In the interest of full disclosure, I feel compelled to start this story by mentioning that I’ve been a huge fan of seminal Southern California Punk rockers Face To Face for more than a quarter of a century. I’ve seen them live more than I’ve seen any other band; twenty times, in fact, dating back to their 1997 cross-country jaunt opening for No Doubt. They are unquestionably the Punk Rock band I’ve listened to the most since the very beginning of my Punk Rock listening career.
I also feel comfortable in saying that they’re the band I’ve gotten to know the best over the years. I’m telling you this because I had a moment during quarantine (editor’s note: boy, didn’t we all…) that caused me to doubt the depths of my Face To Face fandom. What had happened was I had my mask on and my earphones in and went for a walk in the neighborhood surrounding my suburban home and I fired up Hold Fast, the band’s 2018 acoustic album (Fat Wreck Chords). Inevitably, “Disconnected” came on as it does every time Face To Face is in your playlist, and I got to the chorus and I had what can only be described as an early-’90s record scratch moment: the lyrics in the chorus were clear as day in my headphones, and they were not, at all, what I’d been singing for twenty-five years. I was so taken aback that I actually questioned whether or not they’d changed the lyrics to the song on the acoustic version for whatever reason and so I went back and listened to a few of the more “plugged-in” versions in my collection and you know what? They hadn’t changed the lyrics at all, I’d just been wrong. For twenty-five years. That means that I’ve probably – genuinely – sung that song incorrectly a solid 4,000 times in my life.
This was the circuitous way of introducing you to the fact that Face To Face’s founding frontman and lyricist, Trever Keith, recently published a book of all of the lyrics he’s written and recorded over the last three decades. Set against the backdrop of artwork provided by San Antonio based illustrator Ray Tattooed Boy, the paperback contains lyrics to (by my unofficial count) 170 Keith tracks penned between 1990 and 2020. The classic Face To Face tracks that we all (should) know and love, like “Walk The Walk” and “Blind” and, of course, “Disconnected” are all there. So too are deeper cuts like “Dead To Rights,” from the band’s 2013 The Other Half EP, or “Jackbooted Thug,” an outtake from the 2006 sessions from Keith and Scott Shifflet’s side project Viva Death’s sophomore release, One Percent Panic. And, of course, there’s tracks like “Absolution” and “Incommunicado,” from Keith’s 2010 solo release, Melancholics Anonymous. Also included are all of the lyrics that’ll appear on Face To Face’s recently completed but as-yet-unreleased new full-length studio album (look for it maybe mid-2021). For both casual and hardcore fans alike, the book serves as not only a cool collectible piece of band memorabilia, but also as a virtual scavenger hunt for folks hungry for a taste of what the band has been up to since their last album, 2016’s Protection. (Note: The book is available through Keith’s label, Antagonist Records.)
Keith and I caught up via Zoom from our respective quarantine bunkers last week to talk about the lyric book and the evolution of his songwriting process over the last thirty years. We also talked about the just released Standards And Practices Volume 2, a compilation of rare, sometimes unreleased covers the band has recorded over the last few decades including, most recently, Naked Raygun’s “The Grind,” Joe Strummer’s “Coma Girl” and the Plimsouls’ 1983 classic “A Million Miles Away.” Of course, we talked a little bit about the band’s forthcoming, as-yet-unnamed tenth studio full-length. It won’t be released until the band is able to get back out on the road, but if you’re hankering for some live-performance Face To Face in the meantime, it’s also worth mentioning that the band may have a little something in the way of a Triple Crown live stream weekend up their collected sleeves. We won’t spill all the beans here, but let’s just say that if you’re a fan of the band’s first three albums (1992’s Don’t Turn Away, 1995’s Big Choice and their 1996 self-titled record), you’ve now got plans for the Thanksgiving long weekend! Stay tuned for details!
Keep scrolling to read our chat (which has been condensed and edited for clarity’s sake, believe it or not)! And yes, I told him about the whole “Disconnected” thing!
I figure we’ll start by talking about the book, because that’s the most current thing. This came out really cool, you must be excited with how it turned out!
Yeah! Thanks, I’m really happy with how it came out! I didn’t really know what I was doing – I found one of those companies online that does book publishing, and they seemed to make good quality stuff. There was software that I downloaded, and I just started putting lyrics into it.
