25 years of big choices

Back in 1995, I vividly remember rushing to the local HMV at Medicine Hat Mall, picking up Face to Face’s latest release, Big Choice, an album that, at the time, I had no idea would stay with me for years to come. Whether it was in my Sony Discman, the boombox before high school basketball game warm-ups, or (to my parents’ and sister’s annoyance) our family’s minivan stereo, this album was always there for me; a poignant soundtrack to my confusing, but formative adolescent years.

25 melodic years later, the band is celebrating the anniversary and legacy of their most beloved album with a 19-date North American tour including a Vancouver show on October 1st at the Rickshaw Theatre.

Reflecting on more than two decades of Big Choice, lead singer Trever Keith says that he isn’t surprised the album has aged so well.

“The songs are simple and catchy,” says Keith. “There’s a little ’90’s stuck on the record but not so much that it dates the album. I think the record has a lot of heart and a very direct delivery – that’s probably the reason it’s aged well.”

He laughs.

“Having said that, I still wish it sounded better.”

As far as to why Big Choice became his band’s biggest album, Keith thinks that it was from the unexpected momentum and popularity of the band’s debut release, Don’t Turn Away, an album that was initially released on underground punk label – and legendary Rancho Cucamonga, California record store – Dr. Strange Records. By the time Face to Face released Big Choice, a lot of people were paying attention, particularly to the album’s most famous song and legendary show closer, “Disconnected.”

“Our success on the first album was totally unexpected,” he says. “It happened pretty quickly and I think there was already a decent (fan) base waiting for the second one. By the time of its release, we became a touring band and our music was more widely known.” 

“And oh yeah, we had a radio hit with ‘Disconnected,’ that didn’t hurt,” he adds.

When it came to developing the tour schedule for the anniversary tour, Keith says that stopping in Vancouver was an obvious choice, considering the “many fond memories” the band has of playing numerous shows in this city since their formation in 1991.

“The fans are exceptional and we always have a fantastic time – except when it’s really cold,” he says with a laugh. 

While they’re not touring, the California band is currently working on their yet-to-be-titled 12th full-length. As fans wait patiently for the next Face to Face record – and when many bands hardly last past album number two –  it’s hard not to notice the startling longevity of bands like Face to Face who have been together for nearly 30 years. When asked what the biggest lesson he has learned during this time, Keith says it’s pretty simple.

“Being in a band is not a competition,” he advises. “Keep your head down, work on your stuff, do your best work, and ignore the comparisons.”