Title Fight’s Ned Russin: “We’re Trying To Outdo Ourselves”

When The Beach Boys’ brought their eleventh album, Pet Sounds, to their record label, Capitol Records almost considered not releasing it at all. The 1966 release said goodbye to the band’s innocent fun-in-the-sun sound, with Beach Boys singer Mike Love asking, “Who’s gonna hear this shit?” on first listen. The album’s use of unconventional instruments and elaborate layers of vocal harmonies saw Pet Sounds go on to find it’s place in history as a ground breaking rock record.

That idea, of doing something that hasn’t been done before and creating a record that reinvents your sound is what Pennsylvanian four-piece Title Fight, were looking to channel with their third full length, Hyperview.

With their first records firmly rooted in the fast, ferocious punk they grew up playing, each subsequent record has seen Title Fight present something a little left-of-field, but if the tracks the band have released so far are anything to go by, Hyperview is set to see the band head in a completely new direction.

Art created by young people isn’t an idea frequently seen in the band’s small hometown of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, but on a wall across from the venue they played their first ever show, Title Fight painted the mural that became the front cover of their album. Talk about coming full circle.

With a new label behind them, Title Fight is counting down the last few days until the record’s release in Australia. Music Feeds chatted with bassist and vocalist Ned Russin about outdoing yourself, what their fan base might think of their new sound, and the importance of creating art.

Watch: Title Fight – Rose of Sharon

Music Feeds: You are in the final countdown until your album Hyperview comes out. What will the final few weeks be like?

Ned Russin: Nothing really too much. We are doing a lot of interviews and stuff, and trying to talk about it. We are doing everything to get the word out as much as possible so people know. But as far as personally, nothing really, just kind of anxiously waiting for it to come out, there’s nothing really we can do at this point, just have to count the days until it’s finally done.

MF: You must be excited to get the record out?

NR: Well, we did the record in July of 2014 and we originally had the intention to have it out by the end of 2014. We were going to try to have it out by November, so we were originally given a deadline that, to have it out by November, we’d have to have it done by August, with mixing and mastering and all that stuff.

So we really have rushed all the post production, we got all that done really quick and then as soon as we got it done they decided to push it back to early 2015. So we have been sitting on it for a while. So that’s the hardest part, is having it done for so long and having it still not be out.

MF: I read that you said that when you were making the album you were chasing the energy of bands like the Beach Boys in the moment when they found something that had never been done before. Can you explain a little about that?

NR: I mean, I don’t think anybody is going to hear the record and say we sound like The Beach Boys, and while I definitely enjoy that band a lot… I love Pet Sounds, I think it’s a great album, and there’s definitely some stuff that I do that has been, maybe not as much influenced as informed, by bands like The Beach Boys but I think when you hear a record like that there’s just something that’s so fresh and interesting and unique about it that its just never been done before.

And its not only that its never been done before and its being done for the first time but its that its being done so well and it feels like it should already exist because of how well it works. So we were looking at that idea and that sound and trying to do something like that on our own terms and it’s a very, I think, lofty goal and idea but it was something that I thought was worth going for. We weren’t trying to settle for anything, we were trying to outdo ourselves.

MF: Does the record capture the energy you were looking for?

NR: I don’t know if that’s up for me to decide. I’d like to think so. I think that we did a good job with redefining ourselves, but as far as the whole idea, if that was really successful, I think its up to listeners to decide.

MF: The artwork for the album is a mural painted on a wall in your home town. What inspired the idea behind it?

NR: We have had the same artist do basically every record cover that we have ever done besides one. He’s an artist by the name of John Slaby. He’s from our hometown and we really like his work. It has always fit with our band really well.

We kind of knew going into the record that the record was going to sound different and we kind of wanted a different aesthetic behind it and we felt that having that kind of landscape, detail oriented artwork that he always has would kind of be misleading in a way, because that would kind of make it seem like that was the old band, but we’ve moved in a different direction so we wanted to do something different.

So we were throwing around ideas, and I really wanted a very simple geometric shape. Shane [Moran], our guitarist, wanted to do something with a mural and take a picture of it, so we combined those two ideas and went to John and had him basically put that into something that could be real. So he came up with that and we found a location right in downtown Wilkes-Barre across the street from the venue that we grew up playing, that we played our first show ever at, so that’s really cool and important for us, and it just came together and we took a picture and made it the album cover from there.