I reached out to the artist, Ray Tattooed Boy, and he was into it right from the start, which was awesome! Before I even gave him any direction, he sent me a picture of the cover and he said “what do you think about this?” There was this image and a couple others … and this cover was just so striking and cool that I just said “yeah! Let’s do that!”
Normally I’m not like an introvert or anything, but it would make me feel uncomfortable to have my big, stupid face on the cover of a book. I feel like it’s a bit egotistical and it’s not normally the thing I would go for. But when I saw it all put together … I almost feel like it’s not me on the cover! (*both laugh*) I’m okay with it, I’m like “damn, that looks good!” It looks professional and really well done! He did about twenty other illustrations for me, and they were all really great. I laid the book out, and I was very much a DIY project, you know? It came out really cool.
Where is Ray Tattooed Boy based out of? How’d you run into him?
I think Ray’s in San Antonio. It was an Instagram thing … he was coming up in my feed or we were connected by friends somehow. I started seeing his work and I liked it so I started following him and I was like “hey, let me reach out to this guy and see what he says.” And it worked out!
He did a really great job!
I think so! It’s really important to have a visual aspect to a book like this, I think. The draw is the lyrics, but you can find every song lyric online if you’re really curious about what they are. But the whole point of making something like this is so that you have something fun to throw on your coffee table or to have in your bookshelf. It has to be visually appealing to even bother doing a physical copy of something like this, and I think Ray’s work kinda buttoned it all up.
It’s interesting to see his take on some of your lyrics as interpreted as almost tattoo art.
Yeah, exactly. I didn’t really give him much direction. He put a couple of those illustrations together and themed them with a line from a song or a title or whatever. I didn’t want to be too deliberate with where I placed them … everything has a significance, but it doesn’t beat you over the head, you know?
I never got a copy of the first lyric book you did (editor’s note: it was available on Face To Face’s “Farewell Tour” in the early 2000s), so I’m glad this one exists!
Well this one is better! (*both laugh*) … I think I learned from that book. I didn’t intend to make another book, but honestly, because of the way things went this year, it dawned on me that I started writing these songs in 1990 – they’d eventually be released in ‘92 – but it dawned on me that this was a thirtieth anniversary. And I thought “should I make another one? Are enough people going to care?” But I just went for it, you know? And it’s been really good so far.
One of the things that I think is cool about you doing a lyric book is that I think one of the things that sets Face To Face apart from a lot of other 1990s punk rock bands is the lyrics.
The amount of attention that you put on song lyrics and the way they land on the fans, I think, is different. The lyrics seemed more important – and maybe that’s me saying that as a long-time Face To Face fan, so that’s a thing I hung my hat on. There are other really good bands that came from that era, but I think that’s one of the things that helped set the band apart and help it rise to the top.
I appreciate that, and it’s something I never took lightly, even from the beginning of the band. This book juxtaposes the earliest lyrics I wrote with lyrics I wrote for songs we wrote this year. And that’s kind of a hard thing to look at sometimes! (*both laugh*) I was laying the book out and I was like “oh my god, I was writing like a child!” And actually, it wasn’t so much that it was childish, but I didn’t realize the importance of the connection that you’re able to make with fans through lyrics.
I wouldn’t say they weren’t important to me on the first album – they were – but there was a process of releasing records, playing live, and then talking to people that appreciated the music and but especially appreciated the lyrics. It started to sit with me as something that became even a little bit more important, so I wanted to pay more attention to it, give it more focus, and really try my best to write lyrics that were compelling for people.
That was something that happened pretty early on in the band’s career and I’ve tried to make that a focus and a priority each time we write songs. I don’t take it lightly, and I don’t think “ah, no one listens to lyrics anyway! Rock and roll! Party all night!”
Because of the nature of the way the first album came out, it almost became a template. I didn’t intend for it to be, but I think I found my lyrical voice as an artist with sort of – my forte is self-examination. I learned pretty quickly that by writing lyrics where I critique my own self, other people were doing the same thing when they read it and it had an effect on them where it was cathartic, in a way. I love that.
