Family Force 5 is a crunk rock band originating from Atlanta Georgia. The band recently released their new album Dance or Die with rave reviews. It is described as a dance floor apocalypse that can be thrashed out to. The members just finished the Vans Warped Tour (Summer 2008) and are on their headlining tour known as Dance Rawr Dance 2. Band members Solomon Olds, whose street name is Soul Glow Activatur (lead singer and guitarist), and Derek Mount, known as Chap Stique (lead guitarist), took the time to answer a few of my questions. (The interview was conducted with PopCultureMadness.com.)
I read that the band had many name changes before staying with Family Force 5. How did you guys come about to finalize that name?
Soul Glow Activatur: We were going to be called Death Con 5. I thought it sounded cool but it also sounded very heavy. We used to be called The Phamily but when we submitted our name to get it certified to make it a business the lawyers came back to us and said that the name was taken. They said that we needed to change it because there is a toilet paper company in Texas named that and that they are going to fight us on it. We really didn't want to fight a toilet paper company. Prince also had a band in the eighties called The Phamily. I don't want to fight one of my heroes. He is smaller than I am and I can probably take him but I just don't want to fight Prince. Therefore, we picked Family Force 5 because there are a few brothers in the band, we feel we are a force to be reckoned with, and there are five members in the band. If it got any longer it would just be weird.
How did you come up with your nicknames?
Chap Stique: We are from Atlanta and formed the group during the big hip hop scene so why can Lil John have a cool name and we have to go by Derek or Josh.
Soul Glow Activatur: Our names are cool but Soul Glow Activatur is way cooler.
Chap Stique: It is a form of escapism that we like to include in Family Force 5.
Soul Glow Activatur: I met someone else today that had a gangster name. We ate at Johnny Rockets and our server's name was Upgrade.
Me: We just ate there.
Soul Glow Activatur: Did u see Upgrade?
Me: No our server was Why So Serious.
Soul Glow Activatur: See other people have thug names. People understand in Philadelphia.
How did you guys develop your crunk rock sound?
Soul Glow Activatur: It is kind of an evolution. I think more bands are sneaking out there that have a similar sound to us such as the band 3OH!3 who we saw on Warped Tour this year. There are a lot of kids out there who want ghetto booty music to listen to but not the most thugged out thing in the world. They want to rock out to it too.
Chap Stique: It' like Steven Tyler with a grill.
How is the recording process? Do you create the lyrics or the beats/music first?
Chap Stique: We start with the beats!
Soul Glow Activatur: Yeah we start with the beats. It basically goes like this. I come up with the beats and we blast them over the speakers. Then all of us gather around, sing and dance like idiots. If it feels like a party then we know that we need to write to it or vice versa. There are some songs that we have that come strictly out of melody. Sometimes for no reason my melodies come when I am taking a shower. I don't know why.
Chap Stique: Therefore, we usually write in the shower. He is in the shower singing and the rest of us are in the bathroom with our laptops writing.
Soul Glow Activatur: It has made for some awkward moments but some great songs.
How did you guys come up with the concept of the beat machine?
Chap Stique: At warped Tour this year we debuted the Family Force 5000 which is a 760 pound 6 foot 6 drum machine from the future. It was the first time we showed to earth and we got a great response. We were in Europe a couple of years ago just sitting around talking about amazing shows we have seen. We love over the top experiences and were coming up with ideas on building giant instruments. We were all yelling on the top of our lungs ideas and the drum machine came up. We thought of speak and spell first but it would date us so we wanted to build something from the future. That is what happened.
Soul Glow Activatur: Each key pad can make any sound in the universe that we want. We program the brain of the Family Force 5000 and the keys light up with the notes. It plays whatever we want it to play.
How do you think Christian music has transformed over the years and what part do you take in it?
