FACE TO FACE – interview by liz ortega
Face to Face has got to be one of the most determined and accomplished musical groups around. So. Cals power-punk trio have led a successful musical career that took years in the making and their longevity is greatly due to a lot of hard work and resiliency. They have been slaving away since the early 90s and their perseverance seems to be paying off. With 9 full-length albums, 6 singles/EPs, and countless features in various compilations, Face to Face show no signs of slowing down. The band has since gone through various line-up changes–Chad Yaro departed the band last year– but despite that change, original guitarist/vocalist, Trever Keith, bassist, Scott Shifflett, and drummer, Pete Parada have managed to overcome a long and tumultuous road to their present stage.
At the height of their career, F2F has shown the world that they will continue to deliver skillful songs and edgy music–and that surely keeps the fans coming back for more. How To Ruin Everything, the latest release off Vagrant Records, is nothing more than an abrupt answer to many concerns about the bands musical experimentation in the past and of course, it dips into the deeper, meaningful side of the group . This album conveys more than just faster, aggressive, punk rock–it sends out a clear message that F2F will remain a strong influence and serve as a driving force in music history. I spoke with Trever Keith during their brief stay in Las Vegas, NV about the band, the new record, and his new project, Viva Death.
Liz: Trever! How are you doing?
Trever: Im doing fine. We have a day off today and were kind of starting off the tour–we had to stop in Vegas on the way to Salt Lake City. Yeah, we HAD to stop here.
L: That sounds almost mandatory. Ive got the new album, How To Ruin Everything. Very nice album–sounds like youre going back to your signature sound.
T: Yeah, definitely. I think it has that element for sure.
L: Compared to the last two Face to Face albums, Ignorance Is Bliss and Reactionary, this new album is more along the lines of old school F2F. What prompted that switch over?
T: Well, I guess we felt like we satisfied our need to explore different territory with Igno
was an attempt to go back to our signature sound, but I still think theres a lot of element of Ignorance Is Bliss in that record as well. The rhythm and drum beats are faster, like what would be a more standard punk rock record from us. A lot of the sentiment, I think, in the overall sound and vibe of the songs are a lot more rainy day or melancholy. This record is a much happier record, or not happier, but more like a in-your-face record. It doesnt have a dark sound to it.
L: I felt the last two albums were more on a personal approach, wouldnt you think that was in-your-face since these albums were done on an experimental, yet deep level?
T: Well, those were a little more darker. In feel, theyre more rainy day sounding records, to me. (Laughs) Thats the best way I can describe it. The new one is more of a…its so hard to describe these things.
L: Let me help you out–Its faster!
T: Yes, theres some fast stuff on it. I just think we were in a better place and we were happier with our lives– mentally. I think that shines through with this record (How To Ruin Everything). There was a lot of frustration and turmoil during the writing on some of the older records.
L: Guitarist, Chad Yaro recently left the band, right?
T: He left quite a while ago, actually. We hadnt recorded a record with him until this last one.
L; How does it feel to be a three-piece once again?
T: Its great! I think its really cool. Chad didnt really want to be in the band anymore and I think we sort of convinced him to stay in the band longer than what he really wanted to be. That was definitely causing a lot of tension in the band. Now, hes doing more of what he wants to do and its taken the tension away from our relationship. Everyone just feels better about being on tour and making records and all that stuff. So, that kind of lifted some weight off everybodys shoulders.
L: What has been the reaction to the new record?
T: So far, weve gotten nothing but positive response to this record…everybody seems to really like it. So, far, its all been very positive.
L: How long is this US tour? Do you plan an international tour?
T: This tour is about 7 weeks. Incidentally, we just finally went to the U.K. about a month ago.
It was awesome! We were there opening for Alkaline Trio. Were going to go back to do a headlining tour in June and then were going back to do a kind of a Vagrant package in the U.K. and all of Europe in September.
L: Youre working with Vagrant Records now–is this the first full-length off the label?
T: Yes the first full-length, original release. We do have other releases with Vagrant…a covers album, Standards and Practices and the Live record. Were actually on Vagrant now and well be continuing to make records for that label.
L: I wanted to ask you about a couple songs off the new record. Youve got a song entitled Shoot the Moon–is this particular song about the band itself? It sounds like youre giving the listener an in-depth look at how Face to Face has evolved.
