"This is for those who feel unconfident and afraid and nervous, and I hope that it helps them feel powerful"
Save Face have just released their new album 'Another Kill For The Highlight Reel' via Epitaph, and are primed and ready to become your new favourite band.
Pulling on the drama, debauchery and devilish attitude of mid-00's emo but making it sound fresher and more fierce than anyone else who has attempted to capture the same sort of energy, it's an absolute triumph in so many gloriously blood-stained ways. Outrageously fun, unrelentingly emotional and brimming with all of the pomp and theatre you could wish for, it's a celebration of the past, present and future of alternative music that will get under your skin and exist within you long after the curtain has come crashing down.
To find out exactly how we made it here, and it's been quite the journey, we sat down with vocalist Tyler Povanda...
It feels like the distance you have travelled from ‘Merci’ in 2018 to where we are now is huge, both personally and professionally. So how has it played out to the position we are in now?
"When we put out our first EP, we were the band who would put ‘On Tour Forever’ on our t-shirts. It’s all that we wanted to do, like a lot of days on the road. There are many reasons behind that attitude, but more so than anything, we just wanted to play songs that we thought were cool to people. I feel like we tried to subvert what was going with our peers in terms of musical trends. There’s nothing wrong with putting out music that is current, but we always ended up not doing that. So the first EP came out in a pop-punk ecosystem, and we were trying to do this straight-up rock band thing. Then many bands started to do that and didn’t follow through with it, but then we put out ‘Merci’ and felt a little put out to sea with it. They were talking about writing rock music and then not doing it. I know that a lot of that can be perspective can be perceived as pretentious, but I have the perspective.
"So by the time the ‘Merci’ cycle had ended, we had played so many shows. But so many things changed, like our deal with Epitaph came out of nowhere. We completed the album before they even offered us anything, and we didn’t have a body of work out where I knew we had the support of something like a label behind us. So by the end of that whole cycle, there was this giant moment of identity crisis for me. And the people that I was playing within the band had been through so much and excited because they wanted to do other stuff. It was very much then a case of ‘How did we get here and what even is this thing anymore?’ I was so used to touring I hadn’t even thought about what a next album would look like.
"So all of that is context to say that when it became 2019 and I started to try and write again, it was tough to try and make something that felt inspiring. The moments of joy that I get from being in this band are being on stage and in the studio. The dance of doing everything else can feel pretty soul-crushing. So for me to be able to enjoy those two aspects, I need to find the art that inspires me. Otherwise, why should I even get out of bed? Then I had a conversation with a friend, which helped me to consider instead of leaning into these things that Save Face has done, I lean into these other things that Save Face has done. Through that, I pivoted how I thought of the band and how I felt like a person and what I wanted to do with music. That’s how I started digging into the sound that became this album."
And when did that really start?
"Well, the first song I managed to write was in the first week of January 2020. Obviously, three months later, we’re all home for over a year. I spent a lot of time really confronting my own mortality and the mortality of my loved ones. Those 3am thoughts of, ‘What happens when I die’ started to seep into my every day all the time. There was also a lot of death happening in a lot of my friends’ lives. And perhaps before, tour was serving as a suitable distraction from it all, but then when I was home all year, there was no distraction. That informed a lot of the subject matter because it was all that I could think about and feel. And when it was suddenly me effectively writing an album of what I wanted to write, I was leaning purely into all that I wanted to do. This is a reflection of some of my favourite kinds of music."
When you’re questioning some of life’s most difficult things, you’re looking for comfort in the other parts of your life. And with comfort comes something that you will be truly proud of as well…
"For all of the successes that we have had, it had taken so much immense failure for us to get to this point. I’m so conditioned to that feeling that it’s hard to shake it. So even now, if something around this record fails, it’s going to fail in the most spectacular and creatively fulfilling way. It can’t be me rolling the dice and hoping that I’m making the record for the right because I would feel like the biggest asshole in the world. I made sure that I made an album that I genuinely fucking love, as it's the least that I can do."
And the thing about the bands that you are drawing from on this album, they were masters in capturing the feeling of loss and loneliness in ways that so many have attempted and failed. So when you’re going through those thoughts yourself, you’re going to channel those who did it the best…
"It’s a testament to how good those songs are that you can enjoy them when you’re younger but then unravel precisely what they are about and how you relate to them as you grow. And took a lot of throwing darts at the board to reach the centre of feeling comfortable writing like that, and it’s a pretty big board. I was throwing some shit that was really out there, and it took a long time to get here. But it came from me writing a song and then saying, ‘Oh, Save Face doesn’t do songs like this, we can’t pull this off’ but then pushing myself further and harder. It was about permitting myself to put it on the album. So now that I had a couple of songs, I kept pushing that feeling to make things that went further and further. By the end, it felt awesome to feel like every song was there for a reason. 'Please Murder Me', for example, is such an accomplishment for me, and it took writing every other song before to get there."
And what was it like to consider where you were at the end of the creation process compared to the identity crisis you felt you had at the start?
"Throughout all of this, I was dealing with a lot of depersonalisation issues. The only way I have actually been able to tap into how I have felt over this time is by writing this album. I can say that it was the time of my life to make it, and it was the happiest I have been in a long time. I just felt so much joy. A lot of this album has a lot to do with power as well, in terms of reclaiming power from those that have taken it away from you. This is for those who feel unconfident and afraid and nervous, and I hope that it helps them feel powerful because they should. This is the surest I have ever been about what I think this band is."
Are there any moments that even now shock you when you realise that you could make them a reality?
"There’s something new every single time that I listen to it. I honestly can’t believe that we were able to do this. In a world where every other thing feels fucking terrible, it’s nice that I can make something and feel that fucking good about it. Listening to these songs is sometimes the only time in my day where I feel good. The diction and rhyming scheme in ‘Curse Me Out’. The way the strings come in on the last chorus of the title track. The fact that ‘Sharpen Your Teeth’ goes from where it is at the beginning to where it is on the bridge and then right back to where it started. The key change at the end of ‘Please Murder Me’. All of the performances from everybody in the band as well too. I can’t believe how well all of this was executed, how we went for it, and how it came out the way it did. That’s what shocks me. We did something that only we could do, and that’s really cool."
And how does it feel for all of that to be as Save Face? And how does it feel with the mindset that you have now?
"I was fully committed to this just being done, you know? I pretty much committed to there not being a future that I was excited about unless an album like this gets written. But at the time, it wasn’t a hope or expectation. It was a matter of fact to me. If this happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it’s done. And that’s how I looked at it. To look back at that now, it doesn’t feel like looking back. It feels like it has been one continuous moment from when I first started writing. It’s like it’s been one long day. And I feel like my mindset is still very much do or die. When we get on stage, we’re going to do it like it’s the last time. If we’re going to die on stage, we’re going to do it with make-up running down our faces. That’s it, and that’s how it’s always going to be."