“Rock and roll is everything,” says Throw The Fight’s Ryan Baustert. “To us, there’s nothing else.”
It’s obvious by their aptly named full-length debut, In Pursuit of Tomorrow, that Baustert and his TTF collaborators have made the single-minded sacrifice to put it all on the line. It’s a D.I.Y., take-no-prisoners, gritty plea to be heard, and a passionate pitch for massive audiences, all of which Throw The Fight utterly deserve. “At the end of the day,” says singer James Clark, “we really feel with all the work we’ve put in and the music we make that we deserve this chance.”
Thousands already agree; the Minneapolis quintet is on the brink of hugeness having built a passionate fanbase through several years of gripping live shows. They’re a gifted bunch that has it all: work ethic, energy, ambition, and chops. Put it together and you’ve got the essential ingredients for success. “It’s exciting right now,” says Baustert, “because something new is coming up for us almost every day. Putting all that work in has finally started paying dividends.”
TTF earned one of their first big breaks back in 2006 when they were voted by their fans as one of the Top 10 Unsigned Bands by Alternative Press. The accolades brought attention, and that attention bred confidence. Making AP’s list had a direct impact on the band’s approach. Suddenly, Throw The Fight was on the map.
They wrote and recorded an EP, which secured the band a deal with Cordless Recordings. During this time the band embarked on a search for one key missing ingredient: the perfect frontman, which ended when they found Clark, a Brit who had relocated Stateside to attend high school and college. Once Clark was brought into the fold, TTF’s momentum surged. His voice — pitch-perfect and powerful — was the missing element.
It almost didn’t happen. “Minneapolis producer, Matt Kirkwold, called me up. He didn’t tell me what band he was speaking for,” says Clark. “He just told me he wanted me to audition and to bring in some lyrics.” That audition and those lyrics went on to produce one of TTF’s pivotal songs, “The Wreckage.”
The band believes that Clark’s work, and specifically “The Wreckage” helped TTF develop its persona. “It really helps us stand apart, and gives you a good idea of what we’re about. It’s guitar-driven and heavy, with catchy melodies and melodic vocals. It’s not simple stuff, but when we play it, people get it.”
Yeah, people get it. TTF has the “X factor” shared by successful acts like Killswitch Engage, Story of the Year, and Rise Against. The onstage force — seen nationally on 2007’s Warped Tour — is undeniable, and so are the melodies. In Pursuit of Tomorrow roars like fire tearing across a hayfield. In addition to “The Wreckage,” other key tracks include the radio ready, “It’s For You” and “His Blood, My Hands,” at the other extreme. “We tried to cover the whole spectrum of who we are as a band,” says Baustert.
They cover that spectrum in part because everyone contributes to the songwriting. “I’m used to writing everything on my own,” Clark admits. “But in Throw The Fight everyone shares the responsibility.”
The album’s opener, “Ready for War,” busts out with a tight blast of hard rock, aggressive vocals and the classic metal influenced dueling guitars of Baustert and Joey Ulrich. “Stop Yourself” brings the noise in the form of a thrashy Metallica chord figure only to give way to a catchy vocal melody and a friendly, sing-along hook. Throughout the disc they keep it brisk while adding passages of iron-heaviness, rockin’ riffs, and dizzying breakdowns.
In Pursuit of Tomorrow is an immense listen that keeps its audience unexpectedly off balance, wrung out and satisfied. Taking square aim with their big rock hooks and searing metal riffs, Throw the Fight demands to be heard loud and clear.