Fit For Rivals

There’s an old adage that has served as a mantra to those interested in creative progress. It goes “If you don’t fit in, you’re probably doing the right thing.”
Jacksonville, Florida’s Fit For Rivals is a prime example of just how true this adage actually holds.

It was just over four years ago that the band self-released their debut, Steady Damage. A leviathan of a punk-tinged alt. rock record, Steady Damage manages to harmoniously marry the adrenaline rush of a bar fight with the infectious hooks of your favorite pop song.

When asked about Steady Damage’s origins, the band’s cofounder and lead vocalist Renee Phoenix refers to it as “the combination of musical ideas from when Thomas Amason and I first started writing together.” What resulted was a carefully crafted record that comes off much more as if it was conceptualized over a matter of years rather than one that was written and recorded in a few weeks, as was the case.

Phoenix and the band’s other cofounder Thomas Amason have a creative chemistry that is something truly special to behold. Amason is free to explore the wide array of soundscapes he possesses in his creative arsenal, knowing full well that Phoenix’s raspy, emotive vocals (which call to mind a modern day Joan Jett) will tie anything they do together and make it inherently their own.

Bassist Eli Clark, guitarist Nathan McDonald and drummer Dorman Pantfoeder round out the band’s lineup. The whiskey and cigarette fueled melee that is Fit For Rivals’ live show has won over every crowd they’ve played in front of to date. This includes a stint on the Vans Warped Tour, as well as sharing bills with such diverse acts as Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Go Radio & Candlebox.

One of the most impressive things about Fit For Rivals is their ability to capture the energy of their live show on record. If one is looking for validation of this statement, they need look no further than the incredible success Steady Damage has achieved as a self-released album. Since its release, Steady Damage’s two lead singles “Damage” and “Crash” have received a combined 13 million YouTube views (8 million and 5 million respectively). “Crash” has also been featured in the WWE: Over The Limit pay-per-view event and the 2010 film Legendary.

The band’s fanbase is rapidly expanding, as more and more people find their music everyday and instantly fall in love with their sound. They have established a Facebook community of over 108,000 fans and another 14,000 followers on Twitter are equally ravenous for any Fit For Rivals news. These numbers seem all the more impressive when its taken into consideration that they were operating sans label up until now.
However, the band’s days as unsigned artists have come to a close. Big3 Records, has signed up to re-release Steady Damage as well as a new follow up record next year. As Amason puts it, having Big3 at their side is going to allow the band to “spend more time writing, performing and connecting with their awesome fans”. This ability to focus solely on their craft should result in Fit For Rivals taking their place among rock’s elite.

Fit For Rival’s Steady Damage, scheduled for rerelease on August 20th, 2013 in both CD and digital format, is another release from the newly revamped Big3 Records. The company is currently aggressively moving forward and building alliances with cutting edge new artists and established artists, the result of which is an innovative new music business model. Phoenix views this reissue as an opportunity to not only tour and regain excitement for their debut, but also jump-start their second record, for which the band is currently in production with noted rock producer Gavin Brown (Three Days Grace, Theory of A Deadman, Boys Like Girls).

While Amason is still shocked at how well Steady Damage sounds with the short span they had to write and record it, he is also excited to get the band’s sophomore album out. He proudly views Steady Damage as an honest, “who we were at that moment” record, but also sees more of his external influences such as The Zombies, The Beatles and Buddy Holly coming through in this new album, something he is equally proud of.

We will have to wait until 2014 to hear the second record, but there is still enough high quality rock on Steady Damage to hold us over until then. From the Dave Grohl-esque drumming and huge sing along chorus of “Crash” to the tremolo-soaked guitars and edgy pop of “Damage”, Steady Damage is a ‘to the point’ rock record that possesses something inherently unique and remains free of needless sub-genre classifications.

If you haven’t yet, August 20th will be the perfect opportunity to purchase Steady Damage and get to know Fit For Rivals. It will undoubtedly end up a nostalgic favorite amongst your record collection from a band who you will take pride in having followed from the start.