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Family Force 5

In this era of overblown consumerism, where we are bombarded with emails about the latest MP3 player we can get from, unending commercials for clothes and fast food options, cars and electronic gear in all the magazine ads, and the myriad of bands and tours that stream through every major city in the country, we’re overwhelmed with choices.

It also seems like there are more music festivals than ever, not only in the U.S. and in Europe, but even in countries like Peru. Yes, even Peru is getting on the bandwagon.

I’ve never been a big fan of shopping in malls, and prefer the small business owner with the cool boutique that carries unique designer items that I can’t get anywhere else. I try to use the same mindset when putting together the plan for the Van’s Warped Tour coverage; and at the top of my list was a group from Atlanta, GA called Family Force 5.

After hearing just a few seconds of their music, the desire to dance is in high gear—heavy rock riffs are pulled together with chunky-crunky beats and saucy vocal lines—FF5 is all about having a fucking good time. After hearing their habitual podcasts that the group posts regularly on their MySpace, it was clear these guys had a great sense of humor. The last one I had heard before heading to Invesco for Warped on July 8 was a recounting of a fight that took place on the bus with their bus driver, Xanadu, who was complaining about the mess and having to pick up after the kids. Flip-flops, accusations and emotions were flying, but in the end, they all made up like families do.

I not only see action figures in their future, but the potential for a show on the lives and times of FF5 on IFC, HBO or Showtime that could rival “Flight of the Conchords,” ATL style.

I got a few minutes to spend with lead singer Solomon, a.k.a., Soul Glow Activatur, in the tour bus, and starting our little chit-chat by letting him know how much I enjoyed hearing the recordings of their escapades.

Soul Glow Activatur: We’ve done them every few days since September of last year.

Kaffeine Buzz: Do you have the whole collection on your website somewhere?

SG: We’re actually releasing all of that along with what we call “Really Real Shows.”

KB: You guys have a reality show?

SG: Well, on our MySpace we have these little videos that kind of capture what’s on the web, what happens on the bus. We’ve been in a van and we just got a bus about two weeks ago, so we’re very excited. We’re about to release it in the fall. A bunch of them are really funny, like our mom and dad talking to us about stuff, some of us fighting with each other…

KB: Like the most recent one. I saw the flip-flop sitting here and thought, “Oh no!”

SG: Yeah! The kid in the back with his shirt off, we kind of got into an argument and then the band got into a scuffle. We were almost about to kill each other in that hallway (referring to the bus’ hallway of sorts) about two nights ago.

KB: That’s what I heard. And you made somebody cry.

SG: Yeah, our merch girl. She was under the bunk. It was pretty hilarious.

KB: So Xanadu is all good with you guys again?

SG: Xanadu is cool.

KB: Sorry, but I can’t help but think of that Olivia Newton-John song, which probably would make him mad again if I sang it around him.

SG: Or “Xanadu” the movie. Or “Xanadu” by Rush.

KB: Exactly. Well, I have to say I have a lot of fun with your music and feel like it’s really different from a lot of the acts they have on Warped. I typically don’t ask the standard questions, but I honestly couldn’t find much information on your band’s background.

SG: We’ve been in this band about three and a half to four years. Three of us are brothers: Soul Glow Activatur (me), and then Fatty and Crouton. Our keyboardist Nadaddy, we met in college a few years back. And then our new guitar player Chap Stique about two years ago. We had to kick another guy out. He was a jerk.

KB: Yeah, that won’t work.

SG: Nope.

KB: Again, I apologize for asking this, but where did you come up with the ideas for your names and what were they inspired by?

SG: Yeah! Well, we all have gangster names, aliases of sorts. We’re all huge fans of the Beastie Boys and they have rap names and all. And us being from Atlanta, Georgia, from the ATL (grinning), and so is Outkast and Andre 3000 and Big Boy. It started as a joke at first, “Why don’t we call ourselves these rap names and see if kids like it.” Well, the kids started us calling us that so let’s just keep going with it.

KB: How did you come up with yours?

SG: Mine comes from [the movie] “Coming to America,” and that guy with the Jheri Curl juice.

KB: Oh yeah! Where he leaves that oil stain on the couches?

SG: Yeah, yeah. So I just put ‘activatur’ after that and I thought it sounded really cool. Crouton. He just said he came from a gangsta’ salad. Fatty. Me and Crouton used to call him that when he was little, so he’s the only one that’s got the real nickname. Nadaddy—he’s like the oldest one in the group, so he’s like the daddy of us all. Chap Stique—he’s addicted to Chapstick. And then Xandau—he just looks like a Xanadu. There’s no explanation.

KB: And what about your merch girl? She is called Tofu something?

SG: Tofu-pup. She wants to be called that. And our new tour manager is called Kygon. [no idea how to spell that one]

KB: You know what I can see? I can see action figures in your future.

SG: You just gotta come out to our show and you’ll see action figures on stage.

KB: It’s great, ‘cause you have these gritty guitars but there’s also a huge dance, electro influence.

“My lips hurt. I need a fix of Chapstick. WHERE’S MY CHAPSTICK!”

SG: Thank you. That’s quite a compliment. It’s not that we strive to be different; it just comes out this way. We can’t do the screamo stuff that these guys can do, know what I’m saying?

KB: Thank God for that.

SG: It’s cool and all, but I think we’re an alternative to that on this tour.

