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DS Interview: Trever Keith opens up on “Protection,” rejoining Fat Wreck, and Face To Face’s Econo-Live ’17 tour

As I write this, the East Coast leg of Face To Face‘s Econo-Live ’17 tour had just came to a close, and the band will have a little over a week off before round two kicks off in Salt Lake City (dates here). The tour marks their first lengthy string of dates in the US in the more than fourteen months since the release of their latest album, Protection, which itself marked the band’s triumphant release to their former label home, Fat Wreck Chords. We’ve caught up with Face To Face’s founding frontman Trever Keith on numerous occasions throughout the years, but last week in Boston (well, Somerville, but close enough) marked the first time we sat down for an in-depth, face-to-face (pun obviously intended) chat about the current state of things in the legendary SoCal punk rocker’s camp. Suffice it to say, we had a lot to talk about.

If you’re not familiar with the Econo-Live ’17 tour, allow us to catch you up to speed. If we rewind the tape Face To Face Band History tape a couple of decades, we’ll come to their initial Econo-Live tour in 1996, a quick run of shows in which the band packed into a van and played a handful of smaller clubs around the country. The project was recorded at various stops along the way and turned into the now highly-sought-after Econo-Live EP. Given that we just rounded the corner on twenty years since the original, it seemed to Keith to be a good time to dust off those particular cobwebs and try it again in a way that seems equal parts fresh and familiar. “When you’re a kid,” says Keith with more than a little youthful exuberance still in his voice, “you’re just like “I just want to play shows! I don’t care! I’ll play every night!” After you’ve been doing it for a while –  we want to play shows that matter.” Between the increased amount of entertainment options and the increasing responsibilities that come along with being a forty-something punk rock fan (never mind bandmate), it’s an understatement to note that the live music scene circa 2017 is a bit of a different animal than it was in 1992. “We want to be more strategic about when and where we play and make sure that it’s something that is going to be an event that will get 40-somethings off the couch! (*both laugh*) I’m guilty of the same thing for bands I love. You’ve got to do something that’s a little bit above and beyond, so if you don’t have the package, you do something like we did here.

The package he’s referring to is a VIP experience that more and more bands have been incorporating in recent years. Specifically in this case, the tour combines some of the ideas that were represented by a few limited-run Face To Face tours over the last couple of years that a majority of their fan base clamored for a chance to experience: their acoustic Ignorance Is Bliss set, and their “Triple Crown” shows that highlighted the band’s immensely popular first three studio albums. In addition to a meet-and-greet and autograph session, each of these shows finds the four-piece playing an eight- or nine-song acoustic pre-set before doors open to the general public. The results have been positive, particularly among the band’s dedicated fanbase, which maintains an ever-growing online presence through a closed Facebook group maintained by a small handful of hardcore, longtime fans and collectors. That’s an amazing thing,” Keith comments, with genuine appreciation in his tone. “It’s totally taken on a life of its own, no credit to us. We’re thrilled that there’s such a supportive, tight-knit community of Face To Face fans and collectors. Jack (Cohenour) has been great, and some of the other people like Jessica (Sakolinsky, who also co-runs the Mable Syndrome podcast) are people that run that thing day-to-day and organize events. It’s really, really cool.”

“Really, really cool” also seems to sum up the general consensus concerning not only the band’s latest album, Protection, but their return to Fat Wreck Chords after an extended period of time bouncing between labels of various shapes and sizes. Being on a label — almost any label — in 2017 doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing that it used two a quarter-century ago when Face To Face first appeared on Fat. So what does their return mean now? “It means one thing and one thing only: it means community,” says an emphatic Keith. “That’s something that we missed by hopping around from label to label.” Going the “major label” route could have spelled the kiss of death for the band in the long-term, though their seemingly never-ending label purgatory seems admirable in hindsight, as it kept the band playing by their own, internal set of rules. “All the old punk rockers said “don’t go to a major label! You’re going to sell out! They’re going to fuck you!” explains Keith, quickly adding “I had to learn that for myself. I wasn’t going to listen to anybody and take their word for it!

