Family Force 5
Upon first listen, you may mistake Family Force 5’s “Business Up Front, Party In The Back” for a mixtape someone threw in at a party – the fun keeps rolling but the sounds that come out are vastly different from track to track. Each one different from the one before infused with every style of music you could possibly imagine, soul, funk, rock, rap, electronica, pop, dancetastic goodness….and that’s just the first song! How did Family Force 5 arrive at such an eclectic arsenal of sounds you may wonder, well when you have five guys who all have loves in different genres, it’s a recipe for Family Force 5.
Family Force 5 is the brainchild of the brothers Olds (Solomon, Jacob, and Joshua) better known as Soul Glow Activatur (on guitar and vocals), Crouton (on drums and vocals) and Phatty (on bass and background vocals). The rest of the band is rounded out by Nadaddy (on keytar, percussion and DJ duties),
Chap Stique (on guitar) and Xanadu (dancer extraordinaire). Daring not to take themselves too seriously their latest album “Business Up Front/Party In The Back: Diamond Edition” pays homage to the widely criticized yet widely adored hair cut; the mullet. Often referred to as hockey hair the mullet is a force to be reckoned with and those who sport them, sport them proudly. It was with that enthusiasm that the band wanted to tip their hats to mulletheads everywhere. With deep roots in the South the lyrics tell tales of life there, love there, and parties there. While the band is all fun, all of the time, they do take some things seriously….and those things are their faith, their friends, fans, and family, and of course 80s cartoons, I mean really, who doesn’t.
Their whole live show is reminiscent of 80s cartoons as well. With their “gangsta” stage names and their eye-dazzling outfits, it’s hard not to picture them in technicolor but then the music kicks you in the ass and you remember to concentrate on the music as well. A kaleidoscope of sounds and colors engulfs you and before you know it you’ve been officially Family Force 5’ed and are breakdancing on a piece of old cardboard. And while you may think it’s a bit over the top, they wouldn’t want it any other way.
The band just finished up Warped tour and is getting ready to embark on their own headlining tour including some dates on the northern East Coast, a region that is somewhat unchartered territory for Family Force 5. While the rock and crunk soldiers admit to a minor smell of fear in the air, they will approach the East Coast shows as they approach any, with promises of dragons, ninjas, and unicorns to anyone who comes to see them play. While this may seem like false advertising, anyone who’s never seen them before usually walks away a fan and forgets all about the promise of a unicorn. Not a bad tactic. And really, when your live show has that kind of energy, you can make those kinds of promises because everyone walks away happy anyway.
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette & Lexi Shapiro | August 2007
Sometimes a band’s so cool you have to interview them twice! So that’s what we did!
Part I – Mary talks to Soul Glow Activatur with special guests Crouton and Tub-O.
Part II – Lexi talks to Chapstique.
So I have to ask because he’s one of my favorite performers and songwriters, what was it like working with Butch Walker and what approach does he bring to producing?
Soul Glow: Butch Walker is an extremely talented, good looking, and fast producer. He did three songs in the matter of a week with us. I’m sorry, two songs in four days and one song in two days, so I guess about a week – that would equal that. He’s incredible, he’s goofy so he got our humor and he’s an incredible performer too. He played a lot of the guitar tracks and I was like “I want you to play these guitar tracks, I’d be honored.” He’s a hometown hero in Atlanta, there’s nothing bad I can say about him.
Obviously your whole aura oozes of fun and silliness do you ever fear that people won’t take you seriously as musicians because of that?
Soul Glow: No. We do not have a problem with people not taking us serious or not. If they do think we’re a joke band then they’re not really a Family Force 5 fan. It’s connecting well with the kids, we come from the school of the Beastie Boys where those guys did funny stuff all the time yet they were cool and they had a good time, it was all in the name of fun. We want to go down that avenue.
