Not many bands these days can learn to remain active and keep producing great music these days, let alone reach the 25th anniversary. Well, So-Calâ€™s Face To Face has entered into its 25th year this year with a new release titled Protection. The record is said to hark an earlier sound from the band. Protection will be released on March 4th on Fat Wreck Chords. Editor Samantha Barrett spoke with Trever Keith about the new album, turning 25 and Punk Rock Bowling.
Face to Face as a band turns 25 this year. Reflecting back on all of those years, did you guys ever think you were ever going to see 25?
I don't know if that was something I really thought about. My focus was primarily on making records, touring and getting caught up in keeping the band going. I don't think we thought about it much…
Are you planning on having a celebration for it?
Oh, absolutely! This year to commemorate our 25th anniversary Iâ€™m working on re-releases on at least our first 3 records, maybe more of our catalog, on 180 gram great audio file records. I am doing a 25th anniversary artist series guitar with Artist Series Guitar, were also going to do a 25th anniversary watch and a bunch of other stuff like that.
I read in a previous interview that we should expect this album to be more like the first 3 albums. Can you elaborate on this? What made you decide to look back to these albums?
We spent the past year in 2015 doing a set of concerts/events that we named the â€œTriple Crownâ€ we played our first 3 records in over 3 nights. I think by being in that headspace throughout 2015, revisiting a lot of that material live, keeping in the spirit with all that it sort of influenced us in the way that we wrote songs for the new record. I think the new record is a good mixture of that sound and the spirit of the early days of the band and kind of mixed with our experience and the way we are now as musicians.
You have spoken a lot about your return to Fat Wreck. What made you return to Fat?
I knew we were working on new material and we were thinking about what would be a good place for it. We did not have any issues with Rise with our last album, it was only a one record deal. We were thinking about some other labels and Fat was the first label I thought of. I sent a few emails out to a few different people that I knew, Erin at Fat being one of them and she was like â€œYeah send me some demosâ€ and they were interested. The minute I knew Fat was interested I knew â€œI found where we're going.â€ Itâ€™s really cool because we're getting ready to celebrate 25 years of the band, it feels really great to be back in a familiar place with Fat. We're lucky that a label like that has endured 25+ years, that we still have something like a home to go back to, not only did they survive but they thrive throughout that time. After having lived on a bunch of different record labels for almost every album, it feels good to go back to something that is familiar. We're all people that have been through the process, punk rock and all of the changes in the music industry. I think we have more in common now because our shared experiences in the past 25 or so years. There is just a different sense of familiarity, like a family kind of feel.
Did going back to Fat have an influence on the route you took with this album?
They never forced any influence at all, some suggestions were made and some different ideas. We definitely listened what Erin, Mike and Chad (the label manager) had to say. There was stuff that was great ideas, we were like â€œYeah, that is a great idea, we didnâ€™t even think of thatâ€, they had some input on the actual song sequence and I think we will be working with them on picking out a single. I've been at odds with record labels in the past. Itâ€™s no fun. You want to move forward in having everyone on the same team.
Fat mentioned that â€œSay What You Wantâ€ was one of your favorite songs on this album. Can you elaborate on that?
It is one of my favorites. This record is only an eleven song record, there is really no clear favorites for me. I think that at the risk of sounding in-modest. I think this may be one of the best record or the best record we ever made in our career. I usually hate listening to our records after we make them, I'm still listening to this. It's been since October since we recorded it. Iâ€™m frequently walking around with the songs rolling around in my head. Itâ€™s an entire record that I really and truly enjoy, I'm really proud of it. I think working in the Blasting Room with Bill Stevenson really caused us to be on our best behavior. Even before we knew we were working with Bill, we have so much respect for him and being fans of the Descendents, it really made us put forth the best work. I think it really shows with the record. If I did not make it, I would be a fan and feel connected to it anyways.
Speaking of Bill, what made you guys decide to work with Bill Stevenson with this album? How did that resonate with the production of the new album?
