On August 28th the Flobots’ third full-length album, Circle in the Square is going to drop. They've agreed to a live performance for the Twist and Shout family on that very same day.
Are you ready?
The Flobots have always written socially conscious songs and have never been shy about stating what they wanted to see in the world. From The Flobots Present: Platypus to Fighting with Tools to Survival Game, every album has been a primal scream for a world they want to see come to fruition. Circle in the Square is another rally cry, reminding people that they are not alone. The whole world is filled with folks just like them, people who feel the need to rise up and take control of their own destinies. This has been a busy time for these Denver natives. Between recording the new album, gearing up for the tour, putting together a media center for urban youth and the general day to day tasks they have as super-heroes it's amazing that their founder/MC Jonny 5 had time to generously do this interview with me...but he did.
What can we expect from this new album?
Jonny 5: We're super proud of these songs. They're very personal but also very much inspired by the global democratic awakening. My hope this album helps blur the line between "political" and "non-political" music by going deeper to the emotions behind transformation, whether it is social or internal. So, expect celebration, sadness, determination, and joy. And rhymes.
What was the creative process?
5: All the songs are written collectively, and every song comes from a different place. We've tried for years to figure out what our process is, and found that there isn't one. Each song is its own story...
The Flobots are touring straight through until the beginning of November and hitting most of the larger cities in the rustbelt, Lansing Mi. included. As politically active as the band is are there any plans to visit any of the Occupations while you’re on the road?
5: Hey, that's a good idea.
Every time I turned around this summer at the Occupy movement I saw Jonny 5 running around. What part did/do you play in that movement?
5: Occupy Wall Street started on September 17th. We went into the studio on September 18th. I was very limited in terms of time and not able to be physically present very much at Occupy Denver. I tried to be there at key points, performing once, rallying people at certain flashpoints, and playing whatever role seemed constructive and possible. But I was mostly just a part of the outer circle of inspired supporters. My inner activist was going crazy because it felt like I should have been there, but ultimately I recognized that it was important to stay on my path. Occupy spoke for so many people who WEREN'T there physically. I had to accept my role as one of those people being spoken for.
Has the band released any of their music under creative commons for use in informational videos or progressive actions?
5: We haven't. But we've tried to be very supportive and helpful with groups who want to use our music in ways that are in line with our values. I think the end result has been good.
The web comic at Flobots.net followed the theme that people everywhere are starting to wake up. Each chapter has been about an individual or couple of individuals going through an awakening of sorts. Do you feel, generally speaking, that the Occupation is a fully realized emulation of that?
5: I wouldn't say "fully", because there's always so much room for growth in all of us. Folks involved with Occupy are most certainly included in that. But it was an amazing step for people as individuals and for us as a country to recognize our power to create a more just and humane world.
Will that comic continue now that the there is protesting in most major cities and people are becoming less tranquil?
5: I'll have to talk to the comic's creator, DJ Coffman. He's a busy and talented guy. People should check out his work!
You must be really excited about the Youth Media Center, opening in 2013. Would you tell me a bit about that?
5: Sure. Flobots.org, a non-profit founded by myself and other band members, is working with the Denver Housing Authority to create a 5400 square foot Youth Media Studio on the ground floor of one of the new buildings in the La Alma Lincoln Park neighborhood. The whole redevelopment is receiving attention for its commitment to sustainability and its respect for current residents, and we're excited to be a part of that project. Our next task is to raise money to build the actual studio. So, if you're a philanthropist and you're reading this and you want to have a building named after you, please let us know!
Who will be teaching and what kind of structure will it have?
5: One of the things I am so proud of about Flobots.org is that our staff and facilitators includes and have included powerful Denver artists like Molina Speaks, Suzy Q, Melissa Ivey, Chris Guillot, Serafin Sanchez, Nate Schmidt, Kalyn Heffernan (of Wheelchair Sportscamp), Bianca Mikahn, and many others. They'll be teaching and running the programs. It's an amazing crew of folks. As a staff and board we're working right now to determine what exactly the structures will be.
Kalyn Heffernan of Wheelchair Sportscamp has been hosting “Pop-Up” Brunches to help bring in contributions for the Center. What other ways may people in the community donate or contribute?
5: Like any non-profit, Flobots.org depends on the generosity of folks in the community who believe in our vision, so donations are always welcomed and needed! We try to make it fun, like the pop-up brunches (Props to Kalyn!!), which you should come check out to if this goes to print before Aug. 18th. Also, like I said, if you want a studio named after you, talk to us. And later this fall, we'll be having our bowling ball fundraiser. We also need volunteers for a lot of events here and there, so if you have time to volunteer, hit up our Executive Director Jami Duffy at Jami@flobots.org (Please notice that she is not me - a lot of people get confused).
What can we expect in the future from the Flobots?
- Natja Soave