Before their gig in Paris with Uncommonmenfrommars and Straightaway, Trever Keith, frontman of the californian punk rock quartet took some time to answer to Lofti. B’s questions.
What would be the most appealing presentation of Face To Face you could do for someone who’s not familiar at all with the band? If there was only one of your records to recommend as a start which one would it be and why?
Trever Keith (vocals) : We are a punk rock band from California. No hype. We deliver the goods in our live show. “Don’t Turn Away” would probably be the first record anyone should hear of ours because it is our first record and a classic.
You’ve released recently “Three Chords And A Half Thruth” on Rise Records. Can you explain the title/artwork you chose for the record? You mentioned in an interview that this is probably your most political record to date lyrically. What was the trigger to that?
T : The artwork is a criticism of religion and supernatural things. I’ve become a little more politically minded as I become older.
This is your second record after “Laugh Now, Laugh Later” since your reunion in 2008. Has there been a difference in your songwriting pre and post reunion?
T : A little I suppose. I’d like to think we’ve gotten better at it. I still write all of the lyrics. Our process has changed a little since I have moved out of California to Tennessee. We have to exchange ideas over the internet now.
For the first time, we felt hearing your new record like there was a bit less of the usual Face To Face stamp on the sound and we could hear influences like The Clash on “Drop123” and in general the record has sort of a very Social Distortion vibe. Would you agree with that?
T : Yes, there are elements of all of those bands you mentioned. I think we put all of our influences into our songwriting mix and then put it through our own filters. The result is the record.
Back in the days you took all your fans by suprise when you released “Ignorance Is Bliss” which was a very different record than your previous efforts. It was love or hate. What was the reason behind that turn in your sound at this time?
T : We wanted to do something different from our peers and more meaningful. We really put ourselves to the test and stretched the limits of our abilities. I think it was a great experience and maybe our best record.
Your self-titled record is one of our favorite punk records ever, there’s not a single song we feel like skipping. You released it on a major (A&M) back when punk rock was exploding. You only released that single LP with them. How was your whole experience on a major company and what made you come back into the independent circuit?
T : Our experience was miserable. When we were first starting out everybody told us “don’t sign with a major label” but I had to go through the experience to know why. Now I have the firsthand knowledge. It sucks.
Rise Records which has been more about newer bands and newer genre has started to sign older punk bands like The Bouncing Souls, Hot Water Music, Face To Face and 7 Seconds. How is the experience with them so far? Have you heard about the new 7 Seconds song and the whole argument around it between the old and new generation? We looked recently at Vagrant’s roster and we almost felt like we were on the wrong site. What a big change! Was it part of the reason you haven’t teamed up with them again for your new records?
T : Rise has been fantastic. They are a great example of a label putting together old and new punk rock in a way that really works. Vagrant has changed a lot. Hopefully it will change again for the better. If it does, we would do more with them.
Let’s talk about very serious matters! Before you broke up you barely toured Europe and we never ever got to see you in France. You’re going to play your first French show ever in Paris in August. How come it never occured in 20 years of career and you’ve made us wait for so long?
T : I truly don’t know why. Our booking agents have just never put us there. Now we are working with Dave Pollack at Destiny and we are playing France finally. We are in good hands at long last. We hope to do a lot more touring in Europe.
Trever, you did a solo record, it had a vibe that reminded me a lot of “Ignorance Is Bliss”. Was it just a one off thing or something you keep in mind for later and you’d like to do again? In which way was it different than writing a Face To Face record?
T : I am interested in making more solo records, but my focus has been on Face To Face for the last 5 years or so. It’s different because I didn’t collaborate in the songwriting process like I usually do in F2F.
In 20 years of career, what do you feel has been your best achievement? Is there anything you’re still aiming for and you haven’t done yet?
T : There is no one crowning achievement. But many, many great memories. We have the best fans in the world.
Many bands with the years and the long touring schedules lost their enthusiasm for music turning it into a job and yet it’s very easy to see you’re still enjoying yourself on stage every night. What would you say is the secret to durability and keeping the fun for a band?
T : We love what we do and we are finally doing it for the right reasons. We spent too many years in some self imposed “competition” with other bands, or gold records, or radio or whatever. Now we are truly doing it for the love.
What’s up with Face To Face having the best punk rock bassists? Seriously! Matt Riddle, Scott Shiflett…
T : Matt set a pretty high standard at the beginning of the band. Scott has just taken it to a new level.
When you broke up, did you feel like it was just a hiatus or did you really feel at the time like you were done with the band? Where do you see yourself in say 10 years?
T : We truly thought it was a break up, but we were short sighted. I see us playing music if we’re able. It may not be as frequent as it is now, but I hope to play music for my entire life if I can.
Interview by Lotfi. B
Website : facetofacemusic.com