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Into the Storm: Song Explanation From Dennis

FIF_BTPAS
You can buy the new EP at FiveIronStore.com

Into the Storm
(Lyrics: Dennis Culp)

There goes my basement down the embankment
There goes my Ernie doll over the waterfall
In my favorite chair, but I don’t care,
and I don’t need it.

Freedom flies like drops of rain.
This love is like a hurricane.
Just close your eyes,
and keep holding on-
as we ride into the storm.

There goes my backup plan.
There goes my minivan.
There goes my fear and insecurity.
There goes my pride over the side.
‘Cause I don’t need it.

As we ride into the storm.
We ride home. (whoa)

Explanation:

Hey, I get to explain lyrics! Not that these need much of an explanation, there is no complex metaphor here. The song is literally about riding into a storm: I was on a train in August of 2011 as Hurricane Irene was making her way up the East Coast. The news media had been making grand statements about it being the ‘storm of the century’ and how millions would probably die or worse. (We had Hurricane Sandy two years later which was far more damaging, but I digress.) Anyway, there I was, riding New Jersey Transit as the skies darkened and buckets of rain dumped on the windows. These commutes are rarely of a sanguine affair, but this one was unusually dour. You might say it was a dark and stormy night.

Fast forward three days: My town was one of the places they showed on the news to convince the nation that the flooding in NJ was really bad. And it was. After the water receded there were dead fish, muddy shoes, old tires, and piles of waterlogged discards from the dozens of flooded homes on my street. Enter big thoughts about faith, trust, and the freedom that comes from letting go of stuff.

Some fun facts: way back when Reese was my room mate, he may or may not have owned a stuffed doll meant to look like Ernie, as in the cheerful half of Ernie and Burt. That line was for him. Also, there used to be the line “there goes my carnal man” – I was trying to get all existential Watchman Nee style, but Reese changed that line to “minivan”. Probably a good call.

Between the Pavement and the Stars: Song Explanation From Reese

Disclaimer: I hate this. It goes against every fiber of my being to have to explain what a song I have written is about. Not out of some sense of elitist pride or anything, but because I think the most important thing about any piece of art is not what the creator wants it to be, but how it is perceived. For me, there are countless songs that I heard while growing up that have no significance, spiritually or nostalgia-wise, to the artist, but mean the world to me. I don’t want to ruin that for you. That being said, enough people have asked, including the other devious people in my band, so I have been peer-pressured into doing it. Please don’t let this ruin our music for you. Draw your own conclusions, too. And, did I mention that I hate this? I hope you hate it, too. – Reese

FIF_BTPAS
You can buy the new EP at FiveIronStore.com

between the pavement and the stars
(Lyrics: Reese Roper)

“Are we losing you now, November-one-two?”,
said the radio, hoping to break through.
“We can get you out, if you’ll just keep on.”
And the plot keeps thickening, so please be strong.
And all this time, you’ve never given up and you’re never giving out.
All this time, you can never go back, but you’ve never had more doubt.

Between the pavement and the stars,
beneath the the weight of years of scars,
burns the same soul-
paint the sky blue.
Hallelujah,
you’re still you.

Signal’s breaking up, at the edge of night.
Have you lost the will to be in this fight?
Just keep digging in, don’t give up on us yet.
Are we coming in clear, on the radio set?
And all this time, when there’s hardly any day, and hardly ever night
All this time, where you’re halfway in shadows, and halfway in light.

And Love is patient,
it barely crawls.
And Love has only
conquered all.

Explanation:
It hurt me so much to have this song cut from the album. But, Five Iron is a true democracy, and the rest of the band felt the album as a whole would do better with this song being replaced by an update of “It Was A Dark and Stormy Night”. No hard feelings guys, this is what you’re supposed to do in an “explanation”. I’m just explaining. Not at all lamenting the loss of this song. *sniffle*

This song is about a dear friend of mine, who no longer feels that she believes in Christ. I wanted to write a song that somehow said- “You are still this wonderful, beautiful, person after all this time and all the suffering you have had to go through”, and “ Do you feel that? It’s love. God has still got your number.” I tried to paint a picture of someone lost in a battle, and being hailed on a radio- just like Five Iron tries to do sometimes with you. Yeah, just to say “Hang in there,” much like an inspirational poster featuring a kitty. The Mary Poppins lines are most definitely intentional (especially after 6:00). Your soul is beautiful, November-One-Two. Though my love has failed you, His love will not.

