Salt Lake City, UT — Having a long career in a punk rock band takes a lot of heart. The heart is what keeps you true as you get older. You have to believe every word that you say. Trever Keith is a man to say what he believes. Face to Face is true to their roots in the 90’s and true to the music they make today. Their music is motivating, current and mature. It’s not a dull dwell in the past, there’s a look back to check the blind spot with a step on the throttle forward.
Their latest record Protection, on Fat Wreck Chords, is arguably their best. Trever Keith, voice and guitar number one, and Scott Shiflett, on bass and backing vocals, make the needle on your record player work hard racing to keep up. From the opening beat on “Bent But Not Broken” Danny Thompson, on drums, carries steam like a train through to the end of side two. Dennis Hill fills in the recording with his guitar and vocals. This is an album of anthems straight through to the closing track “And So It Goes.”
They recorded this album over three weeks in Fort Collins at The Blasting Room with Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore. Trever said about recording with Bill Stevenson, “It was a great time. He was super, super cool. The Blasting Room is a very comfortable and well outfitted studio. It had pretty much anything you could ever want. We lived there, hanging out in Fort Collins too, it’s a beautiful, cool, little college town. It was just nice to be in those surroundings.”
If you have a punk rock heart, the first note of “Say What You Want” Shiflett hits on bass guitar, it’ll beat faster. You remember what it’s like to believe in a punk rock ethos. Your mind races back to 1995, the band’s first major label record Big Choice, and a great tune, “It’s Not Over” or further back to the record Don’t Turn Away and the song “Disconnected.” The virtual distance between these moments is the speed of sound. It happens instantly. You hear similarity to the past, but it’s all grown up. There are so many parallels on this record to the earlier recordings, they’re all improved. The song, ”It Almost All Went Wrong,“ with the line “These three chords can win this war” it’s a tried and true battle cry. Nonetheless, there’s adulthood and a lot of punk rock wisdom in the writing.
Trever says “Double Crossed,” the third song on side one, “those lyrics are about my experience going through life. Going from a young adult to a middle aged adult I guess. Looking back on the way things go in life and maybe realizing some of the stuff you thought you were doing for purely altruistic reasons maybe did have a little bit of that influence of what we consider to be the machine, that we all try to rebel against when we’re in our twenties.” It’s nice to have this oral history and a connection that fans of all ages can relate to.
The time in Colorado and Fort Collins was well spent. Trever says, “The process was fun. We had a lot of the stuff finished, or mostly finished before we got up there, but we spent probably about half a week or so doing preproduction with Bill. I think the part that made the record a cut above from what it would have been had we just gone in there and started recording without any of that extra preproduction and time to hone in those songs.” In addition to the songwriting, the details are present right down to the articulate recording of the drums. You can hear the care and time spent dialing in this record in every note. “You know, you play it a little bit, if you like it, cool. You may change a snare drum out, or move the mic a little bit, make some small adjustments. Of course Danny did that to get himself happy, you know, with the way he wanted everything to sound and stuff. Danny’s a great drummer, it doesn’t take a whole lot for him to make some great sounding drum tracks.” The whole album is a sonic assault on your body, mind and your senses. It’s recorded and mixed beautifully.
Right now, Face to Face is rolling across the American map on the Econo Live Tour. They’re taking a quick detour to play Punk Rock Bowling Denver. Trever says, “Denver’s one of those cities in the U.S. that seems to be even a little bit more enthusiastic about punk rock and we just love the fans there.” They’re out on tour playing tunes from 1995’s Big Choice album and their latest release. Trevor said, “it’s a throw back to twenty years ago when we did, just really really small clubs and dive bars and punk rock venues. It’s beating us up a little bit more now that we’re twenty years older, but we thrive off the energy. It keeps us going from city to city, just looking forward to that next one.” After Salt Lake City, it’s Denver, Econo Live is “throwback”, some history, but squarely in the present.
According to Matt Logan, a fan, who attended the early VIP performance, “it was super chill, like sitting in their living room, playing for a few close friends.” They played an acoustic set, at one point, breaking from their own tune “Shame on Me” into the Cure “Just Like Heaven.” He said, “It was a highlight.” The whole band took time to hang, sign and talk with fans. He added, “Scott told great stories.”
They got the punk rock story down on vinyl or streaming through your smart phone. From Trever Keith’s mouth, through Bill Stevenson’s console to your ears. Until the last note of a live show, in the groove of a record when needle stops and the music’s over, or your data plan runs out, because of songwriters like Trever and bands like Face to Face, punk rock fans still “have it made” even if they feel “double crossed along the way.” The Econo Live Tour stays true to the band’s beginnings and Protection is a look at the present with three chords, great mixing from Jason Livermore and a ton of perspective on life.