MF: You released a short documentary showing the behind the scenes of the making of it. In it the narrator discusses how it’s pretty rare to see art coming from young people in your hometown. Has that been a driving force behind the band?

NR: I think that’s definitely an aspect of it. I think that where we come from has a lot to do with our outlook and our creativity and our drive to be creative because I think there is power in art. I think it’s a truly important medium. Just in general, whatever it is, whether it is music, or fine art or writing or film or anything, I think it’s a really powerful medium to put out ideas and discuss things and discuss social things, to talk about anything.

Art gives things a really tangible and interesting way to be discussed. And we come from an area where that wasn’t so much cared about. It wasn’t a problem, it wasn’t looked down upon and shunned, but it was an interest that wasn’t cared for. So we were kind of happy to fill that void, and we weren’t doing it in spite, we weren’t trying to prove people wrong by proving the importance of art, but we were just doing it because we thought it was important, and I still feel that way. I feel it’s important to do this and I think that led us to do what we did.

Watch: Title Fight – Hyperview Mural

MF: The album cover was taken on an iPhone, so that people can take similar photos of themselves in front of the mural. What kind of feedback have you been getting?

NR: I don’t have any social media so I’m not very good at checking if people do that, but I know that Ben [Russin], who plays drums in the band, and who is my brother, have shown me some that people have done when they’ve gone to the mural and taken a picture and shared it with us through the band’s social media.

I definitely think that people are apparently checking it out in person, which is really cool. That was kind of the idea behind it, to have a place that people could go and recreate the cover themselves in their own way, and it’s cool that people are already taking advantage of it.

MF: It is important for you to create a medium that brings your fans closer to the band?

NR: Yeah, I think that’s just huge for me in general. I think the shows that we play and the way that we present ourselves, it’s very much about being regarded as human beings and not as these… I don’t know. I feel like a lot of bands kind of make themselves over-important and make themselves beyond attainable and I think that’s ridiculous. I think it makes certain aspects of music elitist in some way, so that it’s not for everybody.

I don’t think that’s the way to do it. I think somebody playing guitar in their basement, writing songs, is just as important as somebody playing songs they wrote in an arena. It’s all based on the same idea, so the fact that we can do this beyond music is really cool, and it’s definitely just a way to make people understand that they’re just as involved in this process as we are essentially.

MF: I saw online back in November that someone who had a promo copy of Hyperview released some of the info before you guys did. Does that kind of thing frustrate you? Or is it expected?

NR: That’s definitely frustrating but it is kind of an understood thing now. Regardless of knowing that somebody is going to try to not take advantage of our information but use our information before we could, it’s just a little bit of a bummer, because we want to be the ones to tell people. We wanted the information to come from us, and I think that it’s important to have that concept of wanting to do something.

But in this era it’s impossible to do anything like that without having any hiccups. So it was probably a little bit of a bummer, but at the end of the day it got people talking and it wasn’t hurtful, nobody leaked the record, it was just some information but it’s just, I guess, the price of the globalised idea of sharing information.

MF: Well, the record hasn’t dropped early yet, which is great.

NR: Yeah, that’s the thing, I mean you wouldn’t think that’s a big deal but somehow it’s gotten to the point where if a record doesn’t leak then that’s impressive.

MF: This is your first release with Anti- Records. Has being on a new label changed the way Title Fight went into making this record?

NR: No, we didn’t even decide on signing with Anti until we were already recording the record. I think record labels are important in getting music out and doing things but for us it’s not about what the record label dictates, no matter what we want to be represented as.

We’ve never had a problem with that, we’ve never had any label try and distort us in any way. With Anti especially it was a very casual process and they wanted us to make a record that we were proud of, so it was a really easygoing thing, and there was no pressure coming from that direction at all.

MF: You did say before that Hyperview is Title Fight reinventing itself; did you take inspiration from new places this time around?