I’ve drifted away from that on records here and that, but I think later in the band, at least with Protection and this new album, I’ve really tried to stick to that early ethic of taking the viewpoint of examining yourself and how you can better yourself, because that’s something that we can all relate to at any stage of our lives.
But that’s also an interesting exercise to do thirty years down the road.
It is! It’s an interesting in general to have a career with any longevity, because at some point, as much as you may want to forge new paths with your music and your lyrics, ultimately there’s a path that works, and it’s the connection between you and the fanbase you’ve been lucky enough to garner over the years. There’s an expectation to bring something that’s familiar but also to not repeat yourself.
We learned that going through the Ignorance Is Bliss experience. As much as we wanted to go out there and do something different, we did it without any regard for the tastes, thoughts, opinions and feelings of our fanbase. In a weird way, I think you can be a little selfish, and we definitely were a little selfish when we made that record. We were exploring our own creative path, but without ANY regard (*both laugh*) for the base that we had created. That was a learning experience for us, and as we moved forward as a band, we always kept that in mind no matter how far we might have veered from what is our “signature sound.”
Listen … Ignorance Is Bliss is and always has been a great record. I’ve thought that since day one, and that is a hill I will die on. I’ll plant my flag there. I’m not a revisionist person who came around on it later, I remember listening to it the first time and thinking it was great. I was a 20 year old kid or whatever when that album came out, but I feel like I “got it” right away.
That’s awesome! And I can say that the one thing that I will say is that the one thing that did remain consistent, even if the music changed an awful lot, thematically, the lyrical content is pretty consistent with the records before it. I think that’s one common thread that runs through our career, even for a record that turned everything on its head sonically … lyrically it stayed pretty true to form.
When did you realize … that people were latching on to your words? I know it was probably fairly early on in the process, but when did stories like that, of people telling you how much your words meant to them, start happening? Do you remember?
Probably right after the time the band had the most exposure, and where we were seeming to make our largest impact, which was probably between ‘96 and ‘98. After we released our self-titled record, we toured on it for like two years straight. That was probably our biggest uptick as a band, so we were talking to a lot more people and reaching a lot more people with our music. That’s kind of where people started coming to me with stories, like “oh, dude, I was really depressed and I was in a really awful, dark place, and your lyrics were really inspirational for me and really helped motivate me and pull me out of that place.” I was blown away by that, the first time I heard it. I didn’t realize the kind of impact my lyrics could have.
I hate to sound self-important or give too much weight to the work that we do as a band, because we’re a Punk Rock band at the end of the day (*both laugh*), but it shouldn’t be discounted if you’re able to make a connection with people, or you’re able to have a thought that you jot down, or have words that you put to music, and if it truly can have an impact at such a personal level, I don’t take that connection lightly. It is a really amazing thing that can happen. It’s not necessarily that I intended it that way, but it’s a great result that you can write something that you’re passionate about and have somebody connect with it in a way that it inspires them or helps them in some way.
Once that starts happening … but does that burden you at all as a songwriter, where you know that you have to be careful now with the things that you say, because people are listening and paying attention and getting something out of (what you write)?
Lyrically? No. Sonically? Yes, because like I was saying with the Ignorance Is Bliss thing, we learned pretty quick that there’s a reason why people like what we do and they connected with the early records, and that’s the thing that people are hoping for when people see us play or buy our records. But lyrically, I was lucky enough that when I wrote the lyrics at least for the first record … and I think those lyrics are probably stronger than the Big Choice album.
There are moments on the Big Choice album that I think are great, but it’s not as consistent as Don’t Turn Away, and maybe self-titled even less! Where it’s consistent, it’s consistent, but then there are moments where it really falls off! (*both laugh*) But I was just writing what I felt, and I was writing what was inside of me, so it’s been pretty easy to tap back into those feelings record after record.
When I have veered off the path, I’ll look at a lyric and go “eh, well, I don’t really connect as much emotionally with that song as I do with some other ones.” Sometimes, the music and the lyrics are a pure expression of emotion, and sometimes it’s more of an exercise, you know? Where you’re like “I’m going to write a song, and I’m going to do this with it.”
