Five Iron Frenzy
|Five Iron Frenzy|
Five Iron Frenzy circa 1998
|Also known as||Five Iron, FIF|
|Origin||Denver, Colorado, US|
|Genres||Christian ska, ska punk, alternative rock|
|Years active||1995–2003, 2011–present|
|Labels||Five Minute Walk, Asian Man|
Five Iron Frenzy first gained notoriety spearheading the Christian ska movement during the genre's mainstream revival in the mid-1990s. The band developed a cult following among both Christian and secular audiences for their lively and energetic stage shows, which often featured the band performing in outlandish costumes or raising awareness of various social causes and charities. Five Iron Frenzy had sold almost one million units in total by the time they had initially disbanded in November 2003. Following an eight-year hiatus, the band announced a reunion in 2011, launching an accompanying Kickstarter campaign to help finance a new album which ultimately raised over $200,000, becoming the website's most successful musical project at the time. Their sixth and most recent studio album, Engine of a Million Plots, was released in November 2013.
Musically, Five Iron Frenzy is largely influenced by ska and punk rock, occasionally incorporating such disparate styles as heavy metal and Latin music. Since 2000, the band began downplaying their ska influences in favor of alternative rock and pop punk, embracing a style which singer and lyricist Reese Roper has described as "rock with horns". Lyrically, Five Iron Frenzy is known for both their positive Christian messages rooted in Social Gospel convictions as well as humorous secular songs referencing popular culture. The band's recurring lyrical themes touch upon Christian hypocrisy, struggles with faith, criticism of consumerism and capitalism, the continuing injustices done to Native Americans, manifest destiny, self-deprecating humor, and the joy of finding renewal in their Christian faith.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Formation
- 1.2 Origin of the band's name
- 1.3 Upbeats and Beatdowns and initial tours (1996-1997)
- 1.4 Our Newest Album Ever! and Quantity is Job 1 (1997-2000)
- 1.5 All the Hype Money Can Buy and Electric Boogaloo (2000-2003)
- 1.6 The End is Here and breakup (2003)
- 1.7 Post-breakup (2004-2010)
- 1.8 Reunion and Engine of a Million Plots (2011 – present)
- 1.9 Changes in religious commitment
- 2 Discography
- 3 Tours
- 4 List of side projects
- 5 Lineup
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Five Iron Frenzy began as a side-project of Reese Roper, Keith Hoerig, Micah Ortega, and Scott Kerr's band Exhumator. Exhumator had an industrial thrash metal sound, but its members were not into the style. Their only widely released song was "Spam Jam", on the compilation Green Manna (Fifty280 Records). Beginning in May 1995, the group started adding members, and settled on a ska sound in June with the addition of Brad Dunham. The band, sans Micah, Jeff, and Dennis, played on an impromptu stage set up at a skate ramp at the 1995 Cornerstone festival. The show included Ghoti Hook (before they signed with Tooth & Nail), and the audience included Alex Parker of Flying Tart Records. Although the show was supposed to be closed down by Andrew Mandell of Crashdog and Ballydowse, it was not. The band attributes some of their early success to the fact that they were allowed to play and Five Iron returned the next year sponsored by a record label.
In August, Culp and Leanor Ortega officially joined, completing the initial lineup. The band's original intent was to stay local, and they opened for acts such as the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Less Than Jake, and Skankin' Pickle, playing over sixty shows during their first eight months. Though many of these shows were played in regular venues, a great number were also played in churches and at Christian-sponsored events, including the 1996 Cornerstone Festival on the Alarma Records stage. They entertained several offers from major Christian record labels including Alarma, Tooth & Nail Records, and Brainstorm Artists International before signing to Frank Tate's 5 Minute Walk Records in August.
Origin of the band's name
An excerpt from an interview between Jesus Freak Hideout and Keith Hoerig appears below:
Jesus freak Hideout: What's the story behind the name "Five Iron Frenzy"?
