Five Iron Frenzy's

Reese Roper

Interviewed by Sucre' Musique

So, this is your last stop on the Ska-Mania tour...what's been your favorite and least favorite parts of this tour?

My favorite part has definitely been hanging out with the Supertones and the Insyderz. They're just really cool brothers, and I've been so built up by them, because I'm so sapped spiritually from being on tour so long, and not being able to go home or go to church, stuff like that. Those guys have really built me up. They're really cool guys. It's awesome. I'm sad that we have to leave. The worst part is that when you get on this side of the record industry, when you're not just a consumer, there's like a lot of shady things that go on, and that, like don't have anything to do with Jesus Christ at all. It's all about making money, and stuff like that bothers me. That's why I get drained, but there's joy in it too. Because, if we can just come out and be who we are and do the right thing, then God has totally blessed us because we don't try to be all corporate, but we sell a lot of records and get to play big shows, and have changed some things. That's cool.

How do you feel the public has responded to this tour?

Um...well, I think very well. A lot of kids, this is their dream come true to come and see all these Christian ska bands that they totally love. You know, they've always wanted to see us together, and ever since we started everyone's always wanted us to tour together. It's rad that just that happened. But, some kids are bummed out about a lot of the shows. They can't dance, and it's assigned seating, and the ticket prices are way up there. Stuff like that...

Okay, so this is the "touchy-feely" question... Since all three of you are on different labels, do you feel like there's any competition or any push to have "one band get X-amount of time on stage," or anything like that?

You know what, the bands don't do that stuff, but the labels do. It's like the corporate aspect that I was talking about. It's just like these guys do it as a business, and even though the bands could care less who goes first, or how long they get, or how loud they are or how good they sound, the labels are all trying to get their band to outshine the other bands and that kinda bothers me. I don't know. So Yes.

Your most recent release...

You can't say that's 'our newest album ever', because it will confuse the kids... (Reese laughing)

No... I mean, your new was an EP, do you have a full-length album in the works, because I heard some rumors that it might be coming out some time next year?

Yeah, well, we're just writing stuff. The reason we just did an EP is that we've been touring so heavily that we haven't had time to practice and write stuff. We switched distribution from Warner Brothers to EMI, and the EMI guys wanted us to put something out. They wanted us to do something because the Ska-Mania thing was gonna be huge, and they were like, "It'll be a great time. Put out something." And we were like, "Well, we might be able to do an EP." Yeah, so we knew we were going in the studio, and we hadn't written anything except "Evil Plan", so we wrote everything in two weeks, and like even Evil Plan wasn't done. I hadn't done the lyrics or anything, so in two weeks we did everything. It was really tough, and I'm glad that God blessed us so much, and that it came out so good. There's stuff on there I wish we had more time to work on. But, for writing it in two weeks, it came out better than I had expected.

I think it's getting a good reception. It is really solid. Oh, so about the rock opera... I read somewhere that Jeff the girl rearranged your suitcases one day, and that you got dressed for a show, and that you were all wearing someone else's pants, and that's how you got the idea.

Oh my gosh! (Laughing)

So if you'd like to dispel any myths...

This is where that came from... Halloween was the second day of the tour...[In California] We all dressed up as the Supertones, and we were like "Yeah, we lost our luggage in the airport, and we found these suitcases back there, and stuff, and someone was like, "these are not my pants"- that's the power of the Internet there, kids...

It's all like keyboard demo songs right.

Yeah, I have this Roland pocket sequencer keyboard stuff. I use it to write songs, mostly for a side project band I'm in... but it's got all these demos in it, and all you have to do is arrange everything, and then put in the chord changes, and it's pretty cheesy.

So, Scott is leaving the band. Do you want to talk about that at all, is there anything you'd like to clear up?

Yeah... like, man, it's tough to talk about, because there's so many rumors on why he's leaving, and I'm always afraid that no matter what we say it will be taken negatively, but like, he's leaving because he wants to spend more time with his wife, and he's sick of the musical style. He's not really into ska. Which is cool, that he has the humility to step down, instead of just, "it's a pay check and I'm playing rock and roll." He wants to start another band, and he wants to move to Seattle.

