Rock n’ roll dreams often only comes once. Gameface is getting a second one.
One of California’s legendary power-pop bands, Los Angeles’ Gameface amassed a legion of fans during the 1990’s, in which they released a string of albums and became a regional favorite. One of the rawest bands during an era where rock was no longer the king of the airwaves, Gameface gained the reputation as a hard working band of up and coming young musicians. However, after a decade of obtaining a cult status, but failing at gaining nationwide success, the band began to grow apart and lose their focus. In 2003 the group decided to call it quits and go their separate ways. Gameface was over…but not forgotten. While the members of Gameface continued to play music, the group was remembered fondly by people that saw them when they were growing up, Gameface managed to inspire others to go into the music industry themselves, and continued to be part of California’s rock evolution.
In 2012, after ten years of little communication, Jeff Caudill, Todd D. Trout, Guy Julian and Steve Sanderson tediously reunited for a series of concerts celebrating the anniversary of their former label only to find that the magic was still there. The reunion concerts lead to new music and a new energy as the guys; older, wiser and refocused, decided that perhaps it was time for Gameface to return to the playing field.
The result is a brand new single, Come on Down, which was released in November 2013, and a brand new studio album, Now Is What Matters Now, scheduled to be released on March 18th! With good old fashioned rock n’ roll hurting more today than it did in the 90’s, the return of Gameface couldn’t come at a better time.
I connected with Gameface lead singer Jeff Caudill to talk about the return of Gameface. For the last decade Caudill has continued to actively pursue music via a series of solo projects, as well as being one of the primary players in Your Favorite Trainwreck. However, it is obvious when talking with Jeff that Gameface is a very important part of his musical journey, and he is passionate about the band’s second coming.
Sam Tweedle: So Gameface has gotten back together. This has been a bit of a surprise to a lot of music fans. Is it a surprise to you?
Jeff Caudill: It was surprising when it did happen. Last summer we were asked to do a couple of reunion shows for our old record label, Revelation Records. They were doing their twenty fifth anniversary and we decided that that was a good enough excuse to give it a shot. So we did the shows, but we didn’t expect it to be a full on reunion or to get back together. We thought we’d get together for the shows and have a good time. The thing is, it went really great. As people, and as bandmates, we didn’t go back to where we left off but we went back to when it was actually fun. I sort of pretended that it wasn’t happening for a while, but the more we were together and the more we were playing, I couldn’t help but start writing new material. We kept it really quiet, because we didn’t really want to admit this was going on. We wanted to do some songs, and make sure that it wasn’t just happening in our heads. So, after a few songs, we felt that it really was a viable thing and that we weren’t just dreaming it and we decided that we’d go for it. So now we have an album worth of material, we have a label and we have a new single. It’s the whole thing.
Sam: What label have you signed with?
Jeff: The record label we signed with is Equal Vision. They’re awesome. They get it. They kind of understand where we’re at. I couldn’t have dreamt it any more perfect. Up till now it’s been really fantastic and has been how I’d hope it would be.
Sam: Now take me through the history of Gameface. You guys originally formed while you were still teenagers.
Jeff: Yeah. This was right out of high school. I kind of discovered punk rock in the late 80’s and I met the other guys when I was going to these punk shows around ’87 and ’88. This was the beginning of my entire music thing. I was in some really terrible bands in high school, but [Gameface] was the first real thing where we wrote our own stuff, we got in the van and toured and we put out records. That lasted from 1990 to 2003.
Sam: So you guys were together for over a decade.
Jeff: Yeah. It was my youth. My coming of age. [Gameface] means a lot to me. Having it sort of implode in 2003 was sad, but it felt like something that needed to happen. We felt like we needed to walk away.
Sam: What were some of the circumstances of Gameface’s original break up?