Keith Hoerig: We got the name Five Iron Frenzy from a roommate of most of ours. He was kind of paranoid, and afraid that if he went outside on this particular night he was going to get jumped by some people. He had a golf club to defend himself and he said something to the effect of it being like "putter mayhem". Scott looked at the golf club he was holding, and noting that it was a five iron said, "No, more like a Five Iron Frenzy." The name stuck.
Reese Roper on the band's success.
Upbeats and Beatdowns and initial tours (1996-1997)
Their first album, Upbeats and Beatdowns was recorded in September and initially released in November 1996. Its national release in April 1997 proved an early success for Five Iron, as the release peaked at 39 on Billboards "Top Contemporary Christian" chart. By the time of the release of their second album, Upbeats had sold 50,000 units. The music video for "A Flowery Song" received a Dove Award nomination in the "short form video" category. That year was largely spent on the road, and the band played 150 shows. Early on, the band was active in promoting social causes. Their song "Where the Zero Meets the Fifteen", which brought attention to the cause of homelessness, received some radio airplay. That October the band embarked on the "Rock Your Socks Off" tour, for which attendees were asked to bring clean socks for donation to local homeless shelters.
Our Newest Album Ever! and Quantity is Job 1 (1997-2000)
In November 1997 the band released their second album, Our Newest Album Ever!. Following the success of their first album, the band felt that their success had been based at least partially on the third wave of ska in general. According to Scott Kerr "The unfortunate reality is that good songs and good live performances have far less to do with our so-called success than our being a part of the 'flavor-of-the-month'." Five Iron Frenzy sought to distance themselves from the ska scene while maintaining their artistic integrity. Dennis Culp portrayed their goal, stating that "The Police used a lot of ska, but they really weren't referred to as a ska band... they went far beyond ska." For Five Iron, the method of achieving that goal was the creative process. On the first three releases Roper wrote most of the lyrics and Kerr supplied the musical portion. After Kerr left, the band began to explore a wider variety of musical influences, incorporating diverse influences such as Latin and swing music. Roper continued to write the lyrics, a task that he took seriously. He explained to 7ball in 1997 that "It's not like we try to sit down and write wacky songs. I take songwriting pretty seriously... I've been given this podium. I have a responsibility to tell the truth about things."
Andrew Verdecchio on the band's purpose.
Their most significant tour in 1998 was the Ska Against Racism tour, which raised awareness of and money for anti-racism causes. Five Iron was the only openly Christian band on the tour, yet in typical style refrained from using their set as a platform to preach to the crowds. Later that year, they embarked on the national SkaMania tour with The Insyderz and The OC Supertones. Five Iron found this tour was markedly different for the band in terms of interacting with both the audience and their tourmates because both of the other participating bands were Christian bands. In 1998, songwriter and lead guitarist Scott Kerr left the band on friendly terms and started his own project, Yellow Second. Kerr's final appearance and the introduction of replacement Sonnie Johnston (of Jeffries Fan Club) occurred at the album release party for the band's first EP, Quantity Is Job 1, on November 3, 1998 at the Aztlan Theater in Denver.
All the Hype Money Can Buy and Electric Boogaloo (2000-2003)
They reached the peak of their popularity around 2000, with the release of All The Hype That Money Can Buy. With the release of Hype, the band continued to diversify their sound, incorporating calypso, salsa, and reggae. Musically Hype turned out to be their most eclectic album. The band toured internationally throughout 2000. Mid summer the band toured in South Africa, and in December they played in Europe. By the time of the release of their next album, the band had sold over a cumulative half-million albums worldwide.
Culp's musical direction became prominent, although the composition duties were spread somewhat amongst band members. Production and engineering for every album was led by Masaki "Saki" Liu at his One Way Studio. With the release of Five Iron Frenzy 2: Electric Boogaloo, FIF's sound leaned more towards horn-tinged hard rock than ska, although all of the original horns were still intact. According to Keith Hoerig: "It's a rock record with horns, in the vein of Chicago and the Rolling Stones, who have horns all over their records." 2001 marked a turning point for the band as their record contract with Five Minute Walk ran out, leading to rumors that the band would break up. For a time they considered signing with a major label, but they decided to finish their career with 5 Minute Walk.
