Ned Russin, bassist and vocalist of Title Fight, is living the dream of a pretty specific but sizable group of people. The people are those that got swept up by punk and hardcore around the time they were in junior high or early high school, and started bands because of it. The dream is sticking it out with that band, getting really good, touring around the country and playing in front of people who get as excited about Minor Threat as you did when you first heard them.
Title Fight formed around 2003, when several of the members were still in middle school. The band is brothers Ned and Ben Russin along with Jamie Rhoden and Shane Moran. They've all played with other people over the years, but they keep returning to that Title Fight lineup.
"I think the most natural thing is for us to play together, because we understand each other very well," says Russin.
They hit their creative stride together early on. Speaking about the band's composition over the years, Russin says, "It doesn't feel like our process has changed that much at all."
Although, "the songs we have been writing have progressed," they still put those songs together in roughly the same way as when they were younger.
And they work quickly. In September of last year they released their sophomore album, Floral Green, which followed barely a year after their debut full-length Shed. Russin says it was almost by accident that the two albums came out so quickly in succession. "We had no idea that we were going to do Floral Green close. We got home [from touring] and we looked at our schedule and realized we had a couple of months," so they could either start working on a new album right then or wait until 2013. "We took the challenge and decided to really go for it and do a record in four months."
Indeed, Russin says the band relishes challenges. Though Floral Green doesn't stray too far from the emo-inflected hardcore style Title Fight is known for, it does feature slightly more ambitiously structured songs as compared to the scrappy bursts of Shed. "There was definitely a conscious effort to try something different. We've always been trying to write something new, we don't want to do the same record again."
Though he's proud of Floral Green, he says he was a little worried about releasing it so soon after Shed.
"Another thing that worried me was that it's not like we weren't happy with Shed, it's not like 'Okay everybody, that record was okay, but here's our new record that's actually good.'"
Surely another reason why Russin doesn't want to put Shed too far in the past was the fact that it gave Title Fight the opportunity to work with Walter Schriefels (of foundational hardcore groups Gorilla Biscuits, Youth of Today and Quicksand) as producer. Russin got in touch with Schriefels via email, and the relationship grew from there.
"And that's something that's still really amazing to me, [Schriefels] knows all those guys from all those bands that I've looked up to since I was like 13 years old." Russin's drive to create relationships through music comes out in Title Fight's commitment to the local scene in Wilkes-Barre, Penn. Talking about how music scenes have changed since Title Fight began he says the Internet has been a great tool, but that it's also changed the dynamic of communities like Wilkes-Barre. "Because of online promotion, sometimes you'll go to a show and it's like there are people from 45 minutes away in every direction and they're all coming together, but it's not really a scene."
Of course he values the opportunity to reach more people, but at the same what he thinks is really important is, "the community aspect, working together toward a common goal."
Recently, Russin started writing a weekly column for an arts paper in Wilkes-Barre, The Weekender. The subject of the column really establishes where Russin's interests lie: the community. He sees the column as "a way to get people excited about things" and encourages people to get involved.
"Our town is very small, and any new person coming in, it probably seems like this group of people who all know each other and are all friends. It might make some just feel like outsiders."
Russin wants to avoid this, wants to help welcome everyone.
"You can be a kid with a guitar and you could record on your computer, and you could put it online, and you could go play with your favorite band. There are just amazing opportunities and I don't want people to not take advantage of them."
Title Fight is on tour right now, and Russin expects that they'll keep working just as hard. They might even have some new music later this year (though "no promises" on that he says).
Either way, "We're going to try to stay busy like we always do, we're going to tour, and we're going to keep doing the same stuff we've been doing."
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