat.
Ned: Thanks for doing the interview.