In late 2001 the band embarked on the "Electric Youth" tour with Relient K, John Reuben, and Ace Troubleshooter. On this tour again the audience was asked to bring socks for donation to local homeless shelters, and to make them into sock puppets for audience participation. On this tour the audience numbered about 1,200 per night, creating what was referred to as the "worlds largest sock puppet choir." Socks were also judged afterward in a "Sock Puppet Pageant" of sorts, with prizes given in various categories. The tour's name is a tribute to Debbie Gibson, who wrote an album by the same name.
Keith Hoerig on the bands final year.
The End is Here and breakup (2003)
In early 2003 Five Iron announced their impending breakup via their website. They dedicated their final year to their fans, playing at many major Christian music festivals and releasing Cheeses...(of Nazareth), a collection of joke songs and B-sides, and their final studio album, The End Is Near. After clarifying that instead of "breaking up" they were "quitting," they embarked on a national tour entitled the "Winners Never Quit Tour" with Bleach, Holland, and Cameron Jaymes. They played their final show on November 22, 2003 at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver, Colorado. The night before the show Denver received a heavy snow, many fans wondered if the show would be canceled. This show had an attendance of over 3,600 people and was widely released in 2004 as the double disk set The End Is Here, alongside The End Is Near.
|“||If we do get back together, I think you should make us all eat a handful of mayonnaise.||”|
|— Reese Roper on the possibility of a Five Iron Frenzy reunion.|
Persistent rumors about a reunion, were always denied by the band as the former members moved on to other projects. Reese Roper was involved in a short lived project called Guerilla Rodeo, (that also included fellow FIF member Sonnie Johnston), Ace Troubleshooter's John Warne and Josh Abbot, and the OC Supertones' Ethan Luck. The band recorded a three-song EP before the members moved on to other projects. Roper then signed under his own name as Roper and released the album Brace Yourself for the Mediocre on 5 Minute Walk Records. Roper also presided over the band Brave Saint Saturn, a studio side-project featuring several other FIF members telling the story of stranded astronauts. The project started in 1995 as a Five Iron side project and has released three albums. Their long-awaited third album, Anti-Meridian, was released September 15, 2008. Reese Roper played an acoustic set at Soulfest 2008. In 2005, Five Iron Frenzy received national exposure when their song, "Oh, Canada" (which referenced William Shatner), appeared on the TV series Boston Legal.
On September 16, 2009 it was announced through Facebook that the DVD titled 'The Rise and Fall of Five Iron Frenzy' would be released in winter of 2010. A website was launched as well. According to the Asian Man Records website, the DVD was released to pre-orders March 19, 2010 and became available in stores in April 2010. The DVD contained a 3-hour documentary filmed and edited mainly by Reese Roper, composed of interviews with the band members and live performance and tour travel footage.
Reunion and Engine of a Million Plots (2011 – present)
During the fall of 2011, the band's website went live with a countdown to November 22, which was the eighth anniversary for the band's final show at the Fillmore in Denver. Since the production and release of their documentary many members of Five Iron Frenzy had already been discussing a reunion. Roper and Ortega Till began hinting at an announcement. On November 22, 2011, the band announced they were writing new material and working on a new record, and gave away a free song titled "It Was A Dark And Stormy Night" with the file name "Hope Still Flies". In order to fund the new record the band started a Kickstarter hoping to raise $30,000 in 30 days. That goal was reached within the first hour of launching and the band ultimately raised over $200,000.
Keith Hoerig was the only member of the band to decline taking part in the reunion and his position as bass player was filled by Scott Kerr, returning to the band for the first time since he left in 1998. The next two years were spent working on the new album and playing select live dates. The band played their first reunion show on April 28, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. Their new album Engine of a Million Plots was released on November 26, 2013 on CD, vinyl and digital formats.