T: Absolutely! Its a pretty straight-forward song–lyrically. The title, the ultimate theme, what Im trying to convey with the song–basically, even though you think things are going to be ok, they never usually are. But you shouldnt let any of that keep you from trying to go after what it is that you want to do.
L: Its a nice, solid song.
T: Thank you.
L: Last time we met, and I know you recall that so vividly, I brought a few complaints to your attention.
T: Oh–Oh, ok. (Laughs) What was that?
L: Ive come to realize that you will never play songs off , what I think is the best F2F EP, Over It. Will you ever come to your senses and full-fill my demands?
T: (Laughs) Most of those songs are from other records. There are only a couple that are limited to that album. We have actually tried in the past putting those into the set but most people dont know them.
L: Thats how they would know these songs. Theres nothing more exciting than hearing a band play old material that youre not aware of. That entices you to go out and search for that particular album that contains those songs! I think this could be a good marketing tool. This could boost sales dramatically and clear up some storage space!
T: You know, weve got a lot of albums out now and we have the most fun when the audience is having fun. Were there for a dual purpose. We want to make sure were entertaining everyone and we like to stick to the songs people know the best.
L: Yeah, its all about the Face to Face freaks!
T: (Laughs) Are there now? I havent been able to tell!
L: Oh yes! Its massive! Youll be amazed at how dedicated these freaks are. Youre playing a few shows out here in CA, right?.
T; Yes, three shows in Hollywood, one in Anaheim, one at the Glasshouse, and one in Ventura. So, were doing a lot of shows in CA.
L: Do you ever get tired and just feel like hanging up the guitar?
T: Yeah, definitely! (Laughs) But you know, we take short brakes and get re-energized again.
Weve havent been on the road for over a year now, so were all bright-eyed and bushy-tail. Were ready to hit it again.
L: You know, Face to Face isnt known to write love songs, let alone ballads. The last track on the new album is extremely mellow and sentimental. Whats going on with that, Trever?
T: Well, its not a love song. I think its a little bit more of a folk song. I came up with a song a played it for the guys and they really liked it. Everybody was like We should put this on the record! So, we did. Its something weve never done before, you know. We like to keep it mixed up from record to record. Trying new things…I actually have written some love songs–but ILL NEVER TELL!
L: Might as well, since you put a folk song in a punk rock album. (Chuckles) Besides, theres a lot of hopeless romantics out there that would drool over a lovey dovey song by F2F.
T: Well, theyre in there–hidden in the lyrics. I think there are some already out there in some of the albums–you just have to read into the lyrics the right way.
L: Other than Face to Face, touring, making great records, raising a family–what else do you find yourself involved in?
T: Actually, Scott and I have a side project called Viva Death and we recorded a whole album with 18 or 19 songs last summer. It had a little bit of trouble getting into the release schedule, but its actually coming out on Vagrant in June. Its me, Scott, Scotts brother Chris on guitar, and John Freese on drums.
L: Mr. Freese sure gets around!
T: Yeah, its really cool. This is very different–its dark and kind of evil. Its nothing like Face to Face. The really interesting thing is that its all baritone guitars–theres no bass players and theres no regular guitars , either. So, the three of us play this baritone, which is half way in between a guitar and a bass–sonically. Its really cool stuff.
L: Whats up with all this evil-dark stuff?
T: (Laughs) Emo-dark stuff! (Apparently, Mr. Keith misunderstood evil for emo) Viva Death has nothing to do with emo.
L: (I didnt say emo.) Ok, but youre an emotional kind of guy and music is emotional.
T: Yes, its kind of ridiculous that theres one type of music thats coined as emo because all music is a form of expression and its supposed to be emotional to some degree.
L: So, is Viva Death a punk band?
T: Its like Killing Joke meets Bauhaus meets the Cramps. You just have to listen to it. Im really proud of it, I think it came out awesome.
L: Do you plan to play around with this band?
T: Yeah, were trying to maybe see if we can hook up a week of shows in the summertime. Ill have to keep you posted on that. (Laughs)
L: Trever, I know youre itchin to blow all your cash…
T: Im planning on shooting a little craps before the night is over.
L: Thank you for shooting the shits with me and I look forward to seeing you soon!
T: Definitely! Come out and say hello!