Sometimes you get the perfect combination of having a point that you want to get across, and having the emotional backup to really make it compelling. They’re not all that! There’s over 150 songs (in the book), and the beauty of it is that some songs that may be that for me may not be that for other people. Or, songs that I don’t find that perfect blend in, other people do. That’s the beauty of being able to create, and the best possible scenario of creating music. The worst case is having people hate it and tell you that you suck! (*both laugh*) And if that’s the worst, the best possible case is knowing that you’ve made an actual connection and it’s appreciated.
Are there moments when you’re writing a song … whether it’s one that you wrote start-to-finish or one that you and Scott collaborate on or whatever … but when you’re done writing it, you go “the kids are gonna like that one. People are going to dig that song”?
I’ve done that a lot of times in the past, and I feel like I’m usually off-base when it happens. It’s the craziest thing, I’ll be like “oh yeah, this one’s a slam dunk, it’s gonna do really well!” It’s usually based on my own opinion, right? I’ll be like “I love this song, of course it’s gonna do well” and then we’ll go play a bunch of new songs from whatever the latest record is, and I’ve found that maybe more than 50% of the time, it’s like “well, I was dead wrong. That’s not the one that resonated with people, it was the other one that I thought was a dark horse.”
I think that when I’ve asked people that question over the years, almost exclusively that’s what the answer is. Like, “the one that I thought was going to be the one that landed, didn’t, and then the one that we almost didn’t even put on the record is the one that everybody likes.”
Isn’t that crazy? I wonder if as writers and musicians, if we overthink it, you know? I wonder if that might be the thing that we all have in common … those early records, at least for us anyway, we were flying blind. We had no fucking idea what we were doing. It was like, I had a guitar with distortion on it and if I hit these chords it was like “that sounds cool, let’s do that!”
As you do it, you realize there’s methods and there’s expectations and there’s things that you should be bringing to it if you want to be professional or grow and change, and so I think once you reach a certain point where you’re aware of all these things, you can put all those techniques into a song. Then you think “oh, dude, I’ve made the perfect song! All the techniques are there!” But if it’s lacking in emotion, people aren’t going to connect with it.
Sometimes I think when a song is effortless, it’s just easy for your emotion to come through in it. Those songs, we tend to think f as kind of throwaways, because “oh, it came together really quick, no big deal.” But sometimes, it’s that simple idea that we didn’t labor over too much that the audience ends up being like “oh fuck, that’s the one!” Maybe that’s where it comes from.
Do you find it easier to put lyrics to a song that you wrote, or is it easy to put lyrics to a song that maybe Scott wrote most of or whatever? Or even like on the Viva Death songs that are in the book, which sort of surprised me. I forgot that wasn’t just Scott’s baby, that you and Scott…
Yeah, on the first and second album, Scott and I were both writing lyrics and music for those songs. I don’t think we delineated “lyrics by Scott, lyrics by Trever,” they just all kinda came out together. So yeah, for anyone who knows those records, this would be a way for people to go “oh, shit, I didn’t realize Trever wrote “Burn”!” And there’s (Viva Death) outtakes that aren’t easy to find that are in the book too.
Like “Jackbooted Thug”!”
Yeah! And one of the things that’s kind of cool about doing an anthology and not doing it chronologically but doing it alphabetically, I think you can see where my head was at in different places in time. “Jackbooted Thug” was definitely one of those more outside things, but Viva Death is an outside project in and of itself, so I felt the freedom to just try to do totally different stuff, you know? But back to your original question … (*pauses*) … no! (*both laugh*)
It used to be, years ago, when we all lived in LA together – and this is mainly the era of me, Scott, Pete (Parada), and Chad (Yaro), and then later just me, Scott and Pete, we had a rehearsal studio in the Valley that we could all get too pretty quickly from our various locations, and we would rehearse three days a week, you know? Sometimes five days a week if we had a record or a tour coming up, we’d get in there and really bang it out. We rehearsed pretty regularly, so there wasn’t a whole lot of time between rehearsals, so I might come up with a chord progression at home and then I couldn’t wait to get to rehearsal to show the guys and then the collaboration would happen in the room.
In recent years, I’ve been the one that moved the furthest away – I was in Nashville and now I’m in Las Vegas, which is a little closer but still far enough that it’s not easy to get together. Scott and I have started writing more complete songs individually, and then, like on this current record, we did get together for probably three or four days, maybe close to a week, and I’d say “I have this song idea” and we’d work on that, then Scott would be like “I have this idea” and we’d work on that one.