BONUS:
Here are some lines I cut from the final song-

Are we losing you now, November-one-two?
has this cruel world, stripped the joy from you?
Is it grinding you, grinding to a crawl?
Dear little girl, Love has conquered all.

And all of us are losing,
all of us are lost.

What the trouble,
vexing fight,
there is no darkness,
only lack of light.

God Hates Flags: Song Explanation From Reese

Disclaimer: I hate this. It goes against every fiber of my being to have to explain what a song I have written is about. Not out of some sense of elitist pride or anything, but because I think the most important thing about any piece of art is not what the creator wants it to be, but how it is perceived. For me, there are countless songs that I heard while growing up that have no significance, spiritually or nostalgia-wise, to the artist, but mean the world to me. I don’t want to ruin that for you. That being said, enough people have asked, including the other devious people in my band, so I have been peer-pressured into doing it. Please don’t let this ruin our music for you. Draw your own conclusions, too. And, did I mention that I hate this? I hope you hate it, too. – Reese

FIF_BTPAS
You can buy the new EP at FiveIronStore.com

God hates flags.
(Lyrics: Reese Roper)

There you are, hogging the front page.
Drawing blanks when thinking of sin’s wage.
If everyone has fallen short
some humbleness is overdue.
If I wished your face got stabbed,
well, I’d be just as bent as you.

There’s a chip that’s on my shoulder,
sucking us into quicksand.
The temperature is getting colder
a backwards ticking second hand.

There you go bullying again,
stealing the spotlight from better men.
If God is love, you got it wrong,
waving all your placards and flags.
The very fact that you’re alive,
says God must also love douche bags.

And the only saving grace,
we only ever need speak of,
if ever there’s a question,
the answer is to love.

Explanation:

YEAH! This is the absolute best part of not being on an actual label. I mean, yes- we can play Glilman Street now. And yes, we are pretty much the punkest band you have ever seen. But, what I’m trying to say is- this song may have made some of you uncomfortable. So, let me explain myself.  When Five Iron rolled through the first time, I was very concerned with trying not to offend people. To be fair, if you have spent much time in the Church, or around church-type people- they get offended VERY easily. The president of our label, Frank Tate, had given us a speech on this subject so many times that it became an inside joke: “Uh, I don’t think that’s going to go over very well in the Midwest, guys.” The last four years we toured, I was an actual pastor of a church (Never mind what our church was called, please keep reading.) So I tended to use that as a basis of how I wrote lyrics. I wanted to engage people, to edify them, to challenge them- but not offend them. Very pastoral. Well…

What I realized in those 10 years I spent not being in Five Iron, was that I was working very hard to avoid offending the wrong people. I may be wrong, but that is my current conviction. Because what I see, is that most of the world is disgusted with what an absolute political puppet the Evangelical Church has become in America. When did the name of Christ become synonymous with stockpiling ammunition and boycotting Walt Disney? No one who has even just seen a cartoon about Christmas or looked at even a really bad painting of Jesus – can put those things together. Much less, anyone who has read the New Testament. If Jesus truly broke down all of Scripture into two basic bullet-points: To love the Lord God with all your heart, and to Love your neighbor as you love yourself- then what are we doing? If love is the filter through which all scripture should be interpreted, what is this farce we are calling His Church? Yes, I somehow barely avoided saying that I wanted to stab some people in the face. I did not, however, stop myself from calling members of the Westboro Baptist Church- douchebags. Those are the kind of people I want to offend. Not out of spite, but out of a sense of justice.

No matter what your stance on homosexuality is (and you can read mine here if you wish, although I do not speak for everyone in our band), if you love Jesus Christ- that love should temper everything you do. I have decided that I am not going to waste any more energy trying to avoid offending churchgoers. What I do want to do, is share the love of Christ with the people who need it, and to show them that He is just, merciful, and true. Sorry if that gets in the way of your picket lines.