Jeff: At that point, we had grown up together and had grown apart on all levels; musically and as people. We did all we could do to stay together. It wasn’t that we couldn’t stand each other, but no one could agree about what role the band would play in their lives. There were some guys that wanted to make a career out of it, and there were some that wanted it to be just a hobby. We just didn’t agree on what the band was, and we were really dysfunctional and never wanted to talk about it, so there was this big silence and it really did just implode right before we released our final album. It was messy, and we didn’t talk for a while, but it’s not like we were angry with each other. We just didn’t have anything to say. We went for many years without talking at all. But we talked about [getting back together] about four or five years ago. We all got together and talked about stuff with the intention of hanging out. But ten years is enough distance for all the water to be under the bridge. All of the reasons that we broke up don’t really exist anymore. We are doing it now for the love of our band, and the love of our music. It’s really kind of liberating to not really care about trying to make it, or trying to figure out what’s cool in the music scene, because none of that has anything to do with us anymore as forty years olds. It’s a second chance of making it right. As long as we can keep our heads all clear and just focus on the reason we wanted to do the band in the first place, it’s going to be great.
Sam: When you guys get back together did you gel immediately again as a band, or did it take time to ease into it?
Jeff: It was pretty quick. It came back really fast. I was amazed how good things sounded and felt. We pretty much played an entire album within the first couple of [rehearsals]. We did the Every Last Time album from front to back. I’m sure that everybody did their homework leading up to the first rehearsal, but we pretty much knocked it out. It was good. That was the thing that made it, for me, to make that switch turn on. We sounded as good, or better, than we’d ever had. It was exciting.
Sam: But you guys are older and your musical tastes have obviously changed. Have you seen an evolution in Gameface?
Jeff: We didn’t plan on it sounding a certain way. We didn’t plan on trying to update our sound, but we didn’t want to sound like we did in 1995. But, I think what happens when the four of us get together is that we just sound like we sound. There is no other way to describe it. It just sounds like Gameface made another record right after their last one. It just feels good and comfortable and it’s still exciting.
Sam: What were the other guys in Gameface doing over the last ten years? Were they involved in music as well?
Jeff: Yeah. They had a couple of other bands. Our drummer toured with some bands, and one of them was signed with a major label. There were little different incarnations of the rest of the guys. At one time the three of them formed a band with a different singer, doing similar music. It’s not as scandalous as it sounds, but they were definitely doing their thing. We all loved playing music.
Sam: I know Gameface had a solid fan following in the 90’s. What kind of buzz has been happening now that you’ve reunited?
Jeff: It’s really hard to say. There is certainly a really good core of fans that have been there the whole time, even when we were gone, who I know are really excited, and that feels awesome. When we did the reunion shows the response was really great. It wasn’t insane, but it was how we hoped it would be. But we are hoping to reach a little further with the new record. At the very least get it to the old fans, but I hope that we can get it to a new generation of kids who have an appreciation for this kind of music. There are a lot of kids out there that are looking to bands that were influenced by bands like us. I hope the younger generation get this record so they can see where their bands came from.
Sam: I find it interesting that a lot of the rock bands that are getting commercial success today sound very similar to what Gamface was doing twenty years ago.
Jeff: There is definitely a resurgence of the 90’s post punk thing, and I think that’s great. What goes around comes around. Hopefully its good timing for us.
Sam: Has all your other musical projects taken a back seat while you are doing this?
Jeff: Yeah. I had to kind of decompartementalize everything. At least until the record is done it’s all about Gameface, and once the album hits this spring, it’s going to be even more about Gameface. When we finished our run of shows last year I pretty much started to write our new album, and I finished it around the end of the year last year. It’s pretty much been tunnel vision on this album. I have a solo EP that’s been sitting around for a while and that I started recording, but that can wait. I can finish that up some other time.
There is a world of kids out there today who don’t know what a real rock song sounds like. This is the generation that needs Gameface more than ever. For more information on Gameface visit their page at Equal Vision Records, http://www.equalvision.com/artist/Gameface, and for more on Jeff Caudill’s post-Gameface music check out his site at http://www.jeffcaudill.com/.