Interviews

Ned Russin (Glitterer, Title Fight, Disengage, Bad Seed, Stick Together, Big Contest, Liberty)

Glitterer at Satellite Bar, Houston, TX, 2019. (Photo: Zane Daniel)

The year is either 2011 or 2012, I’ve just started middle school and the only music I’ve known is from the CDs I stole from my dad and whatever was playing on pop radio stations, so my music taste ranged somewhere between Soundgarden and "I’ve Got a Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas. So, when my friend—who was already in high school—showed me the music video to "27" by Title Fight, it was the coolest thing I had ever heard.

A few years later, I found out about a new project called Glitterer featuring Title Fight's bassist/vocalist, Ned Russin, I was immediately interested. I was instantly blown away by the 2017 self-titled record, and I was thrilled a year later when it was followed up with Not Glitterer. I never thought I would get the chance to see Glitterer live unless I drove hundreds of miles, which is a difficult task for me considering my near 80-hour work schedule. So, when I found out that there was a Texas weekend run planned I was thrilled. I'm excited to present to you my interview with Ned Russin below.

How did Glitterer come to be?

I was just writing music by myself; I bought a little MIDI controller to do drums and keyboard stuff with, and other than that I just had my bass. There’s a very specific sound that comes with that, and it’s kind of unavoidable. I was writing songs maybe four or five years ago, when I moved to New York. There was somewhat of a mental block, where I felt like I couldn’t finish them. I couldn’t find the right way to do vocals over the tracks, and I sort of canned the whole thing. Two years later, I revisited all of those tools that I had abandoned, with a better idea of what I wanted to do, and how I would go about using them. I eventually came up with a couple of songs together, and started to somewhat wrap my head around what I was doing. To me, the origin of the band is kind of boring, because I literally just bought some stuff and fooled around with it [laughs].

That’s kind of how a lot of music is being made these days though. A lot of people are veering off the full band route, and going solo.

Yeah, and I never wanted it to be considered a solo project, since that kind of comes with a weird stigma, more or less. To me, it’s just something that kind of happened, I was writing music, I started to play shows and it just felt right. It’s starting to become more normal to me as I’m writing more and playing more. I’m finally starting to understand what it actually is, versus what what I thought it was originally (which are two different things.) So, it was just catching up to what I didn’t fully understand at first, and I think that’s what took me so long to come back to those songs. It just took me a while to figure out  a way that I could do it and feel comfortable.

Glitterer at Above the Bayou, Washington, DC, 2017. (Photo: Pat Gaffney)

With Glitterer, or any band you’ve been involved with, what are your favorite songs to play live?

It’s always new songs. Doing something new just feels exciting, because you’re still figuring it out. You may have a certain idea for a song that you used when recording, but then you catch up to those ideas and start to make slight changes to them, be it vocal patterns and lyrics mostly. Playing those songs live has a certain way of making you find more comfortable and natural ways of figuring out those melodies.

I’ve experienced that for myself with writing music vs. playing shows, it almost makes you want to go back and re-record them.

Yeah, and to me that’s an exciting thing, because it seems like something is happening that’s almost out of your control even though it is. Playing new songs has always been my favorite.

On Not Glitterer you collaborated with Alex G, aka Sandy, on the producing side of things. What was it like working with him?

Well, writing songs for Glitterer was something totally new for me; Writing songs by myself made me feel sort of insecure, because I’ve never had to okay something by myself, having other people sign off on something makes something feel safe, even if nothing changes. I wanted to bounce Ideas off of somebody and I though a cool person would be Alex, and he was happy to do it. I sent him the songs and he messed around with them and sent them back. That collaboration was a very modern phenomenon, because it was essentially us texting and emailing each other [laughs]. I would send him something and he’d send it back to me. We never met in person, or anything, but it was cool because the songs were able to take on a new energy while maintaining the original structure. It was very exciting, because it was exactly what I wanted; He offered an extra set of ears and it made the process a lot easier. He’s an extremely talented songwriter and I’m very fortunate to have worked with him.

I remember seeing Title Fight on tour with him back in late 2015, is that a relationship you built on that tour?

We met Alex a little bit before that tour. We played a show with him the summer before we did the tour. We were friendly, and I was a big fan of his band, and then we did the tour and became better friends. We just stayed in touch over the following years, and did our own 
Things.

I’ve noticed in all of your music you’ve been pretty open and honest about the way you feel at the time. Is it harder or easier to open up in this new setting of being a one-man band?

In all honesty, I was pretty guarded at first. The band started at a time in my life that was difficult for lack of a better word. I was going through some personal stuff, and I felt very strange writing lyrics, at the time, and I was thinking a lot about listener expectation, and what people would want out of me in a given situation, and I was upset by that idea. It’s vague, but when someone expects you to write songs of a certain emotion, where it’s anger and sadness, I felt resentful thinking people would think “at least we got good songs out of it.” I was trying to think of a way to circle around that idea, and not do what would be expected.

