Tag Archives: five iron frenzy

Broken and Not So Broken

6 Jun

This is my walking boot. I decorate it, of course.

“God, I’m in the place again/I’m trying so hard not to fall/But everything keeps coming down with the rain.”–Everyday Sunday

I’ve always appreciated melancholy songs.  There’s something about the toned down, raw nature of a rock band that grips my heart and makes me pay attention, like KISS’s “Beth” or Five Iron Frenzy’s “Every New Day.”  (Yes, I just mentioned KISS and Five Iron Frenzy in the same sentence.  Incidentally, “Beth” is the only KISS song I know.)

Since lyrics and song melodies move me, it’s understandable why I’ve danced my way into the genre of singer/songwriter in my old(er) age (though I still enjoy Southern rock, like Credence Clearwater Revival and more recently, NeedToBreathe.)  Lately, it seems, I find comfort in the likes of Bebo Norman (surprise, surpise!), JJ Heller, Audrey Assad, Josh Wilson, and Andrew Peterson.

See, I haven’t had an easy go of things lately.  In mid-May, I broke my left foot. Yes, friends, another broken foot.  As you may recall, I broke my right foot about 15 months ago…and the healing process for the right foot has been excruciatingly slow.  After a couple tests, my foot doctor discovered my Vitamin D level to be pitifully low and started me on a regimen 50,000 units of Vitamin D weekly.  That’s the boring medical part.

This happened a week after I made some changes in my life, after all night prayer sessions, talks with my pastor, and weeping before the Lord, I felt Him saying to me, as He said to Elijah as he ran for his life from evil Queen Jezebel, “The journey has been too much for you.  Rest now, My child, I will take care of the details.”  Two weeks after resigning as lead of a ministry and falling into a more manageable role on the leadership team, I broke my foot simply by getting up from (or rather down) from one of our counter height dining room chairs.

This started a longer-than-I-anticipated journey of rest–no driving, walking around with a rollator (rolling walker), going down the stairs with a cane, needing assistance with normal tasks like showering, shopping, and getting here and there.  Oh, and of course, resting with my legs elevated to improve healing time.  Alone all day in my apartment.  It sounds perfectly lovely to harried people who could use a day off, but it’s house arrest for a social, relational woman like me.

So I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to God and listening to music.  At first, I was struck with severe anxiety, which I believe was my anxiety disorder as well as a spiritual attack from the enemy.  I cried–wailed actually–and copied psalm after psalm from the Bible into my journal.  My fervency for God was strong and trust was a moment by moment walk.  While I don’t miss the panic attacks and tears, I wish I could maintain the level of urgency for God and His Holy Word when I’m not in the throes of fear.

I don’t always listen to music.  I like silence, too.  I can hear the birds singing merrily, the engine of the mail truck, laughter and screams from neighborhood children, the clink of my dog’s tags as she roams about the apartment, and my cockatiel’s own chirps.  So many ordinary sounds that make up the backdrop of this orchestra called life…and most of the time, I barely notice.

And I’m reading.  As much as I love to read, I don’t always make time for it.  Besides my Bible study reading (The Story and Crazy Love) and my daily devotional, Jesus Calling, I’m juggling three books right now–One Thousand Gifts, The Parable of Joy, and The Covenant Child.  My attention span seems to have increased as a result of my sitting in this stillness.

My writing life has been rich, though much of it has come alive in my journal–private conversations between God and me.  While this isn’t a measurable source of earthly wealth, it is the most important writing that I can do.  I call it “holy writing.”  If my purpose here on earth is to bring glory and honor to God, then my writing–for Him and Him alone–can have no higher calling.  Face down before the Throne of God, I write and write, like some ancient, inspired scribe.  Perhaps I will pick out thoughts to blog about here.  Or maybe write that book I’m always thinking about.

Don’t get me wrong.  I would never have chosen this path, but I am learning to be thankful for it.  I am grateful for the friends God has given to support me in this time.  It’s funny how my One Word for 2013 is LOVED and He is showing me how LOVED I really am! (Even when I start to believe the lie that no one cares, including God.)  Who would have thought the path to knowing I am LOVED would come with so much pain and brokenness–the actual physical breaking of another bone?  It seems all paths are littered with sorrow and suffering.  Is it any wonder that these are little Much Afraid’s guides to the high places in Hind’s Feet on High Places? (I plan to re-read the book as soon as I finish The Covenant Child.)