You really have a sound that is totally unique that seems infused by all sorts of influences….rap, rock, blues, pop…I think someone might listen to your cd from beginning to end and think they were listening to a mix tape, what do you credit your diversity to?
Soul Glow: We grew up listening to a lot of hip hop and a lot of R&B. We like punk rock music and we love electronica music. You can hear Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode in our music but you can also hear traces of Missy Elliot and the Foo Fighters. It’s just a ton of stuff that you throw all together and you have a great smorgasbord of music.
Tell the truth, what was your reaction the first time you walked into Walmart and saw your CD Business Up Front/Party In The Back: Diamond Edition for sale there?
Soul Glow: When we first saw our CD in WalMart we jumped up and down and had a celebration, you were there weren’t you Tub-O? You remember when we were there and we blew up the confetti cans…
Tub-O: On yeah, the confetti cans..the band jumps up and down in Walmart a lot, when they have sales on socks.
Soul Glow: There wasn’t really much difference between our CD or seeing watermelons go on sale.
Tub-O: We love watermelon.
Crouton: (enters the bus) Oh are you talking about The Diamond Edition?
Tub-O: Yeah, and watermelon.
Crouton: Watermelons are cooler though.
Your name changed from Phamily with a PH to Family Force 5, why the change?
Soul Glow: Family Force 5 just sounded like a gigantic robot that connected five members. It sounded like a superhero group and I think we’ve been dubbed the superheros of Warped tour. I don’t mind that at all.
You wear your cape proudly?
Soul Glow: Yeah! It’s true, I think we are the superheros of Warped tour and the music industry.
You guys are totally bringing the keytar back which I think is awesome, what are some of your favorite bands that rock the keytar and why don’t you think more bands embrace it?
Soul Glow: Keytar is a very nerdy instrument to begin with. It was popular in the 80s and then the 90s came about and it just totally died. So now it’s kind of cool to have it back. We’ve been rocking it for like four years now. We just love synthesizers, Prince had one and that’s like one of our all time favorite artists. A lot of the hair metal bands had them back in the 80s too.
Nowadays when you see a band with a keytar it’s usually played by a girl.
Soul Glow: They are, that’s why we’ve got our DJ playing it now, because he looks like the girl in our band.
You throw the word “crunk” around quite a bit, can you explain to a pasty faced white rocker girl exactly what it means?
Soul Glow: Crunk is a very southern term. It originated in Atlanta. You can hear the likes of Lil Jon talking about it and the Ying Yang Twins and Andre 2000 and Outkast..but it’s an Atlanta word, it means to party, to have fun. There’s so many different kind of sayings it can be. It grabs people attention and mostly likely it means to party and Family Force 5 is all about crunk, punk!
Isn’t it a dance too?
Soul Glow: Crumping is a form of dancing.
Told you we were stupid white girls…white girls can’t dance..
Soul Glow: But it’s alright.
I’m not going to ask where the stage names came from because I know you’ve been asked a million times, however, I would like to say that Coming To America is one of my favorite movies…and with that in mind do you guys address each other by your real names or stage names when no one else is around?
Soul Glow: No we call each other by our real names, just when other people are around us we call each other that because it started like in Atlanta, we decided that everyone in Atlanta had a hip hop name why couldn’t we. We’re white but we can get away with it. Even our heros the Beastie Boys got away with it, so we wanted names too. We started doing it as a tongue in cheek thing and then kids started calling us that so we went with it.
You’ve been on Warped for a little while now what are the pros and cons of playing a tour like this?
Soul Glow: The cons are: not a lot of sleep. Family Force 5 is a working band, you see all these other bands and they’ve got people doing stuff for them, we carry out our own merch and we try to sell our cds and hang out. We’ve always had that mentality, we always want to be out there with the kids hanging out letting them know we’re just human beings and there’s no rockstar mentality. We’re real dudes. The pros of this would definitely be just seeing the mass amounts of people. We don’t play Boston much, it will be fun to see if there are any kids out there at all. Yesterday we played Pittsburgh and there were like 1800 kids out there for us. The previous time before that two people came out to see us.
