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Music / Five Iron Frenzy

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"Five Iron is stupid and
You are if you like them also!... too."

We've been given superpowers,
ask us for an autograph.
We sing, we dance,
we make you laugh.
Don't you want to be like us?
Five Iron Frenzy, "Superpowers"

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: 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 were 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. And so on, ad nauseam, and Five Iron Frenzy became the highest funded musical Kickstarter project up to that timenote , 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 is a Christian band, and a good one. Their lyrics are frequently satirical (and rarely preachy), and skewer 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 (did not reunite with the band in 2011)
  • Scott Kerr: rhythm guitar (departed in 1998, rejoined on bass, replacing Keith, when the band reunited in 2011)
  • 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

Major releases:

  • 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: 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 Near Here (2003, 2004) "Near" was the band's final studio album before their breakup. "Here" was a rerelease with an extra studio track, and a second disc containing what was, at the time, their entire final live show.
  • Engine of a Million Plots (2013)
  • Until this Shakes Apart (2021)

Also, four of their CDs (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 TenNapel.

Compare and contrast with their side project, Brave Saint Saturn.

Trope articles with FIF song lyrics as page quotes:

Other tropes associated with the band or their songs:

  • Anti-Climax: 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. Given Reese's poor memory, the audience was probably more accurate much of the time.
  • Band of Relatives: Leanor and Micah Ortega are cousins
  • Bystander Syndrome: "Someone Else's Problem".
  • Careful with That Axe: Reese was in an industrial metal band before FIF, so he's capable of this from time to time, but it can be surprising to those who are only used to his regular singing voice. The bridge sections of "Fistful Of Sand" and "American Kryptonite" are good examples.
    • Jeff the Girl has some fun with this in live versions of "When I Go Out".
  • Cover Version: Over the years, the band put their own ska/punk twist on songs by Amy Grant, Tom Jones, and Rich Mullins, among others.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Reese admits in Fahrenheit that he used to think of Freddie Mercury this way. The song is basically about him confronting his own homophobia.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Frontman Reese Roper goes by his middle name rather than "Michael". In their song "All the Hype", one of the lyrics is "My name is Reese, don't call me Mike!"
  • Downer Ending:
    • "Eulogy" from Electric Boogaloo. A very minor-key song, with funeral imagery all throughout the lyrics. After releasing the album, they had to put out message on their website, reassuring fans that no, none of them were contemplating suicide, and no, it wasn't a veiled announcement that the band was breaking up.
    • Also "Blizzards and Bygones" from Engine of a Million Plots. It was written solely by Scott Kerr, and seems to be about losing one's religious faith and being unsure of whether you will ever get it back.
  • Eagleland: Type 2, particularly the uncomfortable ways this attitude tends to get conflated with the Christian faith, is mercilessly skewered in "Zen and the Art of Xenophobia".
  • 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 (pre-reunion) studio album, "On Distant Shores" on "The End Is Near," ends with the final coda of "Every New Day." This is subverted in their live 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.
  • Flash In The Pan Fad: Referenced in the anti-consumerism song "Vultures".
    Did you you see the new computers,
    aren't they oh-so-obsolete?
    And that shade of black you wear,
    it's so Tuesday of last week.
  • 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.
  • Gassy Gastronomy: On the live album Proof That the Youth Are Revolting, Reese Roper changes the lyrics to the second verse of "Superpowers." What was originally a verse about falling off a stage and breaking another guy's leg instead becomes:
    Everyone in the band can't stand me
    just because I ate pork and beans,
    and kinda by accident,
    I... farted?
  • Geek: "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.
  • Gay Aesop: "Fahrenheit". It does have some homophobic aspects, such as defending the "love the sinner, hate the sin" line, but was pretty Fair for Its Day, especially for Christian Rock in 2000. Reese Roeper would later apologize for not seeing that there was still some internalized homophobia in him when he wrote that song, and a later song "While Supplies Last" has a line criticizing the Evangelical Right for blaming their problems on the Queer community when in fact, those problems come from them.
  • Genre Roulette: Most of the joke tracks on Cheeses. Also the 8-part rock opera "These Are Not My Pants".
  • 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.
  • "How I Wrote This Article" Article: "Superpowers", which is otherwise about the difficulties of being a touring rock band, briefly dips into this in its second verse.
    Sometimes I have a deadline
    for writing our songs.
    Five minutes left to write this one...
    la, la la, la la, la la la.
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: "Into Your Veins" makes a potentially disturbing analogy between musicians and drug dealers, with the fans playing the role of the addicts. The song is so fast-paced and danceable that it's easy to miss.
  • Improv: There was no script for "These Are Not My Pants". Each band member was merely given a pre-recorded track in a distinctive genre, and a single take to do something funny with it.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks!: invoked Discussed in "Handbook for the Sellout".
  • Kung-Fu Jesus: "Zen and the Art of Xenophobia", a brutally sarcastic jab at the American habit of mixing the Christian faith with blind patriotism, contains the line, "Lock and load just like Jesus did!" This is taken up to eleven in the music video, in which a school play is hijacked by ultra-violent versions of Jesus, Abraham Lincoln, etc.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: The End is Here.
  • Literary Allusion Title: Used in their newest musical entry "It Was A Dark And Stormy Night".
  • Longest Song Goes Last:
    • The End Is Near closes with "On Distant Shores" (5:18).
  • 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.
  • Middle Name Basis: Michael Reese Roper mentions this in the song "All the Hype": "My name is Reese, don't call me Mike!"
  • Metal Scream: "The Day We Killed", B-side "Mind for Treason", and the rock section of "These Are Not My Pants".
  • Miniscule Rocking: "When I Go Out", "I Still Like Larry", and "Pootermobile", among others.
  • Mood Whiplash: Giants has one halfway through, the music starts out kinda bouncy and poppy considering the subject, then the above mentioned creepy child comes in, the rest of the song sounds like a dark anthem.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: A common source of humor in their sillier songs.
  • 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.
  • Never Heard That One Before: On the live album The End Is Here, after playing "Blue Comb '78", someone in the crowd yells that they found Reese's comb. Reese remarks, "Gee, I've never heard that one."
  • 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.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Our Newest Album Ever! was doomed to have one of these after about a year or two.
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Heck, the Trope Codifier is the actual title of their fifth studio album.
  • Old Media Are Evil: "Anchors Away" takes aim at TV news, accusing them of eschewing accurate reporting in favor of fear-mongering.
  • Piss-Take Rap: "All the Hype" comes pretty close.
    • "Vultures" might also count, though it's more Sprechgesang than rap, especially in its live version where it sounds like Reese is doing a B-52s impression.
    • Reese also refers to "See the Flames Begin to Crawl" as "white boy reggae" on the live album.
  • 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."
  • Religion Rant Song: While they're a Christian band, this doesn't stop them from satirically poking holes in the facades of self-righteous Christians.
    • Until This Shakes Apart is made up almost entirely of type 3, going after Evangelical culture for all of their excesses, and their refusal to acknowledge and help the less fortunate.
  • Self-Deprecation: Both silly and serious (the aforementioned "Eulogy"). They named their farewell tour The Winners Never Quit Tour.
    • Their very first vinyl release was called "It's Funny, But Not Very Creative".
    • "You Probably Shouldn't Move Here" makes fun of their entire home state.
    • See also the aforementioned Hilarious Outtakes on their live albums.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep/Censored for Comedy: 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.
  • Spicy Latina: Jeff parodies the stereotype in the "Latin" segment of "These Are Not My Pants".
  • 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.
  • Totally Radical: "Battle Dancing Unicorns with Glitter" makes a tongue-in-cheek case for this.
  • 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".