Fit For Rivals are a talented band out of Jacksonville, who have toured the world and had their fair share of hit songs. They’re about to release a new album, and we were lucky enough to corner their charismatic vocalist Reneé Phoenix at a recent festival.
Phoenix is a tiny ball of energy with a huge voice. She’s an entertaining and engaging performer, fronting an impressive band that just drips with potential.
Cretin: Your band’s “Freak Machine” was in our 2014 Top 25 Rock Songs of the Year listing, and then showed up again on your excellent EP, Sugar, which was one of our 2015 highlights. What’s next as far as new music?
Reneé Phoenix: We have a full length album coming out this year, and that song will be on there, so you can say it’s a 2016 song, too (laughing).
Cretin: The EP seemed to feature a few recent singles, maybe before you were ready for a full-length? Will the new release include the songs from Sugar?
Reneé Phoenix: A few songs from the EP are going to be on the upcoming album. We did the EP because our sound had changed so much since City Damage, and we wanted to showcase, “Hey, this is what we’re doing now,” and lead into the newer sound we are working with.
Cretin: Is it an Indie release or are you working with a label?
Reneé Phoenix: We are signed to a label called Big 3 from St. Petersburg, and we produced it ourselves.. Everything is done and now we’re just waiting for all of the release stuff and label things they have to do before they release the album.
Cretin: When will we get to hear this new music?
Reneé Phoenix: It will be released this year, maybe mid-summer and I know we have a new single coming out soon. But it’s done. We have an album and it’s going to be released this year. I’m very excited.
Cretin: So, is it a positive or a negative that now it’s all in the label’s hands?
Reneé Phoenix: Our label has been awesome, so for us it has been a positive thing. We’re really working with them and getting to do a lot of things we’ve always wanted to do creatively. It’s been a positive for us.
(We have more Fit For Rivals photos on the RARAsFarm Facebook Page here)
Cretin: Is the band still based out of and playing a lot in Jacksonville?
Reneé Phoenix: We’re all centrally based in Jacksonville, but we haven’t played in that area in some time. With our CD coming out, we’d like to do a release show there. We’ve been staying busy touring everywhere.
Cretin: So, out on the road, where is the reception best for Fit For Rivals?
Reneé Phoenix: Primarily in markets where they are playing our music on the radio. We’ll get a lot more people singing back to us which makes the show more fun.
Cretin: Any one place where you were surprised by the reaction?
Reneé Phoenix: There was one show we did in Boise, Idaho. We’d never been there, but the radio station was really pushing us and all of these kids showed up and it was one of the rowdiest shows we’ve had and it was amazing.
Cretin: If the album hits mid-summer, when do you think you’ll be touring again?
Reneé Phoenix: We’ll be touring a lot the rest of the year. Right now we are preparing for our new single, and we’ll be working on our video for “Novocaine” real soon; and then we’ll be touring.
Cretin: There were a lot of female-fronted bands highlighted on the festivals I’ve been to this year.
Reneé Phoenix: I noticed that.
Cretin: Do you thing the industry is changing, because five years ago that was definitely not the case. Is it getting any easier for women in rock?
Reneé Phoenix: I couldn’t tell you. We keep doing what we’re doing and writing good music and hopefully we break through. I have noticed more girls singing or being in bands, playing drums and guitars. I think it’s fantastic. It’s inspiring for other female musicians too and gets people to pick up instruments.
Cretin: Who were your personal inspirations?
Reneé Phoenix: When I was growing up, I really liked bands like No Doubt and Garbage. I got into the Distillers a little bit later with Brody Dalle. I also like bands like Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age and The Deftones. I love pop music, I love all kinds of music, and I’ll listen to anything if it’s good.
Cretin: We lost an amazing musician in Prince recently. Any feelings about his loss?
Reneé Phoenix: I loved Prince, and think he was a musical genius. I saw an interview where he said if you learn to play other instruments, that’s how you become a better musician. I totally agree with that and I want to learn everything. I think it’s great and it’s fun. It’s a shame that be passed so sudden and so young. We lost a very valuable entertainer and an amazing person.
Cretin: Do you play any instruments?
Reneé Phoenix: I play guitar, drums and bass.
Cretin: Do you play any of them in the band’s live shows?
Reneé Phoenix: Not on tour, but I’d like to. I think I’m going to pick up a guitar again and sing. In my old band, I played guitar and sang and I’d like to pick that back up and do it again.
You can snag the Sugar EP here, and I highly recommend it as it features four aggressive, addictive rock songs that will be bouncing around between your ears for weeks…
Make sure you keep in touch with us here at Rarasfarm for future coverage on Fit For Rivals and other talented Florida rock bands.
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