Forget Pittsburgh, book some shows in Boston already.
Soul Glow: We’re trying but…we don’t want to make people “Wicked Pissed”. (That was Soul Glow’s BAD attempt at a Boston accent!)
So the album title, Business Up Front/Party in the Back..why the homage to the mullet other than it being a lyric in Kountry Gentleman? And…did any of you ever sport mullets?
Soul Glow: I mean (turns his head) I think I’ve got one. It’s kind of a neo-mullet.
We get really excited when we see mullets because they aren’t as common as they use to be, it’s like seeing an endangered species but Chapstique said there are tons of mullets where you’re frome.
Soul Glow: The opening line “I come from the land where the mullet attacks” is not a lie. That is no joke. It is the honest true. There are certain parts of the south where you’re just going to see them all the time and they’re gorgeous.
This is appropriate, considering Tub-O is here, let’s talk about your Really Real show that you broadcast to fans through YouTube, where did the idea come from and do you guys script them ahead of time or what’s the general process? It has to be a lot of work?
Soul Glow: It is a lot of work and we met Tub-O a year and a half ago. He was out with this other band and he kept bugging us about wanting to film us and I just kept putting him off. One day I actually listened to him and watched some of his stuff and said maybe we can come up with something that’s not so much documentary but that’s fun for us to watch and that we’d laugh at. Most the time if it’s something we’d laugh at then our fans will laugh at it too. This is a pretty funny band so we like to come up with different scenarios and the lines are very blurred -what’s real, what’s not real. We had a fight three weeks ago and we recreated it and it really did happen on this bus.
I’m noticing that some of the footage was actually filmed back here in the back lounge, it looks very familiar..
Soul Glow: Yes, it sure was. We keep going because it’s growing, there are more and more viewers every day.
I think it gives people a chance to know you as more than just your stage personnas, to get to know each of your personalities a little more..
Soul Glow: It let’s people know that we’re human beings and it’s not just riding in a bus sipping champagne all the time.
So no Cristal?
Tub-O: Crystal Lite..
So being in a band with your brothers, what’s the writing process like? Any sibling rivalry? What’s the general process?
I usually make beats on my computer or have melodies, its a very collaborative effort. I write most of the beats up front and then ask everyone what they think about it. Chapstique or Phatty will come in with a riff and we’ll all vote, is this part awesome or is this part sucky. If everyone says it’s awesome we trash that idea and move on to the next one.
One word and one word only to describe each of your bandmates.
Nadaddy – Diva
Chapstique – Congenial
He is very congenial!
He’s very very friendly. My brother Crouton – Abstract
Phatty – this is a hyphenated word, Business-America
Xanadu the dancer – jungle
Me – I’d just say funky
If you could swap places with one of your bandmates for 24 hours and do anything you wanted as them, who would it be and why?
Soul Glow: I’d be NaDaddy just to see what it feels like to not do a lot of stuff. I want to know what his phone bill is.
He does a lot of talking?
Soul Glow: He does a lot of talking. But I love him.
That’s not a very exciting 24 hours.
Soul Glow: Well it would be that or switch places with Crouton. No I’m sorry I want to switch places with Xanadu. I want to see what life is like dancing that much onstage and having that red hair, it would be great to have a Freaky Friday.
I read a quote somewhere that your fanbase was a mix of Christians and those that are not yet saved…do you ever fear that being that vocal about your beliefs will turn off potential fans?
Soul Glow: As far as our faith we’re very strong about it but from the likes of it and from record sales it doesn’t look like our faith is really offending many people. We do have a lot of fans that are Christians and we’re Christian guys but we have a lot of non-Christian fans too. I think everybody needs the love of Jesus, it doesn’t matter if they’re Christian or not. To us, Jesus is the ultimate love so I think that people need to know that. Other than that a lot of people see our live show or listen to our record and it sounds like party music, people want to dance to it. It doesn’t matter if you are saved or not, it’s fun. It’s cool to have both audiences coming out to your show.
