Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Fine China is an American indie rock band from Phoenix, Arizona, comprising Rob Withem (vocals, guitar), Greg Markov (bass guitar), and Thom Walsh (drums).
Rob Withem met Greg Markum when Markum moved to the United States from Russia and joined his church. Markum knew a bass player and a drummer at his school and introduced them to Withem. They formed a band over one summer and started jamming, and they even recorded a few songs. But that band didn't go anywhere and quickly broke up.
Shortly after that in 1996, Withem (about 17 at the time) met Melissa Banks at church youth group. They were playing together in the same youth band. She knew a drummer named Danny McWatters from her school. The three of them got together and jammed a few times. They entered a battle of the bands in Glendale and needed a band name. McWatters came up with the name “Fine China.” They won second place.
At some point in 1997, Banks stepped down and Markum joined the band. He had been hanging around with the band the whole time. Markum formed his own production company (Neutron Productions) to book bands, with the goal being that he would “book” Fine China to open for various bands that he liked. Markum joined the Velvet Blue Music Blue Star Army and booked Starflyer 59 and Joy Electric to play in Phoenix. This show is how the band got connected with VBM.
After the shoe, Ronnie Martin of Joy Electric fame approached the band and wanted to produce them. This led to the band recording The Beautiful 7-inch, No One Knows, and Rialto Bridge for Velvet Blue Music.
The band played as a three-piece through the recording of the first EP No One Knows, but soon after recruited Joshua Block (at that time of The Blameshares - described as “The Ocean Blue meets Blur”) to play the keyboards. The band toured as a four-piece, but McWatters left in 1999. The band then recruited Tom Walsh to be its drummer after he left The Blameshares.
The Rialto Bridge ep was supposed to be a lead up to a full length called Meet Me in Venice with the song “Rialto Bridge” on it. However, Ronnie Martin approached the band about putting an album out on Tooth & Nail Records with a better budget. The original full-length recording sessions didn't come together as they wanted, so they signed with Tooth & Nail and started recording over again. Jeff Cloud of VBM was happy for the band to be on Tooth & Nail, and Martin got some money to pay him back for the recording sessions he had paid for so far. They re-recorded several songs along with some new songs to become As the World Sings. They also released You Make Me Hate Music in 2002 on Tooth & Nail.
As a three-piece, the band released Jaws of Life on September 6, 2005 through Common Wall Media. Velvet Blue Music also released a 7-inch vinyl single of “Don't Frown” in 2005. Following a 2006 performance at the New Times Best of festival, the band decided to go on an indefinite break and became inactive.
In 2017, Fine China got back together to record a new full length album in Withem's studio. The band returned to Velvet Blue Music with a their fourth album, Not Thrilled. A new 7-inch single titled You Are Not the Future was also released. In 2022, the “Trees at Night” 2022 digital single was re-released on 12-inch vinyl by Velvet Blue Music with two new songs added.
|1996||The Beautiful (7-inch)||Velvet Blue Music|
|1997||No One Knows ep||Velvet Blue Music|
|1997||Rialto Bridge ep||Velvet Blue Music|
|2000||When the World Sings||Tooth & Nail Records|
|2002||You Make Me Hate Music||Tooth & Nail Records|
|2005||Don't Frown (7-inch)||Velvet Blue Music|
|2005||Jaws of Life||Common Wall Media|
|2018||You Are Not the Future (7-inch)||Velvet Blue Music|
|2018||Not Thrilled||Velvet Blue Music|
|2019||Every Nerve Alert (single)||Common Wall Media|
|2020||Trees at Night (digital single)||Velvet Blue Music|
|2022||Trees at Night (12-inch single)||Velvet Blue Music|