There are a ton of bands that call Southern California home, but only a handful resonate with the locals like punk rockers, Face to Face.
They hit the scene hard in the early 90’s and they have been glued to our sonic soul. Best known for hits like Disconnected, I Want, Don’t Turn Away, You Lied, Don’t Change, Resignation, Complicated, It’s Not All About You and many others. This band’s sonic vision has allowed them to do what they love, and in 2020 they’re still at it.
Amid the Zombie apocalypse, I had the pleasure of chatting Trever Keith, front-man for Face to Face about what he’s been up to during the quarantine and the new Face to Face album. Not only is he a super talented guy, but he’s also genuinely super nice! Here’s a peak into the interview.
Rachael | So tell us about what you’ve been up to during the quarantine?
Trever | It’s a lot…. we started recording the new album in Orange County for just a couple of days. Danny lives 20 minutes from the studio, Dennis is nearby, Scott’s just a quick drive down from LA, I’m in Vegas, and our producer is from Canada so we all came together in Orange County to start making our album. Around Day 3 of recording, our producer said… I better get back home or I may not be able to get back. It was kind of a weird “wait and see” thing for me where I was like… well, this is just going to be like in between a tour.
I was optimistic and thought that we’ll be quarantined for a month or so and then things would go back to normal. After a month or so I’ve just started creating more content that I could put online. I would say that’s the biggest kick in the pants that the quarantine has given me because until now I’ve been too busy doing other things. Making online content is always a bit irritating for me because it is time consuming, but now I’ve put a lot more focus into that.
Matt and I recorded this whole series of commentaries on “Big Choice” because it’s the 25th anniversary of the album this year. We made all those videos in about a day and I’ve been slowly putting those out over the past month or so.
Rachael | Oh, they are great! I love those, I think they are SO creative!
Trever | Oh, Thanks! That was something that we decided to do before the lock down. After that I started thinking of other ideas and things we could do. Right now, we’re working on about a half dozen “Together From Home” songs. We have a couple of covers and some songs from the catalog, but they’re new versions. It’s not an entirely novel concept but it’s not something Face to Face has really ever spent any time doing. It will be new for us as a band.
I’ve been concentrating on developing more social media, creating more content for online, and live streaming. Actually, taking a break from the recording process has allowed us to focus on the album. It’s given me a moment to go back to do some more editing of my lyrics and think about the songs. It’s a luxury that we get to have more time to focus and develop the songs in some ways that we don’t normally get to. Normally when we’ll write an album, we’ll do some pre-production and make a schedule. This forced pause in recording has given us a little more time to consider the songs and helps us to edit them to make them better.
Rachael | That’s exciting! That’s not something that most bands get to have, let alone anything you’ve had with your previous writing/recordings. It must be fun to be able to perfect it.
Trever | I find a lot of times editing is really key. We will try to throw everything at the wall and we’ll end up with songs that are like five minutes long. These creations are like your children, you can get a little overly cautious and think… I don’t want to edit that because it sounds cool, but if you can zoom out and look at the whole thing and say… okay, what’s the song communicating and how can we effectively create and take out the parts that don’t belong?
You always benefit from editing a song because it almost always makes the song better. It is very seldom that we say… oh we cut that part out and now the song isn’t as good.
Rachael | It’s like writing where sometimes you have to stop yourself and think, “no one wants to read all that. YOU might want it but no one else does.
Trever | Sometimes it’s hard to have perspective but having the time to help me with that has been nice..
Rachael | Because you were stopped in the middle of working on this is nothing recorded yet?
Trever | It’s kind of been touch and go. We’ve been trying to figure out how to finish the record. While time can be your ally in the creative process, it can also quickly become your enemy. With too much time, you start to lose your enthusiasm or you can’t get back in touch with the spark that started that creativity that you had in the first place, and sometimes you can never find again. I didn’t want too much time to pass so I made the decision to cut all of my guitar parts from my home studio because we already had all the bass and drums.
Scott and I normally tend to take the reins as producers in the band, but this time, we are working with a producer and our buddy, Siegfried Meyer, who we have worked with previously and is super amazing, but like I mentioned before, he’s in Canada. While finishing up the vocals, I really wanted Scott at the studio with me since the guitar parts I can do on my own. Dennis is also going to cut his guitars but Scott and I are going to get together so that we can produce as well. So, we’re doing all that and we’re actually going back into the studio this week now that more of the strict “Stay at Home” orders are more relaxed.
