Tag Archives: Five Iron Frenzy

New Five Iron Frenzy

I’ve waited two years for this. In 2011 Five Iron Frenzy launched a Kickstarter project for their comeback, raising a pile of money and ensuring a new album. Today the album officially releases. You should go buy it.

As a Kickstarter backer I’ve been listening to it for a couple weeks. It’s good stuff. Here’s the band talking about the new album:

Five Iron Frenzy was my favorite band as a teenager and it was the end of an era when they called it quits in 2003. Ten years later they’re back and it’s kind of incredible. I don’t think I ever expected Five Iron to get back together. They ended with such finality (out with a bang, not a whimper) it was clear they had seriously thought about it and were ending their career on their own terms. In some ways breaking up the way they did made it easier to put it all back together, assuming the right pieces were there. Five Iron has never been a band that would do some aging comeback tour, and it shows. They’re writing new material, and while it’s different, it’s still very much Five Iron Frenzy.

I’m curious to see how the new digital economy and a decade of difference will change things for Five Iron Frenzy. They don’t have a record company and they’ve all got day jobs. It did take two full years for the Kickstarter project to actually come to be. Will this be a one-off comeback? Or can we expect even more Five Iron in the future? I have no idea, but I can only hope for more.

Continue reading New Five Iron Frenzy

Five Iron Frenzy Returns to Minneapolis

Five Iron Frenzy on stage
My crappy Five Iron photo. See my Storify below for much better pics.

Last night I witnessed the return of Five Iron Frenzy to the stage. The late ’90s/early ’00s ska band played their first show in Minneapolis in nearly 10 years. The band called it quits in 2003 but came back in 2011 thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $200,000 to record a new album. Since then they’ve been touring and recording said album, which is set to release in November.

Five Iron Frenzy was the favorite band of my youth, the soundtrack to my high school and college years. They’re still one of my all-time favorite bands (I say that for the sake of clarification—Petra was another favorite band of my youth; not so much anymore). I reflected on what Five Iron has meant to me before, both before and after their 2003 show in Minneapolis.

I spent my youth rocking out to Five Iron: Singing along in the car, learning to skank at concerts, laughing at their hilarity and feeling anger at injustice right along with them. I went to every concert I could, probably a dozen between Detroit and Minneapolis. I interviewed various members of the band nearly half a dozen times. I wrote a lengthy, self-indulgent article chronicling the band’s history back in 2003, which was mostly a form of personal therapy.

We’ve got some history.

So the concert last night was quite an experience. First off, I don’t go to concerts like I used to. The last concert I went to was U2, and before that I don’t even remember. Probably another U2 concert? We had to get a babysitter. When the opening band started playing I realized I’d forgotten my ear plugs. Needless to say, I was feeling old.
Continue reading Five Iron Frenzy Returns to Minneapolis

Five Iron Frenzy: Our Last Article Ever

In December 2003 I wrote the following article for ReALMagazine.com, which no longer exists. Since Five Iron Frenzy has since risen from retirement, it seems appropriate to re-post it. Plus, you know, I want to link to it.

Five Iron Frenzy 2003 concert in MinneapolisA long time ago in a square state far, far away there was a band named Five Iron Frenzy. Sadly, that band is no more. This is their final story.

On a cold December evening in 1996 I visited my local Christian bookstore and began a new musical journey. A funky new album called to me from the shelf, the debut album from Five Iron Frenzy, Upbeats and Beatdowns. I’d never heard of them before, but after hearing the first strains of “The Old West,” I was hooked. Later that night I listened to the entire album until 2 a.m.

This is the incredibly self-indulgent, and overly-lengthy final article about a band that has had a deep influence on my thinking and my mad dance skills. Before Five Iron, my favorite band was Petra, the over-the-hill rock band of the Christian ghetto. After Five Iron, my favorite band has been U2, the faith-friendly, biggest rock band of the world. I’ve seen Five Iron Frenzy in concert almost a dozen times, I own every major album release, and I’ve interviewed different band members at least five times.

What you’re about to read is completely biased reporting. We’re talking more tribute than typical feature, and I hope you’ll cut me the slack. And if not, too bad, because here we go. Continue reading Five Iron Frenzy: Our Last Article Ever

Free Christmas Music 2011

I like Christmas music and I like free music, so I must double-like free Christmas music. And yes, I do. I’ve shared some free Christmas music in the past, but this year there are a few offerings worth mentioning:

  • Justin McRoberts: Right now you can get the Christmas Songs EPs from acoustic folk rocker Justin McRoberts for free from NoiseTrade. You do need to hand over your ZIP and an email, but otherwise it’s free. One of Justin’s songs made it on my top 5 list of Christmas songs, so it’s worth checking out.
  • Eisely: Over at Facebook you can download the Dupree Family Christmas Bundle, which is a collection of Christmas songs recorded over the years by members of the Texas-based band Eisley. How to describe Eisley? Hmmm… female-fronted, melodic-melancholy rock with a lot of harmonies?
  • Amazon’s Advent Calendar of Free Christmas Music: Every year Amazon gives away a song a day until Christmas for 25 days of free music. Some of it is worth a pass, but there are some gems here, including something for all tastes. We’re talking Bing Crosby to Twisted Sister, Leigh Nash (of Sixpence None the Richer) to the Flaming Lips, and Brian Wilson to Fitz and the Tantrums. Give it a try.
  • Five Iron Frenzy: OK, it’s not very Christmasy (at all), but I’d be remiss not to mention the new Five Iron Frenzy (they’re back) single you can get for free: “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night.” It’s free and it’s close to Christmas, so let’s call it a Christmas present. (OK, if you really want some Five Iron Christmas, you’ll have to shell out for “Gotta Get Up.”)

Hope you enjoy yourself some free Christmas music.

And if you’re up for spending a few bucks on your Christmas music, I strongly recommend the Sufjan Stevens’ Songs for Christmas. I could rock around the Christmas tree to that indie-rock wonder collection all night long.

Five Iron Frenzy Is Back

The Internet and the power of social media has breathed new life into the corpse of disbanded and broken bands, allowing reunions of the long lost music of your youth. When record company economics made it too difficult for those struggling bands, the Internet has found a way. Of all the recent reunions, none has excited me more than the rise of Five Iron Frenzy. And none has garnered the stories.

A ska-driven, nerd-core band of Christians, Five Iron Frenzy haunted the edges of the Christian music scene in the late 1990s and early 2000s, never quite finding full acceptance due to the two extremes of their off-beat humor and honest explorations of faith. But they had a rabid fan base.

That fan base proved itself by supporting Five Iron’s return, fully funding their Kickstarter goal of $30,000 in just 55 minutes. The band has since raised nearly $170,000 from more than 2,700 fans to fund their next album and tour. You have until Jan. 21 to support their effort.

Plus, you can get a new song, “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night,” for free.

In typical Five Iron fashion, it’s all a little weird. The headlining video on Kickstarter—usually a crucial marketing piece that should be well planned and produced—is a nearly 8 minutes of Five Iron lead singer Reese Roper wandering around in the desert pretending to be on a survivor show. It’s not until the final minutes that he actually talks about the reunion. Or there’s the second Kickstarter video from drummer Andy Verdecchio, a much shorter and—if possible—weirder video that tries to spoof pledge videos. (Though from the times I’ve interviewed both Roper and Verdecchio, I wouldn’t expect anything else. One time I was interviewing Verdecchio and two other band members and Verdecchio never said a serious thing in the entire interview.) There’s also the Relevant magazine interview with Roper made it sound like the band got back together because they had nothing better to do.

But it’s also Five Iron. Glad to have them back.

Father Revisted by Justin McRoberts

Father Revisted by Justin McRoberts
Father Revisited

Justin McRoberts is back. Never mind that he already put out an album this year (welcome to the new musician-controlled music industry). Now he’s revisiting his second album, Father, originally released a decade ago, and offering rearranged versions of four songs from that release. You can get them for free from NoiseTrade (you can also score $3 off his latest covers album).

Twelve years ago this month Justin lost his father to suicide and depression. These songs explore his father and the experience of losing him. But this time around there’s something deeper:

“Every May 6th since has a surreal quality to it; as if the day should have been retired for all its wear and tear. But this May has a different shade to it than the past 11, as my first child, a son, is due May 31.”

So this collection marks the end of an old era and the beginning of a new one. As a father myself, that’s pretty cool. I started listening to Justin McRoberts more than a decade ago (has it been that long?!), and it’s been cool to watch him stretch and grow as an artist and person.

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New Year’s Fuddy-Duddy

I’m kind of a New Year’s fuddy duddy. Last night on Twitter I made this comment:

I can never get that excited about New Year’s. It’s like watching an arbitrary cosmic odometer rollover. Woohoo?

And it’s a sentiment I shared 11 years ago. That about sums it up. Last night we sat in bed watching The Office until we got tired and went to bed. We grunted happy new year at each other as we drifted off to sleep.

I think in 2008 we were in bed by 10:30.

In 2007 I was actually in California ringing in the New Year with a few thousand teenagers, though it was part of my job and not necessarily my choice. I also had to get up at 3 a.m. to catch my flight home, so I wasn’t so thrilled about staying up until midnight.

Apparently in 2004 I watched Star Wars.

I remember a short-lived fondue party New Year’s trend we did for a few years, but I think when kids came along the boiling oil and midnight party didn’t seem like a good combination.