Changes in religious commitment
In The Rise and Fall of Five Iron Frenzy, Scott Kerr explained that he chose to leave the band in 1998 due to his renunciation of Christianity. The documentary ends with Andrew Verdecchio implying a similar rejection of belief in God. Kerr, after rejoining the band, explained on the Five Iron Frenzy site that he remains irreligious. Verdecchio described himself as an atheist in an interview in 2012. Other members of the band remain involved in Christian churches to various degrees; in a 2016 interview, Leanor Ortega-Till listed the rest of the current lineup's denominational make up as including Calvinist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Church of Christ and Assemblies of God.
During an Interview on Broken FM, Leanor Ortega Till described a two-year period of her own severe doubts which caused her to try to avoid fans. She now serves as a missionary pastor at the Scum of the Earth Church in Denver, supported by donations.
- Studio albums
- Upbeats and Beatdowns (1997)
- Our Newest Album Ever! (1997)
- All the Hype That Money Can Buy (2000)
- Five Iron Frenzy 2: Electric Boogaloo (2001)
- The End Is Near (2003)
- Engine of a Million Plots (2013)
- "Rock Your Socks Off" w/The Altered and The Echoing Green - Fall 1997
- "El Doc Tour" w/The Echoing Green, The Electrics, and The W's - March 1998
- "Ska Against Racism" w/The Toasters, Less Than Jake, Blue Meanies, Mustard Plug, MU330, Kemuri, and Mike Park - Spring 1998
- "Ham Jam" w/The W's, Relient K, Philmore and Soul-Junk - Summer 2000
- "Electric Youth" w/Relient K, John Reuben and Ace Troubleshooter - Fall 2001
List of side projects
- Yellow Second - included Kerr and Verdecchio; their third album, Altitude, was released on Floodgate Records in 2004; broke up in late 2005.
- Roper - Reese Roper also played in a band called Roper that put out one full-length album entitled Brace Yourself For the Mediocre. This album came out in Oct 2004 .
- Brave Saint Saturn - Brave Saint Saturn (stylized as braveSaintSaturn, brave saint saturn or BS2) is a Christian rock band formed in Denver, Colorado in 1995. The band is a side-project of former members of Five Iron Frenzy started by Reese Roper. The band calls their music style "astro-rock," although Roper has stated that this "doesn't mean anything." The trilogy of albums are meant to artfully represent early life, adversity, and death.
- Hearts of Palm - Leanor Ortega Till currently plays saxophone for Denver-based nine-piece pop ensemble Hearts of Palm, formerly known as Nathan and Stephen. Their sound can be described as eclectic and anthematic indie-pop.
- The Hollyfelds - Bassist Keith is currently playing with his wife Eryn in the country / folk band The Hollyfelds .
- The Fast Feeling - electronic rock band featuring Leanor on vocals, with Scott, Andrew, and Matt Langston of Eleventyseven.
- Reese Roper – lead vocals (1995–2003, 2011–present)
- Micah Ortega – guitars, vocals (1995–2003, 2011–present)
- Andrew Verdecchio – drums, vocals (1995–2003, 2011–present)
- Nathanael "Brad" Dunham – trumpet (1995–2003, 2011–present)
- Dennis Culp – trombone, vocals (1995–2003, 2011–present)
- Leanor "Jeff the Girl" Ortega Till – saxophone, vocals (1995–2003, 2011–present)
- Sonnie Johnston – lead guitars (1998–2003, 2011–present)
- Scott Kerr - guitars, bass, vocals (1995–1998, 2011–present)
- Keith Hoerig – bass (1995–2003)
- Seth Hecox – guitar (2013)
- Mehle, Michael (May 10, 1996). "CHRISTIAN SKA BAND LETS MUSIC BE MESSAGE". Rocky Mountain News. p. 18 D.
- Bartenhagen, Marcia (August 2001). "Falling Forward". CCM Magazine. 24 (2): 11. ISSN 1524-7848.
- Newton, Adam (March–April 2009). "Brave Saint Saturn". HM Magazine (136): 19. ISSN 1066-6923.
- Devitt, Shelby (March 19, 2012). "Five Iron Frenzy comes out of retirement, breaks Kickstarter record". Northern Star.
