INTERVIEW: Title Fight

Recording one of 2012′s most honest records may not seem like much of a feat for laptop musicians, but for an emerging alternative band that got its start writing in a Wilkes-Barre suburb, it’s something to be proud of. Since their formation as fresh-faced youngsters in 2003, TITLE FIGHT have found a way to maintain the trust of a DIY subculture while using their music as an outlet for soul-spilling, picking up comparisons to Quicksand, The Sundays and the birth of mid-90s’ emo along the way. As bassist Ned Russin put it before the band’s gig in Toronto, feelings of alienation are still directly tied to their genre, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable can be a persistent battle.

Does experimentation always push a genre to expand?

Yeah I definitely think it does, especially with the world that we come from where people like to assume that you can only do so many things. All of the bands we look up to may not be completely unique now but at some point in time they were doing something so tragically different that was influential. It’s kind of weird to think about, but we just kind of took these influences without thinking a change would happen.
You’ve used the term “beautiful ugly” to refer to Floral Green, and it’s certainly a deviation from Shed. Often, bands receive criticism from their fans for changing their sound; were you worried about this at all?

It was definitely in the back of our minds because at the end of the day, we’re nothing without people listening to our music. We can play music all we want but if people don’t care, then there isn’t a reason to because there would be nobody to play to. With Floral Green, we definitely knew we were taking a risk and that we were doing something that was a little different that could either benefit us or harm us. Over time, we decided it was important for us to do what we want to do rather than worry about the thoughts of peers, critics or anybody else and that’s one of the biggest aspects of the new record.
The lyrics themselves contain lots of similes and metaphors, a change in direction from how straight forward you guys usually are, was that a conscious decision?

It was more of a conscious decision to just write from a different perspective. We didn’t aim to write a certain way, we just tried to write different sets of lyrics and push ourselves creatively from different perspectives. That applied to almost everything about the record, from the music to the lyrics to every creative aspect of it. I think that’s what brought out the different styles that we never even thought of doing before.

It’s definitely evident that the lyrics are very personal. Is it tough making yourself so vulnerable?

Yeah, it’s really tough, and it’s a very weird experience. I’m a very introverted person and there’s stuff that I don’t really say to anybody but I feel some sort of beauty in not holding back when I write lyrics. It’s uncomfortable, in a way, because I know I’m putting out things that I haven’t even discussed with my friends or anything because they come from some of the deepest parts of my personal life. The greatest thing I respect about our genre is the honesty and the sincerity it revolves around and I feel like we wouldn’t be doing it a service if we weren’t being open. It’s difficult to do that but I force myself to be as blunt and emotional as possible because it’s something we have to do.
Do you hope that honesty invites your fans to express themselves as well?

Yeah, definitely. I’ve grown to feel a certain form of comfort from music that I haven’t found elsewhere in my life and I know others feel the same way. For me, the bands I grew up listening to would sing about stuff that I couldn’t express myself and it would be great if we could do that for other kids so they can connect with something, whether it be the music or us. One of the most important parts of music is to be able to build a human connection with someone and I definitely want people to listen to what we’ve done and know that there’s other people in the world that feel what they feel sometimes. Even if you feel alienated, there is a community that you can go to and you can just let it all out in a positive environment that can act as a form of therapy.
Is your involvement in establishing Redwood Art Space evidence of that?

Yeah, for sure, because music really is so important to all of us in the band and to our friends and since it’s given so much to us, we just feel the need to give back. For us, that comes in the form of booking shows and giving bands a place to play. Like the Redwood Art Space… that changed my life. We kind of just decided to push that idea ourselves because no one else was going to do it and it was the least we could do to pass something special on to the younger kids. First off, the space is fun; you can go see a show with friends, hang out with the bands and meet new people from different places. Our goal as a group is to just keep that place alive for as long as we possibly can.

Title Fight has been making music together since you guys were 13, which is about ten years now. How has growing up impacted your music both stylistically and lyrically?

When we started off we were 13-years-old and our favourite band was Blink-182 so we just wanted to sound like Blink-182. Like I was in middle school then and I wanted to sing about this girl who didn’t like me and looking back on it, it was a very juvenile thing but it was fun. It was just four friends getting together and playing music that was fun. As we grew up, we went through different experiences such as ending relationships and other personal events and… I don’t know how else to put it, but “life” just happened (laughs). It’s kind of weird to look back at the music we’ve done in the past, and I don’t keep a journal of all of my experiences, but I think it’s been cool to have grown the way we have. All of our experiences and the emotions that went with them are shown through our songs.
Has expressing yourself become easier or more difficult as you’ve grown older?

I think for me it’s become more difficult. It’s hard to kind of cope with things as you grow up and it is getting to a point where our band is getting bigger and more people are paying attention to us. I used to write songs because I was bummed out and I just wanted to get emotions off my chest and now – even though I can’t talk about certain things with my friends – I can put stuff on a record that they can listen to. Feeling vulnerable and being open is a constant battle but at the end, I just want to try to say what I feel. It really is hard to do that but it is rewarding.
In your songwriting you talk a lot about uncertainty, and the fear of being boring; in retrospect, has Floral Green been able to put an end to those fears?

To a point, I think so. I’m very, very happy with the record and after listening to the final product, I just couldn’t believe that my friends and I actually did that. Everything that was displayed on the album just kind of… I don’t know… made me feel better about myself. I’m a 22-year-old kid who lives at home with his parents and tours a majority of the year and that lifestyle can make any type of person second-guess a lot of things. But the album and the response we’ve gotten has just been very reassuring, and in a sense was much needed.

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