BONUS!!!
Here is an earlier bridge I kind of wish we had saved:

I remember some old book somewhere,
something that might ring a bell.
It said that it is love,
that steals our souls from hell.

AND TWO OTHER VERSIONS. (Not about homophobia or the Westboro Baptist Church, but equally as depressing. So depressing that everyone made me rewrite them.)


cooled by the wind of a passing subway
(Lyrics: Reese Roper)

Heat seeps out from between the cracks,
the pavement sucks my sweat out as a tax.
Just to barely feel the breeze
to only ever not be here.
As the subway breathes its cold air,
I lean in with a prayer.

There’s something to be said for freedom
like sparrows who will fly away.
To only ever know peace,
like the wind from a passing subway.

Smoke curls around the concrete spires,
the avenues are boiling through your tires.
Did you hear the story?
Some lady who went insane.
Dropped her grocery bags and,
stepped into the train.


a murder of crows.
(Lyrics: Reese Roper)

Shadows. The back seat of some plane.
Gin and tonic shoulders pain.
In remembrance of you,
take a swig for the coming storms.
I’ll pretend I’m not alone.
I’ve got my spite to keep me warm.

Ive been busy plotting murder,
pulling knives out of my back.
Ive been busy plotting murder,
the skies are spitting, swarming black.

Clutch my pen while words are left to scrawl.
Why do you persecute me, Saul?
And the ravens claw the air,
circling to steal my heat,
to take my breath away.
I’m sinking into my seat.

In remembrance of you,
take a swig for the coming storms.
I’ll pretend I’m not alone.
If you take my words away,
my spite will keep me warm.

Boomerang: Song Explanation From Reese

Disclaimer: I hate this. It goes against every fiber of my being to have to explain what a song I have written is about. Not out of some sense of elitist pride or anything, but because I think the most important thing about any piece of art is not what the creator wants it to be, but how it is perceived. For me, there are countless songs that I heard while growing up that have no significance, spiritually or nostalgia-wise, to the artist, but mean the world to me. I don’t want to ruin that for you. That being said, enough people have asked, including the other devious people in my band, so I have been peer-pressured into doing it. Please don’t let this ruin our music for you. Draw your own conclusions, too. And, did I mention that I hate this? I hope you hate it, too. – Reese

FIF_BTPAS
You can buy the new EP at FiveIronStore.com

Boomerang
(Lyrics: Reese Roper)

Like nothing you’ve ever seen,
it’s “titanic” as a simile.
We’re double-fisting caffeine,
while our bones are cracking dismally.
Did you hear what’s coming back?
Boomerangs.
Now raise the mast.
Raise your glass,
here’s one for ice packs.
Let’s pour some out for those who’ve passed.
Set your cadence to a different drum.
Set your sights on the horizon.

We can start a fire,
we can light it up and keep it burning.
We can start a fire,
Boomerangs come back,
they just keep returning.

No time left to eulogize,
yesterday can take care of yesterday.
Let’s raise our sails to the skies,
diving headfirst back into the fray.
Set your cadence to a different drum.
Set your sights on the horizon.

Explanation:
This song was supposed to be the opener for Engine of A Million Plots. The only problem was that Scott and I could not agree on how the chorus should go. So it came out as this Frankenstein thing that made everyone in the band lose all hope for humanity. Thank God that our producer saved it enough that we could put it on this EP. Thanks Jeremy.

Anyways, this was, as I said, intended to be Five Iron Frenzy’s re-entry into the musical world- post Kickstarter. All the usual is in there: stuff about being old, some old guy joke about boomerangs, some references to old Five Iron songs, more allegories about fires and cold that were carried out in EOMP, some pirate allegory that was drowned out on the rest of the album- basically, too much to make sense. To sum it all up: Set your sights on the horizon, and light some crap on fire.

BONUS:
The first verse that no one loved-

Rocking over London,
double-neck your Gibson,
rocking on Chicago
reading Henrik Ibsen.
Agreeing just to disagree
You can taste the irony.
Working towards a black-list,
they said you were a communist.
Can you hear what I hear?
The times they are a-changin’
rock and roll just got too fat.
Bursting at it’s safety pins.