As you might imagine, the band changed their own way of doing things yet again on Protection. Due to Keith residing in Nashville at the time that writing was taking place, he and Shiflett wrote and demoed largely on their own, the latter from his Los Angeles home, before coming together briefly to put ideas together. If you’ve spent any time with Keith and Shiflett, together or independently, you’re probably familiar with how their personalities differ. Those differences, of course, balance out the songwriting process: “(Shiflett) will write a seven-minute song, and I’ll write like a one-and-a-half minute song. We’re kind of opposites that way. I need him to come in on my ideas a lot and write a middle eight or a bridge or even flesh out a pre-chorus or a chorus more. I’m like, super economical to a fault, where the songs can be a little too boring, and Scott comes in and adds a little bit of that sauce and some of that flavor and a little bit more depth. And with him sometimes, he’ll just demo with no filter. I think he wrote maybe twenty-eight or thirty songs for Protection!

For years, Keith and bassist Scott Shiflett were not only the primary writing team, but manned the lion’s share of production duties as well. On Protection, they took a different route, choosing to work with Descendents’ drummer and long-time punk rock producer extraordinaire Bill Stevenson at his Blasting Room studio in Fort Collins, Colorado, for the first time. “Bill is super talented,” says Keith with noted reverence for the backbone of one of his own long-time favorite bands. “He just hears these pop melodies and pop arrangements, and it’s good to have someone outside the band who can trim the fat.”

Keith and I (and, at times, Shiflett) covered a lot of ground during our chat, including some fascinating “Inside Baseball” type information surrounding the record labels they bounced between in the first half of their career as a band. Head below to check out our full discussion!

 



Frenzal Rhomb (skate punk, Australia) stream “Classic Pervert” ahead of album release

Legends of Aussie punk rock, Frenzal Rhomb, are streaming a tune off their latest record, ahead of its full release in less than a week. “Classic Pervert” will feature on Hi-Vis High Tea which will be the ninth studio album from the group.

If you can’t wait for the record’s proper release, you can listen to “Classic Pervert” below.



Teenage Bottlerocket premiere track from upcoming covers album

Wyoming pop-punks Teenage Bottlerocket are streaming a track from their upcoming album Stealing the Covers. It’s a cover of fellow Laramie, WY band Sprocket Nova’s song “Robocop is a Halfbreed Sellout”. Check it out below.

Stealing the Covers is set to release on July 14th through Fat Wreck Chords. TBR last released Tales from Wyoming in 2015 on Rise Records.



The Flatliners announce east coast tour with PKEW PKEW PKEW and Garret Dale (Red City Radio)

Toronto’s The Flatliners recently announced a set of East Coast tour dates around the US. They will be accompanied by fellow Toronto punks PKEW PKEW PKEW and Oklahoma City’s Garret Dale (Red City Radio). The tour will begin in Buffalo NY on July 7th and will come to its end in Philadelphia, PA on July 17th.

You can view a full list of dates and locations below.



Me First And The Gimme Gimmes added to the It’s Not Dead Fest 2

As if a lineup featuring Rancid, Dropkick Murphys, Reagan Youth and the Voodoo Glow Skulls wasn’t enough of a reason to attend, the It’s Not Dead festival has added punk rock’s favorite cover band, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes.

The festival date is August 26th, at the Glen Helen Festival Grounds in sunny San Bernardino, California. This years lineup is packed full of classic punk rock bands, an art festival, and a punk rock swap meet. Yet another reason I wish I lived in California.

Any punker west of the Mississippi has no excuse to miss this bad ass experience, with an extremely reasonable 42 dollar ticket price. Get your tickets here.

Any favorites on this years lineup? Anybody bringing some vintage swag they want to swap around?



The Dirty Nil – ‘Minimum R&B’

Since the birth of punk, numerous fledgling bands have learnt their craft through the release of limited edition 7” and EPs. In this, the internet age, platforms such as bandcamp have made it fundamentally easier and more economically viable for bands and smaller labels to release these offerings and gradually build a following before launching into the critical and commercial minefield that is releasing your debut album. This is exactly the path followed by Canadian rockers, The Dirty Nil. Their phenomenal debut album Higher Power was the culmination of everything they had learnt from five years of recording and, for many, it was their first introduction to a band who are quickly forging a reputation as one of the most exciting rock bands around. Thankfully, Dine Alone and Fat Wreck Chords have joined together to offer a fascinating insight into the creative growth of the band by releasing this compilation of all of their 7”s and EPs to date. Now those who have had their appetite whetted by Higher Power  can take a trip through their history to find a band who, from the very beginning, have been making nose-bleed inducing, scuffed up, perfect slacker anthems.

