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How the UFC song "Face the Pain" Changed My Life

The STEMM song, 'Face the Pain' is the song that put our band on the global map thanks to the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

I remember getting a call late evening September 2002 from the Ultimate Fighting Championship producers who were sitting with Dana White & Lorenzo Fertitta and BOTH OF THEM wanted to talk to me during this meeting.

Dana explained to me that UFC 40 was coming up & they were calling it 'Vendetta'

They wanted a song to "set the tone" for the fight & wanted to know if we had anything for them. Dana's one request was simple. "I am not telling you how I want you to write the song, but I would love to have it in the mindset of a fighter stepping into the Octagon and what they might be going through"

Fair enough, I always looked at a lot of STEMM lyrics & songs in the mindset of fighting through life when you get knocked down and getting back up ;-)

We already had 2 songs we were working on that I knew would be a good fit. The next day while at work as a local truck driver, I was sitting behind a pizzeria after I made a delivery thinking of the song. I was staring at my notebook and started scratching lyrics & I wrote down the title to a song from my favorite Buffalo, NY hardcore act 'Zero Tolerance' who our drummer Jimi also played drums for Zero Tolerance back in the day. The title was 'Face the Panic'

I stared at that title for 5 minutes scratching out different titles until 'Face the Pain' was written on my chicken scratch....By the end of my workday, the lyrics to 'Face the Pain' were written!

I walked into rehearsal, our live sound man "Dave H" demoed the song that night on a 4 track (YES A 4 TRACK) recorder & we shipped 'Face the Pain' off to the UFC the next day via FedEx.

2 days later, I get a call form the UFC producer. "We are going to take Face the Pain! Dana loves it! We are coming to Buffalo next week. We booked studio time at a studio called Audio Magic to record the song!"

We busted ass all week to get the song studio ready & in 2 days, 'Face the Pain' was tracked and taken back to Las Vegas, NV to prep for the show. There was a lot of excitement back & forth leading up to UFC 40 between the UFC crew and the band.

We had a big party at our singer, Louis' house, a lot of close friends & family to watch the opening as "Face the Pain" rang in UFC 40 Vendetta.

Fast forward 1 year later when the UFC called to say "Congratulations! We just wanted to let you know that Face the Pain is the Official Theme Song for the Ultimate Fighting Championship!"

16 years later, 'Face the Pain' still stands in many UFC formats from TV, to movies & video games!

When STEMM ended in 2012, the UFC producers encouraged me to stick with songwriting because at that time, more than 25 STEMM songs had been licensed by the UFC.

Of course, I was a knuckle head & also burned out from band life & took an over the road truck driving job instead. While working that gig, the UFC producer would check in on me from time to time & over the years he would say "Is there anything I can do for you?" and I would always reply "You can get me off this truck!"... He paused & said "Joe, I have known you for over a decade now. there has always been something I wanted to say to you when you make that 'get me off the truck' request...So I am gonna say it & I don't care if you get mad....THE ONLY REASON WHY YOU DRIVE THAT TRUCK IS BECAUSE YOU CHOOSE TO!!! You have so many options in the music world!!! So what? The band broke up! You can be a songwriter. Hell man, you already are! You wrote the f#!king theme song for the biggest sport in modern history & you are driving a f#!king truck!!"......(Long silence)..... "I guess you are right Mike".... "I hope you get that now Joe. Maybe I should have said that to you 10 years ago but you can change this!"

Not much longer, the SAME week we found out my wife was pregnant, I lost my job... My wife kept sitting me down after every truck driving job interview telling me that I need to listen to what Mike from the UFC told me about being a songwriter & to call him. My wife wouldn't let me take another truck driving job!!!

So I called my friend from the UFC & told him I was going to take the leap. He told me that I needed to start coming out to music industry conventions & start throwing my name around. If I JUST COME OUT and "put my name to the face of the music, people will want to work with you & we have your back on this!"

So I started cold calling & emailing music libraries & finding out that people DO know my work from the UFC!!! Which got me some small gigs & some income coming in...

I finally took ANOTHER chance & attended ASCAP "I Create Music" EXPO in Los Angeles, CA & met A BUNCH of music publishing companies including the CEO of APM Music who put me to work 2 weeks after I met him.

I have been busy ever since with work lined up as a songwriter with various companies!

I have a ton of gratitude for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the UFC producers to Dana White himself (who just personally sent me a testimonial quote TODAY for my website seeingredmusic ) for believing in a small band from 2002 to present day. They have been an incredible family over the years!

In closing, Face the Pain pretty much changed my life as far as giving me a career as a songwriter for what I do in production music but...I had to take a leap of faith & believe in myself to launch into this new path. I also had a lot of people holding me up when I was totally down. Everyday is a new challenge and a new learning experience which I love!

I know people have mixed feelings about Face the Pain, (I know I do) but the facts are the facts... this song became bigger than the band itself and I am proud to be a part of the journey!

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