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FACE UP! Road to Rebellion with Gav Ballantyne

Come and join FACE UP! this Thursday at Rebellion Festival’s Arena Stage where you’ll bare witness to one of the UK’s most promising hardcore punk bands. Appearing almost out of thin air back in 2016 (despite secretly forming in 2015), they’ve gone from strength to strength, smashing support slots with some of the biggest hardcore bands out there – Agnostic Front, anyone? The Punk Lounge spoke to Gav Ballantyne, FACE UP! bassist, ahead of this week’s show where he sheds light on his influences and the future of FACE UP!

Photo by Stew Tyler

Hey Gav, how’re things? You’re the Arena Stage at Rebellion this year, right? That’s some jump in size from the Introducing Stage last year!

Yeah, we were all a bit surprised by that one but we won’t let it intimidate us. We’ll just go out and give the high energy set we always give. I’ll enjoy playing in a bigger space as my toes won’t get stamped on as much, and less hair whipped in my face, and less crashing of guitars. Recently Bez’s broken drumsticks keep coming my way so hopefully with more room I’ll be constantly moving which gives him a harder target!

How did FACE UP! get together as a band? It feels as though you just magically appeared on the scene one day back in 2016, without any awkward phase of learning how to play together, just smashing it from the beginning.

Face Up! was AK’s brain-child which he had to break up a band to achieve. Me, Bez and Harris The Bastard (though the bastard joined Face Up! a year later) were all in a band together before Face Up! that we weren’t enjoying and I’d bumped into AK on a night out where he asked me to come to the studio the next day. When I got to the studio there was Bez and we practiced as a four piece with our old guitarist Dave. We loved it [the practice] and walked out on our old band. Rox came in about 6 months later.

We kept quiet and worked hard and didn’t mention we were a band until a week before our first show in 2016. Harris joined the band around a year ago and was the final piece that we needed. Face Up! has gone from strength to strength ever since.

You’re a wicked live band – brilliant last November where I watched you support Agnostic Front and again at Wemstock 2018 – what’s been a highlight of the band so far?

There has been a couple of highlights. Agnostic Front was a big one and supporting H2O. A personal highlight has been supporting GBH but I would have to say either the album release show or last year’s Rebellion Festival set have to be stand out moments.

Photo by Aatish Ramchurn

What’s your favourite memory of Rebellion Festival; either playing the festival or just watching the bands?

Playing it last year; the room was packed! So many of our friends were there and my dad had come up. Looking out [from the stage] and seeing GBH, Drongos for Europe and Angry itch giving you the finger. AK had what looked like a seizure after doing the most amazing scream which was funny (once he looked okay that is). Playing Rebellion Festival had always been a dream of mine and so to do that with my best mates will live with me forever.


Any bands you’re hoping to catch at Rebellion this year that you’ve not had a chance to watch yet?

Suckerpunch! This band is the band we have spent the last one and a half years with and although they’ve nearly killed me countless amounts of times they are my closest friends. They fully deserve to be headlining the Introducing Stage and they’ll show you why! [Read Suckerpunch’s pre-Rebellion interview here.]

Black Market Beat; The Mistakes; The Liarbilitys; Spring Park; and Kiss Me Killer are all my friends that I’ll be there to support. Shout out to my American mates Informal Society too.

I’ll be filling in for The Delinquents on the Pavilion stage as well so everyone needs to make sure they come over to that.


Photo by Stew Tyler

As a bassist, do you have any particular influences? What drew you to the bass as an instrument? 

It was my Dad, he used to play a little when he was younger and growing up he was the person who taught me about the music I love. My Dad’s always been a hero of mine so if my dad did something then I wanted to as well.

Steve Harris (of Iron Maiden) is a main influence of mine, which is why I play with my fingers instead of a plectrum. I’ve got to give Rodger Lima (of Less Than Jake) a shout too, that bloke can play very fast and sing at the same time.


What’s coming up for Face Up! next? There’s talk of a video and another album…

Yeah, there will be a video filmed in September so that’ll be released soon and album number 2 is already being written so that should be released Spring 2019 but with our track record of getting an album out who knows when that could be. Other than that we’ll continue to play gigs for the rest of the year!


A band moment that’s made you laugh.

I honestly can’t pick one there has been that many! Face Up! off stage is just a constant circus, with Suckerpunch usually involved. We hang out a lot outside the band and are constantly messing with each other so it’s hard to pick one moment as one of us is always up to something stupid, normally at my expense!


FACE UP! play the Arena Stage this Thursday 2nd August at 12:45pm! Can’t make it? Click here to keep updated with gig announcements and more.

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