I spoke to Eric Ohlsson on skype the other day. Here it is – long and a bit awkward. Story on Millencolin for the Prague Post is up next.
I spoke to Eric Ohlsson on skype the other day. Here it is – long and a bit awkward. Story on Millencolin for the Prague Post is up next.
Offering a solid progressive follow-up album, Cheap Girls are the current experts on paying homage to 90’s alternative and powerpop – if not the only experts in the field today. With last year’s debut Find Me a Drink Home, you might be reminded of 90’s greats The Lemonheads, Archers of Loaf, and sometimes Dinosaur Jr. My Roaring 20’s offers familiar comparisons as they don’t stray far from that original style, but Cheap Girls really shine on this album with an added twangy, bluesy acoustic element to their alt-powerpop. Compared to their debut, this album gives off more of a southern vibe (despite their Michigan location).
As they seem to really be coming into their own on this release, there’s good energy from start to finish on this album. Steady mid-tempo to fast drums behind poppy strumming and catchy, melodic guitar riffs keep the album upbeat yet mellow from start to finish. Cheap Girls still retain that 90’s alternative influence and mash it with a more folky drinking-song style for an overall feel-good experience.
While he’s not the most talented vocalist, Ian Grahm’s unique smooth and folky style is consistent; leaving a lasting impression. Just as with Find Me a Drink Home, lyrics remain honest and creative as they stick to the album title’s theme. While they’re a bit meloncholy, the catchiness of the tunes offers sing alongs throughout the entire album. Stand-out catchy lyrics are in the end track, “One & Four” as he belts with melodic sadness “Where did you come from? Where did you go?” in each catchy chorus. “Hey, Hey I’m Worn Out” offers a sing along of the track’s title a few times throughout. Over the twangy guitars, Grahm’s voice is nearly intoxicating, fitting well into these perfect drinking tunes.
My Roaring 20’s is the perfect follow up album. Cheap Girls retain their awesome influences as they take on their own unique style and bring something new to the table in today’s independent music scene.
Interview has been posted on Punkews.org. Check it here!
Kingston, PA’s Title Fight has been rapidly gaining popularity among a variety of punk fans over the last six years. Their brand of pop-punk earns them spots on line-ups across the board – from Trapped Under Ice to Tigers Jaw. Their latest EP, The Last Thing You Forget, was released in June on Run for Cover Records, and their first full-length is finally in the works after a handful of seven inches. After just wrapping up a full U.S. tour, they’re already back on the road with New Found Glory for a few East Coast and Midwest gigs. Stephanie Thornton talked with this up-and-coming band about the latest EP and future material, influences, and the effect this band has on its underage members.
You can click Read More for the interview.
First of all, I saw you guys a couple weeks ago at St. Stephen’s in D.C. with Trapped Under Ice and Lion of Judah. You put on a great show and nearly everyone was going off. Considering you generally play a pop-punk style, are you surprised that hardcore kids react to you like they are at a Madball show?
Ned Russin: We started off playing generally all hardcore shows so we are pretty much used to it. In Wilkes-Barre we weren’t really categorized into a “pop punk” band or a “hardcore” band, we were just a band of 13 year-olds really. It’s not really surprising to us now, but at things like Sound and Fury, United Blood, and This is Hardcore to see that many kids going off is just kind of crazy; but at the same time, we are still all hardcore kids so it just makes us feel at home.
You guys are always on the road and you’ve played shows with a wide variety of bands from pop-punk to hardcore, what kind of reactions do you get from audiences across the board? Do you have a preference for shows you most enjoy playing?
Shane Moran: I feel that our reactions tend to be pretty much the same whether we are playing to a “hardcore” audience or not. Kids either go off or they don’t. Although, it’s hard for us to tell if kids are into it if they’re just standing around staring at us because we ourselves are so used to going nuts for bands that we like when we see them live. That’s our nature I guess. I’m sure there are kids that are still into us but just don’t react the same way. I actually think I’d prefer that over kids beating the shit out each other when we play.
Ned: I don’t think playing with different types of bands changes our reaction. It seems that no matter what kind of show we play we get the same reaction. I don’t really care what type of show we play.