NR: I can’t think of anything specifically off the top of my head that I listened to differently but, yeah, of course. Every day you’re exposed to new and different things and new and different ideas. When I listen to a new band that I’ve never heard of before it’s inspiring, whether it’s a band that sounds sonically similar to anything we do or not. Just hearing somebody write a song that makes you feel something, that’s really important and powerful.

I heard a bunch of new music from the time we wrote our last batch of songs until now. I experienced a bunch of new things. I felt new feelings and I’ve read new books, and I did all these things that brought new ideas into my head and I think that’s important.

I think it’s something that is looked over a lot because when somebody does something right in music it’s kind of regarded as that should be what you do; if you wrote a great rock song, you should try and write that rock song again. People latch onto the idea and they think that it should just remain the same and I think that if you’re being realistic nobody remains the same. Every single day you are feeling and doing something different, and to not represent that in your art is, I think, being a little bit unrealistic and not taking advantage of everything you should be taking advantage of.

That’s a big thing for me is bringing in those new influences and bringing in those new things that I’ve heard or watched or seen and make it a part of the band.

MF: Every time a band drastically changes up their sound you see some parts of their fanbase react negatively. Is that something that you’ve thought about with releasing Hyperview?

NR: It’s definitely something that passes my mind because, at the end of the day, in order for us to be a band, we need people that will want to listen to us. So it is definitely something that’s kind of scary, but I feel like, at this point, we’ve kind of tried to show that we don’t want to be pigeonholed.

So we did some stuff with the last couple of records that people were commenting on how out of left field it was, and I think it was expected of us to not remain in that same world for our next record. So I think with that knowledge in mind people are a little bit more receptive to the idea of us doing something different.

MF: You went into the studio again with Will Yip, who has featured throughout a good chunk of your discography. Is it just a no-brainer now that he is the man for the job?

NR: Will is a guy who we met a long time ago, and as soon as we started working with him we clicked on a professional and personal level and on a music level too. When we get to work with Will we get to work with somebody who is extremely knowledgeable, extremely hardworking and who is extremely well-versed in everything that goes along with recording.

But he is a guy that I think understands our band extremely well, and that’s why we are so comfortable. I think that’s the thing with recording, is that you want to be comfortable. You don’t want to be in the situation where you feel you can’t do something because you’re afraid of getting a bad opinion.

So when we work with Will, it feels like we are just practising. It doesn’t feel like we are being scrutinized for ideas, it feels very natural and easy and that’s what’s so great about it. It’s just working with a guy who gets our band, who lets us be ourselves and who has great ideas and great knowledge. I think it’s just really all there, that’s why we like working with him so much.

MF: Finally, if you had to sum up Hyperview in one sentence, what would you say?

NR: Sonically, I would say Hyperview is compact ideas with the idea of space. That’s how I would describe Hyperview.

‘Hyperview’ is released in Australia this Friday, 30th January, through Anti-Records. Title Fight will tour Australia in June and July — details below.

Watch: Title Fight – Chlorine

Title Fight – 2015 Australian Tour

Tickets on sale Friday, 23rd January

Friday, 19th June 2015

The Brightside, Brisbane

Tickets: Oztix

Saturday, 20th June 2015

The Lab, Brisbane (All Ages)

Tickets: Oztix

Sunday, 21st June 2015

YAC, Byron Bay (All Ages)

Tickets: Oztix

Tuesday, 23rd June 2015

The Small Ballroom, Newcastle

Tickets: Oztix

Wednesday, 24th June 2015

Factory Theatre, Sydney (Lic / All Ages)

Tickets: Oztix

Thursday, 25th June 2015

City Club, Canberra (Lic / All Ages)

Tickets: Oztix

Friday, 26th June 2015

Corner Hotel, Melbourne

Tickets: Corner Hotel

Saturday, 27th June 2015

Phoenix Youth Centre, Melbourne (All Ages)

Tickets: Oztix

Sunday, 28th June 2015

The Brisbane Hotel, Hobart (Lic / All Ages)

Tickets: Oztix

Tuesday, 30th June 2015

Uni Bar, Adelaide (Lic / All Ages)

Tickets: Oztix

Wednesday, 1st July 2015

Amplifier, Perth

Tickets: Oztix

Thursday, 2nd July 2015

YMCA HQ, Perth (All Ages)

Tickets: Oztix

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