Face To Face: reunited and heading here for Soundwave

The bio of Victorville, California, pop-punk quartet Face To Face can read like that of most other bands with a healthy longevity: band forms, records a handful of albums, does the grueling touring circuit, has a stint with a major label, sticks around for a good part of two decades. Instead, the events of the past six years reveal that not all has been smooth sailing in the band's journey. Their split in 2003, after a lengthy and successful 13 years together, was a direction most bands would rather not face. So when they reformed in 2008 the interest and curiosity surrounding their split and reformation was surely heightened. Given it was an amicable split, it's a topic that founding singer/guitarist Trevor Keith is happy to talk about. But before heading into the recent past and present, it seems like a perfect opportunity to indulge in a refresher course into the band's distant past.


Face To Face formed in 1991 by Keith, bassist Matt Riddle and drummer Rob Kurth. After releasing their debut album, Don't Turn Away in the same year to quiet reception, their signing to legendary punk label Fat Wreck Chords the album received recognition on a wider scale one year later. It took the band a while to find their feet, experimenting with metal and contemporary sounds while operating as a trio in their early days. It wasn't until tours with local punk bands, and drawing from their influences like Social Distortion and Bad Religion, that they found their defining pop-punk sound.


A taste for success came to the band quite early with their 1993 second release, Over It. Its single, Disconnected, became a radio hit and drew the attention of major label, Victory Records, who subsequently signed the band. 1995's follow up, Big Choice, sold over 100,000 copies and was supported with significant tours with The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and the Offspring. But not all was rosy: Victory Records closed its doors and band members departed. By 1999 they'd recruited Scott Shiflett on bass and Pete Parada on drums (who, along with Trevor and newest member Danny Thompson form the current Face To Face line-up). They formed their own label, Lady Luck Records, but their boldest move came in the form of 1999's Ignorance Is Bliss, an album that delivered a mellow departure in sound and divided their fans. Trevor recalls the time: "I was really proud of the record and still am proud of it. I think it came out great – we were pretty successful in achieving the idea we had for the songs and sound. It was a little bit of a departure from pop, punk and hardcore – we kinda went in a more straight rock direction. We were really kinda rebelling against everything at the time, it divided our fans along two lines. It was considered to be somewhat controversial but it remains the one exception in our discography."


Their comeback was almost immediate: Reactionary was released in 2000 and it was a hit with fans in more than one way. It was a return to the sound they expected from Face To Face and gave them the opportunity to vote for the songs that would end up it. In 2002 Face To Face released their sixth studio album, How To Ruin Everything, and in 2003 they disbanded. Trevor Keith, who has lived the band's ups and downs since day one, explains the reasons for the split. "We wanted to take a break but we felt at the time the only way of doing it properly would be to break the band up. There were other creative pursuits that we wanted to bring to reality so we took that time to work on other projects. Once we had the opportunity to make those things happen it gave us an appreciation for what we were missing. We originally put Face To Face together to play a few shows a year but we're doing on a dozen or more shows this year."


Given it was an amicable split and some members were still in creative contact with one another, one can't shake the suspicion that reforming was always going to be an option. Trevor's subtly confirms this while also hinting it's been a successful decision: "We put the band back together because we missed the band so much. We were with the band for 12 / 13 years. So we put the band back together after a real desire to capture some of that fun and energy. We didn't really know how that was going to go or of it was going to be an uphill battle to re-educate people but it's exceeded our expectations in every aspect. Audiences from Belgium to Canada and here in the States have just been completely out of control, the energy levels are charged, singing words to all songs, flying through the air…" he trails off, laughing.


Face To Face will return to Australia soon as part of the Soundwave Tour after beginning their live comeback at last year's Groezrak Festival in Europe and Bamboozle in the U.S. It's been over ten years since Face To Face were in Australia, on 1996's Warped showcase tour. With no new material on the table, Trevor advises that fans worldwide will be treated to "best of" set lists on this tour. "We're doing all our old material now. The last record we put out was in ‘03 or ‘04 so we're doing that material, going back to '91. Those seem to be the crowd pleasers; it's what they wanna hear at a live show. People like the old stuff so that's what we've been giving them."


They've been back on the road, re-living the process of operating as a band for under a year. Trevor – and the rest of the band – is as enthusiastic about the future of Face To Face as are the fans worldwide who are reveling in seeing this band together after a five year absence. The band has unfulfilled plans to achieve, like getting back to Europe and other places they "neglected" in the past and to "get together and write some material if everything keeps rolling on." The unanimous consensus within the band is to stick at it this time around, permanently, while making time to fit in members' various side projects. Or as Trevor jokes: "For as long as people are showing up to the shows!"


Face to Face play the Soundwave Festival on:


02/21- Brisbane 02/22- Sydney 02/27- Melbourne 02/28- Adelaide 03/02- Perth

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