I am loved.  It rings loudly and clearly throughout my days, and it is revealed through so many ways and so many people.

If I hadn’t broken my left foot, my small group leader wouldn’t have moved our Bible study into her living room so I could attend showing me that I am LOVED.  (Thanks, Amanda!)

Nor would I have received a ride to the Bible study I lead from one of the attendees.  (Thanks, Patty!)

I would never have trusted God to help me make it up to the choir loft for praise team or give me strength to sing when my jaw ached with TMJD pain.  (Thanks to the Praise Team for their encouragement!)

I have moments of despair, when I feel God’s touch or receive a phone call or text or Facebook message.  These are precious things I gather into my heart.  Someone is praying or God is teaching me to trust Him more and more.  I hate the aloneness, and I love the intimacy with God.

If this hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post.  Perhaps I’d write something else, or maybe nothing at all.  I know not the path I would’ve taken and it hardly matters because this is where I am.  Everything around me is speaking to me–the book One Thousands Gifts, reading the book of Ruth this morning (I was struck that Naomi was so very bitter and yet so very blessed through Ruth in the end.  In the middle, it seemed she would never have joy again), and in watching The Fellowship of the Ring last week. (Frodo never CHOSE for the ring to come into his possession, yet it did.  Yet he carried the burden anyway.  He chose to do the right thing in the midst of his circumstances.)

It’s a conscious choice, this choosing to be thankful and grateful in the midst of this disappointment.  Perhaps it’s a divine appointment to receive greater joy.  That’s an encouraging thought, isn’t it?

Tell me, how has God taught you to be faithful or thankful in the midst of something hard or disappointing?  What have you been reading lately?  Do you miss the fervency of intimacy with God when you aren’t going through trials?

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I’m thankful that Five Iron Frenzy is back!!!

22 Nov

Did ya hear, did ya hear?! 

Two years ago, I shared that I will always be grateful for Five Iron Frenzy (read insightful post), particularly Leanor Ortega Till and Reese Roper…and now I’m even more excited about the band’s planned 2013 album!  Five Iron Frenzy is currently raising funds via KickStarter, but the pledges are already over the estimated $30,000 that it would take the group to make the new album (somewhere around $50,000 last I checked), but of course, other costs always come up, so support my beloved Five Iron Frenzy.

Oh, and check out their new song, “It Was A Dark and Stormy” night.  My free download didn’t work, which would make me cry if sobbing didn’t tighten my jaw causing TMJ pain, but you can watch this video repeatedly.  I love saying, “Did you hear the new FIF song?”  And I’ll get to say that a whole lot more in a couple of years.

Are you a Five Iron Frenzy fanatic?  What’s your fave FIF song?  How did the band impact your life?  Are you psyched about the 2013 album?

Take 5 with Jason Carson of The Supertones

8 Jul

When I was a teenager in the mid-to-late 90’s, the third wave ska movement was in full swing, especially in Christian music circles with bands like Five Iron Frenzy, the Insyderz, and of course, the Orange County Supertones.  A fan favorite, the Supertones released a bevy of radio hits including “Away From You,” “Little Man,” and many others included on release of their “greatest hits” called Reunite (BEC).  Now husbands, pastors, worship leaders, and church planters, the Supertones decided to regroup for a summer 2010 tour, which is now in full swing.  Drummer and preacher Jason Carson was kind enough to Take 5 with Backseat Writer (and he secretly knows that “Wilderness” is his favorite Supertones song).

What are you currently working on/doing?
EVERY GUY IN THE BAND IS IN MINISTRY. THREE OF US ARE FULL TIME YOUTH PASTORS, TWO ARE WORSHIP LEADERS FOR THEIR CHURCHES, AND ONE GUY (MOJO) IS IN SEMINARY AND DESIRES TO PLANT A CHURCH. SO WE’RE ALL PRETTY BUSY.