Chap Stique: We are definitely Christians and the spiritual element played a huge roll in writing Dance or Die . However, none of us think that music, lifestyle or people need to be boxed up in little categories. We don't sound, look or perform like a lot of Christian music artists but we are proud of the fact that we love the message of Jesus Christ. It is a big part of our lives so it is never anything that we would deny but we think out music hopefully appeals to everybody. We have gotten a great response from the mainstream market so I think we transcend barriers.
How do you balance your family life with your music life?
Soul Glow Activatur: Most of the time we don't. If Family Force 5 was a girl it would take up all of our time. She is a demanding high maintenance girl.
Chap Stique: Our wives are very cool that's how.
Soul Glow Activatur: On this particular tour I got to take my wife and son out on the road with me. I am a very happy man.
Chap Stique: You are a very happy man and with those red pants on you look like Santa Clause.
Soul Glow Activatur: Well 'Hoe Hoe Hoe.' Yeah well I am very excited to have them come out. Each of our family members would fly out and come and see us for a week or two. Chap Stique's wife got to be on the Vans Warped Tour with us. She also had a job on the tour. Not with us we wouldn't hire her. (Laughs) She works for Skull Animals.
Chap Stique: Basically you got to have a very understanding, awesome and compassionate person that understands you and your project. I don't recommend having a relationship with someone you don't really know while on the road because if we didn't know our wives as well as we did they probably would have broken up with us.
Soul Glow Activatur: Or they would have gone out with a cooler guy.
Chap Stique: A motorcycle driving guy.
Soul Glow Activatur: That happened to me one time so I don't want to bring that up. (Laughs)
Chap Stique: Oh I'm sorry.
What does success mean to you?
Soul Glow Activatur: Riding Bentleys on the thirty inch rims, lots of jewelry, and big fat houses in Atlanta or LA. (Laughs) I don't know. I mean there are different kinds of success. I have talked to Chap Stique before about sometimes where I have become envious of other bands that we are friends with that land something like a video on MTV every three months but then again there are probably bands that would want to be like us and have fans come out to see them. There was a time in Pittsburg where two people came out to see us and that was only a few years ago. We are incredibly blessed and successful to anybody coming out to see us at all.
Chap Stique: I think the heart of success for me is connection. Whenever I see someone having an incredible reaction and experience from one or our shows or songs it encourages me. It is incredible to see that my job has some relevance to other people's lives. To me that is more important than any kind of status, fame, or money. If we did it for those reasons we would have quit a long time ago.
Soul Glow Activatur: But Bentleys are still nice you know. (Laughs)
Chap Stique: My 96' Civic is pretty sweet man I'll tell u that.
Soul Glow Activatur: My hub cap spinners! (Laughs)
Chap Stique: If I can ever afford a new antenna on my 96' Civic to listen to the radio, that would be success.
Soul Glow Activatur: You would be ballin.
Chap Stique: Every time I listen to AM radio now I just hear "errrrrahhhhrerrrrr."
Soul Glow Activatur: Ballin while listening to AM radio. (Laughs)
What makes you laugh?
Soul Glow Activatur: That is our goal every day. I have my thirteen month old on tour with me so we watch baby Einstein videos together. Seeing my kid grow up or seeing my brothers fight. The fights are funny. They are the kind of things you don't want to watch but it's a car wreck. You go by it and you hope everyone is alright but you want to see what the devastation is. Drama is pretty funny between the band members. We bug Fatty on the bus for food.
Chap Stique: Fatty is in charge of the budget and on this tour he has not allowed us to eat. We are currently applying for food stamps. (Laughs)
Soul Glow Activatur: Pretty much everyday life. I was walking with my wife down South Street in Philly today and going to some of the stores. There are some stores here that are real cool and we are shoe fanatics so we went in and the first thing we were asked was 'Are we rock stars?' I don't know how to answer that. If I say 'yes' I am going to sound conceded. The next question which I think is funny is 'Are you famous?' Its life if you went famous they wouldn't even ask you that. It's like 'Are you famous?' 'Yes' "Then who are you?' I think that's kind of funny.