Die großartige Post-Hardcore Band Title Fight, gerade einmal Anfang 20 und schon auf großen Tourneen unterwegs. Am 28. September 2012 haben sie eine Show zusammen mit La Dispute, Make Do And Mend und Into It. Over It. im Backstage gespielt. Wir haben uns vorher mit Sänger und Bassist Ned Russin getroffen. Als er voller Ehrfurcht und wie ein kleiner Junge grinsend von seinem ersten Treffen mit Idol Walter Schreifels erzählte, fanden wir ihn noch sympathischer als er eh schon war. Außerdem haben wir mit ihm über die Musikszene in seinem Heimatdorf Kingston, Pennsylvania geredet, über den Veranstaltungsort, den Title Fight dort aufgebaut haben und darüber, warum er nicht so gerne über seine Lyrics spricht.
Alles Was Rockt For listeners who don’t know Title Fight, can you give me a short summary of your band’s history?
Ned Russin Sure! Title Fight was found in 2003 by Jamie, Ben and myself. We sort of were playing music and we just played locally for the longest time. In 2005, Shane joined on second guitar and then we started playing a lot more and just getting out of there and playing outside of our own home town. Then we wrote a couple of EP’s and 7” and then we started to sign on Side One Dummy Records and put out our record called “Shed”. This was last year and this year we just put out our second full length on Side One Dummy. It’s called “Floral Green” and yeah, we toured a bunch and we put out a couple of records and that’s really it!
Alles Was Rockt How did you discover hardcore music for yourself. Did you grow up in a hardcore scene or how did it come up?
Ned Russin My older brother is seven years older than me and he’s been in bands since I’ve literally been seven years old. So he always like an older brother does, tries to get his younger brother into something he likes so he just showed me some bands and I just was easily into it. So from that young age I always liked the bands he listened to. I just always listened to bands and I turned eleven years old or something and got a bass for my birthday. Then I started playing music on my own and learning songs and writing songs and stuff and just really progressing there. The time we grew up in had a really cool scene and had a lot of local bands and cool local venues. So we always had a great opportunity of seeing bands from all over the world coming to our town and stuff and we got to play with them and watch them. So it was a really cool time and place to grow up!
Alles Was Rockt Which was the first huge band you listened to?
Ned Russin First huge band? Blink-182. My brother showed me them right when “Dude Ranch” came out and I was a little kid and I liked it. It was cool and just kind of getting into them. My brother showed me more bands and I listened to bands like Gorilla Biscuits and then Minor Threat and so on and so on. I just kept continuing.
Alles Was Rockt How did the co-work with Walter Schreifels come up regarding your first release “Shed”?
Ned Russin We worked with the Kenmore Agency and their booking agency. They were really good friends of ours and they also booked Gorilla Biscuits. So I knew that Walter produced bands and I just reached out to the guys of Kenmore and I said “Hey, I know this is kind of a long shot but could you give me Walter’s e-Mail? I just wanted to see if he’d be interested in doing our record.” So I got his e-Mail, sent him an e-Mail and just said “Hey listen, we’re a band, we’re gonna do our first full length record. We don’t have a label right now but here are some songs we’ve been writing and let me know what you think.”
Alles Was Rockt And he wrote back?
Ned Russin Yeah, and he was into it and that was really it. We went to meet him in New York and then he came to Jamie’s parents house and [grinning] we practiced in the basement and then we just worked on songs together and did the record and he produced it. It was really cool! We’ve been in touch since then. We’re friends now. It’s pretty crazy [laughing].
Alles Was Rockt What did you feel when you met him the first time? I mean, you listened to Gorilla Biscuits a lot and then meeting someone you admire and such a huge personality in the music business!
Ned Russin Yeah, I think a big thing that we’ve learned through music is that everybody is on the same level. Just a very basic life lesson: Trying treat everybody the same and treat everybody just as if they’re your friend. So there are a lot of people that I’ve looked up to and I’ve always just tried to keep a level head. They’re just a person like me but they play in cool bands. But meeting Walter was really hard to keep that mentality because so much of what we do and the things that I enjoy and the bands that I like were either directly from him or directly inspired by him. So meeting him was such a big deal and just even still whenever we hang out with them and we talk to it’s just… I just can’t help but smile. It’s really the coolest thing to talk to somebody like that and get advice from them and hear stories from them. To look up to a person like that your whole life and meet them and then to turn out to be an actually nice, friendly person it really made me like Walter more and like all the bands he does so much more!
