Check out an interview with Renee Phoenix and look for new music and tour dates from Fit For Rivals coming soon.
How did you start this band?
Renee Phoenix: Gosh, I used to be in a punk band called The Explicits and I was looking for a new guitar player and Thomas - who's sort of my partner in crime for all this - he had heard my band once before and so I had created a Craigslist ad and he contacted me and we hit it off. What we were creating was pretty different from The Explicits, like, I'd matured a lot and we were just going in a different direction and so we decided to make a whole new project from that. So that's how we started.
Were there any bands or artists who helped to shape your sound?
Yeah, definitely. I have influences going from Joan Jett and, growing up, one of my favorite bands to listen to was Garbage. I really like pop music - I'm a big fan of that - but then I'll listen to Nine Inch Nails too. The sort of people that I admire, that I think have a more direct influence in what I do, I think probably Joan Jett would be number one out of all of them. Of course, she's the queen of rock and roll.
What was the inspiration behind the new single "Freak Machine"?
"Freak Machine", I mean, it can be put into a few different kinds of context. It could be more of a sexual tone that comes across more obvious, if you just take the lyrics for face value, or it could be something that could apply to you, that you yourself are a freak machine, as in you are different from others around you. So, I think it really depends on, when you listen to it, what you personally take from that; I love writing songs like that, where a listener can take it and apply it to how they think is best fitting for their life.
Can we expect to hear the same sort of sound on the next album that we heard on your debut one?
It's definitely a different sound. I mean, at the core of it, we're still Fit For Rivals and you'll be able to tell that this is a Fit For Rivals record, but it definitely has a lot more dynamic to it. I feel like everyone has their own voice this time around, where like the bass just doesn't follow what the guitar's doing and, you know, et cetera, et cetera. So everyone kind of really shines on this album and I think it's a lot more fun. There's some electronic aspects in it that I'm personally really excited about; I love bands that put that in without it being a crutch, like Metric - I love Metric, I love what they do - so, you know, there's like little things like that that we just kind of add. Just things like that that I think add more of a refined sound, as opposed to our first album. I'm really proud of it. I think everyone will be dancing to it, awkwardly, along with me.
How would you describe your sound as a whole?
I would say we sound like - I mean, I don't want to be too cool - but, I think we really do sound like kind of modern day Joan Jett, maybe mixed with some of Metric, that band as well, but it's just fun. Especially, hearing our shows and everything, we all just want the audience and everyone that listens to us to have some fun, you know, and I think that's how I'd describe it: straightforward rock, some pop influence in there but, you know, it's definitely us.
You've got a real raw power in your voice that's different from other female singers; any idea where that comes from?
You can probably tell from my talking voice that my voice doesn't sound like that at all. I mean, I don't smoke or any of that kind of stuff but it just kind of comes out of - I have no idea - [laughs] I have no idea but over the years I've learned to control it and really play with the dynamics of it and I think that's another thing in this new record, is you'll hear me go from super soft, almost a whisper kind of vocal technique, to screaming, you know, within the same song, so I just think the biggest word is that everything is dynamic. Dynamic, dynamic, dynamic.
Any new albums you've been listening to?
Oh my gosh, I don't know. I don't think so.. I haven't explored what's out right now. I keep hearing really good things about that Taylor Swift album everyone's all up in arms about, so maybe I'll check that out but, I don't know. I haven't listened to a new record in a while, I think.
What do you want listeners to get out of your music?
First and foremost, have fun. Second, I have noticed just, like, online, a lot of our fans, they end up having a really kind of deep connection to our music and it helps them through things that they're going through so, hopefully, some of these songs people can really kind of dig their claws into and relate and it'll help them through things. It just, it makes it worth it when I get a message from a kid saying, like, 'hey, your music saved my life because this and this. I related to it and it helped me through that time' so, hopefully, we can continue to do that for these kids, that would be awesome.
Anything you want to say to your fans?
Thank you to the fans who continue to stick by us. It took us awhile to get from our first release to this release because, gosh, just like a slew of things, from finding our sound in this new record to working out things with record labels, trying to decide who we're going with, there's just, like, so many aspects to it. I just appreciate everyone sticking by us and continuing to believe in what we do so, I guess, just a thank you to everybody.
We are trying to make plans right now for tour and hopefully we will be out in February, tentatively, but we'll see. Either way, we are going to be on the road to support this album so we're working on it. We just got off tour with Icon For Hire - we were out for about a month - but we're going to try to get over to the West coast and all the other areas we didn't get to hit this last run.