Song Explanation: “So Far”

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This is the final of several blog posts explaining the songs we wrote on Engine of A Million Plots. This last song on the list is “So Far.” You can find the words to the song and Reese’s explanation below. Please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments. And don’t forget the original disclaimer of this series. If one of these songs means something completely different to you than what Reese says, that’s probably the better explanation. 

—–

Five Iron Frenzy: Engine of a Million Plots

Full album available for purchase at iTunes and at our online store.

—–

So Far

I leap from buildings in a single bound.
I’m flying downward near the speed of sound.
If gamma rays,
blast through my fragile outside,
a hulking mass,
grows as my cells divide.

So far, there’s nothing that you and I can’t do.
So far, well, mostly so far it’s all been you.
So far, so far.

I’ll light on fire with a single spark
my body battling the wicked dark.
I’ll catch bullets,
just between my bones,
and Vita Rays tear through my chromosomes.

So far, there’s nothing that you and I can’t do.
So far, well, mostly so far it’s all been you.
So far, something about this still rings true.
So far, all that I need is you.

Web-swinging is only wishful thinking.
You lift my soul, you keep my heart from sinking.

Explanation by Reese Roper:

So, when we started writing for this album, Scott Kerr would write what we called “placeholder” lyrics over his songs that we could use to get the gist of where to put the actual lyrics, their cadence, and melody. He had written this beautiful song about his wife, called “So Far”, which I completely annihilated with stupid references to comic book characters. Yeah, I’m that bad of a person. I tried to make it be about God, to remove some of my guilt, but I am still haunted by my utter wretchedness. Lo, I am but a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, and despised by the people! Anyway, it’s some song about how we need the Lord, because the things that comics have told us will give us superpowers will actually only kill us.

Here’s the references:
I leap from buildings in a single bound.
I’m flying downward near the speed of sound.
– Superman. Also, leaping from buildings is a great way that you can die of death.

If gamma rays,
blast through my fragile outside,
a hulking mass,
grows as my cells divide.
– The Hulk. Gamma rays will seriously give you cancer. Please do not try this at home.

I’ll light on fire with a single spark
my body battling the wicked dark.
– The Human Torch. No. Please do not light yourself on fire. Not even at parties to try and look cool. You will not look cool. You will be dead. From burning.

I’ll catch bullets,
just between my bones,
– Superman. Again. Fun Fact: George Reeves, TV’s Superman from the 50’s was actually not faster than a speeding bullet.

and Vita Rays tear through my chromosomes.

– Captain America. Number one, Vita Rays are not an actual thing. Number two, if you shot any type of “Ray” at yourself, other than visible light or one with the last name of Romano, you will probably only gain body mass in the form of tumors. You should however, take your vitamins.

Web-swinging is only wishful thinking.
You lift my soul, you keep my heart from sinking.
– Spider-man. Please don’t irradiate spiders. They will also get cancer. Also, has Charlotte’s web taught us nothing?

Song Explanation: “It Was A Dark & Stormy Night”

"It Was A Dark and Stormy Night" by Five Iron Frenzy (2011)

This is the ninth of several blog posts explaining the songs we wrote on Engine of A Million Plots. The ninth song on the list is “It Was A Dark & Stormy Night.” You can find the words to the song and Reese’s explanation below. Please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments. And don’t forget the original disclaimer of this series. If one of these songs means something completely different to you than what Reese says, that’s probably the better explanation. 

—–

Five Iron Frenzy: “It Was A Dark & Stormy Night” 

Full album available for purchase at iTunes and at our online store.

—–

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night

It was a dark and stormy night last night,
bitter dark.
Rain fell in torrents,
stabbing it’s ghosts through the cold,
and straight through our hearts.

I’ve been waiting,
in halfhearted sleep,
For a promise I half meant to keep.
Just for hoping that hope still flies.
Wipe the sleep out of our sleeping eyes.

Fog that is lifting,
the spectre of dreams we once had,
speaks into the night.
Slumber is over,
sunlight is streaming through
come into the light.

