One of my personal favorite things about the recent worship of the '80s in general is the amount of crossover bands that have been cropping up within the hardcore scene. It’s always been a sound that displayed a keen mix of power and energy and to see more and more bands tackling the sound is pretty refreshing to my ears.
I recently had the pleasure of attending a show in Allston, Massachusetts which boasted—in my opinion—the strongest lineup of local bands in the scene at this very moment. Every band that played the show brought their A-game that fateful night September night at O’Brien’s in the heart of Rat City: Ritual Blade, Grasp, Torn In Half, and the openers, Face First.
When Face First took the stage the room already seemed packed wall to wall in the tiny Allston pub, I later found out it had sold out by the time they went on, and everyone was moving once they struck their first powerful chords. It was a colossal beginning to an unforgettable show and to say I was impressed is an understatement.
Face First’s sound is rooted firmly within crossover thrash but they deliver it with a certain energy and attitude about them that allows them to straddle both the metal and hardcore scenes quite well.
The band's skill at walking the dangerous tightrope between metal and hardcore affords them the ooportunity to be billed on shows that cater to either scene and never seem out of place. This also makes for some pretty diverse crowds at Face First shows which I feel can only benefit Boston’s heavy music scene at large. There’s no shortage of personality in them and that always translates into their live performances and in any interaction with them.
I recently was able to interview Face First vocalist Christian Sánchez, lead guitarist Andrew Matarazzo, and rhythm guitarist Kevin Ordway, which made for plenty of fun considering they told me to leave as many gross details in the article.
What some writers may call a “lack of professionalism” and “poor journalism,” I call good content. Enjoy an interview wrought with dick jokes, self deprecation, and an unhealthy dose of Top Gun worship.
What are the influences that each of you bring to the table with this band?
Christian Sánchez (vocals): For me, when I go into recording or writing, I try to channel in three main albums: Metallica’s ...And Justice for All, Cro-Mags' Best Wishes, and Sepultura’s Beneath the Remains. I want to keep that hardcore element in there but I also want the melody of ...And Justice for All with the hard hitting riffs of Beneath the Remains.
Andrew Matarazzo (lead guitars): It’s funny he said that because I don’t really listen to a lot of hardcore so for me I’ll just binge ...And Justice for All, Beneath the Remains, and, like, Power Trip, which is probably the closest to hardcore as I listen to.
Most bands I talk to can only ever agree on one band that every member likes, how about you guys?
Christian: While we do have a lot of different music tastes, I do think that there’s always a handful of bands we can all agree on. I wouldn’t know how to really pinpoint it but obviously Metallica is one of the most typical and corniest answers, but, fuck, dude, I grew up on Metallica, I live and breathe ...And Justice for All. I’m mainly a bassist in all my other musical pursuits but doing vocals for this band is me stepping out of my comfort zone.
Andrew: When it comes to guitars I’m definitely tuning into like DragonForce and stuff but the cornier answer is my biggest influence on guitar is like power metal bands or '80s shred guitar… or the Top Gun soundtrack.
Christian: We’re definitely out there with influences like my own influences could range from Rick James to Scott Vogel from Terror. He [Andrew], as he said, ranges from Metallica and DragonForce. This dude [Kevin] has an abundance of fucked up music that he listens to. Well, I don’t mean fucked up, your music taste is pretty tight.
Kevin Ordway (rhythm guitarist): It’s fucked up, believe me.
Christian: You wouldn’t expect it, though, that this kid's a jazz drummer and he plays guitar for us. It’s very out there, you know?
Andrew: He [Kevin] introduced me to the Aquabats and Mr. Bungle.
Was there any influences outside of music that have made Face First into what it is?
Christian: I’m a big horror guy, so a lot of my enthusiasm and appreciation for horror definitely leaks into me writing lyrics. I’ll watch a movie and if I really dig it I would try to incorporate that into my lyrics somehow.
Andrew: I don’t really write lyrics but when I go and try to get pumped up to really write riffs and stuff I’ll also watch movies I like. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man is definitely one.
Christian: Tobey Maguire’s iteration of Spider-Man, directed by one of the greatest directors who’s ever lived, I could go on forever about this fucking movie. Great fucking movie. Whoever reads this will be like, “Oh, I’ve already seen that movie,” No. Go watch Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man again.
Kevin: For me skateboarding culture, CKY, and Jackass... all that sort of stuff really got me into all of this.
Christian: It seems like skateboarding culture really has been the gateway into punk and hardcore for so many people nowadays and that’s especially true for me. If I was not into skateboarding culture I would not know punk at all.
