There’s a certain part of Phil ‘Philthy’ Maloney’s body that begins to twitch when he hears sugary sweet carols, replete with ringing bells and laments for snow, jam the airwaves in December.
Politely put – it’s his derrière.
“They make my [bottom] itch and not in a good way either,” says Maloney.
There isn’t a single tune that the drummer for the powerpop-hardcore-punk quintet Fighting For Ithaca fancies – even the one about the drummer boy.
“I general dislike them all,” says Maloney.
“We love Christmas, but we hate Christmas music.”
The band’s penchant for the season but aversion of its associated music prompted them to pen a carol-of-sorts of their own.
Written and recorded in a span of two weeks, Partying with Santa is an upbeat, riff-laden tale of getting old St. Nick so inebriated he misses the big day itself.
Since its release last Friday, the song, which features on a 604 Records complication, has garnered more than 3,000 hits on YouTube.
“It is quite a bit different from the traditional stuff,” says Maloney, who lives in Maple Ridge.
“I don’t know if it’s something that can be played at churches for Christmas Eve services.”
Drawing influence from bands such as Paramore, All Time Low and Forever the Sickest Kids, Fighting For Ithaca is slowly moving away from its hardcore roots.
Besides Maloney, the four-year-old band, whose name is nod to Homer’s Odyssey, features Coquitlam’s Curtis Steeksma (vocals), Vancouver’s Jon Steeksma (guitar), as well as Surrey’s Tommy Phoenix (bass) and guitarist Patty.
The quintet inked a record and management deal with 604 Records in summer.
Maloney says the band specifically wanted to be signed to 604 Records, an indie label owned by Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger and Nickelback’s attorney Jonathan Simkin.
“They are doing things a lot differently than other labels,” Maloney explains.
“They are reacting to the new culture. People now are all about singles and promoting yourself online. A lot of the major labels haven’t really adapted.”
Fighting For Ithaca’s quest to get signed began in November 2010, when Maloney ran into Simkin and handed him a copy of the band’s second EP, Thanks For Waiting.
Maloney heard back from Simkin but he was non-committal and did not set a date for a sit-down meeting in the ensuing two months.
So on Jan.1, the band decided “we are going to annoy the hell out of 604 Records.”
They told their loyal fans to inundate the label with requests to sign them via Twitter and email.
In five days, by Jan 5. Simkin’s called the band and said I think we need to schedule a meeting.
It took months to finalize the record deal.
“We had to tell our fans to back down,” says Maloney.
“We couldn’t really announce anything.”
It helped that the band has spent the past year honing their sound and that hard work is reflected in the seven-song EP they’ve just finished recording.
A single titled ‘Last Chance’ from the EP will be out in January.
“Everything before was loose and thrown together but now it’s more refined,” says Maloney.
“We really thought about how are people going to experience this when they listen to it. We are still playing what we want to play but we now we are keeping in mind the listener and what they want to hear.”
Although the change in approach might seem like the band is succumbing to pressure of commercial success, Fighting for Ithaca is quick to clarify their desire for mass appeal doesn’t mean a loss of double bass break-downs and guttural growls.
“We really wanted to make as many people as possible like it, including us,” reassures Maloney.
Now that they are signed and have already booked a slot to play Canadian Music Week in Toronto doesn’t mean Fighting for Ithaca will forget their fans.
The boys will still go bowling with them, hang out and continue to be BFFs to the folks who buy their records.
“We appreciate them because we know we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in without them,” says Maloney.
“It wasn’t until the fans really got behind us that [604 Records] took notice.”
• Fighting for Ithaca plays two sold-out shows in Vancouver this week. Their Christmas song Partying with Santa is available on iTunes.