Five Iron Frenzy
We've been given superpowers,Don't you want to be like us?
ask us for an autograph.
We sing, we dance,
we make you laugh.
—Five Iron Frenzy, "Superpowers"
Five Iron FrenzyYeah, thank them for being so neat-o
They were good, They were good, They were really really really good!
Five Iron Frenzy
When you see them, we really really think you should
Thank them for being so cool and so awesome
—Relient K "Five Iron Frenzy Is Either Dead Or Dying"
Five Iron Frenzy is an eight-piece rock band from Denver, Colorado, that formed in 1995. Initially they played straightforward ska-punk, though the albums after their first saw them mix this with a more mainstream rock sound (or, on All The Hype That Money Can Buy playing Genre Roulette) while keeping the horn section. On their 2001 album Five Iron Frenzy 2: Oddly-Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo, they again rebranded themselves with a harder, heavy metal-influenced sound (while still keeping the horn section), and kept this style for the remainder of their career. (They continued playing their old songs at live shows, but in the style of their new songs.) In January 2003, they announced that the time had come to move on with their lives and call it quits before they could start hating each other. They recorded one more proper studio album, went on a nationwide farewell tour, and played their final show before a capacity crowd at the Fillmore Stadium in Denver.
Any rumors of a reunion are almost certainly lies... at least until on November 22nd, 2011, eight years exactly after their final show, the band announced that they were reuniting to record a whole new album, funded by a Kickstarter project, which reached the $30,000 goal in less than an hour, then doubled. Then tripled. Ad Nauseam and Five Iron Frenzy became the highest funded musical Kickstarter project ever, raising more than $207k before the Kickstarter drive ended.
FIF's birth coincided with the late-90s' simultaneous punk-rock boom and Third Wave of ska. While they didn't exactly ride the wave to outrageous fame and fortune (their greatest publicity was when their song "Oh Canada" was played on Boston Legal... two years after they broke up), they did gain a respectable cult following in both the punk scene and the Christian rock scene.
Yes, Five Iron Frenzy was a Christian band, and a good one. Their lyrics were frequently satirical (and rarely preachy), and skewered society at large, Christian hypocrisy, the punk rock scene, and their own selves with equal aplomb.
Aside from the departure and replacement of one guitarist, the line-up remained steady for all nine years of their career:
- Dennis Culp: trombone
- Nathaniel "Brad" Dunham: trumpet
- Keith Hoerig: bass
- Scott Kerr: rhythm guitar (departed in 1998)
- Sonny Johnston: rhythm guitar (joined in 1998, taking Scott's place)
- Leanor "Jeff the Girl" Ortega-Till: saxophone
- Micah Ortega: lead guitar
- Reese Roper: vocals
- Andy Verdecchio: drums
- Upbeats and Beatdowns (1996)
- Our Newest Album Ever! (1997)
- Quantity is Job 1 EP (1998)
- LIVE: Proof that the Youth are Revolting (1999)
- All the Hype that Money Can Buy (2000)
- Five Iron Frenzy 2: Oddly-Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo (2001)
- Cheeses (of Nazareth) (2003): A collection of b-sides, rare songs, and twenty tracks of random crap the band made up in the studio.
- The End is
NearHere (2003, 2004) "Near" was the band's final studio album. "Here" was a rerelease with an extra studio track, and a second disc containing their entire final live show.
Also, four of their cd's (Our Newest Album Ever, Quantity is Job 1, Proof that the Youth are Revolting, and The End is
Near Here) featured some awesomely surreal original artwork by Doug Ten Napel.
Compare and contrast with their side project, Brave Saint Saturn.
- Anticlimax: Played with quite vigorously at their final show: Reese explained how he hated the practice of bands planning to play an encore and saving their biggest hit for it. He then said that FIF would play the best song they've ever written right then, in the middle of the show, so people could go home early if they wanted. Then they proceeded to play "Pootermobile", which consists of five notes followed by thirty seconds of silence and the title of the song. Dennis then claimed that the rest of the show would be all downhill from there.
- Audience Participation Song: "Handbook for the Sellout". At live shows, Reese would simply stick the mic into the crowd and let them sing the entire first stanza for him.
