I had the pleasure of chatting with Jonathan Terrell, vocalist and guitarist of Austin, TX's very own Not In The Face. Check out the interview below where I speak with Jonathan about the band's newest release "Brass Tacks", his lyric writing process, and rock music in today's music scene.
How did the band originally come together? Initially, who approached who?
Well many, many moons before the founding of Not In The Face, I was a solo artist. I was in a country band, I did a lot of singer-songwriter, kind of “Americana” country. My best friend, that plays drums for Not In The Face,… I would never hire him for my country band, because I didn’t like his country drumming. I like his rock and roll drumming a lot, but I didn’t really care for his country style. So that was always the issue, and he was always giving me shit about it. We still wanted to jam about it, so Not In The Face, was just kind of for fun, and was our way of getting together, playing music, and just nerding out on classics and stuff. It kind of just evolved from that, from us just wanting to jam together, and our love of like 50s and 60s rock and roll. It was pretty accidental, really. Both of us were pursuing other bands and ventures. He was in kind of space metal, Motorhead-style band called White Rhino. Our guitar player was in that band also. So it just kind of evolved from there. We were never trying to get a bass player. It was just about me and Wes playing music. That’s really about it!
It’s honestly been really rare to see rock bands working to get back into the music scene nowadays, but there’s been somewhat of a resurgence as of lately. Do you think there may be a reason behind this, or is it just the ebb and flow of the industry?
I think people naturally seek out the truth of things. You know what I mean? In any kind of music that you really want to seek out and find a true love in, be it country music or rock and roll music, you’re eventually going to find that truth, and follow that stem to the root. I think that people are finally getting to the root of rock and roll, and I think they’re finally going, “well, I don’t love just this thing that came out in the 80s; They made this in the 80s because of fuckin’ Chuck Berry!”
I think it’s just a natural progression of giving people enough time to sift through something. They’re going to feel around for what they like and don’t like, and kind of trim the fat. Hopefully, we get to see a lot more of that.
That’s also one of the beauties about our band. It’s like, we don’t really give a shit about sticking to one genre. But we are a guitar driven band, so thank God for people like Jack White, who are carrying the flag for those styles of music. It’s like “put your fuckin’ laptop away, and pick up a guitar, sit in your room, and learn how to fuckin’ play it!” Thank God there’s these guys that are singing those anthems about that, you know? Or else we wouldn’t even have a platform to speak from.
Tell me a little bit about the songwriting process for the Brass Tacks EP.
Sure! Generally, I’ll write the music and lyrics for everything, and I’ll bring them to the band, and then we’ll kind of nit-pick after that. Like, “this lines not doing this for me, I’m not sure exactly what you’re saying”. I think all of the guys are usually pretty okay with the stuff that I write. Every now and again, they’ll come up with a line, with something like “oh what if we used this line?”, “and I’ll say “if it’s way better, then we’re definitely going to use it.” There’s no egos involved, it’s just about how we can get the best product and say the most sincere thing. No matter whose idea it is, it’s for the good of the band.
In the beginning, when we were just a two piece, I wrote everything. Since we became a four piece, we have two other guys in the band who have written songs before and are more vocal, now that we’re kind of growing and evolving more as a group.
Where does the name for the EP originate?
It’s the first line in the first song. “We’re getting down to the brass tacks.” We’re getting down to the fuckin’ nitty-gritty.
The next two questions I ask to every artist that I interview. What kind of message would you like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
I would like them to walk away with the idea that they are better than going to a show and watching people stand, unanimated, on stage. I feel like it’s a band’s job to entertain and get people moving, and create a vibe and make people dance, making them feel good about themselves. I feel like our fans are better than that. They deserve that. So hopefully they can walk away with a little bit of extra energy and motivation. Most of our songs are about feeling good.
What does music mean to you?
Music means…everything. It’s the reason why you break up with girls, and it’s the reason why you wake up in the morning. It’s the reason why your friends are your friends, and it’s the reason why you wear the clothes that you do, and talk the way you do. I can’t remember who said it, but there’s a famous old quote that said something like “without music, life is pointless.” I feel like that sums it up pretty good.
Is there anything else you’d like to promote in particular, other than the EP, like tour dates, music videos, etc.?
We have a great music video for “Brass Tacks” coming up soon. We have Edgefest in Albuquerque. That should be a cool punk rock festival. The Offspring and Pennywise are playing, it’s like this thing that the radio station is putting on. We’re going to be in LA for a couple days doing some studio stuff, and we might be picking up a show, but I’m not sure if that’s going to happen or not. Then we’re going to be in Las Vegas on August 30th.
Not In The Face's newest release, "Brass Tacks", is available now. You can download it here: https://soundcloud.com/notinthefacerocks/sets/brand-new-ep
Not In The Face
This had been another Shameless Promotion.