In 2000 I was on my honeymoon. I remember ordering take out and watching “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Pop-Up Video Edition.”

In 1999 my then soon-to-be fiance and I were babysitting for a couple that came home early, woke up the kids we’d been working half the night to get to bed, and rang in the New Year at 10:00 p.m. We ended up back at Abby’s parents’ house watching replays of the Millennium celebrations on TV because no one bothers with a live countdown for the Central Time Zone. Yes, New Year’s in the Central Time Zone is kind of lame.

In high school I remember staying up with my girlfriend’s family to ring in the New Year and being surprised at all the finger-food appetizers that seemed to be their tradition. I don’t think my family had a New Year’s tradition.

I vaguely remember my youth group having New Year’s Eve lock-ins, but I don’t remember actually counting down to midnight. I do remember playing laser tag one year and they announced in the middle of the game that it was midnight. But c’mon—you don’t interrupt laser tag. I do remember sleeping all day on New Year’s Day and waking up in the late afternoon to go see the Insyderz and Five Iron Frenzy. A snowstorm struck and the show got moved from Clutch Cargo in Pontiac to some random church or school in Livonia, but we still made it and rocked out.

I remember another high school New Year’s when we aimlessly turned on the TV to watch the countdown because we couldn’t find anything better to do.

Yeah, I know how to party.

I’m not too big on New Year’s resolutions either.

Top 5 Christmas Songs

Christmas music is playing everywhere, but it’s not always good. Every year I find myself on the elusive search for truly good Christmas music. Here are my top 5 Christmas songs:

1. “You Gotta Get Up” by Five Iron Frenzy (Buy it: CD on Amazon)
(Not sure why this song isn’t more widely available. Not sure if it’s legal, but you can grab an mp3 download here)

2. “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” by Sixpence None the Richer (Buy it: CD on Amazon)

3. “Last Christmas” by Leigh Nash (Buy it: iTunes/Free on Amazon)

4. “Oi to the World” by No Doubt (Buy it: iTunes/Amazon)

5. “O Holy Night” by Justin McRoberts (Buy it: iTunes/Amazon)

And special nods go to the Songs for Christmas boxset by Sufjan Stevens (Buy it: iTunes/Amazon) that is so awesome you just have to buy the whole thing, as well as Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God (Buy it: iTunes/CD on Amazon), which gets distinction for doing an entire song about the genealogy in Matthew.

I should also admit that my favorite Christmas song from my childhood is “Jesus is Born Today” by the Oak Ridge Boys (Buy it: iTunes/Amazon). It used to be on a Christmas tape my dad made, but he bumped the record player when it was dubbing and scratched horribly. Rather than starting the tape over, he just started the song again so the tape had the song one and a half times. Awesome.

What’s Five Iron Frenzy Up To?

Five Iron Frenzy FIF logoEvery year or so I like to follow up on the members of the lost but not forgotten ska band, Five Iron Frenzy, and see what they’re up to. It usually happens when iTunes shuffles across a Five Iron track and I slip into a day-long ska fest and play their entire catalog. You can guess what happened today.

So what are they up to?

  • Brave Saint Saturn – Third and final album due out late July and a little web site.
  • Hollyfelds – Former FIFers go alt-country?
  • Hearts of Palm (formerly Nathan & Stephen) – Lots of bearded men and a girl named Jeff. Oh, and a free download.

And if actual FIF alums isn’t enough for you, how about other bands singing tribute? Relient K has not one, but two tracks on its brand new The Bird and Bee Sides release paying tribute to Five Iron:

“Five Iron Frenzy / They were good, they were good / They were really really really good.”

You can grab the normal version or the ska mix. Reminds me of the hidden track on the W’s debut album thanking Five Iron Frenzy.

Where’s My Five Iron Frenzy?

About a week ago I popped in an old Five Iron Frenzy CD while I painted the basement and remembered how much I loved FIF. Loved the music. Loved the lyrics. Loved the concerts. They were my favorite band in high school and college, and if they hadn’t broken up they’d still be my favorite band (well, they could wrestle U2 for the top spot–which would be quite the battle: 8 on 4 in favor of FIF, and while Bono probably talks big but wouldn’t put up much of a fight, Larry and Adam look like they could crack some skulls).

I realized after enjoying a little nostalgia that I’ve yet to find my new Five Iron Frenzy. Aside from U2, no band has really come along where I enjoy their music as much as Five Iron Frenzy. I’ve discovered plenty of great music that I do like, but no group like Five Iron where I can devour every song on every album (OK, so FIF had a few duds, but I love most of their music).

I wonder if it’s because I’m getting old.

Continue reading Where’s My Five Iron Frenzy?