AbsolutePunk.net
   Username
Password
 
Interview: Five Iron Frenzy - 12.01.12
 

Five Iron Frenzy - 12.01.12

Interviewed by
Five Iron Frenzy - 12.01.12In the following phone interview Five Iron Frenzy saxophonist Leanor "Jeff" Ortega offers insight on the band's sudden return, the current struggle a couple of members face with religion, and being honest without making huge sacrifices.

Five Iron Frenzy are back. What made you guys return to this crazy world?


Rumors. Lots of rumors. And Scott's sounds. He was our old guitar player for the first three albums and had written tons of songs. He'd been curious as to what they'd sound like with all of us on them: the horns, Reese's vocals and lyrics, etc. and that was very exciting. So he showed us the material he'd been working on quietly on piano. Immediately we were like, "Oh my gosh. That'll be a rocking song." I had a convo with a kid who unfortunately put in press that I confirmed FIF was gonna play in 2012, which I never said. The good thing that came out of that was all the guys were like, "What the?" But then we decided we actually wanted to do it. We then came out with a song for free as a surprise to all the fans, and then put up the Kickstarter at the same time.

And then your Kickstarter exploded. [The band hit a Kickstarter record by raising more than their $30,000 goal within an hour, and are currently approaching $200K.]

Yeah. [laughs] And it still is! Which is really cool because if we're gonna do this without a label, I know a lot of people look at this number and they're saying: "What are you gonna do with all that money?" If you think long term, like the big picture, we can hit a lot of markets. And we can make songs, we can play shows, and have a lot of control over where and when we play. And do it smart so that we're not exhausted. It can mean amazing longevity for the band.

So how did you first get involved in Five Iron Frenzy?

My cousin is Micah and he plays rhythm guitar. There was a metal band that Reese, Keith, Micah, and Scott were in called Exhumator and I used to go to their shows. They were pretty awful. Everyone had long hair and I had a mohawk, and I used to go to shows and mosh. I was one of the girls that prayed with the bands before hand, and so one day they asked me if I wanted to play sax in their new ska band because they knew that I played it. So I said, "Sure." That's how it came to be.

But from that point on it only went upward. I bet it was pretty wild seeing the band continue to blow up.

It was. The weird thing for us was we started out opening for Less Than Jake, Pietasters, Cherry Poppin' Daddies...more secular shows because there weren't many other Christian ska bands in our area. The only two that we knew at the time were The Supertones and The Insyderz. Then not long after the Christian scene totally loved us. We started playing Cornerstone and other places and that's when we exploded. So it was always crazy and really fun playing the big shows, but we always appreciated playing smaller ones, too. We'd call it The Robin Hood Theory.

The what?

The Robin Hood Theory. As in, you're getting paid a lot performing at these Christian shows and then you save that money. Later you give your music out practically for free. Two bucks at the door for whoever comes that night.

It's no wonder you guys are well respected in the ska scene, then. I'd venture as far as to say that FIF are one of the most popular and currently relevant ska bands to both secular and non-secular scenes. You're like the MXPX of ska.

[laughs] Well, I think a lot of that comes from playing events like Warped Tour, playing out with other bands all the time, and knowing other bands.

Exactly how long has it been since you guys last saw each other?

I see Reese quite often. We've had a couple of family barbecues regularly where everybody's there and all the kids and relatives come out for it. But us being together in the same place at once? It's been a long, long time. Obviously, once we make the new album we're gonna need each others presence for that energy and inspiration, and just to play tight. One of the cool things about having some money is that we could possibly rent a house, practice again, write together, and just really get in the vibe musically with each other so that we can put out an amazing product. That's what excites me the most...the idea of writing together again with these guys and hashing out songs, lyrics. We're probably the best we've ever been right now, even though we haven't been playing together.

One thing many of your fans have always been drawn to is the eccentric side of your lyrics.

Yeah, we grab inspiration from so many artists, from Jimmy Eat World to Weezer and NOFX. We have a lot of NOFX rip off songs. I think because we have roots in secular music that we feel inspired by it. In terms of lyrics, we've always felt we have a "voice", as in a responsibility to tell the truth and tell a story, especially for those who can't represent themselves. And I think there's always an aspect of social justice in our music, whether it's a "blue mix" that's unfair to an opening band, something about Native Americans, or the way we look at a child whose parents are divorced. Subjects like that we'll never stray away from. If anything, we'll be even more vocal because we've become even more adamant about speaking truths.

Is it difficult for Five Iron Frenzy to cater to a wider audience due to the religious nature of some lyrics?