Why did the Supertones decide to regroup, release an album, and do some summer touring?
TONY (BASS) AND I HAVE BEEN BEST FRIENDS FOR OVER 20 YEARS NOW. I’VE BEEN OUT OF THE BAND 10 YEARS, TONY’S BEEN OUT 8 YEARS, AND WE BOTH STARTED TALKING, “WHAT IF WE DID THE BAND ONE MORE TIME AND HAD MORE OF A MINISTRY FOCUS THAN EVER? WHAT IF WE LED THE PEOPLE IN WORSHIP AND ENCOURAGED THEM LIKE NEVER BEFORE?” AND WE BOTH GOT REALLY EXCITED! ONE THING LED TO ANOTHER, AND AFTER ABOUT A TWO YEAR PROCESS… HERE WE ARE.

In May, the Supertones released Reunite, which brings 12 band hits together in one album.  How did you choose these songs and how could you leave “Wilderness” out of the mix?
BEC RECORDINGSS HAD THE IDEA TO GET A NEW COMPILATION OUT TO HELP BUILD BUZZ FOR THE TOUR.  WE THOUGHT IT’D BE A COOL THING IF WE PUT OUR BASIC 12 SONG SET LIST IN ORDER ON THE CD. AS FAR AS “WILDERNESS” GOES, SORRY TO BREAK IT TO YOU… IT WOULDN’T HAVE MADE THE TOP 17. …MAYBE 18TH OR 19TH THOUGH.  HAHAHA.

The “ska” sound is something that has never really died down as fans for groups like the Supertones and Five Iron Frenzy have been calling for reunion tours since you disbanded. Why do you think the Supertones maintained such a huge following, despite “breaking up” in 2005?
I THINK PEOPLE LIKE THE LIFE AND JOY IN THE MUSIC. MOJO (vocalist Matt Morginsky) SAID A FUNNY THING THE OTHER NIGHT AT ONE OF OUR SHOWS. HE SAID, “THE REASON WE CAME BACK IS CUZ YOU’VE ALL BEEN LISTENING TO ALL THIS EMO MUSIC AND IT’S MADE YOU ALL DEPRESSED.  WE’RE BACK SO THAT WE CAN HAVE A BIG PARTY FOR GOD AND BRING SMILES BACK TO YOUR FACES!” CLASSIC MOJO.

Why did you miss most about not doing the Supertones full time?
BEING TOGETHER AS BROTHERS, DOING MINISTRY ON THAT LEVEL, AND THE IDEA OF KNOWING THAT OUR MUSIC AND CONCERTS WERE A BIG PART OF PEOPLE’S LIVES.

And, one final question, would you do a reunion tour with Five Iron Frenzy and other ska friends should they come out of retirement?  (Do we need to make another Facebook group?)
FIRST OF ALL, I BELIEVE WE PLAY WITH THE INSYDERZ ON OCTOBER 22ND IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA, SO THAT’S COOL!  WE GET THIS QUESTION MORE THAN YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE.

iT’S A FUNNY QUESTION. THE SUPERTONES ARE NOT EVEN TALKING ABOUT TOURING. WE’RE JUST PLAYING 12 SHOWS THIS SUMMER, AND THEN WE’LL SEE WHERE IT GOES FROM THERE. WE LOVE THE GUYS IN FIVE IRON AND INSYDERZ MORE THAN YOU KNOW, AND IF WE WERE TO DO A TOUR, THAT SURE WOULD BE A COOL ONE!

BUT IT’S FUNNY BECAUSE WE HAVE A HARD ENOUGH TIME GETTING THE 6 OF US IN THE SUPERTONES TOGETHER, AND ON THE SAME SCHEDULE FROM LITERALLY ALL OVER THE COUNTRY… LET ALONE THE 8 PEOPLE IN FIVE IRON, AND THE 6 GUYS IN INSYDERZ. BUT HEY, WITH GOD… ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.

Take 5 with singer/songwriter Justin McRoberts

10 Jun

Singer/songwriter Justin McRoberts has long been a favorite artist of mine, so I was extremely interested in hearing his latest album, Through Songs I Was First Undone. The recent release contains some of McRoberts favorite songs from artists such as Aimee Mann, Nine Inch Nails, George Michael, and Tom Petty.  Interestingly enough, McRobert’s spin on the songs is a surprisingly spiritual experience.  While waiting for the imminent birth of his second child, Justin still graciously participated in a “Take 5” with Backseat Writer. Congrats to the McRoberts family on the addition of their newest family member, Asa Jonathan McRoberts born on June 5 (click for baby pic).