Nothing was completely finished when it was brought, and a few happened right there in the room. So I guess the long answer to your question is that I think enough collaboration happens that I don’t really feel like one song is just like “well, that one is Scott’s crazy idea, I have no idea what to put on it” or that sort of thing.
But I will say this: it’s better for me if a melody line isn’t written ahead of time. Chord progressions are great, but if Scott’s like “oh, I have this melody that I want in the song,” that can be a little bit more challenging for me. Not that it doesn’t happen, because it does happen sometimes and it’s great. But most of the time, I also like to have the freedom to do the melody and lyrics at the same time, because that is a little bit more cohesive. I would say that the Three Chords And A Half-Truth record, many of those songs came from Scott as starts, and many of them had a melody already pre-written, so that was a little more difficult for me to find a lyrical path that worked.
Did you still come in with an idea of a thing you want to write about, or do you let the melody dictate what you’re going to say?
I didn’t do that in the early days of the band, but I think as I’ve become a little bit better at writing lyrics, I like to have an idea or a theme for the song before I write it. In the early part of my career, it was just freeform, just grabbing shit out of the ether, you know? (*both laugh*) Later, I liked seizing on to a phrase or a sentence or a group of words that fit together and sounded interesting; something with some pizzazz and then building off of that. But the last maybe three or four records, I’ve developed a technique that I like better, where I just come up with titles. I’ll write down a bunch of different titles and I’ll pick from them.
On this new album, actually, I did titles and I did themes, and then I’d try to tie a bunch of titles and themes together, so it was a lot more cohesive about what I wanted to write about. I was a lot more specific in that regard, and I think it helped me to write better lyrics; better, more concise lyrics that helped avoid some mistakes I’ve made in the past. Like, not drifting out of the tense that you’re in. I used to think “oh, that’s an arty technique,” and really, it’s not that it’s arty, it’s just kinda poor grammar! (*both laugh*) It’s like “well, in this verse I’m in the first person, and then in the chorus I’m in the third person,” and you can do that and it works and you say “well, I’m taking artistic license,” but really it’s just kinda lazy. I’ve tried to tighten up those types of ideas over the years too.
But I’m sure you’re the only person who would pick on that…
I guess so, yeah! (*both laugh*) Probably. It’s like anything else, you’re your own worst critic, right? You have to satisfy your own criticisms as you move on in whatever it is that you do in life. It’s no different with writing lyrics, I guess.
I have to say that, in flipping through the book … I like to do the exercise when I get a new album, where I actually read the lyrics when I listen to a new album. And you can’t always do that nowadays.
But so I texted Scott a couple months ago because I was out for a walk earlier in the pandemic, and I had the acoustic record on on my headphones. I don’t know if I had listened to that album on headphones really, it was usually in the house or in the car, but I realized that day that I had been singing “Disconnected” wrong for twenty-five years.
So then seeing it in print in the book, I went “holy shit…” I remember, what I had texted Scott was “did you guys change the chorus of ‘Disconnected’ on the acoustic album? Because I swear that’s not what it used to be.” Probably the biggest song by one of my favorite bands ever, and I have been singing it wrong for a quarter of a century. (*both laugh*) But I got it wrong in a way that I think changed the whole song for me …
It’s not worse now, is it? (*both laugh*)
No, not at all!
Well, so tell me what it was!
So the chorus itself is obviously “you don’t know what you will give up.” I had always heard it as “you don’t know what you were given”… as though you had been presented with this opportunity or this gift or this experience or whatever, and you totally took the whole thing for granted and thus you were ‘disconnected’ from the true experience …
That’s interesting! And it doesn’t change the meaning THAT much, actually, because if you think about it, if you don’t know what it is that you were giving up, then you don’t appreciate what it was that you had. It’s a similar theme … you don’t know what you were giving still means you don’t appreciate what you have. It’s not SO different!