Debut single “Fucking Up Young” saw the band come out swinging with a thrillingly raw and infectious single that has to rank as one of the best debut singles of the modern era. The bare bones production and the rough and ready scuzzy guitars are refreshingly gritty and authentic, coming across like an old, dusty artifact of the band’s origins. It perfectly captures that moment in time where the band threw themselves into what (for all they knew) could have been their only shot at cutting a single. The band hadn’t had to time to overthink things, just plug in and play. It helps that their sound had already been honed through years of touring as the take sounds live with stop-start, wigged out guitars and short sharp bursts of percussion. The B-side from the single “Verona Lung” is a similarly spiky, unpolished gem of an alt-rock song which combines the deceptive simplicity of Pixies and the vulnerable howl of Rivers Cuomo.

Next up comes “Little Metal Baby Fist” and “Hate is a Stone” from their “Little Baby Fist” EP – “Little Baby Fist” blends together equal parts Husker Du, The Replacements and Fugazi to leave an uncompromising, explosive punk song with a hook you could hang a T-Rex from. Their 2014 7”, “Cinnamon” b/w “Guided By Vices”, their first for Fat Wreck Chords, has a grungier feel but is anything but derivative, coming across like a lost Nirvana cover of the Vaselines from their Incesticide album. “Guided by Vices” in particular has a riff that could instantly oxygenate your blood as the band coil a classic rock n roll riff into an incendiary ball of noise.

“Nicotine”, “Beat”, “New Flesh” and “Pale Blue” all come from 2014’s “Smite” EP. “Nicotine” distorts a standard blues shuffle  while“Beat” kicks in the door, taking the classic punk sound of The Damned and views it through the prism of 80’s DC Hardcore. “New Flesh” shows a more hardcore side to the band with the band kneeling at the altar of hardcore legends Minor Threat. Original bass player Dave Nardi takes over vocal duties to scream himself inside out as the band pummel through a full throttle slab of abrasive, caustic hardcore. Closer “Caroline” is a mid-tempo waltz which sees the band combine their sound with classic 60s melodies. It builds to a swirling whirl of biting guitars with singer Luke Bentham howling and lamenting through the din.
This compilation acts as the perfect introduction for those taken in by their hook-laden, riff-heavy, fiery debut and are thirsty for more. It’s an exhilarating flick through their discography to date and after repeated listening it doesn’t feel so much a compilation as an early greatest hits record.

4.5/5 Stars



DS Photo Galley: Face To Face and Lost In Society (Somerville, MA)

On a personal note, the release Face To Face‘s last album was a bit of a big deal. Not only did it mark the seminal SoCal punk band’s triumphant return to their previous label home, Fat Wreck Chords, but as we all know, new albums are typically followed by new tours, and Face To Face have long been one of the premier live bands in the business. It may have taken a little bit longer than was initially hoped, but May 2017 finally brought us the Econolive 2017 tour, which featured the band pulling double duty; an acoustic set for VIP ticket-holders in the early evening, followed by the normal fully plugged-n main set that has been the band’s bread and butter over the decades. We caught the show at the Once Ballroom in Somerville, Massachusetts, last Friday, and we’re pretty sure it’ll rank as one of the best shows we catch in any venue this year.

In many ways, the VIP pre-set is a tip-of-the-cap to the fans who missed out on the acoustic Ignorance Is Bliss shows that Face To Face’s Trever Keith and Scott Shiflett put on five years ago. The duo didn’t play too many dates on those small runs, leaving a large number of long-time fans clamoring for a chance to catch the increasingly respected album played in such a stripped down format. For the Econolive ’17 dates, Keith and Shiflett are joined by their bandmates Danny Thompson (drums) and Dennis Hill (guitar) for a more filled-out performance that included not only songs from Ignorance… but a handful of reworked tracks that might otherwise appear in the band’s main set on a normal night. Longtime crowd favorites “Don’t Turn Away” and “1000x” made appearances in the stripped down set, alongside a varied collection from fairly deep in the catalog, like “Everyone Hates A No It All,” Protection track “Keep Your Chin Up,” and INXS’s “Don’t Change,” a track that Face To Face originally covered on their 1999 album Standards & Practices. This portion of the evening was open to a couple dozen people who dropped extra money for the VIP experience, and it the intimate nature and unique song selection genuinely equated to a special experience.

Doors opened to the main show shortly after the completion of the acoustic set, and not long before Lost In Society took the stage. The Jersey-based band jumped on the Face To Face tour for four northeast dates before heading west on a three-week US tour of their own. The typically three-piece punk band are aggressive, at times even ferocious, playing a raw style that hearkens back to the early 90’s alternative movement; Mudhoney or Nirvana or Screaming Trees are fair comparisons from a sonic perspective. They were joined on stage by The Scandals’ Jared Hart on second guitar for the last half of the set, further filling out the sound and allowing frontman Zack Moyle to perform the last couple songs on vocals only, baring more than a passing resemblance to Strung Out’s Jason Cruz’s level of intensity. (The band have a new, Pete Steinkopf-produced EP available here.)

