Five Iron Frenzy: The Denver-based ska band

Monday 1st February 1999

Creating a buzz both in Christian and mainstream markets are Denver's FIVE IRON FRENZY. Tony Cummings reports.

Five Iron Frenzy
Five Iron Frenzy

In April 1995 four friends from the Denver, Colorado area, Reese Roper, Scott Kerr, Keith Hoerig and Micah Ortega began Five Iron Frenzy as a side project to another band. But the ska-core band quickly became their primary focus by August 1995 when Jeff Ortega (Micah's cousin), Dennis Culp, Brad Dunham and Andrew Verdecchio had all joined the group.

Unsigned and on their own, Five Iron booked 60 shows within eight months and shared the stage with the likes of MxPx, Goldfinger and Buck-o-Nine. Halloween night that same year, FIF opened for Dime Store Prophets and Black Eyed Sceva of the Five Minute Walk/SaraBellum Records label. Five Iron sent a buzz through the label and by August 1996 they were signed on SaraBellum Records. November saw the release of their debut 'Upbeats And Beatdowns'.

The band's Reese Roper explained how they gained their odd name. "A friend was joking around and grabbed a golf club and said he was going to use it to defend himself. Someone looked at him and said, 'Oh, it's going to be a five iron frenzy!'"

Besides Roper, Five Iron Frenzy consists of bassist Keith Hoerig, guitarists Micah Ortega and Scott Kerr, drummer Andrew Verdecchio, saxophonist Jeff Ortega, trumpeter Nathanael Dunham and trombonist Dennis Culp. "I write most of the lyrics and can't be afraid to talk about what I believe," said Roper, "but I'm not going up there with my Bible and beating people over the head either."

Roper's themes range from wanting to help the local derelicts who inhabit the downtown Denver bus line intersection of "Where Zero Meets 15" - the Christian modern rock chart hit from 'Upbeats And Beatdowns' - to the band's second album 'Our Newest Album Ever's "Handbook For The Sellout", which Roper says has to do with charges of selling out levelled by the core followings of Christian artists when these acts get secular airplay or bigger record deals. "To me, it's trying to cover up for a lot of kids who feel ripped off when the bands that they identify with catch on," he said. "I'd rather that they listen to what they want because they like it, and not go another way just to be individual."

Originally published as part of The Ska Story: A history of the genre CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.


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