We try not to make our record the same way every time we make a new record. Before this record, we have done some festivals here and there with the Descendents for the past couple of years. One day we were like â€œBill makes records?â€, â€œI wonder how he work as a producer?â€ I got in touch, we started the dialogue and got on the phone a couple of times. We actually set up a recording session at the beginning of 2015, for whatever reason that did not happen, we ended up moving everything back until the Fall. It was sort of a long process but because they are super busy over at the Blasting Room. It was really just me reaching out to Bill to see if he wanted to do it. Even before he heard any of our new songs he was like â€œYeah man, send me some demos.â€ He was interested. Bill, Jason or the other guys working at The Blasting Room, gets pretty involved in recording guitar tracks, drums and stuff like that. Really everyone at The Blasting Room had a positive influence on the record.
You guys have a song titled â€œProtectionâ€ on this album, Is there a correlation with the track and the title of the record?
â€œProtectionâ€ was one of the songs on the record that actually ended up coming up way better than we imagined it would. We were like â€œEhhh… maybe it will make the record maybe it will be a B-side.â€ By the time this was finished, everybody was like â€œYeah this song came out awesomeâ€ it was one of the top contenders for the record.
We didnâ€™t have a title for the record when we were going into it. Unless we went to the record knowing a theme, we kinda wanted to go through the process and once it was finished we went to feel what kind of themes summed up the entire vibe of the record. We developed the theme around the record that we thought was pretty powerful, that there is a perceived notion of protection. Itâ€™s kinda a universal theme. You never know the reality of what level of protection, it's totally arbitrary. I guess you start to realize that more and more as you go through life. It's a metaphor for various things, our careers, our home life. After you have some ups and downs you realize how protected you may or may not be. We like that as the general theme of the record, it weaves in and out of the song lyrics.
Tell me about the artwork for this album?
The artwork went really great with the title, on the front you get the feel of being in a room with all of these locked doors, your super protected. On the back, you see the rest of the room with an open window with the curtain blowing in the background. It gives it a dichotomy of feeling super protected on the one side but feeling sort of open. In order to live life you sort of need to keep it open sometimes.
You guys are scheduled to play Punk Rock Bowling in Vegas again, What is your experience like with PRB? What are you looking forward to?
It was awesome. It was a little bit like a scene, nothing I have been involved with before. I guess, it is pretty typical for the band to stay in the same casino as all of the concert goers. I was laughing my ass off because if I was walking through the casino, you can see out to the pool. The pool area was filled with 40 something year olds, out of shape, tattooed, aging punk rockers, the demographic of punk rock bowling was people our age which is totally cool. It definitely represents people of an older regard and that is not entirely typical of the other shows that we do, it seems to be more of a range of specialized festival like that. It makes it unique in the way that Punk Rock Bowling has been true to the punk rock vibe for a long time. The crowd is super energetic and super into it, we had a great time. That time we got to play with the Descendents, that's always a blast. This time around we are playing with Dag Nasty, with that reformation, Iâ€™m super stoked to like see Dave (Smalley) again, I have not seen him in a really long time. Also to just to see Dag Nasty with this incarnation and to hear all of the great songs that I love. It should be really cool.
Spending most of the last year touring on the Triple Crown shows, how was the vibe of those shows in comparison to the regular Face to Face tours?
I think these shows brought out the really long time hardcore fans and it probably brought people out of the woodworks who may need a lot more convincing to come out to a show because they were a lot more special we were doing songs that we don't really play live. It was a really great vibe. It felt less like a normal show and more of a get together a little bit. We would hang around and talk to people after the shows. There was a lot more interactions with the band and the crowd. It was a really good sense of community between the band and the audience.
What is the band's plans for 2016?
TOUR! TOUR! TOUR! I think our initial goal, was to plug into as many punk rock bowling type festival dates as we can and I've been talking to some friends of mine that are in other bands that I thought might be good packages with us. Iâ€™ve just started to put the word out a little bit, who else that just put a record out, who else that might be touring, I think you can expect to see some regional short run club tour dates, some theaters with a strong punk rock package together. Mostly we're going to do quite a bit of touring.