Music Spotlight: Face to Face

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Hey everybody! Its that time of month where I get stir crazy enough to actually do something on this site! Yes I know I posted something a couple weeks ago. But that was just me plugging stuff, that takes little to no effort (which I guess is the problem?).

But I wanted to try something here and through a combination of finally being motivated, and the urging of someone who will remain nameless, I’m going to give it a go. I spend a lot of my time listening to music (in fact more time than I spend working) and though what I mainly listen to isn’t for everyone, it is for some people.

So I thought I would spotlight some of the bands I listen to and give you guys a primer so its not as daunting to get into something new. Depending on how this all shapes up I’d like to do more, and I invite the other people who post on here to do some as well since it’s always neat to find something new.

And to make this first go around easy enough for myself (I’m motivated but not THAT motivated) I wanted to give myself a bit of a softball for my first “Spotlight.” So without further ado I give to you one of my favorite bands of all time: Face to Face.

Now I’m sure a couple friends of mine just groaned but that’s because I’ve talked about this band in length FOR YEARS. And that’s why I picked them, its something I can’t exactly screw up. As a disclaimer I’m going to keep these spotlights pretty basic, because I’ll probably ramble anyway, and give you guys a couple tracks and let you make up your mind. Because after all, I’m not the police of you.

But yea, the real reason you’re still reading (or closed the page), Face to Face…

Face to Face have been around since the early 90s breaking into a scene that really was light on Pop/Punk bands. Now when I say Pop/Punk I know to the casual person it brings up memories or Blink 182, or New Found Glory. But at this time it was more about an offshoot of Punk music that started to include more harmonies and melodies in it’s already up-tempo style.

These were bands like Lagwagon, No Use For A Name, early Green Day and Bad Religion (at times). I know I’m leaving a ton out but those are some of the big ones.

Their original lineup was Trever Keith (guitar/vocals), Matt Riddle (bass), and Rob Kurth (drums). As the years would go on only Keith would remain as the sole original member of band.

Their first album was released in 1992 on “Dr Strange Records” it was called “Don’t Turn Away” and it included what would end up probably being the biggest song they’d ever make “Disconnected.” 

Of course this wasn’t the only good song, other choice tracks were “I Want,” “You’ve Done Nothing,” and “No Authority.” This album put Face to Face on the map and garnered some radio play on KROQ (fairly famous Los Angeles radio station).

Oddly, what would be the title track for the album was left off for some reason. It was later put on the EP “Over it” that would include some re-recorded versions of songs from “Don’t Turn Away”

From there the band was picked up by Fat Wreck Chords. They re-issued “Don’t Turn Away” and gave it more access to a bigger audience. This led to them relentlessly touring the U.S. and Europe

In 1994 they were ready to release a new album. For their 2nd full length they decided they wanted a fuller sound and introduced a 2nd guitarist in Chad Yaro. From there they released “Big Choice” on now defunct Victory Records (not to be confused with the Victory Records that gave us bands like Taking Back Sunday, Grade, or the best of the bunch Hawthorne Heights [all of the sarcasm]).

The album builds on their already established sound (which is a nice way of saying they didn’t try anything too fancy) and banged out some more melodic Punk Rock.

In 1996, the band would be picked up by a major label A&M Records (also now defunct) and they would part ways with their original bassist Matt Riddle. He was replaced by Scott Shifflet who would remain in the band to this day. Ironically the band Riddle would end up in was No Use For A Name with Shifflet’s brother Chris (who would go on to be in the Foo Fighters 6 DEGREES SHIT GOING ON HERE).

With their new found major label standing they released their self titled album “Face to Face.” This was much more polished due to better recording equipment and the band was more polished as well since now they were veteran songwriters. This would be the final album with Rob Kurth on drums. This album includes one of my favorite songs of their entire catalogue “Complicated.”

Of course all I can find is the live version, THANKFULLY their live CD is great quality.

After their self titled they released the aforementioned “Live” album, which is honestly worth checking out if only for the surprisingly good quality.

After that though Face to Face decided they wanted to switch up their sound. They wanted to branch out feeling as if they had accomplished all they could in this genre.

Enter 1999 and “Ignorance is Bliss,” this was a seismic shift in sound featuring a more Alternative/Rock vibe than anything they had made before. It was also the first album with drummer Pete Parrada.

Of course when most bands try something drastically new their core fans are not pleased. There was actually a big backlash by their fans who were not happy with this change in sound. People would boo songs at their shows and things of that nature.

So in 2000, in almost a sarcastic act of appeasement, Face to Face released “Reactionary.” It was a return to their roots with a bit of a twist. They actually let fans vote for what song goes on the CD. They let fans preview the 16 songs they had recorded and let them pick the 12 best to form that album.

In 2000 this was an unprecedented move, they actually supported digital music and downloads. They even went on a Napster (before Metallica ruined it) sponsored tour to promote the release of this album. This was the last album with Chad Yaro, leaving the band a 3 piece.

In 2001 released a cover album that was actually recorded during the “Ignorance is Bliss” sessions. It was called “Standards and Practices,” its worth noting because this was a collection of covers from bands that made Face to Face what they are. This included Fugazi, INXS, The Smiths, and Jawbreaker to name a few.

Their cover of “Chesterfield King” is one of my favorite covers ever as well.

In 2002 the band, as a 3 piece for the first time since 1992, released “How to Ruin Everything.” This would mark the end of Face to Face for the next 9 years. They went on an indefinite hiatus after this album. It features what might be my> favorite Face to Face song in “Shoot the Moon.”

Face to Face would later reform in 2010 with Chad Yaro back in the band. They would play Warped Tour that year as a way to get their legs back under them. And in 2011 they released “Laugh Now, Laugh Later.”

It was a return to form and featured songs that hold up with the rest of their catalogue. Which was surprising to me because I was expecting the absolute worst to be honest.

So that about does it, this ran a bit longer than I thought it would but at least it kept me occupied doing something. In the future I probably shouldn’t do bands that have been around for 20 years to each their own I guess? I just feel to the music I listen to Face to Face is an important band that’s kind of gotten lost in the shuffle (them and Jawbreaker).

They opened the door for so many bands after them or as Trever Keith says in Shoot the Moon, “paved the way for something slightly new.”

So as I finish up I’ll leave you with one more song, just a little diddy called… Popeye The Sailor Man, enjoy dicks.

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