Supercharged Southern Alberta quartet Fist City burst from basement studios onto the stage in 2009. The twin sibling duo of Kier and Brittany Griffiths — musical collaborators from the womb to the tomb — found ideal foils in frenetic guitarist/songwriter Evan Van Reekum and powerhouse drummer Ryan Grieve. A solid string of releases from labels such as L.A.’s Dead Beat, Victoria’s La Ti Da, and Transgressive have been coupled with tours at home and abroad, glowing reviews, recording with Don Pyle, a Nardwuar interview, and other thrills.
2014 marked a transitional year, including personal changes among the band members, the reissue of their debut LP It’s 1983, Grow Up! from Transgressive Records (originally issued by L.A.’s Black Tent Press in 2012) and the recording of Fist City’s sophomore salvo Everything Is A Mess. The new album, laid down with producer Ben Greenberg (The Men, Hubble, Uniform) at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studio in Chicago, finds them primed to take the future by storm.
Everything Is A Mess seizes onto the group’s influences, both musical (The Wipers, Sonic Youth, the Flying Nun roster) and spiritual (John Waters and Divine), then sends them into overdrive. Guitars chime like bells or shred like buzzsaws, while the rhythms hit harder than ever before. Lyrics are based on the band’s immediate environments in Lethbridge and Calgary, Alberta with gut-punching reactions to murderers, cops, bigots, Rob Ford, and unrequited love. From life in a small town scene to facing the consequences of violent acts, or even the experience of sleeping in the back of a speeding van, these songs paint a vivid portrait from the minds of artists and outcasts set loose on the world.
Fist City started in Lethbridge, Alberta in 2009 by twin siblings Kier and Brittany Griffiths, and pals Evan Van Reekum and Ryan Grieve. Shortly after formation they released their first LP, “Hunting You”, on Cleveland based Dead Beat Records. After their spirited performance at Sled Island 2010, Fist City’s “Debbie Get YR Boa” music video was featured on the premiere episode of Much Music’s “The Wedge”. The national broadcast caught the attention of a few fundamentalist Christian forum devotees who accused Fist City of being Satan worshiping reptilian hermaphrodites. This sparked a conspiracy regarding the band members and their involvement in the the Satanic underground. That summer they toured the west coast of Canada and the United States, hitting SMMR BMMR in Portland, and Total Fest in Missoula.
Fist City put out three additional releases in 2010; a limited run self-titled EP, released by Edmonton’s Pop Echo records; A split EP with Vancouver’s Timecopz, released on Geographing Records; and “Demos//Live Fisting” on Bart Tapes.
In 2011 Fist City released a split cassette with the Moby Dicks on Scotch Tapes. That Spring, Fist City recorded with Don Pyle of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet in Toronto. While there, Cult performer Tonetta connected Fist City with Black Tent Press who offered to release their second LP: “It’s 1983, Grow Up!”, released June 2012. Fist City played Sled Island for a second time in 2011, sharing the stage with The Intelligence and Wild Flag.
In the summer of 2012 the band put out two releases, the “Buried/Cryptic Transmissions” 7″ on La-ti-Da records and the above mentioned LP, “It’s 1983, Grow Up!”. They Played Sled Island for a third time, sharing the main stage at the Legion #1 with Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet.
Later that summer Fist City hit the road to support their new records on an ambitious two part tour that kept them chasing pavement for almost two months. They traversed most of Canada and dipped into the United States in a gnarly last-chance pick-up truck dubbed “Lady Ram Rod”. The engine literally exploded on the hi-way but they completed the tour as planned. Both “Buried/Cryptic Transmissions” and “It’s 1983, Grow Up!” have received acclaim and positive reviews from all over the continent, including praise and recommendations from Still Single, QRO Mag, Weird Canada, and Get Bent.
In the Fall, Fist City shared the stage with Fucked Up for a Calgary Tattoo convention and Death for the La Ti Da Fall down/Get Down Festival in Vancouver. The latter was the last show for Brittany Griffiths, bass player, before she briefly left the band in the winter to pursue adventure abroad. Long time bud and bassist for the Bash Brothers, Lindsay Munro, stepped in and shredded bass with Fist City until July 2013.
2013 was an incredibly productive year for Fist City. They released a split 7″’ with Portland’s Piss Test on Drunken Sailor Records (UK), “Hunting You” was re-released as a cassette on Shake! Records, and their LP “It’s 1983, Grow Up! was released in the UK. In the spring, Fist City is went to the UK for a month long tour. They played The Great Escape Festival in Brighton, SounCity Festival in Liverpool, and were highlighted in the NME.
Following the successful UK tour in 2013, Fist City were inducted into the ranks of Transgressive Records,based in London. Talking of the announcement, in early 2014, label co-owner Tim Dellow comments:
“Fist City are a special band who stopped us all in our tracks. Ten seconds into listening we’d all jumped up from our desks and were adamant that we had to sign this vital new band. Dischord(ant), Dirty, New Wave brilliance that should pour some cold piss and vinegar on all of you taking a nap at the back. Important band.”
In spring 2014, Transgressive re-issued “It’s 1983, Grow Up” which included a bonus 7″ featuring the track “Let’s Rip” and “Losers Never Die”.
Fist City returned to the UK in March 2014 to support the re-issue; there they covered much of England, including highlight performances at the Vice Issue Launch Party as well as headlining at the Shacklewell Arms in London.
Upon their return home, Fist City released a music video featuring the violent thrills of the ABYC Girl Gang for the breezy banger “Let’s Rip” – it debut on NME in April 2014.
The band has just finished recording their third record, ‘Everything is a Mess’ at the hallowed Electrical Audio Studios in Chicago, IL (due out in 2015 on Transgressive Records).