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Musical trends come and go, but the bands who stick around are the ones who eschew whatever’s popular in favor of playing the music that’s in their hearts—and Kingston, Pennsylvania’s Title Fight are a perfect example of this. Originally formed in 2003 by guitarist/vocalist Jamie Rhoden and the twin brother duo of vocalist/bassist Ned Russin and drummer Ben Russin when the trio were barely teenagers, Title Fight started as a way for these young kids to explore their burgeoning love of hardcore. But after adding guitarist Shane Moran in 2005, something funny happened: Their tireless practicing eventually transformed them into one of the most exciting hardcore acts in recent memory.
After releasing a handful of EPs and 7-inches as well as performing shows all over the world, Title Fight began attracting attention from fans and labels who were captivated by the way the band managed to put a modern spin on the melodic hardcore sound pioneered by acts like Gorilla Biscuits and Lifetime—and in 2010 the members of Title Fight dropped out of college in order to tour full-time with acts such as New Found Glory, Four Year Strong and H20. It was also around this time that the band entered the studio with Gorilla Biscuits/Quicksand guitarist Walter Schreifels who agreed to produce the band and promptly drove down to Northeastern Pennsylvania to help them prepare to record their highly anticipated full-length debut Shed.
“The cool thing about Walter is that when we came to him he told us he doesn’t produce a lot of records because he’s a full-time musician himself, so he only works with bands he really likes and hearing that was a huge compliment because he’s one of our biggest inspirations,” Ned Russin explains. “We were really up front about the fact that we wanted to feel in control with our music so he really just let us do our thing but came up with some helpful suggestions without trying to transform us into something we aren’t,” he continues when asked about Schreifels’ role in the process. “He came down and stayed at Ned and Ben’s parents’ house and we just hashed it all out in Jamie’s parents’ basement.”
From there the band headed to Philadelphia to record Shed over a grueling two-week period at the legendary Studio 4. However all those long nights paid off as Shed sees the band implementing various subgenres that range from old-school hardcore to aggressive punk rock that make these twelve energetic anthems instant classics for a new generation of listeners searching for music that inspires them as much as Title Fight were inspired by their heroes. “We wrote the last record when we were in high school and since then we’ve dropped out of school, seen the world and had life experiences that are all reflected here,” Ned Russin explains when asked what it’s been like to sacrifice everything to make Shed a reality.
From the Hot Water Music-esque power of “27” to the old-school feel of “You Can’t Say Kingston Doesn’t Love You,” Shed is also a remarkably varied record that proves hardcore doesn’t need to be formulaic in order to be powerful. “The most important thing is that this is a Title Fight record,” Ned Russin summarizes, ”we’re not trying to pose and be anything we’re not.” Moran concurs adding, “we’re not a surface level band, we’re the kind of act who likes to dig a little deeper and we’re really interested in learning about the history of punk and hardcore to find the stuff that really speaks to us on a personal level.”
Speaking of personal, Shed also features some of the band’s most heartfelt lyrics to date—a fact that is largely due to the life-changing experiences the band have endured, both good and band since their previous recordings. “This album was a lot more collaborative from a lyrical perspective and instead of being about girls, it’s about real life situations,” Ned Russin says. “Throughout the past few years my grandmother passed away and my dad had reconstructive heart surgery so a lot has been on my mind and Title Fight has always been a great release for me to get out what’s bottled up inside,” he continues. “We just tried to be as sincere as we possibly could and write songs about what was important to us at the time.”
Ultimately this sentiment has always remained at the core of Title Fight and it’s one of the reasons why so many fans have gravitated toward the band’s music despite the fact that they don’t have any fancy costumes or onstage gimmicks. “I think we have a unique dynamic because we can always play a hardcore show with our friends in a basement but we can also play a show with more commercial bands on a larger scale and be accepted in both situations,” Moran explains.
“We’ve been a band for seven years and this is the first time we’ve had a recording that’s longer than seven minutes long,” Ned Russin adds. “The last year has been a crazy ride but the whole time we’ve always stayed true to the fact that we’re not trying to be anything we’re not,” he summarizes. “We’re four friends that play in a band together and we would still be doing this whether we were playing to five people or five hundred of them.”