Interview with Fist Fight in the Parking Lot

Ah, the Pittsburgh scene.  I (editor) grew up near the good old steel city, and friends and I would frequently check out shows there in the old Millvale Industrial Theater when you could see billings of noise or anything from Nunslaughter to A.C. (sometimes at the same time, true story), depending on the day.  Pittsburgh has always had a generally well-defined musical foundation, especially when it comes to the underground.  Hell, even Pittsburgh hip-hop like the sadly missed Shindiggaz can turn heads.  Fist Fight in the Parking Lot is a Pittsburgh band with an eclectic mix of sludge, doom, and hard rock as their main forte, and after first hearing their demo about a year ago (still in The Vault waiting to be published on here again), we got a chance to check out their new full-length, which crushed.  Wanting to learn more about them, and where in the world they got the guts to run with such a damn long name (sorry guys, we promise last time we do that), we were able to speak with guitarist Jason and guitarist/lead vocals Abby.  Thus it goes.

Deaf Sparrow – What kind of background do you guys have in music (classical piano, guitar, bands you liked, etc.)?

Jason – I think we’ve all had a few lessons here and there growing up, but for the most part, we’re pretty untrained…clearly.  Luckily I had 2 older brothers who played guitar when I was a kid, so they would show me a few things, and then let me figure stuff out on my own for awhile, then come back and show me a few more songs, or chords. So because of them, I grew up listening to lots of classic rock, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix and Pink Floyd etc..

Abby – I played piano as a kid, but never learned how to read music. I liked a lot of the stuff I’d hear on the radio so I’d go home and learn “Funeral For a Friend” by Elton John or “She’s a Rainbow” by the Rolling Stones. Everything I did was by ear and I brought that bad habit with me when I started playing guitar as a teenager when I taught myself to play by listening to Kiss “Alive” and a lot of Megadeth.

DS – How did you all get together and end up forming Fist Fight?

Jason – John, RuDogg and I were in a band with each other for years, and we toured with Abby’s old band a few times, so we were all friends for a long time before we started the band.  Long story short, we lost our singer, and Abby left her band, and we happened to end up on stage together one night trying to fill time for a club because one of the bands canceled. We all sort of knew right away that we had something.

DS – So what were these bands you hint at that you guys were involved with before?

Abby – I was in a band called Motorpsychos, then an all female metal band.

Jason – RuDogg, John and I were in a band called Mojo Filter for about 10 years. We played some Stoner Rock type of stuff. Did lots of touring, and released 2 CD’s.

DS – What is the origin of the name? Seriously WTF hahaah.

Abby – There are worse choices for band names, trust us. [Don’t worry, we definitely agree, we just kept ripping on them about this, perhaps it’s a nice friend-zone inside joke, but they’re probably annoyed by now so we’ll cut it out.  – Editor]

Jason – Watch this:

DS – Alright you got me, SNL skit, I get it now hahaah. Based on the promo sheet [It suggests it’s mentioned a lot. – Editor] , though, I have to ask, do you get a lot of shit about the name?

Abby – Not really, most people like it a lot or get a laugh out of it and then it’s onto the music. Anyone looking to waste ink on how good or bad our name is, probably doesn’t care what we sound like anyway, right?

DS – What can you tell us about how the Pittsburgh scene has been treating you? I personally grew up in Latrobe but I spent a lot of time there. Always seemed very vibrant back then, but I’m not really aware of what it’s like now, been awhile, the wife and I live in Virginia currently.

Jason – I’ve always said that Pittsburgh has a lot of amazing bands, but nowhere to play anymore. As far as a scene, I’m pretty sure we’re not part of any scene. We’re not heavy enough for the Metal scene, and too heavy for the Rock scene. I think a lot of the problems with the scene are that most bands in town play at the same places with the same bands over and over again to the same people. I think they feel safe doing that. We’re all guilty of that to some degree, because you want to play with bands you like, but in order to get new people to your shows, you need to step outside your comfort zone.

Abby – Pittsburgh has treated us well, and to Jason’s point, we go exploring other areas more than we play local shows and that’s not a dis—-that’s just a choice to keep us from overstaying our welcome. Going to see bands should be fun, it should be an event…We’re lucky we all seem to agree as a band philosophically that playing in Pittsburgh every weekend doesn’t really help the scene grow; and honestly it doesn’t make sense for us as a band either to over-saturate.

DS – Nowhere to really play?  That’s a bummer to hear.  So based on the fact that you essentially bridge genres, what types of shows and local bands have you guys typically played with? When I used to live in Latrobe we’d hit the 31st Street Pub to see bands like Mortician for the hell of it. Not sure if they have shows like that anymore, if at all, though I bet they do. Have you guys played places like that? Any Manny Theiner stories haahaha?

Abby – The Pub is definitely still around—-that’s actually where we had our first release show. The last few shows we’ve done in Pittsburgh have been at Altar Bar and Mr. Smalls, but again, we really space out how frequently we play. And there’s a TON of venues to choose from, just depends on what kind of show you’re looking for. (And no, no stories).