Face To Face’s main set was among the best, most energetic I’ve seen them play in the greater Boston area in a solid decade. The Boston market can be a bit of a rapidly-cycling bipolar one at times, resulting in a weird phenomenon in which the same band can receive categorically opposite reactions on consecutive times through the area. Perhaps due to the fact that it had been almost four years since their last appearance in the greater Boston area (no, Providence doesn’t count), perhaps due to the fact that Protection has been the band’s best-received album probably since 2002’s How To Ruin Anything (if not even earlier), the old punks were out in full-force on this rainy, unseasonably cool Friday Boston evening.

The band kicked off their headline, fully plugged-in set with “You Lied,” met by an eager response from a fired-up crowd. From that point forward, band and crowd performed in perfectly symbiotic fashion, each seeming to provide the fuel for the other’s engine. Like the acoustic set before it, the main set was a pretty representative cross-section of the band’s discography, with only the band’s 2013 album Three Chords And A Half Truth serving as the only album not featured on the evening. The sixteen song main set was effectively broken down into four-song quarters, each featuring a track from Protection nestled in amongst tracks from the more classic catalog, particularly those from the “Triple Crown” albums (Don’t Turn Away, Big Choice and the self-titled 1996 full-length). Tracks like “Double Crossed,” “Say What You Want” and “I Won’t Say I’m Sorry” seemed right at home alongside long-time crowd favorites like “Pastel” and “Ordinary” and “Blind.”

The band took the makeshift stage in the ballroom for a two song encore that consisted of their cover of the Descendents’ track “Bikeage” and, of course, their biggest single, “Disconnected.” Like the remainder of the band’s set, the last two songs found the venue’s dance floor (not unlike that found at your local wedding banquet hall) converted into the closest thing you’ll find to a circle pit in the New England region, and it legitimately seemed like both the quartet and the crowd were energized enough to continue well into the early hours of the morning with no signs of slowing down. It can sometimes take a lot for the old timey punks to step away from the couch and the Netflix to head to a show nowadays (more on that in our upcoming sit-down with F2F front man Trever Keith in the next couple of days), but if the Econolive ’17 tour is any indication, it’s well worth the effort.

Check out our full photo gallery below!



Face To Face perform live acoustic session

Face to Face recently performed a live, acoustic studio session for Paste Magazine. The 20 minute video is a mixture of songs and interviews, with the band playing renditions of “A-OK”, “Burden”, and “Keep Your Chin Up”.

You can watch the full performance on the Paste website.



New Music: Face To Face – “I, Me, Mine”

As you may know by now, SoCal punk veterans Face To Face put out a new 7-inch single for their track “Say What You Want” a couple days ago. What you may not know is that the B-side is a band new track called “I, Me, Mine”…AND you can check that song out below!

“Say What You Want” appears in its original form on the band’s latest album, Protection, which was released last may on Fat Wreck Chords. The single was released last Friday (May 5), also by Fat. The band are presently on a nationwide US tour, dubbed “Econo-Live ’17” Check details here.



PEARS announce European tour

New Orleans punks PEARS have announced they will be touring Europe this summer. The tour kicks off in Denmark on July 21st and will wrap up on August 13th in Italy.

Check out the dates and locations below to see if they’re stopping near you.

PEARS’ sophomore album Green Star came out in 2016 through Fat Wreck Chords.



Bad Cop/Bad Cop announce album “Warriors”, stream song “Womanarchist”

Prepare yourself for new Bad Cop/Bad Cop! The Californian pop-punk four piece has just announced their sophomore full length album, “Warriors,” will be released via Fat Wreck Chords on June 16, 2017.

To get you fired up you can stream a brand new track from the album titled “Womanarchist” below.



DS Photo Gallery: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (w/ Masked Intruder and PEARS), Boston, MA

America’s favorite punk rock lounge act supergroup coverband, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes, brought the East Coast leg of their tour in support of their greatest hits album, Rake It In: The Greatestest Hits (April 7th, Fat Wreck Chords), through Boston late last week, their first area appearance in close to seven years. The touring lineup of the Gimmes has been a bit of an ongoing, evolving thing over the years, and honestly that’s one of the things that keeps the band fun and compelling as a live act. On this particular run, founding Gimmes Spike Slawson (vocals, occasional uke hunter), Joey Cape (guitar) and Dave Raun (drums) were joined by longtime touring Gimme Scott Shiflett all but taking over his kid brother Chris’s spot on lead guitar and Bad Religion’s Jay Bentley manning Fat Mike’s bass player battle station.

