Heart of the Artist: Family Force 5
There has been some discussion about the content of the new Family Force 5 album in YLO86 (hot). The guys are back and have cranked out another kickin’ album with some amazing dance grooves. That on its own is never enough for us to include an album or artist in Youth Leaders Only. We included III in YLO because of the impact we see the band have when they play live. We’ve seen Soul Glow Activatur, Crouton, Fatty, Nadaddy and Chap Stique with their hulk-hands and crazy live show, but we also consistently see them share who Jesus is from stage and in their lives.
We know you’re probably not going to use any of their songs, quietly playing in the background, as you give an invitation. But just in the same way we watch Tim Tebow plow through the defense as he throws himself into the end zone then say “Yes, he hits hard and he loves Jesus”, we get to say the same thing about FF5: “Yes, their music hits hard on the dance floor … and they love Jesus.”
I had a chance to talk to Derek (Chap Stique) for a “Heart of the Artist” interview for our new YLO86 Music Resource Book. Make sure you read what he had to say about music, ministry and FF5.
Mark: FF5 has received some amazing opportunities to play in front of non-Christian crowds. I know that some people are only looking for your message to come from the stage, but please share how you as a band purposefully pour into kids’ lives off-stage.
Derek (aka Chap Stique): Family Force 5 views our behind-the-scenes interactions and relationships as the heart and soul of our ministry. Our band tries very hard to make an impact that reaches far deeper than any concert could. Following in the footsteps of some of our mentors, youth pastors, and parents, we work hard to make certain that FF5 is available and accessible, unlike most of the rock bands with which we grew up. Before and after our shows, you will often find the five of us engaging with fans by signing their t-shirts for hours, going to IHOP with their youth-groups, making s’mores at their campsites, DJ’ing their dance-parties, playing basketball with them, going to movies with them, or simply taking the time to talk to them.
In addition, we’re all tremendously active on social networks, and have built an amazing rapport with the kids and adults who listen to Family Force 5. The conversations in which we engage over MySpace, Facebook and Twitter have blossomed into friendships that we never thought were possible between a band and its fans. As a united team, we do the best we can to share the love of Christ in each encounter, and although may not always succeed, we consider it a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to pour that joy into the hearts of so many people.
Mark: Could you share some of the challenges you guys have faced as a band this past couple of years (traveling almost non-stop, band members in the hospital, etc) and how can youth leader pray for you?
Derek: We’ve been through a lot. For the past six years, the five of us (plus Xanadu) have traveled anywhere from 180 to 300 days a year — the hard way. Most of that time was spent sleeping on random people’s floors, fixing broken-down vans in the snow, eating one meal a day (at either Wendy’s or McDonald’s depending on who won the fight between Nadaddy and Fatty that day) and performing in front of about eight people … on a good night.
As you can imagine, all of those factors put quite a strain on our marriages and relationships, many of which are still under intense repair. We missed more weddings, funerals and little-league games than we ever dreamed we would, and as a result, we’ve made a tremendous effort to structure our touring schedule in a much healthier manner.
In addition, the five of us faced the biggest scare of our lives when Fatty, our bassist, spent 5 weeks in the hospital over Christmas of 2009. A lethal combination of anxiety, stress, and a previously unknown medical condition caused his kidneys to shutdown, and his near-death experience put all of us in a delicate state for quite some time. Fortunately, he is back to full health and we could not be more thrilled to have him back.
We’re gracious for any emotional support, and would be appreciative if youth leaders would pray for our endurance, our families, our relationships and our ability to connect with the listeners.
Mark: Knowing your commitment to take Christ to places that are secular venues and crowds, how should youth leaders listen to your new album and use it, knowing that there are a number of “have fun/dance” songs on there?
Derek: Personally, if I was a youth leader, I would listen to III with the perspective that “This crazy band who’s singing about wobbling my knees back-and-forth and bobbling my head might somehow be the only band in the world that can convey God’s love to the kids who might not otherwise ever step foot in a church.”
We believe in the body of Christ, and we know that our role in the body is non-traditional. But that is a role we take very seriously.
Mark: A good while down the road, when FF5 has played its last show, what do you want people to remember about you as a band? What kind of legacy do you want to leave with the people that listened to your music?
Derek: Last show? That’ll never happen! Haha. Realistically, we want to be remembered as the first band that played on the moon. But if that doesn’t work out … or even if it does work out … we want to be regarded as the band that taught people how to smile, how to laugh and how to dance! If you’re doing those three things, you’re obviously experiencing a very profound sense of joy.