Once upon a time, three brothers and two friends came together to form the Dance Rock powerhouse that is FF5. A decade half later, two remain: the originators, the brother’s duo, Jacob and Joshua Olds. Although the Nashville-based duo have endured much upheaval over the years, FF5 now returns with a new look and music that proves their chemistry to be more potent than ever.
Jacob and Joshua founded FF5 with their older brother and began to carve out their singular sound. “We started melting rock-and-roll and hip-hop and dance music together in a way that was very anarchy-like,” says Jacob. “That fusion of all these different styles became the thing that we lived by-our thinking was, ‘We don’t care if you like us or not, we are who we are, and it’s who we’re meant to be”.
Over the years the group has released four full length albums, three remix albums, one Christmas album, and a plethora of EPs. Even when you thought they were down and out, they come back with a vengeance. Their newest single, “Fire on the Highway”, redefines the possibilities of pop and shows the strange synergy at the heart of FF5. With its shimmering textures, the song draws from Jacob’s affection for ’80s pop and Joshua’s raw rock-and-roll energy to dream up a hypnotic yet hook-driven sound. Like most of their new material, the synth-laced track was shaped by the band’s belief in following through on the beautiful mistakes that so often occur in the creative process.
Dylan Lyles, an avid listener of Family Force 5 since 2006, had the chance to chat with the brothers. They had a chance to chat about the early days, the hardships they have faced in recent years, and their massive comeback. Welcome to the new era of FF5!
For our readers who may not be familiar with the band at all, can you give us a little bit of a background on the early days of FF5 and your first experiences with music?
Jacob: The early days in FF5 were a grind. Just like any starting band we had our share of sleeping on peoples floors that we met at the our shows (most of the time fans haha) and barely making it to gigs, but making it in time for the show. Always getting sick from lack of sleep from driving all night, but it was worth every bit of it. My first experience with music on the road was just being very thankful that I was playing music and getting to travel, and seeing how our music made people feel something. It was very cool to see and be apart of.
I always was like, “is this really happening or is someone gonna pinch me and it’s gonna be just a dream?”
The uniqueness of FF5 is that every album sounds different. You’ll never mistake a “Dance or Die” song for a “Business Up Front” song, just like nothing off of “Time Stands Still” sounds like “III”. Do you guys approach each record with the idea of creating a different sound?
Jacob: We approach each record with a new perspective. I think the sound follows it’s own path on each record. We get inspired by different sounds and what mood we are in when we write and what we want to say and convey at that particular moment in time. I think that’s why it’s alway a wild card. We want to keep pushing ourselves to be better at what we do, that’s why we try and change it up some.
In 2013, Solomon (Soul Glow Activatur) leaves the band to focus on other ventures. Can you give a little insight on how you guys were feeling at the time? As brothers you guys have been making music since you were kids. What was the atmosphere in the FF5 camp around this time?
Jacob: I think we all knew Soli wanted to move on and there were talks of FF5 hanging it up, but I think we all wanted to keep moving and try it without our older bro. It was hard but we all understood that Soli wanted to try something new and we couldn’t keep him from that.
Jacob, you have always played a vocal role on many tracks in your discography. What was it like going from drummer/vocalist to full blown frontman?
Jacob: It was a little scary. I knew I always wanted to step out from behind the drums but I also knew that people would hate me because I was taking over a job that my older bro was really good at. I think the transition from Soli leaving to me taking his spot went as smooth as it could have gone. I knew I was not gonna try and fill his shoes and be like him, but I was gonna be me. And ……I think I’m a better dancer than I am a drummer. haha. I got the gig because I could sing and play drums at the same time.
It’s 2018, FF5 has entered an entirely new chapter. How are you guys feeling at this moment?
Jacob: I feel invigorated this year. I’m glad we have new music and art coming out and I’m really looking forward to people getting to hear it.
You guys have truly been through it all together, the highs and the lows. Was there ever a point where you guys honestly weren’t sure of the band’s status? A time where you guys maybe felt that enough was enough?
Jacob: Yeah 2017. We had just finished what we thought was gonna be our record in late 2016. And it never came out. We had members of the band leave because they all wanted to pursue other things than FF5. It was a dark year for us and at every turn there seemed to be something else, but we believed in the music and that’s honestly what helped us push through.
I’ve seen you guys mention that you have an album already completed and ready to go. You guys have even gone as far as playing that album in its entirety live this past year. With the many changes you’ve gone through since then, will this album eventually see the light of day or is it a clean slate from here forward?
Jacob: You know I think some of the songs will, but not the full album that was finished in 2016.
I’m absolutely loving the new track, “Fire on the Highway”. Like I’ve mentioned before, there’s a distinction between this track and the music you guys have done previously. What was your inspiration behind this song; what’s its story?
Josh: The inspiration for the song – is that freedom you get when you’re a teenager and you FINALLY get your license….you’re able to just drive, and blast music, and kinda start becoming your own person.
This is definitely a new chapter for FF5 as a whole. What can we expect from you two as we go through 2018?
Josh: I think you can expect what FF5 has always brought to the table which is a great live show, as well as music that you can get lost in and forget everything that’s going on in the World.
We can’t forget to mention that FF5 has always, no matter the era, put on some of the best live shows ever seen. The high energy is infectious and I’d be hard pressed to say there are any butts left in the seats when you guys play. Can we expect a few shows, maybe a tour this year, or is the focus at the moment to adjust to the changes and keep putting on great tunes?
Josh: There’s most DEFINITELY some tours in 2018 with incredible energy behind them, and a multitude of unexpected guests! ;-)
Speaking of live shows, over the Christmas holiday you guys did something very special. After 4 years away from the FF5 mic, save for an appearance here and there, Mr. Soul Glow Activatur joined you guys for a full set in Nashville. How did that feel having all three of you back on stage again? Was this a one off, or could we expect any future shows to come of this?
Josh: Haha, it always feels incredible to play with our brother. And there might be something in the works… :)
Not to be selfish, but I promised myself that I would ask this question if I ever had a chance to speak with you guys. Your Christmas album, “Christmas Pageant” has become a main stay for my holiday since 2009. What are the odds that we get a sequel, “Christmas Pageant II” sometime in the future?
Josh: That’s a very good question. I think we we’re always playing around with the idea of another Christmas record. They are fun to do – we’re just on the hunt for the correct songs to put on it.
With the many changes that have taken place over the years, what are your goals as artists going into the future?
Josh: I think the goal is always to make great music, and always be evolving. I want to put out music that people want to listen to.
Thank you so much for talking with us guys. Like I said before, I’m a huge fan and it’s been a true honor. Where are the best places we can keep up with your continuing adventures, and the path that lies ahead?
Josh: Well, you can always talk to our on our social media channels! @ff5band as well as Facebook! We’re always looking!
Obsessed with all things horror, video games, comics and vinyl, Dylan has been surrounded by all things geek culture since birth. Along with writing for Icon Versus Icon he’s also the co-host for the year long Christmas podcast, “Christmas 365”.
“No wimps. No False Metal.”