The video for 'Secret Society,' a fist-swinging alienation anthem by hardcore band Title Fight, follows a young girl's twisted path from rejection to murder: When her crush does her wrong, she kills him and fashions a Hannibal Lector-style mask out of... well, you get the idea.
“I'll be you and you'll be me... A secret society,” growls Title Fight vocalist and bassist Ned Russin, as the girl grabs an electric guitar and trashes her blood-splattered bedroom.
Like the best B horror movies, the video is gruesome but silly. The song, off Title Fight's new album 'Floral Green' (SideOneDummy Records), is about being an outsider, which is familiar territory for all four members of Title Fight. As hardcore kids growing up in a small town, they had to learn how to build their own scene, their own society.
“As a band that's always touring, and as hardcore kids, we have very strange lives,” says Russin. “This community and these bands mean so much to us, but most people walking down the street don't know about any of it.
"So many bands have inspired me, and they were all 16-year-old kids booking their own shows and tours, releasing their own records, and doing everything independently. For whatever reason, people don't believe they have the power to do things themselves, but hardcore has taught me how to do everything for myself.”
When Russin and his brother, Ben, who plays drums, met guitarist/vocalist Jamie Rhoden in middle school, Title Fight was born. The trio played its first show in 2003 at a small D.I.Y. venue in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. called Cafe Metropolis (“That was our CBGBs,” says Russin).
"It's empowering to be able to say to the people in power that we don't need them to book our shows and release our records because we can do it all on our own."
Two years later, guitarist Shane Moran joined the band, and Title Fight self-released its first EP, 'Light Up The Eyes.' Title Fight gigged nonstop -- far and away -- and delivered an armful of EPs and 7-inches before they signed with SideOneDummy. The label released 'Shed,' the band's first full-length album, last year.
Inspired by melodic but aggressive bands like Hot Water Music and Dillinger Four, and Pennsylvania comrades Kid Dynamite and the Menzingers, 'Shed' is a confident, compelling debut that could only come from a band that had been grinding as hard as Title Fight. Released last May, 'Shed' debuted at number eight on the Billboard's Heatseekers charts, and, on the strength of the album and the band's increasing popularity, Title Fight was asked to join the 2012 Vans Warped Tour.
Like 'Shed,' 'Floral Green' was recorded in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, at Studio Four with Will Yip, who has worked with Lauryn Hill, Circa Survive, The Starting Line and Blacklisted. With the first single, 'Head In The Ceiling Fan,' the band threw a curve ball to those expecting the melodic hardcore Title Fight had perfected in the past. Instead, the song was a slow-moving shoegaze gem reminiscent of the under-celebrated Illinois band Hum. (The working title of 'Head In The Ceiling Fan' was 'Humkin,' a nod to Hum and Smashing Pumpkins.)
“We want everything to be a progression,” Russin says about some of the unexpected moments on 'Floral Green.' “We don't want to be a band that has five albums, and they all sound the same. We're always trying to push ourselves. Everything still sounds like Title Fight, but the songs don't sound like songs we've written in the past. They are still fast, aggressive and emotional, but we arrive at those results by trying different paths.”
Armed with this excellent sophomore album, Title Fight is on the road in the United States until the end of the year. And somehow, the band members will find the time to launch a new music venue in downtown Wilkes-Barre called Redwood Art Space. They see it as an incubator for the local hardcore scene, and a positive way to give back to the community that raised them.
“The space is gonna be run by local hardcore kids,” says Russin, who also manages a record label called Back To Back. “We were really fortunate to grow up at a time where we saw how great this scene could be, and we want to keep pushing these ideas. It's empowering to be able to say to the people in power that we don't need them to book our shows and release our records because we can do it all on our own. That's the most punk thing you can ever do, I think."
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