- Huckabee, Tyler (Jan 2013). "The Revenge of Five Iron Frenzy". Relevant. Archived from the original on December 22, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
- DeBoer, Terry (October 1, 2003). "After tour, Five Iron's back in bag for good". Grand Rapids Press: pB7.
- Metteer, Chris (March 8, 2002). "Third Day needs to turn it up.(Reviews)". The Register-Guard. pp. T15.
- Todd, Darleen. (12-30-1997). True Tunes News. Now hosted at the Internet Archive.[dead link]
- Sant, John (May–June 2000). "All The Hype Five Iron Can Buy". HM Magazine (83): 24. ISSN 1066-6923. Archived from the original on September 18, 2000. Retrieved April 24, 2007.
- A more detailed explanation is available at the Five Iron FAQ from FiveIronFrenzy.com (dated Feb. 1999) under "How did you meet?". Now hosted at the Internet Archive. 
- "Five Iron Frenzy - The Band". Five Iron Frenzy. 1997. Archived from the original on June 30, 1997. Retrieved February 14, 2007.
- Thompson, John J. (2003). "Five Iron Frenzy Rocking the Back Nine". Cornerstone Festival 2003 Program Guide. 32 (124): 33–34. ISSN 0275-2743.
- Hendricks, Kevin D. (2004). "Keith & Micah on Stuff". Real Magazine. Archived from the original on June 26, 2006. Retrieved February 14, 2007.
- Mehle, Michael (November 10, 1997). "FORE! WATCH OUT FOR FAST-RISING FIVE IRON FRENZY". Rocky Mountain News. p. 6 D.
- "Five Iron Frenzy - Music". Christianity Today. January 1, 2005. Archived from the original on December 13, 2006. Retrieved December 21, 2006.
- Shari Lloyd (March 22, 1996). "Cornerstone". Newsgroup: rec.music.christian. Retrieved February 15, 2007.
- Alfonso, Barry (1999). "Five Iron Frenzy". In Brennan Luann, ed. Contemporary Musicians. Volume 26. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale Group. pp. 49–50. ISBN 0-7876-3251-1. ISSN 1044-2197.
- Liu, Masaki (February 1, 2007). "Artist: Five Iron Frenzy". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved February 15, 2007.
- Scott Kerr (August 12, 1996). "Five Iron Frenzy signed with..." Newsgroup: rec.music.christian. Retrieved February 15, 2007.
- "An interview with Keith Hoerig on April 15, 2000". Jesus Freak Hideout. April 15, 2000. Retrieved December 21, 2006.
- Nancy VanAarendonk with Thomas Brooks (March–April 1999). "Out To Save The World". 7ball (23): 26–30. ISSN 1082-3980.
- "allmusic ((( Five Iron Frenzy > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))" (Web). allmusic.com. 2006. Retrieved December 21, 2006.
- Price, Deborah Evans (March 14, 1998). "ForeFront signs deal with indie". Billboard Magazine. 110 (11): 134.
- Bessman, Jim (October 18, 1997). "5 Minute's Five Iron Frenzy takes a mainstream swing". Billboard Magazine. 109 (42): 14–15.
- Macintosh, Dan (November–December 1997). "Five Iron Frenzy". 7ball (15): 32–38. ISSN 1082-3980.
- Hall, Kimberly (January–February 1999). "Five Iron Frenzy". HM Magazine (75): 38. ISSN 1066-6923.
- Steininger, Alex (April 1998). "Ska Against Racism". In Music We Trust. Retrieved February 17, 2007.
- Steinken, Ken (May 24, 1999). "Where No Ministry Has Gone Before". Christianity Today. 43 (6): 74–75.
- Musique, Sucre'. (1999). Interview with Reese Roper, from bandoppler.com. Now hosted at the Internet Archive. 
- Strole, L. Jeanette (November–December 2001). "A Tail of Boogaloo and Varmint". HM Magazine (92): 42–43, 76–77. ISSN 1066-6923.