- Band of Relatives: Leanor and Micah Ortega are cousins
- Canada, Eh?: "Oh Canada". Before playing the song at shows, Reese would refer to Canada as "a mystical, far-off land" or "part of Minnesota".
- Creator Backlash: "Combat Chuck", from the first album, was catchier than it had any right to be, but nothing special. FIF got so sick of playing it that they swore it off altogether -- though they did incorporate it into the "Medley of Power Ballads and Bad Taste" that they played on their farewell tour.
- How The Story Ends has it that Combat Chuck's dying wish was that they never play his song ever again.
- Downer Ending: "Eulogy" from Electric Boogaloo. Holy crap.
- Oddly-Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: The actual title of their fifth studio album.
- Every Episode Ending: After Our Newest Album Ever, they would end every live show with the song "Every New Day". After All the Hype... they would end every show with "A New Hope", "World Without End", then "Every New Day". They also made a point of not doing encores.
- Even the last song of their last studio album, "On Distant Shores" on "The End Is Near," ends with the final coda of "Every New Day." This is subverted in their last album, "The End is Here," of which the first CD is a reissue of "The End Is Near" with an extra song at the end... only to be played with on the second CD, a recording of their final concert, in which the last track is "Every New Day," but it isn't quite the last song in the album.
- Evil Laugh: The song "Giants" opens with one.
- Fully-Absorbed Finale: The song "That's How the Story Ends" wraps up alleged loose ends from other songs, as well as providing a Where Are They Now? Epilogue to some others.
- Geek/Nerd: "Suckerpunch" is about a "pencil-necked geek" getting picked on in middle school. "You Can't Handle This" is from the perspective of someone bragging about his geek-fu. It's possible both songs are about the same person.
- A Good Name for a Rock Band
- Hilarious Outtakes: Both their live albums.
- Proof That The Youth Are Revolting was edited together from 11 different concerts. The album's hidden track was a collection of all the times they messed up over the course of the tour, and some of their stranger-than-usual stage banter.
- On The End is Here, some stage banter (and a few of the short, silly songs) had to be cut in order for the concert to fit on one CD. Most of this material was added to the end of the studio disc The End is Near.
- Limited Special Collectors' Ultimate Edition: The End is Here.
- Literary Allusion Title: Used in their newest musical entry "It Was A Dark And Stormy Night".
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Blue Comb '78" is an overwrought, dramatic song... about a comb that Reese lost when he was 8. Subverted in that it's a subtle metaphor for his parent's divorce and his loss of innocence.
- Metal Scream: "The Day We Killed", B-side "Mind for Treason", and the rock section of "These Are Not My Pants".
- My God, What Have I Done?: Reese introduces the above-mentioned Hilarious Outtakes on Proof, claiming that this is what you'll say after hearing them.
- No Longer with Us: A comment about their trumpet player being "in a better place" led to fan rumor's about Brad's death. Which in turn led to a vinyl titled Brad is Dead and a song "The Untimely Death of Brad" (which, oddly enough wasn't on the aforementioned vinyl).
- No, it's okay, he's actually alive. He didn't die by plague or prison; what really died was cynicism.
- Old Media Are Evil: "Anchors Away" takes aim at TV news, accusing them of eschewing accurate reporting in favor of fear-mongering.
- Proud to Be a Geek: "You Can't Handle This," "Wizard Needs Food Badly," and much of "At Least I'm Not Like All Those Other Old Guys."
- Self-Deprecation: Both silly and serious (the aforementioned "Eulogy"). They named their farewell tour The Winners Never Quit Tour.
- Sound Effect Bleep/This Trope Is Bleep: Used extensively in "These Are Not My Pants (Part 8)". Just the first two lines:
Yo, me and Bobby, we was walking down the [BLEEP]
Yo we didn't have nothin' to [BLEEP]
- Also used randomly in same. There's even a final [BLEEP] several seconds after the music ends.
- Step Up to the Microphone: Dennis singing lead on "Beautiful America" and "Second Season". Also, Jeff singing "When I Go Out" at a few live shows.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: Skewered in "My Evil Plan to Save the World".
- Wizard Needs Food Badly: The name of a song from The End is Near; used as a metaphor for the need to do "guy things".