Your touring schedule is booked through the end of this year. Where are your favorite spots to play and why? Where would you love to tour that you haven’t yet?
Shane: Long Island, D.C. / Baltimore, and Richmond are always really good to us and we get a chance to see some of our best friends. I’d like to tour California more extensively and hopefully hit up Europe in the near future.
Ned: Our favorite places to play have to be at home, Richmond, and Long Island. DC and Baltimore are always awesome too. I really want to go everywhere possible. Places I really want to go to in the future are Japan and Australia.
Ben Russin: Florida and Kentucky are cool too.
Considering the variety of bands you play with, what kind of variety has there been amongst Title Fight’s influences?
Shane: A lot. If a band is influenced by only one genre of music or a certain kind of sound it is really easy to get lost in that and end up sounding watered down and boring. We try to make our music unique and exciting for us to write and listen to. We draw a lot of inspiration from bands that went out of their way to sound unique.
You guys are about to embark on a tour with New Found Glory for three weeks at the end of this month. Has New Found Glory had much impact on Title Fight? What kind of expectations do you have for the upcoming tour?
Shane: I’m not so sure if they have had a huge impact on our music but definitely on each of us individually. I’ve loved this band since I first heard them in seventh grade and they’re still relevant to me to this day. Coming Home was such a great record. I still listen to all of their albums regularly. I have a New Found Glory flag hanging up in my room at home. It’s serious. I am glad I’ll be able to watch them every night for 3 weeks straight. Other than that I don’t know what to expect.
Ned: I saw New Found Glory for the first time when I was 11 I think when they toured with Blink on the Take Off Your Pants and Jacket tour. They played a local venue in Wilkes-Barre a little before that and they sent out the whole show to it. From then I was pretty much a fan. Catalyst was a huge record for me and Coming Home is awesome. As far as my expectations go, I am really just trying to keep them grounded. I know we are going to be playing for a lot of people and a lot of which have never heard of us, but I am just going to try and have as much fun as possible.
Title Fight is a fairly young band, your material only dates back three years. Yet you play tight with a good dynamic amongst the band members and you have an established fan base. To what can you most attribute the success of this band so far?
Shane: I think the “success” can be attributed to the way we tend to go about things. We have always had these things that we wanted to do as a band and we would work towards whatever little goal we had set until we got it. We have just tried to keep things moving and whatever came our way we would try to capitalize on. We have been doing what most bands normally do and some people seem to care about us and that’s really cool.
Ned: We are a band that is made up of friends. We have been a band for six years now and we are going to be a band for much longer because we decided to start the band because we were friends. We all work well together and we all have a great time.
On that note, just how old is everyone in Title Fight? Has this band interfered with or changed any critical ‘growing up’ steps such as graduating high school and going to college?
Shane: I’m the oldest at 20. Title Fight has been around since all the other guys were in middle school. This band has always been the most important thing to me so a lot of “growing up” stuff like jobs and school has always taken the back seat. Most recently the band has made its biggest interference with us having to drop college but I couldn’t be happier.
Ned: I’m 19. I am a freshman in college now. After we got the New Found Glory tour offer we kind of realized we had to make a choice between college or Title Fight. I know that college is important and I am going to go back, but we decided we had to take a chance. I am going to finish school later.
Ben: I’m also 19 (considering I’m Ned’s twin), and Jamie also just turned 19. Throughout high school, we always played on the weekends and toured over breaks. We made sure it never affected our school work too much, but now we have to take the opportunity to tour as much as possible.
In the same vein, as a successful young band, when you look back to the start of the band, what goals have you already accomplished as a band and what goals remain?
Ned: For me, we pretty much accomplished the only goals I ever had: we put out a 7″ and we did a tour.
Ben: We recently completed our first full U.S. tour this past summer which was a big goal of ours. A common goal of most bands is to get as big as they possibly can. And we’d love to do that too, but I’m more concerned with having fun while traveling around the world, and playing to as many new faces as we can.
You just released a new 7” on Run For Cover Records, The Last Thing You Forget, in June. Musically, it seems you’ve shifted gears a bit on this last release, adding a bit more aggression and depth. What was the motivation behind the change in sound on the new release? How do you feel about the way the record turned out?
