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Music Preview: Face to Face stays on the harder side of the formula

Friday, April 19, 2002

By Scott Mervis, Weekend Editor, Post-Gazette

Punk rock bands don't come any more solidly constructed than Face to Face. The Southern California band, led by founding member

Face To Face

WITH: The Movielife, Thrice, Hot Rod Circuit.

WHERE: Club Laga, Oakland.

WHEN: Tomorrow at 6:30 p.m.

TICKETS: $15. 412-323-1919.

BAND SITE: www.facetofacemusic.com


Trever Keith, just seems to have good bones, and uses them to bash out a fierce attack with loads of conviction and a complete lack of gimmickry.

Because the trio doesn't concern itself much with the pop part of the pop-punk formula, it doesn't turn up on the "American Pie 2" soundtrack and isn't likely to be MTV's spring break festivities anytime soon.

But the pop-punk bands who do certainly know of punk revivalists Face to Face, who formed in 1991, working in the intense style of predecessors like Social Distortion, NOFX and Husker Du.

Face to Face had an early hit in Los Angeles with "Disconnected," a song that put its second album, "Big Choice" over 100,000 sold and captured the interest of major label A&M. But the band never cashed in on that one, and after staying the course with that self-titled release on A&M, they were back to the indies for the hard-rock experiment "Ignorance is Bliss," followed by "Reactionary," a record that allowed fans to vote on the Web which songs would be included.

Through it all, the rhythm section has been ever-changing, with Keith as the one constant. He agrees that on "Standards & Practices," last year's set of covers of songs by the Smiths, Fugazi, the Jam and more, and on the blistering new record "How to Ruin Everything," the band sounds crunchier than ever.

"Yeah, 'cause we keep firing the people that can't cut it," he says, laughing. "No, I think we're better by no other fact than that we've been doing it for so long. Hopefully you get better as you continue to do something over and over again."

Keith has been around to watch a lot of the other bands that were joining them on the Warped Tour, most notably Blink-182 and Sum 41, move on to bigger success. Does he feel like Face to Face has gotten the credit it deserves?

"Not really," he says bluntly. "It's just now, I don't know if the bands are recognizing that, but a lot of the fans are, which is cool. A lot of people are looking back and realizing we were at the beginning of a lot of this stuff. It's cool, it's a good feeling."

One thing for sure is that Face to Face has never compromised its credibility in the face of its fans. Keith thinks that's something that should come naturally.

"If one has to make an attempt to maintain credibility, then they really don't have any credibility to begin with. Our fans are certainly important to us, and we try to do as much as we can to stay involved and connected with them."

Keith doesn't necessarily buy the notion that bands can be better off with a more modest level of success.

"Everybody wants success when they do this type of thing, and they're lying if they say they don't," he says. "But the level of success you achieve is dependent on so many factors, it's hard to say whether it would have been a good or bad thing if we had achieved more, or less. We've certainly achieved a level of success, and I'm thankful for the level of success we've managed to achieve."

It had become a summer tradition to connect with Face to Face on the Vans Warped Tour. The band passed last year and is taking a different track again this summer.

"We've been on three Warped tours," Keith says, "so we've kind of been there, done that. We're going to be on the Vagrant America Tour this year with other bands from the label: Save the Day, Get up Kids, Dashboard Confessional, Anniversary, Hot Rod Circuit, Hey Mercedes."

First, Face to Face will be at Club Laga tomorrow, ripping through old favorites and showing fans "How to Ruin Everything."

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