Some people might be surprised by some of the song choices on Through Songs I Was First Undone. Why did you choose such a wide variety of songs?

This process was actually rather stressful. I started with a much longer list than 10 [songs] and could have gone a few different directions with song choices but eventually stuck with the 10 I thought I could perform most honorably.

The thing that ties each of the songs together is “Story”. Not that every song is written in story form, but that every song is reflective of a story; whether it be the artist’s story, as in the case with Tom Waits’ “Georgia Lee” or the culture’s story as in the case of NIN’s “Head Like A Hole.”  If I had an agenda going into this project, it was to make reveal the common nature of the human story as it is communicated in and through art.  So, whether it’s a pop song or a folk ballad or an industrial track, the same basic themes show up.

One of my favorite covers on the album is “No One is to Blame.”  Every though I’ve sung along to this song on the radio my whole life, I still have no idea what it’s about (except that no one is to blame).  What is the song about and what did you choose it?

It’s hard to say for sure what the song is about, since Howard Jones never said much about its specifics.  Some believe the line “you want her and she wants you” hints at some kind of extra-relational affair. I’m not so convinced. It seems far more general than that. The following line “we want everyone” seems to imply this to me; that it’s not so much about a particular desire for a particular person but the constant dissatisfaction we find in the pursuit of pleasure.

Until your album, I never heard the song “Georgia Lee.”  It’s such a sad and beautiful song, and it asks so many of the questions that we as Christians ask ourselves all the time.  How has this song impacted you personally?

The question of God’s goodness is central to the human story. It is, in many ways, the ultimate question.  I touch on this only slightly in a blog post about the song (read post).  Waits’ song takes us to the most vulnerable part of our collective self (our kids) and forces us to sincerely question if we can trust God.  I don’t think the answer to this question is ever a one time “yes” or “no.”  It is a constant question; a continual tension between our expectations and reality.  I dealt with it most prominently in light of my father’s suicide and have since found great solace in songs or stories that touch on the unresolved nature of this tension.

What I love about your music, and even with your album of cover songs, is that you put so much thought into the songs you choose to release.  You also explain your reasons behind your choices on your blog.  How has blogging allowed you to connect with fans?

Well, after years of ‘knowing’ that storytelling was an integral element to my work as an artist, I finally made space for that activity outside of being physically present. Of course, the best case scenario for storytelling is physical presence but the blog has been a solid option.  Also, the balance between “talk” and “rock” can be a bit testy; knowing that I can tell a whole story online keeps me from feeling like I have to wrap everything up during a 90 minute show.

It has also been a great discipline for me as a communicator. I really enjoy writing and would like to do more with it.

I remember the old days when you were on 5 Minute Walk with Five Iron Frenzy, The W’s, and the rest of the game.  If you could go back and talk to that Justin McRoberts, what would you tell him?  (And what do you miss most about Five Iron Frenzy? Reese paid me $10 to ask that question…not really.)

Oh, wow.. um.. I’d probably tell him to eat less white flour. That’s for starters.

More important than that, I’d tell him that he could be more confident about his convictions because he’d end up being right: Make friends instead of fans; Make partnerships instead of contacts; Continue to value “Home” as his anchor and be the same person in all situations. I’d tell him to go ahead and write the songs he wants to write because he’d end up being right about that, too; people really want to deal with aationalism, sexual identity, poverty, etc. That “sales” can never dictate his decision making.

What I miss about FIF is that they really “did business” they way I do: relationally. I loved that they intentionally blessed people and valued their friendships and partnerships above their profits.

For more information on Justin McRoberts, visit him online at JustinMcRoberts.com, friend him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter.

Christmas Un-Wrapped with Reese Roper

22 Dec

Reese Roper (Five Iron Frenzy, brave Saint Saint, Roper) granted me one of my first interviews ever—for my cut-and-paste zine, Third Nail.  I thanked him by giving him a can of Spam.  Now we’re both much older and we’re doing it again—interviewer and interviewee—to celebrate the holidays with another Christmas Un-Wrapped.

