Five Iron Frenzy: An extensive oral history of the band straight from the members themselves
Five Iron Frenzy Facebook Five Iron Frenzy circa 2012
Five Iron Frenzy is a Colorado band with a lengthy and storied history. Initially formed as a side project to Exhumator, an industrial-thrash band, Five Iron became a full-time endeavor when its founders -- frontman Reese Roper, bassist Keith Hoerig, guitarists Micah Ortega and Scott Kerr, and drummer Andrew Verdecchio -- realized they had a great deal more fun playing ska than the metal that had originally brought them together. The outfit formed just in time to be a part of the short-lived wave of ska that happened in the second half of the '90s and included bands like Less Than Jake, Skankin' Pickle, Goldfinger and No Doubt.
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Five Iron Frenzy -- rounded out by Leanor "Jeff the Girl" Ortega Till, Dennis Culp, Brad Dunham and Sonnie Johnson -- was united by the members' shared Christian faith, which formed the foundation of the band. But while Five Iron Frenzy is most certainly a Christian band, even from the very beginning, it wasn't an outfit that was easily dismissed.
The band steadily made its mark playing both "secular" and "Christian" shows, and it had a pronounced knack for getting crowds excited with the players' own raw enthusiasm. Although Roper sang about Jesus in his songs, it was never from that judgmental perspective that tends to make headlines, but from a place of compassion mixed with a desire to share a sense of peace and joy with others.
At a time before Denver bands had garnered the type of national acclaim they enjoy today, Five Iron charted on Billboard with its 1997 album, Our Newest Album Ever!, and embarked on numerous tours, making fans all over the globe. After an admirable near-decade-long run, the band parted ways with a sold-out final show at the Fillmore Auditorium in November 2003, leaving behind a catalog brimming with a distinctive, uniquely wry and absurd humor that can be seen on each of its album and many of its song titles.
With the exception of a documentary that Roper put together in 2010, The Rise and Fall of Five Iron Frenzy, which did a great job of catching up with and capturing each of the personalities involved, the group was inactive for the remainder of the decade and the first part of the next, as its members moved on and pursued a broad range of other projects, including Roper, Brave Saint Saturn, Nathan & Stephen (aka Hearts of Palm), Yellow Second and the Hollyfelds, among others.
Two years ago, rumors began circulating that the group was getting back together, speculation that seemed plausible, as the prospect of reconvening someday had always been left open as option for the members. These reunion rumors gained momentum when the band's website administrator put up a countdown for a re-launch of the official site, leading fans to suspect something big was on the horizon.
Turns out, the countdown led to a serious discussion among the members about getting back together, and so in 2011, Five Iron Frenzy was resurrected with a brand new song and the launch of a record setting Kickstarter campaign that astoundingly raised just over a quarter of a million dollars to record a new album (the initial goal was $30,000). Since then, the outfit has played a number of reunion shows and has plans to release a new album next year.
Tonight the group returns home to ring in the New Year at Casselman's Bar & Venue. In advance of tonight's show, we spoke with Roper, Verdecchio, Kerr and Ortega Till to get an oral history of Five Iron, including their experiences in the band and their perspectives on each other.