Well and it’s also just weird to think that it was probably the 4,000th time I heard that song that I finally realized it. (*both laugh*)
Man, I’ve done that with so many songs from my childhood that you just heard wrong. I think we all got the Manfred Mann Earth Band song – that Springsteen actually wrote – but “wrapped up like a douche!!” I remember singing that out loud when I was a little kid and my mom being like “What?! What song is that?!” And I was like “I don’t know, I heard it on the radio! What’s a douche??”
I swear that’s really what he says, though!
I think so too, even though it says “deuce” (in the lyrics). (*both laugh*) I think he did it to get a response like that. I think it made it controversial at the time.
Exactly! … Let’s talk a little bit about Standards and Practices Volume Two, which kinda popped up unexpectedly. Like, all of a sudden, here’s a pre-order!
It’s on my own label (Antagonist Records), and I don’t have a marketing plan or a group. It’s just me; I’m a single operator. What I’ve turned Antagonist into now is I just do short runs of collectible vinyl. I don’t really want to be in the business of selling a lot of records or books or whatever. I want to make cool stuff and I want to do it in limited editions so people who are collectors appreciate the value of buying it and having it and keeping it. That’s kind of what I’m trying to do with the label now.
I mean, I’ve had a label for twenty years but I’ve never really done anything with it; it’s just really been an imprint more than anything else. But over the past five or ten years or whatever, I’ve been trying to develop it into this kind of sold-out style record label, where we might do 500 copies of something and then the collectors are happy that they have their collectible piece of whatever-it-is, and I got to make something cool and that I could be proud of.
So yeah, not a big marketing push, but I did this one digitally as well, which usually we might have only given to a bigger label before, like a Fat or something, and they might have done a bunch of marketing. But I wanted to get it out in time for Christmas, and I wanted the digital to be out the same time as the vinyl. I mean, it’s a covers record, we don’t really need to promote it. People will just probably see it in their Spotify feed and go “oh, where did this come from?!?” And that’s cool! Most people stream music these days anyway.
You threw a couple new songs on this one too.
Yeah, so what I did was we made a “Volume 2,” which is mostly a collection of pre-released music, but it’s music you can’t really find. I started searching the digital outlets, and of all those covers we’d recorded, one would be like a bonus track for Japan, or you do a lot of this random shit throughout your career, because the label will get on you “Oh, you need an extra track for this, or an extra track for that.” What I noticed ended up happening over a period of time is that you can’t find those songs anymore. So I thought it’d be cool if you can get them, and while we’re at it, why don’t we just record some new ones.
We recorded “The Grind” a couple years back. It’s never been released, but we were on tour and we took a day off in Toronto and went to our buddy Siegfried Meier’s place. He has a place called Beach Road Studio, and the guys recorded all the music there – I was off with my wife in Toronto. They did all the music, and then when we got off tour, I recorded the vocals, sent it off to Sieg, he mixed it, and it had just been sitting in limbo for like two or three years. So it was great to get that out.
Then we did the new songs, “Million Miles Away” and “Coma Girl,” which were each recorded at home on each person’s recording system. They flew me their tracks, I recorded my vocal and my guitar here, and the keyboard that’s in the middle section of “Coma Girl,” and then I mixed everything and slapped it on the front of the record.
It’s a bit of a hodge-podge of songs; sonically you can hear the production go up and down as you go through it. When you think about it, I think “Whip It” might be the oldest song on there, and that goes back to the ‘90s. So there’s stuff that goes from the late 90’s all the way up to 2020 in that collection. I wanted to get the old stuff out, and I figured a couple of new songs would be nice for people to have too. At the same time, it gave me an excuse to press up the original version, add a “Volume Two” and make a nice two-record set.
Were the new ones recorded since COVID? Is that why you recorded in four different spots?
Oh yeah, those were recorded like in the last month!
Oh, whoa! (*both laugh*)
I mean, the recording for our album has been done for months, but we just got back together to record those covers. They’re even newer than the album that won’t be released until Spring of next year.
I don’t know if you check the comment sections – and it’s usually a good idea not to – but on the YouTube comments for “The Grind,” Jeff (Pezzati) from Naked Raygun commented “this is even better than the original, and I wrote the original!
That’s awesome! That’s a great compliment! That’s one of the best endorsements you can get, right? I love that song. I was kind of a Johnny-Come-Lately to Punk Rock; I grew up as kind of a Metal kid, and I didn’t discover Punk Rock music that I liked until I was probably 18 or 19.