A member of Pink Floyd once said something like: "To try to predict what the fans will want or like is a fool's game." So we write music we like and don't put much thought into how fans will react to it. It's not about what will piss people off and how they will react to it. Who cares? Be true to yourself and be passionate about it 'cause that's what will make you wanna play.

I searched on AP for an old news post yet I can't seem to find it, but I recall that a former band member had renounced Christianity.

There are two members in our band who are no longer Christian which is fine, and they'll be addressing it publicly to explain their positions. As for myself, I don't want our fans to bother them because they're in a process and on a journey. It seems that they're open to being a vehicle in which God can use them, by virtue of allowing Reese put his evangelical lyrics on these songs. And since they are, I don't think they should be dissuaded. I'm encouraged by them. It's not that they don't want answers. They do. It's just that each of us are responsible for making faith our own in a way that makes sense to us. On our documentary DVD, you can find out more when Scott and Andy go into a ton of detail about how they lost their faith.

Speaking of feeling detached, I've often wondered if it gets tiresome being the only girl in a band.

No; not so much really, because the guys are my buddies. It usually doesn't come up. If anything, it's more of an inconvenience. The good thing is that Micah's my cousin, so all during touring he and I shared a room. Other than that, it never was really that different. The one thing that's funny is that all these years I've played sax and I never learned how to deal with equipment. So when it comes to plugging in my mic, setting up, and doing sound related things I was just hands off. I'd say, "I'll just play, you can set up my stuff." Get my mic at a good level and I'll play. [laughs]

Not the feminist-charged "I can do it!"


[laughs] Yeah, well that was funny because I said to Micah the other day: "For all these years, I never learned how to do anything. Now as I'm older, I wanna learn." So he's started to teach me more about sound, which I appreciate. And also, it's the same with technology. Now we're using all these different websites and links to communicate to get things out there. I've always been hesitant, but now I think that I have to get on the bandwagon with technology.

It seems like everyday there's a new networking website.

I tweet. Now I tweet! [laughs]

I still don't even really know how to use it...I might've replied to myself once.

Half the time it's codes and I don't even know what people are talking about, so yeah. But whatever. I'll figure it out!

How did you get the nickname "Jeff"? As long as I can remember, no one has ever referred to you by your real name.

It came from a play I was in when I was 12, and the character I played was named Jeff. I don't even think I'm gonna go by it anymore. I haven't gone by it in like 8 years, so... we'll have to stop all that. [laughs]

But, "Jeff the Girl" is so classic Five Iron!

I guess we'll see. [laughs] Guess I don't really know the answer to it yet. When we ended the band 8 years ago, one has to take into account that I was about 26 years old. Now I'm 35, so it's a different era and life for me today. I can definitely still rock though, so I'm not worried about that.

Some of you are in your 30's, even pushing 40. How will this affect the energy everyone previously brought to the stage?

Ummm....a lot. [laughs] I think if anything we have to be like a 3-ringed circus visually. Now, we're going to have to rely a lot on the songs. But I'm not too worried because it'll work itself out. I just saw Morrissey who rocked it and he's an old guy, so…

Interesting, I would have never guessed. [laughs] Any stage antics planned to compensate for energy lost?

You mean how can we keep up with entertaining you young people? [laughs] By being the amazing caliber of musicians that we are! [laughs] But really, I think the music speaks for itself. One thing I've always appreciated about our band is that if the music's not played well, we'd be very embarrassed. So we've been practicing a ton to get the caliber up. That's very important to us.

What would Five Iron Frenzy's dream tour be?


I'm an old school punk person. At 16 I shaved my head. I had nose rings and safety pins. I listened to old Offspring, Green Day, and Bad Religion. Bad Religion is my absolute favorite band because they help me recognize what I don't believe. And by doing that, it helps me form what I do believe and I appreciate that. So, my ultimate tour? Bad Religion, Minor Threat, Operation Ivy, and us. No question about it.

Do you guys have any plans to make new music videos?

I'm not sure what the plan is, I'm so sorry. [laughs] We haven't planned yet. That's the weird thing about doing interviews right now. I'm saying everything on tape, but I don't know. The sky's the limit and I have no concept of…I would rather use the money to play shows than to do videos, personally. Videos are cool, but if it's a choice of putting out more music, vinyl, or going to a show and putting out a video…videos to me are okay, but I don't really care that much about them.

Funny because the video that really got me into you guys even more was "A Flowery Song".

Yeah that probably cost us like $100 to make. I can't remember, but it wasn't very much. [laughs]

Well, anything else you'd like to add?