Rachael | That will be interesting! I’m sure this will be the first time in your life to have everyone in the recording studio wearing face masks.
Trever | I kinda feel like it’s something that we will try but it will probably fall by the wayside… (laughing) but I won’t be singing my vocals with the mask on. I’ll be in an isolated room so it will be safe for me to take it off.
Rachael |Are you going to surprise the guys and wear a crazy face mask like a milk jug with eye holes or something?
Trever | They’re just so corny. I toyed with the idea of getting a skull one but it’s a little bit too biker-ish for me, so I just went with a black one, just basic black. It works for everything.
Rachael | That’s funny because the last time I saw you play was at The Observatory in Santa Ana last summer when Lagwagon opened for you. They had on colorful shirts and when you guys came on you all had on solid black, fresh haircuts, everything looks so crisp and clean so you saying that you got an all-black facemask just sets the tone and makes sense.
Trever | Nice! It’s weird because it’s something that the whole band has fallen into and there was never a directive that ‘you must wear all black’ but to be honest it’s pretty easy to just pack your bag full of like 10 black T-shirts.
Rachael | I was watching one of the Big Choice Breakdown videos on YouTube and the one that stood out to me had a really cool story, the one about Ice Cube wearing your merch is really cool!
Trever | I know! It was so cool when it happened, but now it’s just kind of a faded memory. I don’t know how many people have ever heard that story so it’s kind of cool to be able to put it in a video people are watching and are interested in so that story can see the light of day. What was really awesome was that people immediately started scouring the internet and someone found the clip of Ice Cube wearing the “Big Choice” hat, I think it was on Conan? But yeah, we freaked out when he came on wearing that hat we were like “no way that’s the coolest thing ever”!
Rachael | You had mentioned in the “Big Choice Breakdown” video that you liked the “quarter hat”, but what about any creative made-at-home merch that you’ve seen?
Trever | Not in recent years, but the first time we went to Brazil there were people bootlegging our merch. They had some really cool designs and it actually inspired me to come home and revamp some of our own designs. I’ve been in charge of revamping our merch and making sure that we crank out stuff on a regular basis. It’s like gardening, if you don’t tend to it, it starts to wither and die so you have to keep it up all the time. I work with three or four independent artists that I find through friends or friends of friends.
Sometimes I’ll send them ideas that I just sketched on a napkin or written in a notebook. I am not a good visual artist, but I think I have some solid designs and ideas that I send to them then they come up with some really good stuff. My buddy, Nat Rufus from Blacklist Royals, was really instrumental in helping me re-shape our merch design, but now he is busy with other projects so he doesn’t do as much of it anymore. He has since turned me on to a half a dozen other artists.
Rachael | What about beer? Everyone seems to be doingbeer these days…
Trever | There’s actually a company in Broomfield, Colorado called Big Choice Brewing. They’re not affiliated or anything, but we’re friendly with the owner, Nathaniel Miller, and his wife. They are super cool people and we stay in touch. We were actually planning on doing a bunch of specialized merchandise for the Big Choice Anniversary Tour… then that kind of all went by the wayside and all the shows got canceled. When we re-announce our dates, we might be doing some collaborations with them. When we last spoke, they were going to do a limited edition can with the Big Choice machine on it.
Rachael | Is there anything you guys will be doing taste testing on or are you just lending them the logo?
Trever | I was trying to go more toward an IPA (India Pale Ale) which is what Scott and I usually come together on. Dennis is a Coors guy and Danny is a Budweiser guy, so we just kind of discount those two when it comes to beer (laughs).
Rachael | Something ‘exotic’ and fun?
Trever | Scott and I get a little hipster-ish when it comes to beer, but we want something of that variety. Nathaniel, the guy that started the brewery, is awesome and comes up with some really great beers. One of my favorites that they’ve had is called the Disconnected Red. They do other stuff with bands, but it’s cool that it’s called “Big Choice”. It’s not the same logo or anything but it’s a little bit of an homage.
