AARON TANNER – FACE TO FACE: 25 YEARS OF SOCAL PUNK, THE VISUAL HISTORY
Melodic Virtue – December 1, 2017
Book Review By Gerrod Harris
Face To Face and their SoCal Punk Legacy.
Having released their album Protection in 2016, Face To Face, the ’90s punk group, have never really gone away. While most of the decade’s punk bands have broken up or taken some form of a break as they moved into the 2000s (can we please get a new Social Distortion album?), Face To Face have remained as a fairly constant presence in the punk rock sphere with ten records released over the last quarter of a century. It is because of this that Aaron Tanner of Melodic Virtue has decided to make the punk group the subject of his latest book, Face To Face: 25 Years Of SoCal Punk. Much like his previous release, 2014’s Pixies: A Visual History, Volume 1, his current limited edition book takes the shape of a coffee table book featuring a solid mix of literature and images to tell the story of Face To Face.
Face To Face: 25 Years Of SoCal Punk, The Visual History is filled with various pictures that in itself tell a story. Ranging from concert photography to posters and other behind-the-scenes shots, the book is brimming with rich illustrations that make for a very entertaining experience. At a casual flip through, whether you’re a fan of the band or not, this carefully curated selection of images provides a compelling and engaging read as you see how Face To Face grew from what appears to be tiny clubs and house parties to one of modern punk’s premier acts. It is through this – what feels to be archival – imagery that Face To Face: 25 Years Of SoCal Punk, The Visual History soars as it is by far the strongest part of the book.
While Tanner did not write much for the book, he arranged a series of quotes regarding the band from people that have worked with and been influenced by Face To Face, including Less Than Jake’s Roger Lima, Autopilot Off’s Chris Hughes, and most notably, Blink 182’s Travis Barker. By organizing the quotes into a chronological chapter system, Face To Face: 25 Years Of SoCal Punk, The Visual History becomes a very interesting read. While not a straight forward biography, the book focuses on the effects the band has had over the course of their career. By doing so, the book looks at the greater narrative surrounding Face To Face as one of the shapers and inspirations behind the modern punk genre. This, however, has two effects: firstly, because of its non-traditional approach to a biography, Face To Face: 25 Years Of SoCal Punk, The Visual History is not the best place for new fans to get started. That being said, it is the perfect book for collectors and lifelong fans of the band who are looking for something to goes beyond a simple bio, making the fact that this is a limited run of 1000 that much more special.
Despite not being the most accessible book to newcomers, Face To Face: 25 Years Of SoCal Punk, The Visual History is the perfect book for those who have listened to Face To Face as a regular part of their lives soundtrack. I applaud Tanner and Melodic Virtue for championing a band whose influence is often overshadowed due to their slightly lesser known stature. Through its visual storey telling and use of quotes, Face To Face: 25 Years Of SoCal Punk, The Visual History is able to look at Face To Face’s greater legacy in a manner that will excite and fascinate their fanbase.
Aaron Tanner founded Melodic Virtue as a design studio in 2004. Since then, Melodic Virtue has grown into the business of music literature and creates limited edition coffee table books including their acclaimed Pixies: A Visual History, Volume 1. As an artist, Tanner has been the designer for American alternative rock band Ween for over fifteen years.