Don't Turn Away

Whenever people ask me, "Who's your favorite band?," I can't say there is only one. There are several bands/artists that I have really enjoy over the years (like Ben Folds Five, Wilco, Led Zeppelin, Metallica) but definitely one of my favorites is face to face (the pop-punk band, not to be confused with the '80s Boston band, Face to Face).

Yes, face to face was mixed in with a ton of pop-punk bands in the 1990s, but they were a cut above. They weren't about toilet humor or playing obnoxiously fast; they were inspiring back in the day and they're still inspiring today.

Vocalist/lyricist Trever Keith's voice is big and open; not snotty, childish or grating on eardrums. Plus, what's coming out of his mouth can be understandable today or six months or ten years.

Keith's lyrics are often general, non-specific and full of phrases to live by. Lyrics like, "There is someone who knows everything there is to know/There is someone who is too afraid to let it show/We live by consequences/We never seem to get it right/Conflict of circumstances/and sometimes we may lose a fight" mean a lot to me. I don't know if there will be a time when I won't be able to relate to these kinds of lyrics.

Then there's the music: their debut, Don't Turn Away, is essential to understand this band. With the exception of Ignorance is Bliss, their subsequent albums continued in the vein of Don't Turn Away. In all, I don't think they ever made a bad album, even the often-maligned, Ignorance is Bliss.

Ignorance is Bliss followed down a different path with darker moods and lyrics, but I think it still really stands up. The band went out on a major limb with that record, but they had to do it in order to stay together. They put out two solid albums, Reactionary and How to Ruin Everything, following this, but the band was losing steam. They called it quits in 2003.

I saw face to face play live three times: at the Abyss in 1997 with MxPx, at Liberty Lunch in 1999 with No Motiv and at Deep Ellum Live in 2000 (my review is here). They were three rather different shows with three different line-ups. I would say the best performance was at the Abyss: they just kept playing great song one after another. I got to meet the band members following the Liberty Lunch show and was in heaven. I thought they were awesome and very cordial guys. The sincerity behind the music and the lyrics was proven true and I've never forgotten that about them.

Even though I don't listen to pop-punk as much as I used to back in the day, face to face still sticks out in my mind as far as influences on my life and my writing. Maybe this makes them my favorite band, but they weren't the only band.


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