If someone asked you to plan the biggest and baddest concert of all time, who would be on the bill?
Soul Glow: Definitely the Beastie Boys, Prince would be there, Family Force 5…
Soul Glow: No!! NOT Neil Diamond.
Hey, when I interviewed Chapstique he was very adamant that Neil would be there.
Soul Glow: Daft Punk would be there…
Soul Glow: No that’s all Chapstique crap! Rick James..RIP..MC Hammer..
Crouton: Michael Jackson!
Soul Glow: No Michael Jackson has got to stay on the Neverland Ranch. U2 also…U2 would open up for us.
Crouton: That would be awesome.
Tub-O: That’d be cool, hey Bono, get that keytar up on stage.
Edge set up drum kit…
Soul Glow: Hey other guys in the band..
What are your favorite songs to play live?
Soul Glow: I really like playing Drama Queen and Love Addict…
Those are my two favorites are you playing them today?
Soul Glow: Yes, you know why they’re you’re favorites, because they are our favorites. There’s a couple of guys in the band who wouldn’t say that but they’re very very dear to us because we tend to gravitate to the more ghetto sounding, booty shaking, earthquaking songs.
After you finish up your Warped dates you’ve got a cool tour coming together, can you tell us about that?
Soul Glow: Yes the Dance Rawr Dance tour starting in October with us headlining and Jonezetta and The Secret Handshake.
Final words to your people?
Soul Glow: Check out our MySpace to watch our Really Really shows and hear our audio blogs and love and grits!
You can only listen to one album for the rest of your life. What is it?
Chap Stique: Shaq Deisel by Shaquille O’Neal.
Shaq Deisel? That’s definitely a classic. Alright, age old question: You’re stranded on a deserted island. You can only bring three things. No boats or methods of getting home. No communication with the outside world. What do you bring?
Chap Stique: Probably a Neil Diamond DVD. Probably some sunscreen. And, probably a toy draygon.
Chap Stique: Oh, that’s a given. I always have that. I don’t consider that a thing, because it’s part of me.
Oh, it’s like a limb now, a fifth limb?
Chap Stique: Yeah. That’s like, ‘Would you bring an appendage?’ And, the answer is ‘yes.’
What’s the one song that it seems that EVERYONE loves, but that you absolutely cannot stand.
Chap Stique: Tubthumping by Chumbawumba.
Chap Stique: Haha, I’m sorry. But to me it’s…incredible…in a not incredible way.
So, what band or artist would it be a dream for you to work with?
Chap Stique: Well, I’m kind of an old metal nerd. All the guys in the bands make fun of me because I like progressive rock. So, I’d say King’s X. If I could do anything with them…maybe just hang out with them or polish their guitars or something.
What’s the one question that you can’t seem to avoid in interviews that you cringe every time you hear?
Chap Stique: I don’t know. I like interviews. I think they’re fun!
Really? I hear from so many bands that they absolutely hate interviews.
Chap Stique: WHAT?! Well, they’re fools. Interviews are great.
Do you read your reviews at all?
Chap Stique: Yes, all the time. I do follow along with them. Reviews are pretty insightful. The funny thing about reviews these days is that a lot of the people that write them seem to be totally opposite from the people that are buying music and going to shows. So, I don’t pay a whole lot of attention necessarily to ‘Oh man, that review, that guy that is you know, fifty years old and wearing black t-shirts in a room, chilling out, watching old Rush videos (…although, that will be me someday) didn’t like the band as much as we hoped’. You know? The fact is, a whole bunch of kids might love it in that city. So, yes, reviews are very interesting to read.
Describe Family Force 5 in three words.
Chap Stique: Okay… party, Transformers, ninja.
What did you think of the movie?
Chap Stique: I thought it was incredible. Did you?
