It's hard to imagine a title more appropriate than Reactionary by Southern California rockers Face to Face. Muscular, Spartan, and hewing toward the quartet's punk rock roots, it's a record that was created from quite a bit of reaction.
Part of it was a response to Face to Face's previous album, Ignorance Is Bliss, a set that was more sonically ambitious and carefully crafted than anything the group had tried before. Frontman Trever Keith says the band has no regrets about taking that path; but when it was done, he says, he and his cohorts felt like "letting off some steam."
"[Reactionary] felt like a release a little bit," he says. "We went with the live, raw feel during the recording. I hesitate to say it's more punk rock, but it is."
However, Keith adds, Face to Face "actually hadn't intended to make a record so quickly." But the sessions were so productive that the group decided to move forward. And once it had a bunch of songs ready, it decided to let its fans react to them and, through Internet voting, choose the songs that would go on the album.
"That was actually decided before we ever wrote a single guitar part or anything for this record," Keith says of involving the fans in the song selection process. "Because our last record was so different form our typical sound, we wanted to let people know what this music sounded like early. And with MP3 files, you can do that. And it worked great. The fans loved the idea; they loved to go on their computer and listen to a Face to Face song before it was ever going to come out.
"We intended to run the [poll] for a month, but we ended up doing it for two months," he reveals. In all, 1.8 million votes were cast to select the 12 songs that appear on Reactionary — although Keith notes that democracy does have its disadvantages.
"There was a song, 'Nullification,' that I really liked and really expected to make it," says Keith. The band had already written "a lot of songs we figured were right up the alley for Face to Face fans, so we allowed ourselves a little experimentation with other songs."