When rock vocalist Renee Phoenix met musician Thomas Amason while living in Jacksonville, she was simply looking for a guitarist to fill an empty spot in her punk band, The Explicits. But instead of continuing in the punk music genre, the two began to form their own unique sound and songwriting style that has since led to the creation of their alternative rock band, Fit For Rivals. Since the release of the band’s debut album “Steady Damage” in 2009, the band has collected a large audience of devoted fans across the country. On August 9th, they played a hometown show at the Jack Rabbits venue in the San Marco area during their nationwide tour.
Much of the band’s established presence in the genre and notoriety among listeners is due to the success of the music video for “Damage,” one of the most popular tracks from “Steady Damage.” Since the band uploaded it to Youtube four years ago, the video has already been viewed over 12 million times. Lead singer Phoenix refers to this as the band’s most exciting experience as of yet. “When we first released it, it was supposed to be something just for people who knew of the band. We didn’t expect it to take off the way it did at all,” she said. “We didn’t have any marketing dollars or anything behind it. It was just like, this is what we’ve got. This is us, let’s see if this works, and it just caught on, so that’s pretty rad.”
Musically, the band has forged its own unique, punchy brand of sound, pulling inspiration from all kinds of artists, from classic musicians like Buddy Holly and Joan Jett, to current artists like Metric and Regina Spektor, or “anything with solid songwriting that connects,” according to Phoenix. “I try to draw from my experiences and then write music that can translate to other people who might be going through similar things, but nothing so specific that it will alienate people,” the talented vocalist explained. “I want everyone to connect to the music, and from there I hope it has a positive effect on people’s lives, to help them get through something that maybe they couldn’t express on their own.”
It is this strong connection between the musicians and the fans that Phoenix thinks sets Fit For Rivals apart from other bands. “I think when you see us on stage, we are ourselves,” she said. “We’re all just a bunch of weirdos, but we celebrate that fact instead of trying to portray something we’re not. And I think people really connect to that.”
Fit For Rivals is currently touring the southern region of the United States with the band Blameshift in order to promote their upcoming album “Freak Machine.” “A lot has happened in my life in the last four or five years since the last one and I think this is just a reflection on the things that have happened and the things that I’ve learned,” said Phoenix. According to her, “Freak Machine” will contain more dynamics than the band’s debut album. “It’s different but it’s still Fit For Rivals at the core. There are dance elements, there are harder elements, like with our single, ‘Hit Me,’” she said. “We also have incredible players around us now that we didn’t have before, so we can throw something at them and they’re able to do it. Everyone has their own voice.”
Fit For Rivals fans everywhere will be anticipating “Freak Machine,” set to be released in early 2015, waiting to see this unique group continue to grow and evolve in the alternative music scene.