Kevin: So many people in our generation got into punk and hardcore ‘cause of Tony Hawk, especially. Those games need way more credit because they had amazing bands like the Dead Kennedy’s, Millencolin, Lagwagon and shit like that.
Christian: For real, I grew up on Black Flag and the Circle Jerks. Shoutout to Tony Hawk for putting me on to those bands. We hang out with Allston kids on our weekends and if they heard us talking about all these bands they’d probably beat the shit out of us because it’s too “normie” for them.
Andrew: I listen to blink-182, so whatever.
Kevin: I’ll have you know, they listen to the Offspring in private.
Christian: I’d be pretty disappointed in them if they listen to the Offspring
Kevin: Some of them do.
Kevin: Smash Mouth is punk as fuck too. The lead singer gets up onstage and says, “I’ll kill your fucking family” for half an hour. That’s punk, dude.
Christian: Someone call my mom, I can’t be here right now.
What influenced the song “Black Tar Heathen”?
Christian: So most of us grew up and lived in the Boston or South Shore area, me and Andrew particularly grew up in Everett where a lot of the population would use heroin. We had a ton of friends who were addicts and it was painful to watch them just wither away basically. That song doesn’t necessarily come from personal experience but I tried to put myself in those shoes when I was writing those lyrics. I guess I sorta… I’m not sure if I’m using this word right, revelated? Relevated?
Andrew: You had a revelation.
Christian: Thank you, I had a revelation that it’s just no life to live you know? I’ve seen people who are old just wither away and die but I can imagine when you add heroin into the mix it’s just speeding up the process basically and it’s painful to see.
This may sound arrogant as fuck, but my ultimate goal with writing that song was that there’s so many songs in thrash about smoking weed and drinking beer obviously but I feel like I don’t hear enough songs about these kinds of issues and have people relate to them. I didn’t want this to just be a song mourning the loss of someone either just showing how I have seen this unfold.
Andrew: Yeah, we’ve seen a lot of kids who we hung around with and even jammed with get hooked on that stuff and it’s just sad so it was definitely a common experience in our lives.
Christian: Even if I’m wrong in how I portrayed it in the song I just hope it inspires people to at least open a dialogue about it all, even if it’s, “well, he’s fucking wrong I’m gonna go write my own songs about heroin addiction.” As long as it starts a conversation.
Would you want to write more songs about your take on social issues or do you want to stay more grounded in the horror influence?
Christian: I try to keep things grounded in reality. I don’t want to be cheesy and talk about war all the time or whatever. They are things that I do talk about but I do wanna talk about real shit that kids will relate to when they listen to us.
Are you guys recording anything for a big release? Maybe your debut album or an EP?
Christian: I don’t know if what we’re doing right now is going to be a whole album officially but we’re definitely trying to go for a big release at this point. We want to push ourselves and just put out our longest release to date so that we’ll say, “alright, we just put this gigantic piece of shit out, let’s put out this even bigger piece of shit.”
Kevin: We just want to test ourselves and see what we can do even better than before.
Christian: Yeah, like we want to get back and do songs that are a bit longer like “Black Tar Heathen” with multiple parts and stuff. We don’t want to just do 2-minute songs, we want more 4 to 5-minute songs.
I got a lot of Suicidal’s How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can't Even Smile Today vibes when listening to your last demo, so I can see you guys going in that direction with further songs.
Christian: That’s absolutely one of my favorite bands and favorite records, it definitely influenced me a lot. Our bassist Shawn actually wrote a lot of that second demo so I can’t really speak for his influences but lyrically that came from Suicidal Tendencies’ influence. That band has definitely spoken to me the most in the years that I’ve known about them. Just like how the Misfits are a band that never gets old to me. I know Andrew did a lot of writing on that demo so why don’t I pass it over to him.
Andrew: So I tried writing out a song for once on that record and I had the goal in mind to try to make it fully fleshed out. I was getting really tired of the 2-minute songs where nothing repeats so I tried to make it have a verse, chorus and then a big middle solo then back to a chorus.
Kevin: Aerosmith type shit.
Andrew: Yeah, the Aerosmith formula!
Are we gonna have more solos with the next release? Not just guitar solos but also bass and drum solos?
Andrew: If I have anything to say about it we’re gonna have a lot of solos.
Kevin: He’ll try to force me to learn how to actually solo.
Andrew: Hell yeah, I’ve been trying to get him to learn to do solos. It’s gonna be great! Everyone will cry tears of happiness!