I didn’t get to see it yet.
Chap Stique: WHAT?! Come on, girl! Wait, you need a gangster name, first. How about, uh, Hush Puppy?
Hush Puppy? I can be down with that.
Chap Stique: I had some for lunch, so…
Okay, I’m Hush Puppy. Yeah, word. Word, dawg.
Chap Stique: Yeah, let’s do it. Well, Hush Puppy…*pause*…what did you just ask me?
Haha. I said to describe the band in three words, and then we segued into Transformers, and then my gangster name.
Chap Stique: Yeah, Transformers RULES. You gotta see it, Hush Puppy.
Okay, I will, Chapstique. *both laugh* What band or artist are you listening to right now?
Chap Stique: Well, out on the tour, I really like to go see Jonezetta a lot. They’re some friends of ours who we’re going to do a tour with. And then, The Starting Line. I just became aware of that band and am absolutely blown away. But, if I’m in my bunk, chilling with my iPod, I listen to Muse a lot.
Chap Stique and Lexi recruiting for the FF5 Family
So, how’d you all come up with your little pseudonyms, your ‘gangster names’?
Chap Stique: Well, we from Atlanta, you know, and there’s a lot of Hip Hop in the ATL and a lot of people have cool gangster names, y’know? Even if they’re not from Atlanta, you’ve got people like 50 Cent, and Nelly, and Andre..uh…42, and just all these cool names. And, we’re like, ‘WE WANT SOME OF THOSE! So, can we have some?’ And, we basically did it as a joke to be funny in our shows, and then all our kids would be walking around at Crystal or The Varsity and they’d be like, ‘Yo, Phatty, Crouton, what’s up, dude?!’ And we realized: this is working; we need to keep this up. Because, nobody knows other people’s names in bands, y’know, unless they’re stalkers. And, we don’t want stalkers. We just want people to be like, ‘That’s a cool name, man.’
You’ve almost made Spice Girls out of yourselves.
Chap Stique: We are pretty much…more like Power Rangers.
So if you ARE the Family Force 5, then what is your superpower, Power Ranger?
Chap Stique: I breathe fire and fly. We’re hoping that someday we can become mechanical robots, like lions that form together like a big Voltron, and then we slay draygons and stuff. That’s our goal as a band.
That’s your ultimate goal?
Chap Stique: Yeah. So, if you know anybody that can help, please, let me know…really.
I’ll pass the information along. I promise.
Chap Stique: THANK YOU.
Do you consider yourselves heartthrobs?
Chap Stique: No, not at all. We’re just a bunch of nerds that sit around and listen to music and like guitars and stuff. But if people think…I mean, Phatty’s got some muscles. So, I could see that. He’s got the Fabio heartthrob kind of thing going on. And Nadaddy kind of looks like a cool character from an anime film or something. So, I guess those guys are heartthrobs. I guess everybody’s a heartthrob. They’re good-lookin’ dudes. I retract my first statement.
What’s your guilty pleasure song?
Chap Stique: To Hell With the Devil by Stryper. I love it. Eighties metal – completely ridiculous, over-the-top, guitar, harmonized solos. It’s awesome.
And, last but not least, tell me about your first kiss.
Chap Stique: My first kiss? It was a little more awkward than I’d like to admit, but it was kind of forced, and the girl’s brother, I think, was looking out the window, because we had just gotten to her house and parked there. It wasn’t too suave. But, yeah, I wish I had it to do again, because I would have done it a lot differently. I would have popped in some Iron Maiden and set the mood and made it really cool.
Set the mood with Iron Maiden?
Chap Stique: Yeah!
Possibly applied a little bit of CHAPSTICK first??
Chap Stique: I KNOW! I NEEDED THE CHAPSTICK! I wasn’t Chapstique at that time, and I apologize to that girl if my lips were chapped. She probably knows who she is.
And, hopefully, she’ll read this and get your apology…
Chap Stique: Yes.