Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Reese Roper Interview

The first time I heard Five Iron Frenzy, I was in the youth center at Church when "Dandelions" was playing. I was hooked immediately. Five Iron quickly became my favorite group, and by my Junior year of High School I could be seen sporting a five iron shirt or hoody everyday of the week. Not kidding. The first time I saw them live, (unfortunately their last show in Atlanta) completely blew me away! They had one of the highest energy shows around, and not one person in that venue was still. Even to this day, Five Iron's combination of fast paced ska and upbeat lyrics filled with unending hope can lift me out of some of the saddest funks. I live for the day when the members of FIF reunite, and take the stage again...
When I started this blog I wanted to get interviews from my three favorite vocalists growing up. First I got Matt "Mojo" Morginsky (Supertones), then came Matt Thiessen (Relient K). Now I have the final piece to the puzzle, Reese Roper (Five Iron Frenzy, Brave Saint Saturn and Roper). With a great deal of help from my buddy Dave Thomas, I bring you a slightly intimate interview with the great Reese Roper.

Mouser:"I hope you hate it". You have coined this phrase and I have always wondered where it came from?
Roper: It came from the fact that I actually did hope that people hated whatever song we were playing at some show back in 1996. I really was getting a dose of much needed humble pie from the Lord, and I thought it ironic that bands always say the same thing before songs: " This is a new song, blah, blah, blah- I hope you like it." So I felt really convicted. I was introducing a song and it just came out. It was so funny and self- deprecating, I just kept saying it. Ask my wife, I'm not really very funny, I just keep recycling jokes.
Thomas: What lasting friendships did you make with you toured with? Do you still keep in touch with The W's, Supertones, Less Than Jake, Switchfoot,etc.?
Roper: I am a pretty good actor. Most of my friendships are based on the fact that I pretend to be outgoing and funny in social situations, but when I get home, I tend to isolate myself because I am actually somewhat bipolar and introverted. So it is really hard for me to invest time into a relationship because I get kind of freaked out by the thought of doing something that part of my mind keeps telling me is "unproductive". I still am close with Andy and Brad from FIF, and see everyone else once or twice a year. I talk to some of the guys from the Insyderz and the Supertones occasionally, or see bands when they come through every now and again, but not as much as I would really like to.
Thomas: What actually happened with Guerilla Rodeo? Why didn't it go anywhere?
Roper: Guerilla Rodeo came about from Sonnie and I planning on how to "undo" all the mistakes that we felt we had made in previous bands. In doing so, we overplanned. We wanted to all move to a city that would be perfect to tour out of, own our own label- to basically control everything. We made the demo, and then it just kind if fell apart. The plan was not working, and everyone kind of just started to do their own thing. I got scared and quit. So if you need to blame someone for pulling the plug- you can blame me. In hindsight, probably one of the dumbest things I've ever done.
Mouser: Can you tell me a little about the new Five Iron DVD "The Rise and Fall of Five Iron Frenzy"?
Roper: It is the end product of five years of meticulously trying to chronicle the story if Five Iron, telling our story, and letting everyone's voice be heard- and six months of sleeping 16 hours a week, furiously trying to meet a deadline for something I was way above my head to have attempted. It could have so good with just a few more months to work on it, but I'm pleased with how it came out, considering how difficult it was.
Mouser: I had a chance to meet you after a show in Georgia once and foundout that you were trying to quit autographs, instead you gave me a fantastic hug that was way better then an autograph. Wondering if you have completley kicked the habit?
Roper: I actually never signed autographs while in Five Iron. In the band we were in before it, Exhumator, I remember bragging about being asked to autograph something to the other guys. I immediately felt like a complete turd, and decided I would, from that point forward- never sign an autograph. There were times in other countries that I would sign "jerk" or "jerkface", just because I felt like I couldn't adequately explain why I wasn't signing something for them. I just hoped their English was poor enough to not notice. But, yeah- I have always felt that the time it took me to explain to everyone why I didn't do it would help to humble me, and the Lord could use it to open a conversation that would be more meaningful than, " Hey, thanks kid. Here's my scrawled signature." It almost always worked.
Thomas: I have heard that Five Iron chose to set a 10 year rule as a band, committing to not getting back together for at least 10 years. Is there a chance of a FIF reunion in 2013?
There is always a chance. Even as we speak, there is a chance...
Mouser: Can you tell me the top two songs from your extensive catalog that you are most proud of?
Gosh, that's tough. It would be much easier to tell you the ones that I am least proud of. I think the songs I am the most proud of would have to be "Daylight" from The Light of Things Hoped For, and "INVICTUS" from Anti-Meridian. They are both some of the most honest worship songs I have ever written. I can think of things I would do better if I could re-record them, but musically and lyrically, they are two of maybe five songs I have ever recorded that I can't think of any way to make better.
Mouser: Are you currently writing/recording?
Yes. I am having a bit of trouble finding time right now because I have somehow been wrestled into taking a supervisory position as a nurse and I went from 3, 12 hour shifts to 5, 8-10 hour shifts. Part of the reason I became a nurse was to free up time to make rock, and it isn't quite working now. Also, I have a three month old daughter who gets me as Mr. Mom four nights a week- also time consuming (but incredibly awesome). So... there are about four projects I am trying to start, but slowly. There was a promised BS2 B-sides album with some redos of old songs- AD- INFINITUM; I am doing a worship project with Some of the guys from Showbread called The Theives Guild; I want to do a project with my wife called The Light Fantastic; and I am doing a new wave band with Matt from Eleventy- Seven, Joey Bellville from The Echoing Green, and Nick White- the drummer from Roper- that we think will be called Pool Party Death Machine. It's a bit overwhelming.
Mouser: Who are some artists you really look up to right now?
Roper: Travis Charest is the best artist around today. Oh, you meant music. Have you heard House of Heroes? They are so good it makes me want to go back in time and to stop myself from ever existing. Nothing I have ever done is that good or cool. Other than that, I am completely inspired by anything Dr. Luke touches- as a producer. I am a sucker for catchy, hooky, pop- and the stuff he produces is quite possibly the most saccharine sweet in human history.
Mouser: Can you tell me about the project with members of Showbread?
Roper: The Thieves Guild. Josh had this idea a few years ago that we should make a collaborative worship album over the mail. I told him I didn't think that was such a good idea because I secretly HATE worship music, thinking it weak and predictable, with lyrics designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator- not the greatest art ever created by mankind, as I think true worship should attempt to be (or at least the best that any individual can create). Very talented people make some very bad songs so that people with a fourth grade reading level can sing along. Sure, corporate worship is good- but for me, I get very bored in Church trying to worship. So, Josh assured me that he too, hates this. We have been trying to make The Thieves Guild be a type of worship that may not carry out so well in a normal church worship service- but worship, nonetheless. The only hold up, is that I am slow.
Thomas: How can Christians best reach out to those in the music scene and spread the Gospel without being to preachy or cheesy?
Roper: I think that if we follow in the path of Christ, and love the world- actually LOVE people, there is no need to spread the Gospel or preach to people. He spoke to people who were willing to listen, people that He had served beforehand because He loved them. If you actually care about the people in the music scene, the things you do out of love will come naturally. It's the same things you do with your friends and family. That is all God asks of us. We aren't the Holy Spirit. I don't think we are responsible for the salvation of six billion people. But I do think that we are responsible to not just keep the love that God has shown us inside. If we are faithful with that, if we truly love other people, they will see it. That love is infectious. It drew us all to find out who Christ was and the truth about His gospel. It still works that way, no matter how flashy you package it.
Mouser: Is there anything the Lord has recently put on your heart (verse/book), that you would be willing to share?
Roper: All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure. - Mark Twain