Speaking of wrapping, I’m still hoping to get brave Saint Saturn’s third and final release, Anti-Meridian, for Christmas.  That is, if Reese ever sends me my review copy (I’m pretty sure it’s a lost cause).  Also, remember to keep a look out for The Rise and Fall of Five Iron Frenzy, a documentary about FIF to be released in early 2010 and distributed by Asian Man Records.

What’s your fave Christmas song/Christmas movie or cartoon/Christmas cookie?
Christmas Song—“Oh Holy Night” as recorded by Seven Day Jesus. I have literally wept several hundred times while listening to it. I’m not even kidding. It is made so much better by the fact that there are only about 12 good Christmas songs and thousands of other horrifically crappy ones.

Christmas Movie—Die Hard. YES, it is a Christmas movie- the credits play out as Run DMC sings “Christmas in Hollis”.

Christmas Cookie- Peanut butter cookies are the best, no matter what time of year.

New Year’s resolution—yes or no? If yes, what is your resolution?

Resolution- No. Revolution- Heck yes! 365.25 times a year I enjoy the earth revolving on its axis!

Have you ever recorded a Christmas song of your own—what song did you do and what makes it the best one on the planet?

Five Iron Frenzy recorded a horribly botched version of “You Gotta Get Up” by Rich Mullins. I think hospitals now use it as a cheaper way to induce vomiting than stomach pumping. Were we to be able to do it again I would have chosen to cover “Christmas in Hollis” by the aforementioned RunDMC in some sort of lounge style.

I’m Will Always Be Thankful For Five Iron Frenzy

25 Nov

I’m trying to become a more positive person, because I can go from happy to negative in one second flat.  Part of letting go of negativity, I think, is embracing thankfulness—for what God has given me, even though at times I grumble about how it’s not what I really want.  God knows what I need, not what I want, and my only option is to follow Him because that’s where my true inner joy and peace comes from.  John Piper affectionately calls this Christian hedonism.

Normally, I don’t capitalize on the Thanksgiving holiday because forget the turkey and football, I want those Black Friday sale ads (I get an early start, head to BFads.net) so I can make my strategic shopping battle plan.  However, despite the inaccuracies in the original story of Thanksgiving (you know, the pilgrims and the natives chillaxin’ with a big ol’ turkey), it is still a great time to give thanks for all the good things that flow from the Father of Lights.

Instead of naming each and every person, place, and thing I’m thankful for, I’d like to mention one band, Five Iron Frenzy, whose members have profoundly impacted my life.  Incidentally, the band does have a memorial DVD called The Rise and Fall of Five Iron Frenzy coming out sometime next year—can’t wait for that!

Five Iron Frenzy will forever and always be my favorite band.  I remember discovering their first CD in the music section at a Christian bookstore when I was in high school.  After loving the CD, I e-mailed the band and THREE of the members wrote back to me, including Reese Roper, who I asked to the prom (or rather “the junior/senior banquet,” which is the Christian school version of a prom).  He said he’d go if I’d pay for the plane ticket.  Uh, I didn’t have that kind of money.  Still, it was pretty hilarious.

Then I met the band in person that summer at the Creation Festival and had a lengthy conversation with the wonderful Leanor “Jeff the Girl” Ortega Till.  I became one of her many pen pals, and her letters deeply impacted my life and still do.  Just the fact that she took the time to write to a pimply face high school girl who felt worthless changed my life.

When I started a zine, Reese, Jeff, Micah Ortega, and Keith Hoerig agreed to be interviewed.  It was a cut-and-past job, but Five Iron Frenzy treated me as though I was writing for CCM Magazine.  Whenever I saw Reese or Jeff, I was greeted with a huge hug and “How are you?”  And I was just surprised they remembered my name!

In 2001 after recovering from my scary illness (read post), I talked to Reese about my fears—of it coming back, of going to the hospital, of getting headaches.  He gave me his personal cell phone number and told me to call him if I needed prayer.  I called him once and he prayed.