I was trying to find ways to work through my own problems while being honest, which was kind of weird, but as it went on the songs felt like a different platform almost. When you write a song, everything needs to fit perfectly, in a way different songs convey different ideas. As I became more comfortable, I was able to mess around with the lyrics a bit more, and it took some time to get to the point to be more vulnerable or whatever one dollar word you want to use.

Glitterer at Satellite Bar, Houston, TX, 2019. (Photo: Zane Daniel)

How does playing Glitterer shows compare to playing shows in past bands? Does the smaller setting remind you of the earlier Title Fight days, or is it something completely of its own?

I guess a little bit of both, it’s not like I ever stopped playing shows. On the most recent Title Fight tour, we played two house shows, and I’ve always had Disengage, Stick Together, and Big Contest going as well, so it’s not like I ever really stopped. Each band has had its own unique feel of playing, while maintaining similarities. Glitterer never really felt like a return to form, but at the same time it’s the most different project I’ve done, so it took awhile for me to get comfortable up by myself. Even in Disengage, where I only sang, I still had three people behind me, and it felt more comfortable to have loud music coming from behind me, and to share the stage with friends of mine.There’s always been a safety blanket behind me, but in this there’s nothing, so it’s weird to get used to.

Overall it’s been fun. I really enjoy playing shows, making music, and it’s especially nice to be able to show up with only a backpack and a laptop [laughs].

Disengage at Casa Jimenez, California, 2011. (Photo: Dan Rawe)

You aren’t having to drag around an 8x10 bass cab everywhere, which must be nice.
 
Yeah, and your bass head? Don’t even get me started...But it is a fun new thing with a lot of the same old stuff.

You played a few new songs tonight, and I really enjoyed them. When should we be expecting to hear those, and is there a full length album coming anytime soon?

I’ll just quote the t-shirts and say “Always working on something new.”

I’ve heard about your vintage hardcore shirt collection. What are some of your favorite pieces that you’ve acquired?

I’d probably have to say all of my Youth of Today stuff. I like Youth of Today a lot, and I spent a lot of time and energy tracking down a lot of their cool stuff, so those things are very special to me. The best thing that comes with collecting is the relationship and the stories that come with the stuff. My friend Zach Wuerthner (Intent, Moshers Delight) gave me a Youth of Today tank top, which is so kind and cool of him, even though I could never see myself in a tank top, it’s still an awesome gift and I’m extremely appreciative of him for doing that. Thinghs like that are just as important if not more important.

Speaking of Youth of Today, you’ve had the chance to perform with them before in Disengage, and you’re playing with them again in this coming March. What’s it like to get the chance to play with bands that you grew up admiring?

It’s a really cool experience because, I feel like I’ve been fortunate to be able to play with bands that I’ve looked up to, and bands that have really had a major impact on my life. I learned from a very young age that those people involved are human. I think being involved in punk, hardcore, and underground subcultural stuff, there’s this idea that everyone’s the same, but there’s still this weird disconnect. People still get very excited to see a band that they’ve looked up to forever, not that it’s bad, but it creates somewhat of a false idol. Playing with bands I admired at a young age kind of let me break down that idea early on, and just get to see that these bands are made up of people just like you and me. The cool thing about art and music is that it’s an attainable thing; Like these four of five people did this thing that’s amazing, so that means that four or five people can go do it again.

What are some of your proudest moments of being a musician?

Playing shows, to put it simply. It sounds like a cop out answer, but to me, that’s when music becomes real, when you share it between people. I’ve been fortunate to be playing music for 15 years give or take and it’s still an exciting and fun thing for me. If any band I’ve ever been in means anything to anybody, that’s very astonishing and humbling to me. Being able to share music with people is something I really enjoy.

Big Contest at Not Dead Yet Fest 2018 (Photo: Michael D. Thorn)

Do you have any future projects planned? And do you have any plans on revisiting other bands like Title Fight, Disengage, Stick Together, or Big Contest?

Big Contest has plans for a 5-song 7’ on Lockin’ Out this year.

For my last question, what would you have to say to any bands coming up in the scene?

Make music selfishly. Make music that you wanna hear that says something to you, that you think is important, and that you think is a valuable contribution to the world. Do something you’re passionate and care about. That’s what makes people care about what you’re doing, and that’s what makes people interested, because you, yourself are interested. I think that’s something that’s simple but isn’t thought of a lot. Make music for yourself; That’s the coolest thing. Just being able to write a song is awesome regardless of whether anyone hears it or likes it, as long as you enjoy.

Title Fight at Chain Fest, Santa Ana, CA, 2016. (Photo: Jose Calixto)

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Tagged: bad seed, big contest, disengage, glitterer, liberty, stick together, title fight

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