KB: Well, even some of those bands that were at the beginning stages of that kind of music are changing. Like Thrice shifted with their last release, which is great for a band. I mean, why just keep repeating the same thing over and over? It just shows that whatever changes they are going through as people shows through in their music. I’ve been following this tour since around ’96 and it really has changed as the crowd has changed, and coming to this always makes me feel old. It feel like there are a lot of bands that have a lot of the same sound to them and then there are the die-hards like Flogging Molly and Bad Religion that kind of hold down the fort. I’ve always found there are those few bands in the line up that are different and provide a unique form of entertainment, which keeps me coming back.

SG: Tonight we go on at the same time as Bad Religion, but there’s people telling us at our merch booth that those guys are old and they want to see something new. And we know that it will happen to us one day too. Another band will come along that will be the new thing and that will be that.

After a day of escaping the heat over at Brooklyn’s bar, escaping the torrential downpour by running backstage to take shelter under the overpass, and running to this stage or that, the day ended with the Family Force 5 set, which was highly attended by many happy faces and dancing kiddies. The band killed it and fully fulfilled the day with a happy ending.

FF5 is back on the road again, having survived the infamous Warped tour boot camp, so Chap Stique helps to get us caught up on how the tour went for them and what they’re up to now.

Chap Stique: If I had to sum up Warped Tour in five words or less, I would select the following: stanky, sweaty, glorious, punk, and Ray.

Stanky—I don’t know how people do it, but Warped Tour kids can flood toilets, use all the toilet paper, poop on the walls, vomit in the sink, and spill all the soap in every bathroom by 10:00 a.m. It’s repulsive…and impressive.

Sweaty—We sweat like beasts while loading our equipment miles away, setting up our merchandise, promoting the show, high-5ing a lot of people, playing shows in 100-billion-degree weather, and cleaning up after everybody has left!

Glorious—We had an absolute blast and met some wonderful people and bands. The Warped Tour was definitely a highlight of the year, and we are honored to have been a part of it.

Punk—It’s just punk.

Ray—I learned a lot of things this summer. Perhaps the most interesting thing I learned is that the name Ray is back for the attack. I have always liked this name, and I’m glad to see that it’s being implemented into our society again, after many years of dormancy.

KB: So where are you at with releasing all your MySpace podcasts on CD?

CS: Family Force 5 has always worked hard to provide quality entertainment to our fans through many different vehicles, including audio blogs (our myspace podcasts), the Really Real Show (our Spinal-Tap-esque video tales from the road), the Durrty Durrty Blogs (written blogs that give inside scoop on living in a bus/van), etc. We originally did these things to give our fans (and ourselves) something to do, and they have turned out to become some of the most important elements in the band.

We will be releasing a dual-disc piece this January called “The Family Force 5 Audio/Visual Club…for Humans.” One disc will be a DVD with the Really Real Shows, perhaps some music videos, and maybe even a cartoon or two. The other will be a CD featuring audio blogs, remixes, and plenty of other goodies. These elements have certainly drawn us closer to our fans, and they have also pushed us to work harder to think creatively at all times.

KB: I love hearing all your adventures. What have you guys been up to since Warped?

CS: After Warped Tour, Family Force 5 ventured into the beautiful state of Alaska to try to conquer the Yukon…but we had to do it sans our lead vocalist! Soul Glow Activatur went home to be with his wife while they had their baby. His name is Cash, but we all call him Boopers, because we saw the name in a baby-name book and thought it was hilarious.

As a result, we hired a buddy of ours from Toby Mac’s band to play bass so Fatty could serve as a front-man (without having to worry about playing bass and singing lead at the same time)! Crouton helped a lot with the lead vocals, and Nadaddy and I chimed in on the harmonies, background vocals, and screams. We played six shows without Soul Glow, and got him back for our slot opening for All Time Low at their CD release party a couple nights ago. We had a blast without him, but it was comforting to see those hulk fists and that peculiarly-low v-neck shirt back on stage with us.

We leave September 29 to start the Dance Rawr Dance, our nationwide fall tour with the amazing support of Jonezetta and The Secret Handshake.

KB: I understand that you are now involved in making a charity as part of your tour. How did you choose the Hope Collection charity to be the recipient of your donations?

CS: We consider it incredibly important to make an effort to put others first in our lives. There are a lot of horrendous things taking place in the world, and we believe that providing help to these causes is far more important than making money or succeeding in this industry. If we wrote 50 number one hits, sold 8 billion records, and changed the face of music but simply pocketed all the money, we would not consider it a success (although those statistics would be pretty impressive). Family Force 5 is a group that strives for connection and relevance. We want our music to actually MEAN something, and similarly, we also want our merchandise to MEAN something.

There are plenty of organizations with whom we would love to work, but the Hope Collection seemed like a fantastic fit for us because they are associated with fine arts, and because they are particular about working with causes that actually achieve something. We like the fact that Hope allows people to receive education and to seek rehabilitation. It is an equipping organization that provides services people can use rather than just simply putting everybody in a program that may or may not be relevant to each person. Hope seems to legitimately care, and we appreciate that. Most people want to help deep down inside, it’s just a matter of stripping away ourselves enough to see it.


Check out the Dance Rawr Dance Tour with Family Force 5, Jonezetta and The Secret Handshake, which comes to Denver Saturday, October 6 at Cervantes. Bring some cash to purchase the band’s exclusive tour T-shirt, which was designed by the band’s sponsor, Jedidiah(, a company that creates brand attire that also gives back to charitable organizations. A portion of the T-shirt sales will go to the Hope Collection ( organization. Their new album, Business Up Front/Party in the Back (Diamond Edition) was released on Gotee Records this past March.




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