  1. How are there no comments on this interview? Reese Roper is a true, authentic individual who loves God amidst the crap that modern Christian music can offer. Great interview, great band, great man, and great God that inspires it all.

  2. Thanks for this, great interview.

  3. "I secretly HATE worship music, thinking it weak and predictable, with lyrics designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator- not the greatest art ever created by mankind, as I think true worship should attempt to be (or at least the best that any individual can create). Very talented people make some very bad songs so that people with a fourth grade reading level can sing along. Sure, corporate worship is good- but for me, I get very bored in Church trying to worship".

    Sooooo true.

  4. I used to like Reese until this interview. I am getting a very fake sense of humility, especially when it comes to "Worship" music. No matter the academic level of the song one has to think is what I am saying true and am I saying it from my heart to God's glory. God always uses the simple, the mundane, and uneducated to humble the complex, exciting, and educated. There also seems to be a lack of credit given to God for working through the music that Reese creates. We're not to hope people hate what we do when we do it for the glory of God, but when credit is given we must redirect that to who gave us the words to write on paper. It's was really sad to read this.

    1. Hey look everybody! Here's an adventure in missing the point.

  5. This is great. I have been a close follower of Reese's work since about 1995 or so (I was 14 then). He has gotten me through a lot of dark times. I'm very glad he is still in the public eye. He is the kind of person that should be. Reese has a way of showing you raw humanity until you can't help but see it like God does. One way or another, most of art seems to be about escaping "humanity," in all its limits, mediocrity, etc. Reese takes the experience like it is though and uses it to tell a story about God's love. I hope he grows his influence for the sake of those who need it.

  6. Aaaannndd, eight years later, here i am! Thanks for the interview and sharing this beauty with the world. I love reese, and i don't get why BSS isn't more celebrated. i don't know of any modern christian art more beautiful and true.

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