Rachael | Jumping back to the new album, are there going to be any hidden tracks?
Trever | I don’t think we have anything planned like that. We have about a dozen songs we’re working on and we’re still not sure how many of them will make it on the record. We don’t normally decide that kind of thing this early in the process, but it’s not to say that maybe a song or two could pop up. I don’t know how much our timeline has changed this year, but we were initially thinking the end of this year for the release. But now it will likely get pushed to the beginning of next year. We are talking with Fat Wreck Chords to do something interesting where we could release a series of 7”s each month with two songs at a time. We’ll release them for a few months until the whole record has been released as a box set and then the album itself would drop. That would be something kind of fun for vinyl collectors.
Rachael | That’s a really unique idea!
Trever | The details aren’t worked out yet. We are still figuring it out, but we will be doing something along those lines. I thought it would be kind of fun that if you buy into the program the first thing you get is the box that the records come in and then the 7”s get mailed to you with whatever frequency you choose until you have the box filled. The idea is that you get a collection of things. I’m a collector so I think of things that would appeal to me as a collector. We’re definitely going to do something fun with the release of this record. Unfortunately, we’re pretty early on. I wish I had more information, but we don’t even have an album title or anything. We’re still pretty early in the process.
Rachael | Fans will take whatever information you have to give them. It’s been what, four or five years since your last record?
Trever | Yeah, five. This record will be our 10th album and next year will be our 30th anniversary of the band. Those are two pretty cool milestones: 10 albums under our belt in 30 years in the band. It’s not super prolific, but some bands make a record every year so maybe we should have 30 albums (laughing), but I don’t know if anyone wants 30 albums from any band.
It’s Not ALL About You
You’re so cynical and vain… Yeah, I swear you can’t get out of your own way.
Rachael | Not a lot of people can say that they were in the same career for 30 years, let alone a successful band!
Trever | Yeah that’s a good one. It doesn’t seem like that long ago when Social Distortion was announcing their 30-year anniversary and I thought “Holy shit, that’s a long time”. Now it’s right around the corner for us, so it creeps up on you. I’m just thrilled that we’re still able to make albums. Hopefully in the not too distant future we can get back on tour and play live shows for people again.
We’re excited to keep this whole thing going over three decades. I don’t often look behind me. I’m the type of person that tries to look at what’s next, but sometimes when you stop and look back you realize, “Wow, yeah this has been a long road!” and it’s cool! Maybe the reason it’s been so long is because we are always focusing on what’s next and we keep everything moving forward.
Rachael | Yes, a long impressive road! That’s what makes the band so amazing and people are impressed with that. I think that’s a big draw: it’s not just run-of-the-mill “let’s just get this out there”. It’s the hard work that you’re putting into it and the fine tuning you have done for this current album. It really shows your level of commitment and vision. It’s not lost on fans, it definitely stands out and we all really admire that...I really appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day to talk with me.
Trever | It’s not a problem at all. I enjoy talking with you, it’s fun and yes…, I have been somehow busy. I have this laundry list that I feel never gets done. I put some weird pressure on myself now that we’re not touring that I have to find other ways to stay industrious. But if we were on tour, I think I might actually be able to have a breather and be more relaxed. That’s the world I understand, you know? You go to soundcheck, you go to catering or dinner, you do a show, you wake up, and you repeat. There’s a lot of other ways I’d rather spend my day instead of sitting in front of my computer and looking at this giant list of all the content I want to create for social media just going, “Oh my God, this takes forever!
Rachael | It really does! It’s awful, but I commend you for even doing it. The work that it takes to get all the footage together: the editing, the promotion, posting and everything else, it’s like a full-time job!
Trever | Yeah there’s a lot to it. For people that don’t deal with making it they probably see it as being easier than it really is.
Rachael | Well, you make it look easy!
Trever | I also want to mention that we’re going back into the studio in Orange County and we’re working with a friend of ours, Davey Warsop. He just opened a brand-new studio and he plays in the band Sharp Shock. They were supposed to be on the Big Choice Anniversary Tour with us. He’s also a very talented engineer and I think it would be cool to give him a little shout out, especially since you’re in OC publication and he’s got a new place and he’ll be looking for new clients.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE NEW ALBUM AND ALL THINGS FACE TO FACE