Old Testament

The men of Fine China have a sweet record deal, pre-Britpop ethos and the Lord in their hearts

Growing up, Withem played the violin for 18 years. He got into to pop bands, he says, through the Christian music scene.

"I just randomly started liking melodies and stuff," he says. "I really kind of got into that sound through Joy Electric and Starflyer 59 and some of the other bands. I would read their interviews and stuff and they'd say, 'Hey, we like the Smiths,' or whatever. So I would go out and pick up a Smiths record."

Withem, Markov and Walsh don't go around quoting scripture. As Markov points out, "It's nothing more than just living the life of a Christian. No big deal."

"I read the Bible every day," Withem adds.

Given the type of soothing racket Fine China presents, it would be nearly impossible to land the kind of record deal it has with Tooth and Nail (which lost popular Christian punks MxPx to A&M). Not only did Tooth and Nail cover recording costs and advance the band cash, the label plans to vend Fine China in both Christian and mainstream markets. It's a big fat grip for an indie label that has hopes of seeing the band embraced by kids in all markets.

"Kids are kids, ya know?" says Withem. "So I'd like as many kids as possible to be able to hear our music and songs. We found that kids like a big variety of bands in that (Christian) scene. Kids who like the Supertones or whatever will say, 'Hey, you guys are like my favorite album.' Kids aren't really particular, like, 'Hey, we're indie kids so we only like these records.'

"We're doing stuff that's a bit more historical, maybe. We have a lot more influences coming through than maybe some of the other bands. A lot of the kids in the Christian scene don't really catch on to that kind of stuff, some of the depth."

So far, the fall isn't shaping up as planned. A U.S. tour scheduled for the better part of October and November was recently canceled. That leaves the band but a couple of local shows and Thursdays at Anderson's Fifth Estate, a night of Britpop that the band wholly embraces.

"It's cool," enthuses Markov. "No other place in Phoenix can you hear the Smiths, New Order, Pulp and Suede on the same night."

"Well, there's my house," says Withem.

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