Jason – We’ve been lucky enough to play with a lot of great local bands: SuperVoid, Black Plastic Caskets, After The Fall and BrimStone Coven to name a few.

DS – What is your current touring schedule?

Abby – Quiet for now but we needed it. We did a pretty hard blitz for the album and now we’re amping back up to do some “not quite” local shows that are in the surrounding areas of Pittsburgh. Touring in the winter is a shit show either way and we’ve already had a blizzard to drive through that almost ruined one out of town show—-we’ll check back when it’s summer!

Jason – Right now, we have a few local shows, and are talking about doing some weekend trips, but it’s hard to schedule a full on tour because we all have day jobs that most of us really like.

DS – Where did this tour you mentioned for Year of the Ox go? Just curious (up and down the east coast maybe).

Abby – We released it in January, so we only did a quick jaunt of outside of Pittsburgh, like Altoona, Leechburg, and then West Virginia, Ohio…We were holding our breath for shows to get canceled due to weather, but we luckily made it to all of them. Now that we’re hopefully wrapping up winter, we can figure out the rest.

DS – How has fan support been?

Jason – Fan support has always been amazing…unbelievable in fact. We’ve gotten a lot of great support from the local press as well. We recently had our CD Release Party at Altar Bar. We were a little worried that we bit off more than we could chew with it being a bigger venue, but it was packed. I think we were all pretty overwhelmed by it. We’ve gotten some really great reviews, and people seem to really like the new CD.

Abby – Yeah it’s nuts. I don’t think we ever thought we’d get this kind of reaction locally and elsewhere…We’ve shipped stuff as far as Finland and apparently we just got an artist from France sending us drawings he did of us? Hahhah.  It’s nuts, but in a really fantastic way.

DS – Are you currently working on any new material? If so can you give us details?

Jason – We are! Right now we’re doing a song for an Independent Film called “The Other Side”. It’s a Zombie movie. We’re doing some pre-production for it at the moment. The film will be released sometime this summer. I’m sure we’ll spam Facebook with it once we’re done.

DS – Can you tell me more about this zombie film? Who’s working on it? General plot? The band’s role in the film (if more than a soundtrack or song or two)?

Abby – The movie is called “The Other Side” produced by John Niespodzianski and Orchard Place Productions. We wrote a song for the soundtrack, which is going to be all songs from local Pittsburgh bands. We haven’t seen it yet, so we’re going to guess there’s zombies and they eat people.

Jason – Check out the trailer:

DS – What are your intentions for the future?

Jason – I think our long term goals are to just keep writing new music. I’d like to mix it up even more for the next album. We aren’t expecting to make a living from playing music. As long as we’re having fun, we’ll keep doing it.

Abby – Well yes, we don’t expect to make this our livelihoods…Unless someone wants to back that, in which case I’ll give my two weeks notice right now.

DS – Wasn’t sure if you were answering two questions there. In terms of new material do you mean you have some new songs for another release in the works? Tell me a bit about them if that’s true (different direction, etc.).

Abby – The song for “The Other Side” is a song we wrote just for the movie. As far as new material, we’re always trying to move forward, but no, there’s going to be some time in between releases. We took our time with “Year of the Ox”…I’d imagine we’d want that some kind of space in the studio to hash out the next one.

Jason – Yeah, we’re no where near ready to go back into the studio. Hopefully by the end of the summer, we’ll have enough songs to start pre-production. Maybe start working on an album by Winter..Hopefully.

DS – Any plans on touring throughout more of the US or maybe later onto other countries? If so, when?

Abby – Hahaha..Well..We’ve all done those tours where we go broke, and have to sleep in the van in a Denny’s parking lot in the middle of Bumfuck Carolina. I don’t think we want to do it that way anymore. So I suppose it would take some serious tour support for us to go out again…And I doubt that will happen. Thank God for the Internet!

DS – Man I know about the touring thing, just as a side comment here. A band of mine went up and down the east coast a few years ago. A lot of fun, but annoying and grueling. You barely break even most of the time, too. That hurts. Music isn’t really the same now as it was when I was younger. Digital has in many ways killed what it was, but opened the doors for more creativity, just less profit it seems. It seems like now you have to just enjoy it, and if you make it big so be it, if not fuck it. What do you think about that general opinion based on the fact you’ve played music before? Do you see digital as hurting the industry or things like the internet helping it, but in a different way?

Abby – I think digital distribution is great actually and we’ve been lucky that people are using that to find us. There’s no way to fight the Internet and it’s nature of unleashing things ready or not and honestly, sometimes free is just better for removing any obstacles from people hearing your music. You have to pick and choose what’s free though and what’s not I guess if you want to make money. In terms of touring specifically, we’re not out to hemorrhage cash, so if a show makes financial sense or it’s a cool opportunity we go—-if not, we go record for the weekend. But you’re right, you have to love it and then go where it takes you.

DS – Thanks to Abby and Jason for taking the time to answer our questions, check them out via the review way above if you haven’t already.


Interview Conducted by Stanley Stepanic