Christian: It’s gonna be our most ambitious outing and I’m already super fucking proud of what we have already. It’s weird though because our band is really split between the hardcore scene and the metal scene and that’s all I’ve ever wanted but I’m not sure how to treat it when it comes to songwriting so we just do whatever the fuck we want. We don’t care what anyone thinks but if they like it then we appreciate that. Come join us when we play shows.
Kevin: Come party.
Christian: We just want to be friends with everyone.
I was really impressed seeing you guys at the Allston show in September because the place was packed when you guys went on and everyone was talking about how excited they were to see you guys play.
Christian: That show was amazing but I gotta be honest I was nervous as hell that whole day because we hadn’t played Boston in like 2 years. Our last show before the pandemic was in Pennsylvania so my social anxiety was super high. Even when I was performing I felt like I wasn’t at my best and then I saw videos of it and I was like, “dude, we kicked ass.”
Andrew: I didn’t even realize how crazy that all was until the next day and people told me it sold out before we went on and people were standing out front watching through the windows and shit.
Kevin: We were at soundcheck and a bunch of my friends came out from Natick to see the show and they were like, “Dude, it sold out. What the fuck?”
Christian: I usually like to get pretty inebriated before I perform but that night I didn’t and I was super nervous and that’s why I thought I was doing bad but luckily I overcame it.
Andrew: Speaking of inebriated... [he gets up to grab more beers].
I know you guys have only played that one show since the pandemic but any shows pre-pandemic that were memorable?
Andrew: So, our last show before the pandemic, the one in PA, we thought it’d be really cool…
Kevin: Oh no it was really cool.
Christian: Hold up, so you were at that show in Allston?It’s actually a tradition of ours to use the NFL on Fox theme for our intro music before we begin playing and you saw that.
Yes I did.
Andrew: So, not too long before that PA show, Kevin and I were doing something with our other band and we did this sort of rock star intro where we walked onstage to the theme music and it made our ego’s feel real nice.
Kevin: We all walked out one at a time, just some real stadium rock bullshit.
Andrew: So ,when we were with Face First in PA, we were like, “Guys, this is perfect! We’re an out-of-state band, the venue also has this door directly behind the stage so we could play the NFL theme and walk on one-by-one like we’re Metallica.”
So, we told the sound guy to do it and then everything you could imagine went wrong. He played the theme so much quieter than the house music so no one could even hear it and then we all start walking on one at a time super awkwardly and we realize nobody’s in the room because we found out a good amount of the audience got trapped in a freight elevator because this other band was filming a music video and they broke the elevator that lead down into the venue. So nobody’s there to watch us and we just start playing and I’m not gonna lie we fucking sucked that night.
Christian: But, honestly, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. If we sucked any other night than that one I would’ve been so sad.
Andrew: Shoutout to our hotel by the way because we almost got kicked out because they thought we were smoking weed but we actually weren’t. Fun stuff.
Christian: Another crazy story was we played this show out in the Bronx, New York and we were the headlining band somehow. When we did our first demo nobody knew who we were but we just had a lineup change and we figured nobody was gonna know who we were. The show started at 8pm and we were trying to get as many friends to come with us to the show, we didn’t end up leaving Massachusetts till like 9pm.
Luckily, there were a fair amount of bands on the bill and we made it to the show in time. It was at this underground venue, beneath a laundromat and we got there just in time and got drink tickets and so I was in the back getting drunk ‘cause we’re all alcoholics and whatnot.
There was some dude in the back smoking weed out of an apple but I turned him down because I didn’t know the guy. The place was super cramped and everyone was getting knocked over and some dude in the crowd was pulling on my leg hair and everything and I was just like, “goddamn, dude, what is the Bronx?”
Andrew: And then we went to that White Castle and saw that fight go down.
Christian: Oh yeah White Castle was completely new to us ‘cause we’re from Mass. and so we go to one with bulletproof windows and these people inside are fighting it out over whatever.
Kevin: A chick was screaming, “Grab her by the pussy!”
Christian: Yeah, New York is awesome.
Andrew: We played a show at Once Somerville and Christian drank way too much that day and could just barely make it through our set. The vocals on one of the last songs finished half way and then I was playing a solo and I just saw him slumped over my amp trying to hold whatever his guts wanted to throw out for the last like 2 minutes.
Kevin: That was the first time my parents saw Face First.
Christian: All I remember was as soon as that set ended I made a B-line for the bathroom and when I was done I went out to the van and slept for like 2 hours and when I got up it was a ghost town.
