Q&A with Grayson Ross of Face Value

Baltimore pop-punkers Face Value are incredibly proud of their newest EP, Thick As Thieves, released earlier this year, and we don’t blame them. The six carefully crafted songs on the EP are personal yet relatable, filled with catchy hooks and memorable vocal melodies that will stick with listeners for a long time to come. Keeping their momentum moving forward, Face Value recently released the music video for “EFF Sharp” from the EP, and with plans to round out the year with even more new music, 2016 will be one hell of a year for Face Value.

Interview by Dom Vigil

Can you tell us a little bit about Face Value for any readers who may not be familiar?

Face Value is an alternative post-punk electronic outfit from Charm City with a knack for subgenre-ing their tunes. Just kidding. Face Value is a pop-punk band who hails from the suburbs just north of Baltimore, Maryland. We are a group of guys who genuinely enjoy writing catchy music with a kick and hope that our audience enjoys our music as much as we do. We formed a few years back under the name “Out to See” and have gone through several member alterations and additions to bring you the Face Value you probably don’t know, or love now. We are here to change that. I think our emerging prowess stems from the idea that we can speak on heart-twisting and mind-warping issues and overlay them with upbeat instrumentation. I always like to say we are a healthy median between the hard-hitting new wave punk pop that bands such as The Story so Far and Neck deep have brought to the modern mainstream and the good ol’ Blink-182, Yellowcard, and Good Charlotte days (yeah I know they are still around), with a splash of AVA, 1975, effects driven alt-rock.

You guys released your EP, Thick As Thieves earlier this year – now that it has been out for a few months, what is your favorite thing about these songs?

My favourite part about these songs is everything? Can I say that? Option “E: all of the above”? I honestly do feel as though these songs encompass everything Face Value is striving to be. I think the lyrics are poignant and metaphorical but still very relatable. I think the vocal melodies encapsulate the meaning and feel of the songs, which are all very diverse. I think the guitar instrumentation can take you on a passionate journey through overdriven party rhythms to clean, introspective soundscapes. The drums really bring everything together and give the listener some intricate ear candy if your headphone are loud enough. The production and mixing as whole are exactly where we wanted it to be. If I had to really pick on aspect I think I would say the vocals are my favourite part. Not because they are better or more important than any other aspect, but because we really put a lot of work into them this time, and it paid off. I think having the time and motivation to get melodies right where we wanted them to be at very specific sections as well as adding more harmonies then ever really brought these songs to life.

What was the highlight or the most rewarding part about working on the songs on Thick As Thieves?

We recorded Thick As Thieves with producer/engineer, Paul Leavitt, which was an honour to a bunch of scrubs like us. He is a Baltimore hero, having worked with bands like The Used, Yellowcard, and most notably, All Time Low. We knew working with him would be a step up from anything we had done prior to this and it made the recording experience that much better. I also think these songs made us dig a little deeper compared to our material on Growing Up Young. We know we can write good music, music that people [kids] can relate to and enjoy listening to; it just takes some serious work and practice and dedication and sweat and deodorant.

What would you like fans to be able to take away from these songs?

I want fans to be able to feel motivated to chug an entire boot by the end of some of these songs. Not exactly…I want fans to be able to relate. I want fans to have a good time with them. I hope fans take away what I take away from my favourite songs. Anything but indifference you know? It’s ok if you feel sad after listening to Face Value. It’s ok if you feel cheerful or feel a little less alone. I just want a fan to listen and say “that song was worth it, I did not waste 3 minutes of my life.” I want them to tell their friends, or their mom, or their cat that they heard a cool new band who use these weird six string things and bang on shit. Hey man take what you can keep, free yourself from some blankets…forgot the lyric… just put them on your AppleBerry or limewire and jam.

You just recently released a music video for “EFF Sharp” on the EP. What makes this song special to you?

This song means a lot to me because it was written based on anxieties that I feel. Anxieties that almost everyone undoubtedly goes though. It’s about feeling daunted by expectations of others and feeling lesser because of falsities others say about you. This song is special because it is real. I remember the first time I performed this song front of others. To put it in context it was well before the rest of the record was written. We did this song acoustic in front of some friends and tour mates last winter in North Carolina and it was the most positive reaction I had ever gotten after singing. There may have only been 10 people in the room but I remember them smiling and saying “did you guys actually write that?” We performed it acoustically moments later for the actual show and the reaction was just as enlightening.

What was the inspiration behind the video?

Going along with question 5 on the “How well can I remember shit about my band from the past” exam, the video really ties into this societal anxiety. We painted our faces half black and wore some spiffy threads to symbolize this feeling of being pushed into society’s mould. Half of us feels like we need to be a part of this 9-5 business life that everyone expects out of us and half us is like “Come on man you are so much more than that, you have so much more to offer.” So we are jamming out and the paint is being washed off and we are transforming into our true selves in a sense. I wish it was that easy.

With Thick As Thieves out now, do you have any other big plans for the rest of 2016?

Hell yeah we do. We are in the process of writing two brand spanking new full band jammers to put out with listener discretion. We really want to show people we are consistently getting better and are still writing music as much as we can. These songs will be on a split with some undisclosed friends so please stay tuned for all that jazz. My perspective is that many bands have a fearless leader who conquers songwriting with a gleaming gold baton, and other bands kind of combine ideas to become this single unit writing factory. We are the latter. Each one of us puts influence into every song we write. I think this collaboration allows for a fusion of musical tastes and skills. We’re also working on the business side of our band lately. Trying to grow social media presence, connect with people in the industry who can really help us. It’s going to be an interesting end of the year and we hope 2017 brings even more than 2016 does!

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