The last time I saw Five Iron Frenzy was the first date of their last tour—when they played at my church.  I stood backstage and bawled during “Every New Day.” I walked away before they came off stage; I didn’t want them to see me like that.  We got the band to the autograph line and I chatted with a few of the FIF member’s wives (nice ladies!). The manager for another band was trying to push the line through or he threatened that his band would not sign autographs.  See, Five Iron Frenzy took their time to talk and get to know every fan that came through the line.  They didn’t do it because it was a “business thing;” they did it because that is who they were as a band and are as individuals.

Recently, I’ve been able to connect with two of my FIF pals—Reese and Leanor—and it’s so cool to see who they’ve become.  Reese is married to a beautiful gal with an awesome name and pursuing a career as a “murse” (that’s Reese for “male nurse”).  Leanor is also married, has two adorable kiddos (a son and a daughter), and working at Scum of the Earth.  Reese, Leanor, and the rest of Five Iron Frenzy will always be a shining example to me on how artists who call themselves Christians should act.  Was the band perfect?  Certainly not!  Were they real?  Absolutely.  And there was no question that they loved (and still love) God and His children wholeheartedly.

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.” Philippians 1: 3-4

Review :: The Nashville EP & The Bird and the Bee Sides by Relient K

27 Aug

By Amy Sondova After perusing the internet for information on Relient K’s latest project, I discovered that Relient K diehards are disappointed. And for the life of me I can’t figure out why! The Nashville EP & The Birds and the Bee Sides is a collection of original tunes, B-sides, remastered songs, and other randomness that “hasn’t been found on the internet yet” according to front man Matt Thiessen. The album is an expanded version of the delightful silly songs hidden at the end of many Relient K albums (think “Skittles & Combos”).

The 26 tracks on the album are described in two parts—the first 13 tracks called the Nashville EP are an assembly of songs written and performed by various members of the band and the second is a remixed/remastered sampling from various EPs including Apathetic, Employee of the Month, and The Creepy. Not only that, there’s a killer acoustic version of “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been”. Thiessen even nods to his favorite band, The Beach Boys, in “A Penny Loafer Saved is a Penny Loafer Earned” with a bridge of “good vibrations.”

This is a great compilation of all that’s made Relient K a fan favorite over the past eight years. However, it’s probably not a great choice for a first-time listener simply because they wouldn’t “get it.” For example, the band’s ode to the now-defunct dearly loved Five Iron Frenzy might go over the heads of newer fans. While the album is lacking mention of Skittles and Combos, The Nashville EP & The Birds and the Bee Sides is more than enough to satisfy the ears of longtime followers of the band.

Print copy of review.

Read Backseat Writer’s interview with Relient K frontman Matt Thiessen here.

The End is Near

31 Dec

This is one of my favorite Five Iron Frenzy songs. It’s appropriately titled “New Year’s Eve” and it’s off their final album, The End is Here. I listen to this song every year on New Year’s Eve because it helps me to reflect, but also to move forward. I wish I could find a clip of the song, but you’ll all just have to do with the lyrics, which are amazing.

New Year’s Eve By Amy’s Beloved Five Iron Frenzy

It’s New Years Eve and I’m full of empty promises,
I half pretend to keep this time, just like last year.
The band is loud and I’m wandering the shadows,
wishing I was never here.
I persevere.
A crowded room, these whitewashed tombs,
they raise their glasses high, they kiss the past goodbye.

This New Years Eve, I’m waiting for tomorrow.
My heart is on my sleeve,
and yes I still believe, this New Years Eve,
will turn out better than before,
I’m holding on, still holding out,
until they close the door… on me.

It’s New Years Eve and I feel my insecurities,
are haunting me like ghosts, this sinking quicksand.
And then with thunderous praise and lofty adoration,
a second passes by, yet nothing changes.
I hate my skin, this grave I’m standing in.
Another change of years, and I wish I wasn’t here.

A year goes by and I’m staring at my watch again,
and I dig deep this time,
for something greater than I’ve ever been,
life to ancient wineskins.
And I was blind but now I see.
This New Years Eve, something must change me inside,
I’m crooked and misguided, and tired of being tired.
This New Years Eve, I’m waiting for tomorrow.
My heart is on my sleeve, and yes I still believe, in You.

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