I know,
Hope has not forgotten me.
I know,
I’m waking from the longest dream.

Explanation from Reese Roper:

This was the first song we wrote with the new band. Scott and I emailed back and forth for months, trying to nail down a method for our new songwriting. The new band had to tread lightly on the Christianity, and as I explained in Into Your Veins, to not say something dishonest. I seriously wrote about 18 versions of this, hated them all, and when I got to New York to record it for our Kickstarter- REWROTE THE ENTIRE SONG IN THE CAR, on the way to the studio. My workaround for making a song be about God but keeping it cryptic enough for our Atheist friends, was to capitalize the word Hope. Yeah, that’s right, my mom was an English teacher. Here’s the joke that goes with that: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_was_a_dark_and_stormy_night

What better way to Kickstart a band, than by writing a song about coming back from a long sleep? That, some really good survival skills, and a couple of spoonfuls of mayonnaise – and yeah, hope really does still fly.

Song Explanation: “I Am Jack’s Smirking Revenge”

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This is the eighth of several blog posts explaining the songs we wrote on Engine of A Million Plots. The eighth song on the list is “I Am Jack’s Smirking Revenge.” You can find the words to the song and Reese’s explanation below. Please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments. And don’t forget the original disclaimer of this series. If one of these songs means something completely different to you than what Reese says, that’s probably the better explanation. 

—–

Full album available for purchase at iTunes and at our online store.

See Five Iron Frenzy play live at these upcoming shows.

—–

I am Jack’s Smirking Revenge

Can’t you feel the angst just eating at you?
Tape your knuckles for the fight.
Someone said the first shall be the last,
see you on the streets tonight.

And if you change your mind,
here and now- with the rising tide,
if you change your mind
cast your nets on the other side.

You are not the contents of your wallet,
you are not the space you rent.
When you’re eighty-five with no scars to show
the winner of our discontent.
Whose lips have you been kissing?
Hang your future from a blade.
Win it all, but something’s missing
maybe drank the wrong Kool-Aid?

Explanation from Reese Roper:

It’s pretty sad when you can gather more truth from the movie Fight Club (or the book, which is cool, if you’re into, you know, reading), than you can from 90 percent of what the modern church is peddling. Hey guess what? Jesus was homeless. On purpose! He said money is at the root of all evil. He said to pay your taxes and submit to your authorities! All of the Commandments can be solved by just loving God, and loving others. It’s really easier than picketing the funerals of dead Marines, and far less embarrassing for the rest of us. Love? Remember that? You should check it out.

Song Explanation: “Against A Sea Of Troubles”

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This is the seventh of several blog posts explaining the songs we wrote on Engine of A Million Plots. The seventh song on the list is “Against A Sea Of Troubles.” You can find the words to the song and Reese’s explanation below. Please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments. And don’t forget the original disclaimer of this series. If one of these songs means something completely different to you than what Reese says, that’s probably the better explanation. 

Full album available for purchase at iTunes and at our online store.

See Five Iron Frenzy play live at these upcoming shows.

—–

against a sea of troubles

To only end the heartache,
to shed this mortal coil.
Face pressed to the earth,
I’m frozen to the soil.

My only thought,
with my last breath-
Pray for me now,
the hour of death.

To suffer slings and arrows,
adrift and lost it seems
or take flight with the sparrows
the ghost that haunts our dreams?
Drained of all resolve,
my spirit pours from me.
The fire’s growing cold,
please do not forget me.

One lost night against a sea of troubles
I could not hear You through the thunder’s peal.
My only hope is that You cannot, not- be real.

My only thought,
pray for me now.
My only thought,
with my last breath.

Explanation from Reese Roper:

Hamlet, Act III, Scene 1. It is probably the best-known of all of Shakespeare’s soliloquies, and I wanted to use it to illustrate what I believe we all feel at times- feeling that all is lost. I thought it would be really cool to paint a picture of desperation by using the metaphor of a Hail Mary as a last-ditch effort, and actually used parts of the real Hail Mary.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_be,_or_not_to_be
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hail_mary

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