Are you gonna replace him or just stick with Micah and Keith on strings?

No, we're gonna replace him. We have try-outs next month, so we have a bunch of guys trying out. We've never had a member change before. Before Five iron, Scott and Micah and Keith and I were in another band for like four years.

Is it hard to see him go then?

Yeah, he's like one of my best friends in the world, and I'm just sad that he's not gonna be around. I'll miss him.

You've been doing some massive touring the last couple of years. Are you gonna take some time off?

Yeah, we have, let's see, we get home tomorrow night, Sunday night... Then we don't leave until the eighth... I'm thinking if I have any time off in the spring, I'm just gonna drive north up to like Montana, and British Columbia and snowboard.

If this ska-thing dies down, do you think you'll do any other style of music, or keep doing ska underground even if it doesn't sell any records?

Despite the fact that we've been accused of jumping on the ska bandwagon, we play it because it's what we like. And all the other sounds that we mix in, it's because we like that too. And, like, our thing is that we have this conviction that if we just played something because it was popular that it would be bearing false witness, I guess. It wouldn't be truthful. We're just going to play what we like and hope that God will use it.

I know that you don't sign autographs. How do you feel about being suddenly catapulted into the limelight, and having people run after you, like "Hey Reese..."

At first, it really wigged me out, and I just couldn't handle it. It was so, so bad, because we got popular really fast. Not as fast as like the W's, or Jars of Clay, or something, and I really feel for those guys because it's tough, but now I guess I'm getting used to it, and there's times when I feel like giving in. Like maybe if I just signed autographs I'd be okay. No, every time I get like that I just pray and I still feel like God doesn't want me to sign autographs.

Does it hurt you when you see other people in other bands get rock-star syndrome... Have you had to call anybody on that, like, "Hey, you're getting a big head!"

I don't know if I'd have the guts to do that. So, no, I haven't called anybody on it. But, like the guys in my band, we call each other on it if we get big heads. They do it to me and I do it to them.

You went on the Ska Against Racism Tour this year. Do you feel like God really put you in that, or do you have any experiences or moments from that where you felt like, "Wow, this is why we went on this tour!" Did you get to witness or anything?

It was so cool on that tour, because all of us were just terrified of making fools of ourselves...We just didn't want to give anyone a reason to hate Christianity. We don't mind acting like goofs, because we're having fun, and want to share our joy. But it was so rad. We were just like, "Let's go, and be servants and we'll pray for everybody." And we totally just wanted to live the life and get out there and love those guys. We did that, and for the first week they were all coming up to us like, "We can't believe how cool you guys are. We thought you were gonna come and shove religion down our throats, and instead you're just really cool guys." They talked to us and were so flabbergasted that here we are on the Ska Against Racism Tour, and the focus was supposed to be on eliminating racism, which is rad, and that wasn't nullified at all, but it was so strange, that just because we were on the tour, they said that most of what they talked about was religion. Stuff that we had been talking to them about, or stuff we had said in our concerts. Or, like, before "Fistful of Sand" I would say, "This song is about the book of Ecclesiastes," and all the guys in the Blue Meanies were getting Gideon's Bibles in the hotels and reading the book of Ecclesiastes, and it was so rad, because somebody from every band would come up and have rad talks with us about God. And it was cool to see them let down their guards because they were so surprised that Christians were nice people.

Alright, so, other than an ELO or ABBA reunion tour, who would you like to play with?

The Crucified if they ever had a reunion tour. Or Mortal. Or Prayer Chain. Actually, I heard that Prayer Chain will have a reunion tour. And I heard something about a Mortal reunion tour. But I wouldn't want to steal those guys' thunder. If that's possible. I wouldn't want any kid to be like, "When is Five Iron coming on?"

So do you have any sage advice or something that you really feel like you want to share with the readers of Bandoppler Radio?

Yeah, I do... and kids, I want you to take this to heart. Kids, Don't eat the yellow snow. Okay, kids? That's the major cause of disease in snowy areas, I guess...I mean that.

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