The Gimmes are always a fun time, and this particular night was no exception. One could imagine a situation in which a revolving cast of punk rock characters in their third decade as a recording and touring cover band (side note: the “Denver” 7-inch came out in 1995 and that doesn’t seem real) would have the occasion to go through the proverbial motions, but that hasn’t been the case. Bentley and Shiflett especially displayed an awful lot of playful stage interplay throughout the set, the latter using the opportunity to flex his mighty, mighty lead guitar skills that obviously get overlooked in his normal role as Face To Face’s bass player for the last few decades. Spike Slawson has long since outwardly embraced the role of schticky, occasionally raunchy lounge act crooner, so much so that you sometimes lose sight of the fact that the guy can actually, really, genuinely sing to a degree that he’s made a handful of other people’s songs sound like his own. The ukulele-led rendition of Madonna’s “Crazy For You” from 2014’s Are We Not Men? We Are DIVA! is a perfect example, though it’s worth noting that Madonna didn’t actually write the song either, so at this point it’s just as much Slawson’s as hers. But I digress. Long story short, Boston can be a bit of a notoriously finicky place for punk bands to play. On this particular night, Me First And The Gimme Gimme’s haven’t put out a new studio album (Greatestest Hits notwithstanding) in three years and still headlined in front of more Bostonians at the packed-to-the-rafters 1100-ish capacity Royale nighclub than they have played for in any of their past headlining gigs here in at least a decade, and that’s a pretty awesome thing.

Masked Intruder and PEARS provided direct and opening support in that order. The crowd at Royale turned out in larger capacity for PEARS than I have ever really seen at that particular venue, notorious for their early start times (can’t keep the EDM crowd waiting…), which was inspiring for a band that’s got a more raw, aggressive, throwback punk rock sound than many of their peers. Frontman Zach Quinn performs as though he’s from a bygone era, his banshee-like wailing and shirtless, sweat-covered pacing around the stage creating the impression of a caged animal chomping at the bit to be released.

Masked Intruder seem to be a perfect fit for any lineup that includes Me First And The Gimme Gimme’s. They might have a schtick of their own going, but it’s a really, really good one. Intruder Red was not behind the drum kit on this particular run — he’s in jail, naturally — but the band seemed to miss nary a beat with Lipstick Homicide’s Luke Ferguson taking up drum duties. Masked Intruder are a fun band who seem to take their role as a “fun band” seriously, without taking themselves too seriously. Blue and Green lead most of the high energy charge, having perfected personas as pseudo-New York tough guy common street criminals, at least until roughly the set’s halfway point, when Officer Bradford gradually loosens up and strips down, at which time the whole thing has the potential to devolve completely. Again, it’s schtick, but it’s a lot of fun and it’s all very well done.

Check out our full photo gallery below, and check out upcoming Gimmes dates here.

 



New Punk Rock Bowling club show announced featuring PEARS, Direct Hit!, and Problem Daughter

As if the main lineup and club show lineup of Punk Rock Bowling couldn’t get any more stacked, a new club show was just announced featuring PEARS, Direct Hit!, and Dying Scene favorites, Problem Daughter.

The show will take place at 10pm on May 27th in Las Vegas at Hogs N Heifers Saloon. The show will also serve as a benefit for Love Hope Strength Foundation.



Direct Hit! (pop punk) perform “Do The Sick” Live! from The Rock Room

Pop-punks Direct Hit! recently visited Live from The Rock Room and captured some sweet video footage in the process. “Do The Sick” is off of their 2016 album Wasted Mind, out on Fat Wreck Chords. I’m not sure what they’re putting in the cheese out there in the Midwest, but the music coming outta there recently has been fan-tast-ic, and Direct Hit! is no exception.

You can check out the video, album and some tour dates below.



Face to Face release video for “Say What You Want”

Face To Face just released the new video for “Say What You Want,” off the 2016 album “Protection.” Check it out below.

Released through Fat Wreck Chords, the track deals with “how speech is often protected to be exclusionary of people who have divergent opinions from the accepted social norms. You really can’t say what you want (Trever Keith, vocals and guitar).” 

“Protection” was released in March 2016, a follow up to 2013’s “Three Chords and A Half Truth.”