Ned: I don’t think there was a motivation to change the record rather than just we wrote songs. I feel like the three new songs on The Last Thing You Forget are our best songs we have written. I think the record is great, but we are definitely striving to top that with the release of our next record.
Ben: Yeah, I don’t really know what the motivation was. I guess the progression just kind of happened naturally. And I’m very happy with how the record turned out. Jay Maas of the Getaway Group did a great job engineering, mixing, and mastering it.
How has the response been so far for the new material?
Shane: So far so good.
Ben: I’ve heard a lot of positive responses so far, which is awesome. We only released three new songs, though, and people have made it pretty obvious that they are waiting for more.
How do you feel about the evolution of Title Fight’s sound? What are you most proud of and what do you feel has changed the most?
Ben: Well, I feel like we’ve come a long way since we were in 6th grade. I know it’s cliché to say, but I definitely think we know what our sound is now, and what direction we’re headed next. I’m most proud that we can still have our catchy riffs and vocal melodies similar to previous recordings and build on top of that with more “mature” elements. The lengths of our songs are still fairly short, but there is now so much more packed in them.
I’m a big fan of the lyrics on the new release. I feel they are relatable and well put. How have you changed lyrically and what is most inspiring lyrically?
Ned: I feel like we haven’t changed lyrically that much, we have just kind of grown up and gotten better at writing in general. Besides inspiration from real life, I take lyrical inspiration from Blake from Jawbreaker/Jets to Brazil a lot.
You announced on your website that you are in the process of writing an LP. Is The Last Thing You Forget any indication of where Title Fight is headed? What’s next for Title Fight musically?
Ned: The Last Thing You Forget is definitely an indication of where we are going musically. We are trying not to limit ourselves for this release in saying that we have to sound a certain way, but I feel like the things that we have been writing is a progression of The Last Thing You Forget
Ben: It might be similar to The Last Thing You Forget musically, but it’s obviously going to be very different at the same time. We’ve been experimenting with some new ideas lately, and it’s going to be put together with much more thought. If you liked the new songs on The Last Thing You Forget, you’ll definitely like the new ones we’re writing now, and I hope that we’ll be able to gain a lot more fans through the new song-writing process.
Will you be working with Run for Cover on the new LP as well? If so, what makes Run for Cover Records a good match for Title Fight?
Shane: We are in the process of figuring that out now. Run For Cover is a great match for Title Fight because we have a strong friendship and relationship with Jeff, he has a really good roster right now and he showed an interest in our band when no one else seemed to give a fuck.
What have you been listening to lately? What up and coming bands could you recommend to us punknews readers?
Shane: Lately: mewithoutYOU – Catch For Us the Foxes, Fairweather – Lusitania, Brand New – Deja Entendu. Check out : The Menzingers, Transit, All is Fleeting, Tigers Jaw
Ned: Lately, I have been listening to Jawbox “For Your Own Special Sweetheart”, Fleet Foxes “Fleet Foxes”, and some other stuff. Check out Gypsy
Ben: Lately: Audio Karate – Lady Melody, Paramore – Brand New Eyes, Brand New – Daisy, and Polar Bear Club – Chasing Hamburg. Check out the bands Ned and Shane said plus Make Do and Mend, Cruel Hand, Backtrack, Foundation, Mother of Mercy, Daylight, and Basement. Also, new WB bands Dead End Path and Rare Form
Title Fight’s The Last Thing You Forget is on constant rotation in my room lately.
With two EPs under their belt, Last Thing displays some evolution in Title Fight’s sound. Like the previous EPs – Kings of Kingston and a split with Erection Kids – the sound pulls from melodic hardcore and pop punk ala old Saves the Day, but there’s apparent maturity here. That maturity takes the form of aggression and depth amongst a catchy smoothed over but surly sound.
Shedding some of their poppy skin, Title Fight replaces the majority of singing with gruff screams, slowing down the tempo to emphasize cut-throat lyrics and talented melodic guitar riffs, and improving vocal melodies that appear following gruff screams, giving the sound a lot more depth.