Alles Was Rockt Cool! You guys are quite young. Does it affect your career? Because I think if you’re older and going on tour it’s not that hard. Your parents and family and friends are so far away. So does it affect you generally?
Ned Russin Yeah! My family are very big on education and we dropped out of college to come and play shows and write music. So it was definitely a big thing, especially because my brother who plays drums and myself are the youngest of six kids. Everybody but us went to college and graduated and went to grad school, you know, and pursued professional careers. We were on the same track and we just kind of are doing our own thing.
Alles Was Rockt What did your parents say?
Ned Russin They were supportive but they were a little bit concerned. Like I said my brother was playing in bands since I can remember him. He toured before we had ever left our home town when we were still very young. It was just a hardcore band and they would go and they would make gas money and they would come back home and that was it and they would go back to their normal life. My parents – that was the only thing I knew what touring was – and they said: “We really wanted to take the opportunity but at the same time if you just gonna go and you’re not gonna do anything with your life and you just kind of come home and be broke then you might wanna go back to school.” And then I said: “Yeah, okay, we’ll see what happens!” So, you know, it was a cool thing that my parents were so supportive but they were definitely concerned when we first told them.
Alles Was Rockt But not anymore?
Ned Russin I mean they still are! But I think they are excited, too, at the same time. We’re at a really cool position right now and we’ve done a lot of cool tours and we’ve seen so much of the world and I think they’re really excited! But it’s hard to be away from home, from my family and girlfriends and friends. But this is what we enjoy doing now.
Alles Was Rockt I read that it’s very hard for you being on tour – eight hours sitting in a bus, four hours hanging around at the venue. Everything for playing half an hour on stage. Do you sometimes think “why the hell am I doing this?”?
Ned Russin [Laughing] I mean, yeah! I think with anything you kind of question it. Even if it’s the thing that you love doing the most in the world I think you always kind of hit the wall. I do kind of hate down time. I wish we were playing all the time and doing something but [laughing] we physically can’t play more than 30 minutes. We got too tired and my voice starts breaking. But I think this tour is so much fun. All the bands on the tour are such great bands, they’re such great people. We’ve been having such a great time hanging out. We knew everybody except for the band La Dispute pretty well and getting to know those guys has been really cool and they’ve become some of our great friends. We’ve had not really many friends around while being on tour and we kind of had to do our own thing for ten hours a day. It gets tedious and boring. But I think it’s such a cool opportunity so I can never complain. Even if we do have to eat McDonald’s every day or do something like that it’s a really cool and unique opportunity.
Alles Was Rockt When you are on tour with La Dispute, Make Do And Mend and Into It. Over It. do you hang around together a lot and are you together in one bus?
Ned Russin Yeah, yeah! This is our first time in Europe where we’re not in a van and it’s really cool. Usually our friend Hans, he’s from Belgium, we’ve known him for a while and he drives us and this time we feel bad because he’s our friend and we didn’t really want to make him drive all night and then he just sleeps all day and we want to hang out with him. Now for the first time he does have to do that so we get to the city early, we got to go and walk around and we got to hang around. All the bands are in the same position. We sleep all on the same bus and we’re all hanging out all night and then we get to the venue and we all wake up and we all can hang out together again.
Alles Was Rockt Are you also doing sightseeing?
Ned Russin Today in Munich we didn’t really go out that much. But we’ve walked around a bunch of other places. Today we sit up pretty late last night so we’re all a little tired. But I think some people went out to Oktoberfest and stuff but that really doesn’t interest me that much.
Alles Was Rockt Three of you guys are writing the lyrics for Title Fight except your brother. Why is that so?
Ned Russin He has written lyrics.
Alles Was Rockt I’ve read that he didn’t.
Ned Russin The thing is he just kind of writes a line here and there. He is a little self-conscious about it, he’s a little nervous. He’s never done it. But anytime he comes up with something it’s really cool. But the main writing is by Shane, Jamie and myself. I don’t know why that’s been so, really [laughing]. I always tell him to write stuff and I always want to hear what he has to say and how he would put it into lyrics but it’s just the position that we’ve have and that’s how we’ve always done stuff.
Alles Was Rockt How do you approach songwriting?
