Over the years, the DIY ethos of NJ’s Save Face has yielded many lessons. Some on the micro level: “We learned how to get through a tour,” says lead singer Tyler Povanda. “Like what happens when your van breaks down five times, and your transmission is fucked, and then you abandon your van in the middle of Tennessee and rent a minivan to play a festival in Florida.”
And some on the macro: “There’s also the learning experience of being incredibly discouraged by getting your soul crushed by being in an industry that is motivated by money and non-artistic things,” he says.
Even with the recognition that the music industry can be brutal, Povanda and Save Face haven’t changed who they are to create success. Art matters to them, as evidenced in their 2018 release of a visual album, Merci.
“Not a lot of people do that [visual albums],” says Povanda. “In order to make a visual album, you either have to have a lot of money or be able to do the work yourself.”
You can guess which route Save Face took. “We wrote the treatment ourselves, we directed it ourselves, and we had a talented cinematographer shoot it. That DIY spirit hasn’t left me and will probably never leave me,” Povanda says.
In fact, it’s due in no small part to the sweat equity that Save Face has put in that Epitaph Records came calling in 2018 and signed the band.
“Epitaph reached out to us, and wanted to know what we were doing,” Povanda says. “They saw that we were on the road all the time, and were aware of our music. They asked if we had new music coming out, and we had just gotten out of the studio with a new album, and they listened to it and liked it. It was surreal; for me, growing up, Epitaph was an ultimate label that I never thought I would be a part of.”
Signing to a major label like Epitaph hasn’t changed the Jersey native that much.
“I didn’t become a better person,” Povanda says. “Like I still have the same problems in life that I did from the day we signed. I’m kind of a person that has detached a lot of meaning from accolades, accomplishments, and a trophy doesn’t mean that much to me.”
Save Face recorded their forthcoming album Another Kill for the Highlight Reel late last year—it’s set to be released on Oct. 29. The album was recorded at Barber Shop Studios in Hopatcong, and parts of it were recorded in Povanda’s apartment in Montclair.
“It was the most fun I’ve ever had,” says Povanda about the recording of Another Kill for the Highlight Reel.
Povanda also noticed the difference in recording Merci versus the new release.
“With Merci, we were still an unsigned band, and it was like how much can we afford to spend? We toured for nearly a month and instead of going home we went directly to Buffalo, New York, to make the album. That was the type of grind we were in at the time. … With our latest album we know we have a label, and we have support, and we had options in studios. It was low pressure in terms of logistics, and we could make it what we wanted it to be.”
And with ample time and plentiful options in terms of studios, Save Face was able to craft its dream album. The goal of Another Kill for the Highlight Reel for Povanda was to make an album that was “world-building, and had immersive song-writing.”
“I wanted to write and create an album that lays down source material from which other art can be derived and created,” he says.
The theme that Povanda wanted to go with Another Kill for the Highlight Reel is the relationship between death and life. “This album is kind of a new era and life for the band.”
Another prominent theme of the album is about power, “and more important,” says Povanda, “reclaiming power that was taken from you.”
In mid-August, Save Face released the first single off the new album, “Glitter,” and being true to their role as visual artists, Save Face released a pretty epic music video for it.
“Music videos haven’t really been the most relevant thing,” says Povanda, “however I feel like that makes music videos better. If you’re going to spend time making a video that you know isn’t as important as it was 10 or 20 years ago, then those are the people that are going to make something astounding.”
Astounding was what the ”Glitter” music video was for Save Face. “Making that music video was pretty fun,” said Povanda. “It was fun until the last hour when we realized we had been covered in blood for the past seven hours.”
Save Face also released another music video for a song off of Another Kill for the Highlight Reel, “Bury Me (Tonight!)” on Sept. 9.
“Lyrically the song is about not wanting to die, but also not wanting to exist in a way. And to feel OK in feeling that way,” says Povanda. “There’s still a lot of stigma surrounding that feeling. Like feeling disenchanted with everything around you and wanting to escape from it, and talking about it in a dramatic and visceral way. “
One of the most notable things about watching the music video on YouTube is the comments section, and how many viewers think that Save Face sounds like MCR.
“MCR is funny because a lot of people view them as their own secret emo band,” Povanda says. “They were like the biggest band in the world that held guitars for like three years. They played Times Square on New Year’s Eve and they headlined Leeds Fest. I don’t know how anyone isn’t influenced by MCR in some small way. They impacted culture in a large way. Yes of course MCR is an influence, but in the same way that Queen is an influence because I listened to them all the time.”
In the coming months Save Face will be going on tour with Mom Jeans. Both bands will have new music coming out in the next couple months and they’re excited that they will tour together showcasing their new music.
The tour includes a date at Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park on Nov. 24. Playing shows in Jersey is something that Povanda cherishes.
“I definitely have a lot of New Jersey pride, and not in broey type of way. But I really like a lot of different stuff about New Jersey, and I really love New Jersey music.”