Determined to reignite the spark of West Michigan’s once high-volume heavy music scene, Grand Rapids’ Fine Fine Titans have returned with Renaissance, its first full-length album.
Rising from the ashes of the band’s combustible past, the new album stands as a new beginning for the post-hardcore band. The group has endured a lot of commotion since its 2010 genesis.
But if band turmoil is good for one thing, it’s fodder and stimulus for the next record. The immensely personal Renaissance LP confronts many of the band’s issues head on, while reexamining what it means to be heavy.
“It’s a little less aggressive, but feels much more emotionally heavy,” said bassist Evan Bartlett, who’s also husband to the band’s lead vocalist, Jenn Bartlett. “Everything from the tones, melodies and the effects seem to carry so much weight.”
Fine Fine Titans
with special guests Anchors Calling, Rip VanRipper, Blisshead
On one of the album’s heaviest songs, the Fine Fine Titans brought a recognizable face in the Grand Rapids’ hardcore scene. Still Remains’ frontman TJ Miller joined them on “I Just Saw A Ghost.”
“Without a doubt, TJ has had a strong presence in the Grand Rapids music scene and beyond with Still Remains,” Jenn Bartlett said. “Watching them persevere has had a strong impact on us. Over time, we’ve become friends and it’s been a blessing just having a great influence to commiserate and celebrate with.”
Working with Miller rekindled the band to the local scene’s strongest days: The early 2000s, back when all-ages venues like Skeletones and The DAAC united fans and bands alike. Jenn Bartlett said that boisterous scene has cooled off over the last five years.
“I’m not totally sure what Grand Rapids needs in order to rekindle its love for heavy music,” she said. “Maybe it’s not just a regional thing. Maybe it’s throughout the Midwest, or in most of the U.S. I try to focus less on what the scene has to offer me and more of what I can do for the scene. What’s important to me is transparency and connection. Music doesn’t need people, people need music.”
While they may not have the entire metal scene figured out, the husband/wife combo certainly has the married life pegged down.
“Jenn and I got married. [Then] she forced me to join a band with her,” he said jokingly.
“Until band-death do us part,” she added.
Kidding aside, the couple’s relationship is the heart of the band. It’s what’s kept it going as they’ve relocated from Kalamazoo to Metro Detroit and finally to Grand Rapids.
“The band is like any dysfunctional family — when it’s bad, it can get ugly,” Jenn Bartlett said. “But when it’s good, it’s elation. Having [a romantic] relationship involved in the music can double [things] up but we knew what we were signing up for.”
The new record is a follow up to two dynamite EPs: 2012’s Arms, and 2014’s Omega. Since those days the band has seen some serious lineup changes, including the departure of original guitarist Dustin Posthuma. The Bartletts quickly enlisted guitarist Brit Herron and recorded Renaissance. Drummer Nathan Jean is the latest addition.
“The fire that Nathan lit under all of us was incredibly helpful and instilled a new hope in the band,” Jenn Bartlett said. “I can’t say that we’ve ever felt more like a complete package. We’re thankful to be back on track and stronger than ever.”
Fine Fine Titans will also be opening for The Plot In You on Dec. 9 at The Stache (at The Intersection). Special guests include My Ticket Home, Drifter, My Enemies & I, and Blisshead. Tickets are $12, $10 advance, available at sectionlive.com.