Lyrics seem to have improved also and unfortunately they seem heartbreak-induced. While past releases showed hope and positivity in the lyrics, Last Thing is oozing with bitterness – obviously a companion for creative and relatable lyrics. “No One Stays at the Top Forever” offers some of the best, “I’m knee deep in loosing sleep. You can’t find yourself when you’ve lost everything,” both Jamie Rhoden and Ned Russin collaborate in sing-scream form. Although all a bit whiney, Last Thing’s brilliant aggressive lyrics are extremely catchy.
It’s thrilling to see this young band come into a sound of their own before even releasing an LP. These four songs (don’t forget the instrumental on the B side) show an exciting progression for Title Fight.
Whoa. When was the last time you saw a band live that jumps 3 feet into the air while playing their stringed instrument??
I’m embarassed as usual that I didn’t catch this band earlier. I’ve got their demo stuff from ’05 and ’06.
I’m freaking 3 – 4 years late on this Saves the Day/ New Found Glory-ish amazing melodic punk/ hardcore.
Yeah, there’s a ton of bands out there falling under that label all the time, but this shit merits more recognition than sellout-drenched Set Your Goals (Lols).
This band gives me a good dose of nostalgia with sounds reminiscent of Drive-Thru records.
Take Saves the Day’s “Can’t Slow Down”, and (ironically?) slow it down a bit + clarify the vocals and make them more audible.
Title Fight combines the best of whiny pop punk and mid-tempo hardcore.
Check out a new 7″ soon and check them at United Blood Fest.
I’ll be in Korea…>=/
I don’t know a whole lot about Wisconsin other than they’ve got a football team, they’re leaning towards Obama in the upcoming election (I checked the CNN Electoral map this morning – good choice, Wisconsin), and there’s lots of cheese. However, I do know worth-while alternative pop punk when I hear it or see it live in a basement in D.C. I saw Tenement last week at the Bervin House in NW D.C. Tenement is the best band to come out of Wisconsin . . . ever? As far as I can recall at the moment – yeah, sure. (Let me know of any other awesome WI bands) This super-fun, super-catchy, pure-gold pop punk is worth a listen.
They’ve got a scratchy-voiced vocalist for the majority of their tunes, but melodic “Ooohs” thrown in on occasion for easier listening although the music is majority fast-paced. Vocalist Amos is also on guitar duty, and he performs very impressively, adding alternative classic rockin’ impressive riffs to the simple pop punk feel. Live, I might add, he is quite a trip to watch as he dances around like he’s trying to scratch a million mosquito bites on his legs using nothing but the denim of his jeans. This not-so-simple pop punk obviously draws influence from classic rock at times, as well as early indie and alternative, but newer indie, pop punk, or emo can be felt too. They’ve really got a nice mix of influences. They seem to be an even cross between The Ergs and Dinosuar Jr. The Ergs seem to be the number one comparison, but I can also detect Hot Water Music and The Descendents.
Check them on the road because apparently they’ll be on it a whole lot.
I wrote a short review about Gaslight Anthem’s new EP, The Senor and the Queen, a while ago. I slacked and didn’t post it. Quickly enjoy these 223 words . . .
The new Gaslight Anthem EP, Senor and the Queen, has managed to keep the same ol’ Gaslight Anthem sound, and that is a good thing. They have yet to alter their sound a whole lot, staying on the same wave of alternative/folk/pop/punk. The music seems to straddle Against Me!, Hot Water Music, and Bruce Springsteen all at once. Their fun, hard-to-classify sound debuted with the LP Sink or Swim, and this four-song EP flows perfectly in the same vein. They’ve really struck gold with their specially brewed genre, as it’s quite vague and their small alterations to tempo and instrumentation don’t really push it out of its realm, and it keeps fans wondering what new sounds will make them dance next.
They’re still singing a lot about nostalgia, falling in love, having a party, and dancing with girls named Maria. Vocalist/ guitarist Brian Fallon’s voice sounds a little hardened, but still soothing as he tells stories of times past and times to come. Overall, filling listeners with a hopeful, good feeling; no songs seem to end on a bad note, but rather hopeful. Giving a listener an inspiring lyric is like giving a mouse a cookie, they’re going to keep coming back for more. Gaslight Anthem will likely be around for a good while handing out more inspiring lyrics and good punkish tunes.