Naked Raygun was one of those bands, and especially that record, Raygun…Naked Raygun, it was late in their career. And still liking some Metal but getting more in to Pop Punk, that record had elements of both in it. I thought it had a cool fusion of some weird ‘90s Metal elements to it, but it was a Punk Rock record. I just immediately gravitated to it.
There’s a lot of weird stuff on that record … “Jazz Gone Bad,” there’s some trippy stuff on there. That was one of the first records that kind of got me in to Punk Rock, and it was really rad to be able to record one of those songs and to get our version of it out there.
Is that why you picked it? Because that’s a little bit of an obscure song …
I guess it is. It never seemed obscure to me because it was like my favorite song from that record. I was trying to pull album credits up for this album … I was on Discogs or one of those music websites and I pulled up their discography, and I realized that that’s not one of their highest-rated records. I was like “what’s wrong with people?” To me, I thought it was their awesome record, because I wasn’t “in the know” when it came out.
I think like a lot of people, when you discover a band mid-stream, the thing that you discovered first tends to be the thing that you hold on to the most. Case in point; I certainly knew of Don’t Turn Away and Big Choice, but the self-titled record was really where I developed a love for Face To Face. So I appreciated the Rob Kurth and Matt Riddle years, but I really knew the Scott era going forward. I always held on to the “green album,” the self-titled album, being the better record for years, but that’s because I came in five years into the band’s career.
Yeah, I think we all do that. Whatever your entry point is to a band, that’s always the record you have a soft spot for, even when you go back and discover the back catalog or when the band moves forward, it still remains that way. That Naked Raygun record, for me, even though it wasn’t the most critically-acclaimed of the discography, it has a special place for me.
We don’t have to talk too much about new album stuff, because I’m sure there will be a separate promo run for that down the road, but when do you envision that coming out? Certainly next year at this point?
Yeah, for sure. It could be argued that it’s a technique to release a record during this period where we’re not entirely in lockdown, but bands aren’t touring anyway. And some bands are just putting new records out.
Every new record is special, but this record is REALLY special for us. We REALLY, REALLY are proud of it. I don’t want to release it into a bunch of noise, you know? I don’t want to release it when everyone else is putting out tons of records and we don’t have an opportunity to go out and perform it. So, we’re going to sit on it for a little bit until touring comes back at least at some level. I don’t know what level that’ll be. Hopefully we’ll be back out there at some point the middle or end of next year, who knows. Even sooner would be even better! So we’re going to sit on it until we’re able to book a tour and do shows with it. I want to say my best, most optimistic estimate is like April of next year? But, depending on how things go in the world, it could be later.
What makes you really proud and excited for this one?
Because I think this record does have its own identity. In a lot of ways, it’s a perfect marriage of our entire catalog! (*both laugh*) It’s really interesting. You can listen to it and pick up elements of music that touch on everything. It’s not too much like an old-school record, but there are old-school elements from those first three records. It also has some of the sophistication of Ignorance … and some of the records we’ve done in that vein as well. It’s a Pop record, it’s a Punk Rock record, but there are Rock elements on the album too. It’s not too much of any one thing; it’s just this real great combo.
Now, that’s talking technically about the music and the style. I think emotionally it’s a really, really strong album, and that’s where I really key into it. It’s definitely got some teeth and some angst, but it’s melancholy too, but it’s not melancholy in a gloomy way. I think it’s got some hope to it. I don’t know … I might be reading too much into it, but I think one thing that’s worth mentioning is that, for anyone that’s interested in getting a glimpse at the emotional tone for the record, all of the lyrics for the album are included in the book. That’s something different. You can get a little glimpse, lyrically, into the tone of the album. There’s not going to give you any musical insight, but every song lyric is in the book so you can pick a copy of it up to check that out, that’s something you can do.
And it’s a cool exercise, because for anyone that hasn’t been along for the ride from day one of Face To Face, you’ll see things in there that make you go “wait a minute … what’s this song?” If you haven’t dug that deep into the Viva Death stuff or even the Melancholics Anonymous record, you get to dive into trying to figure out where that stuff is. It’s like a scavenger hunt! (*both laugh*)