Earlier today, I don’t even remember how, I learned that Five Iron Frenzy have reformed.
Holy fucking fuck.
Five Iron Frenzy’s first album came out in 1996, when I was deep into my evangelical period. (I knew I was rabidly Christian, but my best friend recently applied the “evangelical” descriptor to my behavior. I have no doubt that was accurate.) At some point before I found their music I found a renewed faith in that old scoundrel, Jesus. I decided I was going to purge evil music out of my ears (Metallica, Danzig, Megadeth, Tom Jones – although I did feel justified keeping Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key Of Life and U2’s The Joshua Tree.) So I dove into Christian rap, punk (what?) and ska. When I finally came upon Five Iron Frenzy’s Upbeats And Beatdowns I thought my heart was going to fucking blow up right out of my chest. I could barely drive away from the Christian bookstore (which was in Dublin, GA – home of the Redneck Games – and was probably called The Olive Branch or something of the sort) in my 1997 Pontiac Sunfire (four-door). I was bouncing in my car from the first yelp from Reese Roper’s throat. (Have no doubt that I tried to sing and dress exactly like Mr. Roper, especially in their video for “A Flowery Song.”)
Over the years I zealously purchased each Five Iron Frenzy album, saw them in concert several times (including during their tour of US roller rinks) and even had their bass player, Keith Hoerig, eat my french fries (that sounds dirty) at a Christian music festival in Stone Mountain, GA. I was in love with them. I wanted to be each one of them and I wanted to marry their saxophonist, Leanor “Jeff The Girl” Ortega.
Even when I walked away from Christianity, I still clung to Five Iron Frenzy. They were the music I got to keep when I broke up with Jesus.
In 2003, Five Iron Frenzy broke up. Occasionally, they still popped up when I was shuffling through music on my computer. Most people I met after high school had no idea of my complete devotion to and obsession with this Christian ska band from the 1990s.
Now they have returned and their new single, “It Was A Dark And Stormy Night,” jolts me to the past. I am back in that car, in that roller rink, near that smelly tent jumping like a fucking lunatic and screaming every lyric and skanking every limb. I no longer connect to their Christian message, but their music still gets to me.