Ned Russin It goes different song by song but for the most part it’s a lot of a person come to practice of the part that they wrote. We just usually say “I wrote this, I’m thinking we’re going in this direction, what do you guys think”. And we’re all trying, having our own input and write accordingly to the song. So we try to make it as much as a group effort as possible. It works really well for us and it makes all of us happy. All of us feel we have a say in the song. I think we also know each other well enough and how we write that we complement each other pretty well in the songwriting process which is cool. So for the most of the time that’s how we do it. Sometimes are there some songs on the new record that we were starting writing and they would just kind of write themselves. Like the song “Secret Society” it just kind of… once it got started it just kind of…
Alles Was Rockt …flowed…
Ned Russin Yeah, and it went pretty quickly and it didn’t take much changing. But sometimes there’ll be songs that we work for literally two or three weeks and it would still wouldn’t be finished. So it depends song by song but it’s always a group effort.
Alles Was Rockt Besides rehearsing and touring and doing a record you opened the Redwood Art Space.
Ned Russin Yesss!
Alles Was Rockt How do you do that with your time? It takes a lot of time to maintain the venue.
Ned Russin When it started we’ve been home for four or five months. So we helped set everything up and paint the walls, build the stage, set up the PA and help out with the first couple of shows. Then we were on tour. Our friends at home, there’re a couple of guys and they run it and book shows and do all the stuff, maintain everything. And when we are home we go and help out, too.But it’s a big community effort which is really cool. So we’re in the middle of changing locations right now but we’re gonna be hopefully up and running by the end of the year and we’re gonna just keep doing the same thing. Our friends will keep booking shows. When we’re home we go and do whatever we can to help.
Alles Was Rockt Why did the town not support maintaining the other venue, Metropolis which had to be closed?
Ned Russin That’s weird. Especially when coming over to Europe we see how much the community helps out with the arts. And not only in music but you walk in the town and you see all this great art – old paintings and new modern paintings and anything artistic which is very cool. In our area escpecially it’s really swept under the rug which is pretty sad. Especially we come from such a small town…
Alles Was Rockt How many people are in your town?
Ned Russin We looked it up yesterday actually. It was like 50.000 people or something. And the majority of them are just elderly people and they don’t really care…
Alles Was Rockt But in Europe it’s the same. Munich is a big city, here we have enough venues. But if you go further into the rural areas it’s the same.
Ned Russin Yeah, so we didn’t really get much support from the community. The only people supporting it were ourselves and the people that were coming to the shows and the bands that were playing. So we were into some problems with the local government and they were trying to give us some slack about security and paying fees to let us do shows. They just kind of kept making up stuff to kind of make money of it. So we got out of there and we’re going into another location but we’ve changed into a different town. It’s probably only ten minutes away from our last location. Hopefully we won’t run into any issues again but if we do we’re just gonna keep our heads up and keep moving.
Alles Was Rockt You will do it! When I read your songtexts I found them quite depressing.
Ned Russin [Laughing]
Alles Was Rockt Like for example “And all the things that make you cry – remembering you´ll watch your parents die“ or “I´d rather sleep than have to say, I feel lost. I feel boring.“ or something like that. You stated once in an interview, talking about the lyrics makes you nervous.
Ned Russin Yeah!
Alles Was Rockt Why?
Ned Russin Especially with this record for me I tried to really write just really exactly how I was feeling. And I just feel I’m just 22 years old and I’m really confused at times and I’m upset. That’s the thing that kind of inspires me even though that’s kind of weird to say I guess. The things that really move me and make me think and other things that make me the most upset and the most angry… so when I sit down and write those are the emotions that come out. Like anybody I think I go for those emotions a lot, especially for a person of my age it’s not to say that I’m not happy and I’m not excited for things, you know, we’re in Germany right now on tour and we’re having a great time but there are still moments where you sit back and realize “What am I doing with my life?” So that was a big thing for me on this record.
Alles Was Rockt On the opposite – you’re singing those lyrics on stage. So you’re opening up to your audience. That must be much worse than talking to one person about the lyrics.
Ned Russin You know that’s a hard thing. But a big thing for me is whenever I had any sort of issue in my life, the first place I would go to is music. And I would find a band that I can relate to. I feel there’s so many bands that could say things better than I could ever say them. I hear somebody to say that to know that you are not the only person that feels that way. That’s such a powerful thing. And if we could do that for somebody else that would mean the world to me. So people come up to me and said that and it’s really hard to put into words how much that means to me. Yeah, everybody is upset sometimes and I don’t know, maybe I am more so than others and I put it out there and, honestly, it sucks to put it out there [laughing] because, you know, everybody knows how I feel and it’s kind of awkward and uncomfortable.
