This article is from Issue 61: Jan/Feb 2013

The Revenge of Five Iron Frenzy

A rogue fan. Internet rumors. Crashed servers. The road to the legendary ska band’s reunion has been anything but ordinary.

It's one of New York City’s brisk fall mornings, and Reese Roper is waking up in a music studio. He’s in a band, so you know the drill. He stayed late writing lyrics and laying down tracks with the rest of the posse. Everyone else went home. Roper decided to get more done and ended up crashing at the studio—all the easier to start recording again in the morning.

Business as usual for any band hard at work on a hotly anticipated follow-up. But Five Iron Frenzy is hardly any band. And this album is far from the usual follow-up.

The octet—originally of Denver, but now from a little bit of everywhere—is one of the most ferociously beloved bands of Christian rock’s early-aughts heyday. And while many of the band’s peers have moved on to irrelevance or, in some cases, laughingstocks, Five Iron’s fanbase remains uncommonly devoted. Within minutes of announcing a Kickstarter campaign to fund their reunion album, the band hit its $30,000 goal. By the time the project was over, they’d raised over $200,000.

To reiterate, these guys hadn’t recorded a single note together since their obsessively mourned breakup eight years prior. One could hardly blame them for being a little rusty. But Roper says that, against all odds, it’s been like getting back on a bike.

“I thought when we played shows, it was going to be horrible and very rough,” he says. “But I don’t think we’ve ever been this tight. Somehow, we’re sounding better than we ever have.”

Not bad for a band coming off nearly a decade-long breakup—a breakup, says Roper, in which the back door had never been shut tight.

“I think even as we were breaking up, we were like, ‘Maybe we can get back together in 10 years or so,’” he says. “[Trombone player] Dennis would come into Denver when I lived there, and then we would get together for a barbecue or something, and we’d say, ‘Hey, have you guys thought about it?’ And we’re like, ‘Ah, too early.’”

But “too early” has finally turned into “go time,” adding another offbeat, unexpected but widly embraced chapter to Five Iron Frenzy’s zany history.