Since 1995, Five Iron Frenzy has been on a mission to bring peace and love to the world through ska and pop rock. The Denver-based band has a new project in the works, and it’s taking the whole ska community to help it come to light.
Although they’re best known as a Christian ska band, FIF has been welcoming to a diverse crowd – religiously faithful, typical ska fans, and those just looking for a good time.
It’s this type of unity that bands like FIF and the rest of the ska community use as a foundation to combat hate and violence in the music scene and beyond.
I asked lead singer, Reese Roper what it says about the ska community to have people of different faiths or no religion at all attend FIF shows? He said “I think that it is pretty evident of how accepting Ska is, and ska culture. In its early roots, it was a blending of black and white people from different cultures and countries, coming together and finding the things that they had in common with each other. I think that that is still there at our shows.“
After nine years apart, FIF knew it was time to come back when guitarist/bass player Scott Kerr mentioned at a backyard BBQ that he had been writing songs. FIF saxophone player Leanor Ortega Till (pronounced Lee-Ah-Nor) said they “missed each other and felt good about the songs.”
There was still some concern about maintaining a fan-base after so many years apart, but a 2012 Kickstarter campaign caused the band to be “blown away with the success.”
WORDS of WISDOM
“When you love what you do, there is no greater feeling… when you love what you do and you do it for others, there’s no greater honor.”
FIVE IRON FRENZY
Photo by Melinda DiMauro Photography
On September 2nd, FIF announced their seventh album, “Until This Shakes Apart.” The album is the center of a Kickstarter campaign that was fully funded in just a matter of hours (and it just broke the $ 200,000 mark).
The Kickstarter campaign offers a variety of rewards, including CDs, stickers, t-shirts, framed original lyrics, and even costumes worn on stage. Of course backers can even use the Kickstarter to obtain the new album as a reward. Ortega Till has offered 10 tours of Denver with “Jeff the Girl” and any other band members that are available.
Ortega Till also said the tour will visit “some Denver breweries and the most beautiful venue in the world, Red Rock.”
FIF’s new album will have the single “So We Sing,” which can already be found on music streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and beyond. The song starts off like a stadium jock song and develops into a high energy ska pop punk song. “So We Sing” is every sense of a Five Iron Frenzy song; it’s catchy, well-made, and will get stuck in your ears. The difference between this song and previous Five Iron Frenzy songs is the energy and seriousness of the song.
Roper said “I feel like “So We Sing” is a very mature song for FIF, I think the song is about wishing to stay young, and to make this point- there are quite a few immature things said in it. It is loosely based around 2 quotes by J.M. Barrie in Peter Pan…“If you cannot teach me to fly, teach me to sing”, and “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.” I wanted to link the very real fear that we all have of getting older, to this thread that I have tried to weave through all of Five Iron- of having hope, and of wishing to fly. I think that all kids dream of flight, but somehow life poisons that. I want our listeners to remember that it’s okay to still have hope.”
Traditional FIF fans may even be taken aback to hear the word “ass” in the song, but I couldn’t imagine how the song could have been written nor presented with out the word in it. These are serious times and Five Iron Frenzy is not going to give us a song that says or portrays otherwise.
About the new album, we asked Roper what does he want the Public to get from the new album? he said “I think we tried to craft it with two pretty distinct messages. To the Pharisees in the Church: we’re tired of you. We’re tired of your lies. Of pretending to be good- when it is impossible. Of judging others for being different from you, for condemning the LGBTQ community, for your silent and your blatant racism, of your support of corrupt politics, of turning your backs on the needy. We’re tired of your empty hands, your self-serving parishes, your monuments to a God that could care less. Of your unfettered greed. Your raping of our planet. You turn your backs on slavery. Your support of gun lobbyists and violence. Your love of war, and your willingness to sacrifice our children to more wars, and more and more school shootings. This is not the character of Jesus Christ, and you should be ashamed. To everyone else: I hope you love it. I hope that you think that it is good music, even if you disagree with some of the lyrics. But, please hear us out…. thank you!”
Ortega Till says the band never really writes songs “for the fans,” but rather, what they personally want to hear. Every song is listened to by all eight band members, and not every band member gets what they want in that process. Ortega Till admits “in the end we compromise, and put out music we are proud of. That’s part of being in a ska band – lots of compromise.”
Despite this being the first FIF project since 2013, members of the band have been active in the ska and music scene. Members have had their hands in everything from the ska documentary. “Pick It Up – Ska in the ‘90s,” and can be found on the new “Ska Against Racism” compilation.
Like the Kickstarter campaign, the compilation went viral and was an instant success. The “Ska Against Racism” compilation includes Southern California bands Bite Me Bambi, Half Past Two, Buck O’ Nine, and The Interrupters. Ortega Till is excited to be part of this project. She said, “I’m always excited to hear whatever project Mike Park is working on. He keeps things current. I’m also very impressed by the energy and lyrics of We are the Union. A few of our band members also pointed out the band Half Past Two has a very positive vibe that we are really digging! It’s awesome to raise funds for a cause that is so close to our hearts, especially since we were on the original Ska Against Racism tour in 1998!”
As for Roper, he said “I can tell you personally, that we are outgunned on this comp for sure. There are some SERIOUSLY great bands on there. I love all of the original bands from the Ska Against Racism Tour that made an appearance- like Mike Park, MU330, Less Than Jake, and Mustard Plug. Holy, crap though… Tim Armstrong and Jesse Michaels are on it. The Interrupters. The Suicide Machines. The Skints. Bands we all seriously admire. Bands we all love and are friends with like Hepcat, Big D and The Kids Table, and We Are The Union. There is not a bad song on it.”
In 2020 having a big social media following gets you famous. But only character gets you respect. This band has both, that’s a hard combination to achieve. If you’re looking for good music from good people, this is the band to check out.