Alles Was Rockt Did your friends say something to regarding your lyrics? Or your family?
Ned Russin No, not really [grinning]. That’s kind of weird. I don’t know, they just kind of all know that it exists and personally I’m an introverted person. I don’t really talk much about how I feel. And I think the biggest way to express myself is do my lyrics. Most of the time I like just having fun and being a normal kid. There’s definitely stages when I’m just upset. But I think people kind of understand that and also they know if they did try and talk to me I wouldn’t really want to talk. So I just write a song about it or something.
Alles Was Rockt “Floral Green” ends with the song “In-Between”. It’s a very cold-turkey, abrupt end. Was that intentionally? Because when I normally listen to records, the last song is more kind of a ballad and slowly.
Ned Russin The song is definitely… it has elements of a stereotypical ending song. It’s a little bit slower than the rest of the record except one or two songs. It’s kind of laid-back and it’s mellow and other stuff. But at the same time we didn’t want it to be a stereotypical ending song. So also with all the songs we wrote it was really the only option for a song to end a record. I think it’s cool that it does end abruptly. It ends out in the nowhere. To me it’s kind of how we are. We like music to be short and fast and angry. That’s what we grew up listening to. So even though we write music very differently than we used to and all that. But there’s always gonna be elements of it and so even if the song doesn’t sound like that it still has a attitude. So it just carries into that.
Alles Was Rockt In your opinion, how do your songs differ from the first record to the second one?
Ned Russin I think they’re a lot more mature this time. I think it’s weird to say that but I think we just learned how to write songs better and we learned how to write lyrics better and how to approach songwriting. Just on that level I think we just grew up. We also started listening to new bands, we toured with different bands, we saw new places, we had a lot of new life experience and stuff. And just all of that just also with the idea of us wanting to push ourselves to do something different, all of that coming together really made us strive for something different. To write on different songs and we were in for write better songs. We just kind of challenged ourselves.
Alles Was Rockt Which new bands are you listening to?
Ned Russin Oh, we’re listening to a lot of different stuff. Just a big thing for me was I really got into Sonic Youth since “Shed” came out. We’ve always been into bands like Nirvana, 90s whatever you want to call it… grunge or post-hardcore. But we definitely got more into it than ever. Even if it may not sound like we’re a not typical hardcore band we take so much influence from that and I think that’s what sets us apart from other bands.
Alles Was Rockt What do you think about this whole downloading thing? Many bands have success only because their records were illegally downloaded. What’s your opinion on that?
Ned Russin Honestly, at this point I think it sucks but it’s a necessary evil. Honestly. I think the internet is such a crazy, weird thing and I think there’s so much good that comes from it. But at the same time there’s so much bad. You will never be able to stop people from turning your records out at this point. No matter how hard people try or how many people get sued or in trouble, people will always find a way to put a record up on the internet. I think it’s good because literally anybody across the entire world can get our music. Say, if you’re from a small town in Russia or something without a local record store. If you have an internet connection you can get a record and I think that’s so cool and important. But it does suck that people aren’t buying records. But I think it has way passed the point of going back to that. People are still gonna buy records and there’s always gonna be record collectors and people want a physical copy but people are gonna download no matter what. At the same time I think it’s interesting because now it is so easy for bands to get their music out there. But you need to actually do something with yourself and actually play shows and actually get out there and show people that you are a real band and not just a band that put out a record that you downloaded. So I like that challenge and I’m not afraid to really go out and head on. In conclusion, downloading is weird but you can’t stop it and the more people hear our record the better so that’s how I feel about it.
Alles Was Rockt How do you personally consume music?
Ned Russin I buy mostly LP’s and vinyl. That’s my favorite way to listen to music. I think it just sounds better than anything. It’s a real intimate experience to sit down with the record, put it on, lay there and that’s my favorite way to listen to records. I listen to music anywhere and whatever it could be. Getting a demo from a band at a show or being told to listen to a song on YouTube or downloading a record, music is the most important thing in my life. I check any band out that I can or any band that somebody recommends to me and so no matter what it is I like to listen to it. But my favorite way is this.
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