- "News / Modern Rock". 7ball (34): 16. January–February 2001. ISSN 1082-3980.
- Hendricks, Kevin D. (2004). "Five Iron Frenzy Our Last Article Ever". Real Magazine. Archived from the original on February 8, 2007. Retrieved February 14, 2007.
- DeBoer, Terry (October 11, 2001). "Zany group mixes ska, sock puppets; Ska, sock puppets highlight a Five Iron Frenzy show". Grand Rapids Press: 21.
- Tim A. Smith, John J. Thompson, Christina Farris (January 2002). "Spin Control". CCM Magazine. 24 (7): 13–14. ISSN 1524-7848.
- Bartenhagen, Marcia (January 2002). "Five Iron Frenzy, Relient K, John Reuben, Ace Troubleshooter, 328 Performance Hall, Nashville, TN". CCM Magazine. 24 (7): 49. ISSN 1524-7848.
- Five Iron Frenzy (2003). "An open letter to all supporters of Five Iron Frenzy from the band". Five Minute Walk. Archived from the original on February 17, 2003. Retrieved February 14, 2007.
- Argyrakis, Andy (November 2003). "The End Is Here". Christianity Today. Retrieved February 14, 2007.
- Soulfest 2008 Archived August 23, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Boston Legal: Finding Nimmo / Season 2, Episode 3". boston-legal.org. June 2005. Retrieved December 21, 2006.
- "The Rise and Fall of Five Iron Frenzy - DVD". Fifdvd.com. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
- The Rise and Fall of Five Iron Frenzy (2010), DVD
- Stephen Cohen (November 22, 2003). "Q&A with Five Iron Frenzy". RELEVANT Magazine. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
- Mike Herrera (August 16, 2013). "Mike Herrera Hour with Five Iron Frenzy". Idobi.com. Retrieved May 2, 2014.
- Five Iron Frenzy (November 22, 2011). "Five Iron Frenzy Tumblr Site - "We're Back!"". 5ironfrenzy.tumblr.com. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
- "Five Iron Frenzy Kickstarter Account". New Five Iron Frenzy Album!!!!. Kickstarter. Retrieved December 13, 2011.
- "The Long Wait Is Over". Five Iron Frenzy.
- Ten, Top (December 9, 2011). "For the record..." Five Iron Frenzy. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
- Murphy, Tom. "Five Iron Frenzy: An extensive oral history of the band straight from the members themselves - Denver - Music - Backbeat - Print Version". Blogs.westword.com. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
- "HOLLERLUJAH-005 SAXOPHONE, SCUM OF THE EARTH & SKALLELUJAH! W/ LEANOR ORTEGA". God's Prosperity Radio. July 1, 2016.
- Broken FM. "Christian Rock Radio | Christian Alternative Music | KORB". Broken FM. Archived from the original on April 13, 2014. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
- "Leanor Till". Scumoftheearth.net. Archived from the original on October 7, 2011. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
- Brown, Bruce A. (May 1998). "Rock n Roll World". CCM Magazine. 20 (11): 22. ISSN 1524-7848.
- Fernandez, Mike (July 2000). "On The Beat: Rock". CCM Magazine. 23 (1): 15–16. ISSN 1524-7848.
- "...and death shall have no dominion". brave Saint Saturn. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
- Baca, Ricardo (July 27, 2008). "2008 UNDERGROUND MUSIC SHOWCASE: Hearts of Palm rises to the top of our eighth annual local music survey". The Denver Post. pp. E–01.
- "The top 10 in their own words The big finishers in the Denver Post Underground Music Poll tell us about themselves". The Denver Post. July 27, 2008. pp. E–03.
- Wenzel, John (June 8, 2007). "Couples make sweet music together". The Denver Post. pp. FF–01.
- "Leanor Ortega Till of The Fast Feeling". Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- McGovern, Brian Vincent (January–February 1999). "Indie Album Reviews: Manna 2 Go". HM Magazine (75). ISSN 1066-6923. Archived from the original on July 13, 2001. Retrieved April 24, 2007.