Andrew: We went and checked on him multiple times and all you could hear was him snoring.
Kevin: You could describe us as like a “militant party rock band.”
Is that how you want me to describe this entry?
Christian: Yeah, our main influence is LMFAO.
Andrew: Dr. Dre and Smash Mouth.
Kevin: Just a couple Astroboys.
Who are bands you want to play shows with in the future?
Kevin: Doja Cat, Oliver Tree, Kali Uchis.
Christian: We’ve played a show with this band before but I’m a huge fan of Bed of Razors, they’re one of the sickest bands in the scene right now.
Kevin: They are so much fun to see live.
Christian: We also got offered to play with Tommy Wright III but the venue didn’t want that many artists on the bill so we couldn’t play but I hope that shit comes around again because I would love to open for Tommy Wright III.
Kevin: Dead Heat.
Christian: I got to hang with them all at a show recently and they’re all the coolest people, I would love to play a show with them. I love all the thrash bands that are popping up lately in the scene.
What do you think of the death metal resurgence that seems to be prevalent in the Boston scene in particular?
Kevin: Fucking love it. Bands like Wretched Inferno are killing it right now. There are so many great death metal bands here.
Andrew: Damn, I feel like I don’t know anybody.
Christian: I’m a huge death metal fan but I will say there’s bands who can pull it off and then there’s those who don’t cut it for me. Like their hearts are not 100% into it and you can tell but I’m loving this revival right now. It’s funny because I was a metalhead who got into hardcore and people would clown me for it and now they’re all loving death metal and stuff like that. So I’m glad they like it but at the same time fuck you.
Andrew: It just meant that you were cool before everyone else was.
Christian: They won’t be cool till they watch Spider-Man 2002 with Tobey Maguire.
Andrew: Kirsten Dunst, Willem Dafoe, and James Franco.
Christian: Yo, dude, James Franco’s cancelled, man! We can’t be associated with him.
Don’t worry I’m not gonna associate you guys with James Franco.
Andrew: “Face First caught hanging out with James Franco.”
Christian: At TGI Friday’s
What’s the best thing about playing in Face First?
Christian: Playing in this band is just all about having fun. We have our moments where we have to get serious but we don’t want to ever take ourselves too seriously as a band if that makes sense? We just want to play shows and see our friends and have fun, drink beer and provide them with music to skate, mosh and possibly fuck to. Our aesthetic is we don’t take shit too seriously.
Andrew: It’s a fun aesthetic.
Christian: A lot of our aesthetic is about fitness and about eating your vegetables so please include in this interview the fundamentals about broccoli and protein.
We do fuck around a little too much because there have been times where we’ve missed the mark. I hope this doesn’t get us cancelled but we do this thing sometimes where we convince people online that people around us have died. When Andrew and I were in our other band we convinced everyone that our vocalist had died.
Andrew: He was so pissed.
Christian: We’re not trying to offend anyone, though.
Kevin: Except the British.
Christian: Yeah, fuck the British.
Anyone you want to shout out at the end here?
Andrew: I have to piss so I’ll go first. Shoutout to Joe McMahon, I hope you text us back someday, he’s our drummer and we don’t know where he is so I hope you’re not dead. It was so nice meeting you, I loved this interview and I gotta go pee.
Christian: I wanna shout out our closest friends in The Lousy (Dan, Jess John and Mark), Bed of Razors, my buddies from Paralysis in New Jersey (fuck you guys) and shoutout Boston in general and how horny they are. Also I wanted to say thank you for interviewing us. This has been big fun.
Kevin: Boston’s horniest, shoutout Ancient Death, Wretched Inferno, Tomb Blossoms.
Christian: Dude, check out Wretched Inferno, they’re these high-school kids just fucking up the death metal scene right now, they’re doing it better than anyone. Wretched Inferno should be up there with Blood Tithe and Mourned right now.
Kevin: Shoutout KISS.
Christian: Yeah, shout out KISS and Guns ‘N’ Roses, too.
Andrew: Shout out to the entire cast of Top Gun the 1986 action drama classic with Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer.
Kevin: Shout out all of my Juggalo family.
Christian: Hold up our friend just texted us this: "Shoutout to Corey from Slip… Slip K Not?”
Kevin: “Shout out to Corey from Slipknot.”
Christian: Yeah, “Shout out to Corey from Slipknot.”
Kevin: They’re doing some stuff you know. They’ll be a big deal one day.
Guys, thanks for doing this interview.
Christian: Thank you for having us, dude. We appreciate it.
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Tagged: face first