Q&A: Face to Face's Trever Keith On "Lame" Warped Tour, State of Punk; Revolution Show on Saturday

​Two decades is a long-ass time for anyone to stay interested in the same creative project, even if it has been successful. But this year, Californian punk band Face to Face accomplishes the feat of celebrating a birthday that's one year away from legal drinking age. 
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Still, the reason that the act has made it so far is likely because of some gaps. It wrote much of its strongest material in the '90s: "Blind," "Disconnected," and "Shoot the Moon" are all earnest, high-quality additions to the skate-punk canon. Eventually, though, the fatigue got to the band, and Face to Face split in 2004. 

In that interim, the band members kept themselves busy with other projects, like bandleader Trever Keith's notable mashup work in the Legion of Doom. But by 2008, they were playing shows again. So you want to get technical, that means that has been active for just 16 years instead of 20, but why let details get in the way of a good time?

Face to Face boasts a new album out in the form of Laugh Now, Laugh Later, too, so things are clearly back on an upswing for the group. The group stops by Revolution this Saturday, May 28, for a show with Strung Out and Blitzkid, so we caught up with guitarist/vocalist Keith to gaze back in time and get his opinions on the state of punk.

Face to Face. With Strung Out and Blitzkid 6:30 p.m. Saturday,May 28 at Revolution, 200 W. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $28.10; 954-449-1025; jointherevolution.net

County Grind: Since the reunion, Face to Face's first real massive tour was a full run of Warped Tour last summer. What were your experiences like?

Trever Keith: Mostly lame. I wasn't really that stoked to be part of it. Each year, they still bring on some bands that are [of] a little bit different generation to try teach them [their] roots or something. It's not really our crowd. People who go to the Warped Tour are like 14 years old, so it's tough to bridge that gap. It's a good summertime tour to go out and do, but I'm much happier this summer about being on a headlining tour. It's way better.

Face to Face was part of the first Warped Tour in 1995 and then the second in 1996. What do you remember of them and how do they compare to now?

It's funny that you say that because I was just talking about that earlier today. The first Warped Tours were completely different from what they've become now. The first Warped Tours were really more about the whole action sports aspect. There were good skaters out there and that was a whole big part of what was going on. 

Now, it just kind of seems like a lot of bands wearing their sister's pants playing really bad metal rip-off music, unfortunately. It was more punk rock back then. It's really not punk rock anymore.

Moving back a bit farther to Face to Face's first year, did you have any specific ambitions for the band when you started?

I didn't really have anything overly specific in mind. It was really just more trying to get from working the day job to working to a point where we could go and do this full-time [and] be able to stay out on tour and make this a career.

Was there any breakthrough for the band where you moved from doing it casually to professionally?

Back then, it was really more afforded by the ability to get on a label that had money to provide tour support and give us an advance to make a record and all that kind of stuff. We were probably able to do that around 1995-ish, when we did a record deal with Victory Records at the time.

Jumping ahead to the early 2000s, what was the official reason behind the breakup?

We wanted to creatively pursue some other projects and we knew that in Face to Face, our fans wouldn't really be willing to go too far into different directions with us. We tried it on [1999's] Ignorance is Bliss, and it wasn't incredibly well-received, particularly at the time. Now, people say it's like their favorite record, but it was just a tough thing to do to drag people into trying some of our other creative things. 

We just felt better to call it quits for a while, never really knowing we would ever put it back together, but once was gone, it was that "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" kind of thing, which is very true, at least in this instance.

You've mentioned in other interviews -- and just now -- that you feel the reception to Ignorance is Bliss has changed over the years. Why's that happened?

With time, things just tend to change. People have a hard time swallowing something that's different initially and then they give it a few listens and they are able to appreciate it in a way they haven't before, I guess. I don't really know. 

When the band was dissolved, how often did you think about Face to Face or getting the group back together?

Not very, really. It would come up every now and then. My longtime close friend, Rick, who also happens to be our manager, would bring it up to me every so often and I would just go, "No, no, no," but the show offers came in all along the way and they just kept getting better and better. It didn't make any sense not to do it anymore.

Your big return was at Bamboozle 2008. What do you remember of that show?

It was awesome, man. It was a lot of fun going back out there and it felt really good. It felt like we were three feet off the ground for the entire set. There was so much energy and positive vibes coming from the crowd and we were so full of energy and excitement that it was one of those crazy, crazy things that felt really good.

Considering that you've been a part of punk rock for so long, is the genre better or worse off than when Face to Face started?

That's hard to say. I don't really claim to know exactly what punk rock is as a whole. To me, it's more about a spirit, more about a way of looking at life. For me, punk rock has always been about independence and doing things the way you want to do them and how you think things are right and not really listening to social standards brought on by your environment or world. 

That's pretty broad, I guess, but I never really adhered to, "You have to wear Doc Martens or leather jackets," or whatever was going on when we were coming up. I don't even know what it would be now. Ultimately for me, it's much more about the substance than the appearance. 

I think there's a little too much focus on appearance and not enough on substance. That's not to say that there aren't great bands still making punk rock music. For example, we have this band out with us right now called the Darlings who are awesome and they're big on substance.

Back when Face to Face was at their youngest in 1991, did you imagine that you'd be playing punk rock two decades down the line?

I never really looked that far down the road or anything, so it's awesome that we are still playing. I'm really happy to be still doing this and feel lucky that our fans have supported us for this amount of time that we can still continue to do it.

-- Reyan Ali

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