The Story So Far…

When we last left Flobots, there was a war going on for your mind. Apathy, fear, and militarism reigned. Many people failed to understand their own power.

Flobots responded by waking people up, bringing them together, and telling them they were not alone. They used broad-brush strokes to paint giant murals supporting peace, hope, and change. On the charts and at the ballot box, these slogans had an effect. The mood of the populace shifted.

Now, those murals have begun to crack and fade. People are taking a closer look at what’s behind the slogans, and seeking to come to terms with what they find. Exhaustion. Hypocrisy. Ego. Frustration. Quagmire. Wars with no exit strategy. Lifestyles that are non sustainable. American flag bandanas made in China. Everywhere, we are encountering limits.

Enter the Flobots once more. The situation is more complicated now. The populace is cautious and jaded. The old slogans will not suffice. What is needed is new story.

Survival Story is a vision of hope for a world facing its limits. While others revel in the dystopian, the Flobots remain committed to their ability to rise together. Navigating the coming years will require new tools. It will require narratives that cause us to reexamine our priorities, redefine wealth, and re-inspire ourselves. It will require that we come together in the face of death and write the story of our own survival.

Paying it back, paying it forward.

Six Flobots dedicated to social action, change and thought. Two emcees, childhood friends Jonny 5 and Brer Rabbit, began Flobots organically, looking for like-minded musically inclined individuals. Enter viola-wielding Mackenzie Roberts and guitarist Andy Guerrero who made Flobots their home in 2005. Bassist Jesse Walker and drummer Kenny Ortiz completed the roster. The Denver collective grew their audience by playing live shows and cultivating a strong following of people who loved the combination of live music and social awareness.
The rocket launched; Flobots’ Fight With Tools raced up the charts, bolstered by the Top 5 single “Handlebars” and “Rise.” One of the most buzzed-about newcomers of 2008, they performed on Late Night Television (The Tonight Show, Conan O’Brien, Carson Daly), led anti-war marchers into the streets of Denver {after a highly charged performance} during the Democratic National Convention in Denver, performed in Washington, DC on election night and toured the United States and Europe. In September of 2009, the group opened up the Flobots.org Community Center in Denver, headquarter for their community work. The organization helps with everything from school arts programs to voter registration.

Not surprisingly, our heroes found themselves with so much more to say.

Holed up in Blasting Room studio in Ft. Collins, CO with Producer/Mixer Mario Caldato (Beastie Boys, Money Mark, One Day as a Lion), Flobots had a lot to get off their collective chests. They didn’t just tour the world they listened to it. From message boards to emails to comments left on social networking sites to actual conversations (remember those?), Flobots paid attention to what was being said. Andy believes, “Talking with the audience before and after shows gives us constant inspiration, and motivation, to keep doing what we do.”

Each and every person has a story to tell but struggle is a universal theme.

That’s not so say that the band that so eloquently declared on “Fight With Tools,” “We need heroes/ build them/ don’t put your fists up/ fill them” didn’t have their own internal battles while making their follow up. As Jesse opines, recording a Flobots record is “Like a virtual reality reenactment of the French revolution.” Emcee Jonny 5 summed up the creative experience thusly: “Our greatest asset as a band is that we are six passionate people who invest ourselves fully into our music. We have made an explicit commitment to value everyone’s voices in this process. That means every time we write new songs we create a new process. It’s not always pretty, and it’s not always easy, but it’s the only way we know how to do it.“ The growth displayed by the band over the past two years has been astounding,” asserts Kenny, “Our collective experiences in that time has informed our songwriting as a team, as well as our personal relationships and how we relate to each other as musicians.  It’s evident on Survival Story.”

They need not worry about the process; the CD is a sonic boom of thought provoking expression, melding funky guitar riffs with a heavy bass n’ drum backdrop and a fiery viola. Survival Story begins with a foreboding warning in “Cracks in the Surface,” as the music rises like a tsunami, Roberts’ tense viola threatening to explode. Having galvanized their audience to change, Flobots understand complications come from transformation.

Lead single “White Flag Warriors” is a breath of fresh air against the backdrop of jingoistic, ole glory waving war. The band is courageous enough to wave the white flag, not for the sake of surrender, but for the idea of unarmed negotiations. Tim Mcllrath from Rise Against joins Flobots on the chorus reminding listeners “this is love, not treason.”

But Flobots aren’t always against the establishment – they take responsibility too. Songs like “Whip$ + Chain$” and “Infatuation” (a cacophony of funk like none other on the record) demand we take a good look at ourselves, because we are part of the problem, with our desires, materialism and mounting debts.

Says Jonny 5, “When people listen to Survival Story we want them to see themselves and their own stories, with all of their complications, questions, and frustrations. Rather than seek to hide them, we chose to embrace and even celebrate them as a part of a global transformation, one in which forces of violence, hopelessness and waste will be composted into fertile soil from which new possibility can grow. We want to leave people with a sense of excitement that a new world is emerging, one which we have the power to shape, that a new story is being written and we must write it together. When the album is over, we want our listeners to walk away with a profound awareness of the cracks in the surface, a deep sense of what’s at stake and a strong resolve to make sure that the new world is one in which loved ones near and far, known and unknown, survive.”

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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