Q & A with Trever Keith from Face to Face

Australian Face to Face fans have waited ten long years for the Californian pop-punk band to return to our shores. Now their patience has been rewarded, with the band playing around the country as part of the massive Soundwave festival. I caught up with frontman Trever Keith to talk about the festival, what it’s like to play with his bandmates after a four-year hiatus, and why that return to Australia took so long!

You’re out here to play Soundwave. How have the shows been so far?
They’ve been great. We’ve only done two, in Brisbane and Sydney, but last night we did a Sidewave show in Sydney in a club and that was a lot of fun also.

How has the reaction been from the crowds?

It’s been really, really good. Despite the fact that we haven’t been to Australia in over ten years the audiences are singing along, singing the words to the songs and going crazy. We’re having a great time. It’s awesome.

That was actually my next question. I’m sure the fans are wondering, why has it taken you so long to get back here?
You know, I don’t know why it’s taken us so long. We definitely haven’t done the work out here that we should have been doing, and I can see that now. We should have been coming down here all along. We’re not going to let ten years slip by before we get back out here on a headline tour.

What’s it like to be part of a big festival like Soundwave?
You know, it’s got its good and bad points. I will say it’s incredibly well organised, and everyone is getting flipped from their destinations like a well-oiled machine. The stages are great, the sound is great. My only complaint about being on festival shows is you just feel a bit more disconnected from the audience because you’ve got the really high tall stages and the barricade that’s really far from the crowd and all that. I like to get a little more up close and personal with the audience. But that would be my only small complaint and that’s not a fault of Soundwave. It’s just the nature of doing a festival.

Have you been able to watch any of the other acts on the tour?
Only really The Alkaline Trio because they’ve been playing right before or after us on these first few shows.

Have you had any time while you’re here to play tourist?
Oh definitely. Matter of fact, in Sydney we got out to Bondi Beach. We walked around the city quite a bit. Last night we got out to see The Stray Cats after our club show, so we’ve been able to do quite a bit.

The band took a break for four years. How does it feel to be back together?
Fantastic. It was something we all missed a great deal. Our manager was joking that he was going to try and put us back together after five years and we’re like “It’ll never happen.” But after four years we missed it enough that we started sniffing around and saying “Can you call a booking agent?” Just seeing if there was any interest, and it just kind of all fell back into place.

When you guys first started out you were part of such a massive punk rock movement in California. What was it like to be part of that?
I don’t know. I mean, I think we became part of a massive punk rock movement, but in the early days it wasn’t really punk rock that was the music that was in fashion when we started. We started our band in 1991, so we were definitely in the minority when we started the group. But by the mid 90s we were just sort of riding that wave of mania for pop-punk stuff. It was great. Our contemporaries were bands like Green Day, The Offspring, Bad Religion was around a little bit before us. But it was great to be able to play with bands like that. We were doing club gigs with a lot of the bands who blew up and became really massive, so it was a good time for pop-punk music.

You’re the only original member of the band. What’s made you stay when so many others have jumped ship?
(laughs) Because I’m the leader and I rule with an iron fist. I don’t know. I mean, our bass player Scott [Shiflett] jumped on board so early in the band that him and I are really the two guys that have kept this thing afloat at this point. And Chad Yaro who joined on the second album, he’s still a part of the band. He’s just kind of picking and choosing his tours these days. So it’s not as fragmented as it may seem. On this particular tour it’s a very unique situation because Scott got really, really ill in the weeks leading up to the tour, and his condition didn’t get any better and he wasn’t able to fly out here. So it’s me and Danny, our latest drummer, and Roger [Manganelli] from Less than Jake is filling in, so it’s a pretty different looking Face to Face. But, you know, it’s still my old growly voice up there.

You’ve just released a best of album. Do you have a favourite Face to Face song?
I have favourites, plural. I guess if I had to go with just one I might pick “A-OK,” it’s always been one of my favourites.

I hear you’re considering recording another Face to Face album. Is there any truth to those rumours?
There is. We haven’t actually begun writing songs yet but there is a lot of talk and there is some ideas floating around for some new material. I think there’s a pretty good chance that we’re going to be getting into the studio and recording some new material.

So with the album, are you considering more tours? What does the future hold for the band?
Oh definitely. I mean, it’s the reason why. We’ve been active for just about a year I guess, and in that time we’ve been to Europe, we’ve been to South America, and now we’re here in Australia. And those are all parts of the world that we didn’t spend enough time in during the first ten or so active years of the group. Now in this later phase, second phase or whatever you want to call it, that’s really going to be our focus: to get back into these other parts of the world that we didn’t spend enough time in, in my opinion. I’d like to be able to come back every year or two and do a tour and try and build up our core audiences in these other parts of the world.

And finally, do you have a message for your Australian fans?
You know, these questions always baffle me. But I’d like to mention that our best of album is being released here in Australia now, so you’ll be able to get it domestically. And it’s great to be back out here, and we’re just having a great time.

Image source: Eduardo Loureiro @ Flickr

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