Thank you to all our fans. I'd just like to say again to be authentic to us and we'll be authentic to you, and we'll keep giving you quality products. And if you do believe in the Lord, we appreciate your prayers, and if you don't believe in the Lord, we appreciate your openness.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 40
11:09 AM on 12/30/11
#2
Anton Djamoos
.
Offline
User Info.
No Avatar Selected
This is an awesome interview! Cannot wait to hear more music from this band.
11:21 AM on 12/30/11
#3
squared82
why burn poor and lonely?
Online
User Info.
squared82's Avatar
FIF! Heck yes!
11:56 AM on 12/30/11
#4
awakeohsleeper
We never met, you and I
Offline
User Info.
awakeohsleeper's Avatar
Got to love Five Iron!
12:26 PM on 12/30/11
#5
icynova
Love is easier made than kept!
Offline
User Info.
icynova's Avatar
.... I need to look up those twitter names!
12:34 PM on 12/30/11
#6
reid
Offline
User Info.
No Avatar Selected
They were practically the soundtrack to my high school years. Them and mxpx.
12:39 PM on 12/30/11
#7
Dre Okorley
Offline
User Info.
Dre Okorley's Avatar
This is an awesome interview! Cannot wait to hear more music from this band.
Thanks, Anton! Always nice to get feedback, as Jeff's reading this now haha.
12:46 PM on 12/30/11
#8
xJesusFreakx
duh please
Offline
User Info.
xJesusFreakx's Avatar
Nice interview.

I know I'm uncool for this, but I missed the FIF boat because my brother got me into The O.C. Supertones first. What album(s) (just one or two) are the essentials?
12:56 PM on 12/30/11
#9
vaguestcargo
When I disappear...
Offline
User Info.
vaguestcargo's Avatar
yesssssssssssss
12:59 PM on 12/30/11
cholly
Regular Member
Offline
User Info.
cholly's Avatar
can't wait to hear new five iron. also, that's crazy with their kickstarter.
01:03 PM on 12/30/11
vaguestcargo
When I disappear...
Offline
User Info.
vaguestcargo's Avatar
Nice interview.

I know I'm uncool for this, but I missed the FIF boat because my brother got me into The O.C. Supertones first. What album(s) (just one or two) are the essentials?
Honestly, with the exception of The End is Near, I think their live recordings are way better than their studio albums. That said, I'd pick up "The Youth Are Revolting" or "The End is Here". They're like live greatest hits albums and are solid. For studio, definitely The End is Near (which is bundled with the live album on "The End is Here", so...two birds)... their sound was really tight on that album.
01:04 PM on 12/30/11
Jake Denning
Offline
User Info.
Jake Denning's Avatar
Five Iron is stupid, and you are if you like them also............................... ................................... ...............
01:05 PM on 12/30/11
vaguestcargo
When I disappear...
Offline
User Info.
vaguestcargo's Avatar
Five Iron is stupid, and you are if you like them also............................... ................................... ...............
dowut?
01:47 PM on 12/30/11
brandonisstupid
Regular Member
Offline
User Info.
brandonisstupid's Avatar
Very nice interview, man. Not to sound too nitpicky, but I think she meant Reese and not "Reed." Probably just a typo.

Honestly, with the exception of The End is Near, I think their live recordings are way better than their studio albums. That said, I'd pick up "The Youth Are Revolting" or "The End is Here". They're like live greatest hits albums and are solid. For studio, definitely The End is Near (which is bundled with the live album on "The End is Here", so...two birds)... their sound was really tight on that album.

I Completely agree. Their first couple of studio albums you can tell that they were not the best musicians, but they definitely got better, so I think they sound much tighter on the live albums then they do in the studio. Particularly the music was on their first few LPs.
02:42 PM on 12/30/11
Dre Okorley
Offline
User Info.
Dre Okorley's Avatar
Five Iron is stupid, and you are if you like them also............................... ................................... ...............
Just started and you're already bashing stuff, huh?

NEWS, MUSIC & MORE
Search News
Release Dates
Exclusives
Best New Music
Articles
CONNECT
Submit News
Forums
Contests
Mobile Version
AP.net Logos
HIDDEN TREASURES
AbsolutePunk Podcast
Free Music
Sports Forum
Technology Forum
Recommendations
INFORMATION
Advertising
Contact Us
Copyright Policy
Terms of Service
Privacy Policy
FOLLOW
Twitter | Facebook | RSS
PropertyOfZack
PunkNews.org
UnderTheGun
Chorus.fm