Modern Fix

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. Cal’s 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 90’s 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 band‘s 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: I’m doing fine. We have a day off today and we’re 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. I’ve got the new album, How To Ruin Everything. Very nice album–sounds like you’re 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 there’s 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 doesn’t have a dark sound to it.

L: I felt the last two albums were more on a personal approach, wouldn’t 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, they’re more rainy day sounding records, to me. (Laughs) That’s the best way I can describe it. The new one is more of a…it’s so hard to describe these things.

L: Let me help you out–It’s faster!
T: Yes, there’s 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 hadn’t recorded a record with him until this last one.

L; How does it feel to be a three-piece once again?

T: It’s great! I think it’s really cool. Chad didn’t 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, he’s doing more of what he wants to do and it’s 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 everybody’s shoulders.

L: What has been the reaction to the new record?
T: So far, we’ve gotten nothing but positive response to this record…everybody seems to really like it. So, far, it’s 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. We’re going to go back to do a headlining tour in June and then we’re going back to do a kind of a Vagrant package in the U.K. and all of Europe in September.

L: You’re 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. We’re actually on Vagrant now and we’ll be continuing to make records for that label.

L: I wanted to ask you about a couple songs off the new record. You’ve got a song entitled “Shoot the Moon”–is this particular song about the band itself? It sounds like you’re giving the listener an in-depth look at how Face to Face has evolved.
T: Absolutely! It’s a pretty straight-forward song–lyrically. The title, the ultimate theme, what I’m trying to convey with the song–basically, even though you think things are going to be ok, they never usually are. But you shouldn’t let any of that keep you from trying to go after what it is that you want to do.

L: It’s 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: I’ve 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 don’t know them.

L: That’s how they would know these songs. There’s nothing more exciting than hearing a band play old material that you’re 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, we’ve got a lot of albums out now and we have the most fun when the audience is having fun. We’re there for a dual purpose. We want to make sure we’re entertaining everyone and we like to stick to the songs people know the best.

L: Yeah, it’s all about the Face to Face freaks!
T: (Laughs) Are there now? I haven’t been able to tell!

L: Oh yes! It’s massive! You’ll be amazed at how dedicated these freaks are. You’re 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, we’re 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.
We’ve haven’t been on the road for over a year now, so we’re all bright-eyed and bushy-tail. We’re ready to hit it again.

L: You know, Face to Face isn’t known to write love songs, let alone ballads. The last track on the new album is extremely mellow and sentimental. What’s going on with that, Trever?
T: Well, it’s not a love song. I think it’s 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. It’s something we’ve 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 I’LL NEVER TELL!

L: Might as well, since you put a folk song in a punk rock album. (Chuckles) Besides, there’s a lot of hopeless romantics out there that would drool over a lovey dovey song by F2F.

T: Well, they’re 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 it’s actually coming out on Vagrant in June. It’s me, Scott, Scott’s brother Chris on guitar, and John Freese on drums.

L: Mr. Freese sure gets around!
T: Yeah, it’s really cool. This is very different–it’s dark and kind of evil. It’s nothing like Face to Face. The really interesting thing is that it’s all baritone guitars–there’s no bass players and there’s no regular guitars , either. So, the three of us play this baritone, which is half way in between a guitar and a bass–sonically. It’s really cool stuff.

L: What’s 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 didn’t say “emo.”) Ok, but you’re an emotional kind of guy and music is emotional.
T: Yes, it’s kind of ridiculous that there’s one type of music that’s coined as “emo” because all music is a form of expression and it’s supposed to be emotional to some degree.

L: So, is Viva Death a punk band?
T: It’s like Killing Joke meets Bauhaus meets the Cramps. You just have to listen to it. I’m really proud of it, I think it came out awesome.

L: Do you plan to play around with this band?
T: Yeah, we’re trying to maybe see if we can hook up a week of shows in the summertime. I’ll have to keep you posted on that. (Laughs)

L: Trever, I know you’re itchin’ to blow all your cash…
T: I’m 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!”