Their songs are both fun and meaningful, with plenty of little twists. "Love Addict" may seem like just another pop song on the surface, but when you dig down into it, you realize it's as serious as an earthquake. "Earthquake," by the way, is another popular Family Force 5 song.
About the name: it's what they came up with when Prince told them they couldn't use "The Phamily," which is what they called themselves in the early days, since three members are brothers. We spoke with their drummer Jacob Olds - one of the bros in the band - and their keyboard/percussion man Nathan Currin to find out what moves them.
Jacob Olds: We're pretty spiritual people, and it's talking about God's love, actually, and how addicted we are to that. And it's kind of like a drug for us. It's like I can't get enough. So that was the inspiration behind it. And just love in general. Like when you fall in love with somebody, it is a drug. You get addicted to it.
Nathan Currin: You see a lot of people searching for it, you see a lot of people that are addicted to it, and sometimes things get misguided, but there's a whole lot of people that, when you get down to it, what they're really looking for is love. Whether that's in another person or in a substance or just whatever it is, what they really, really want is love and a loving relationship.
Songfacts: And when did you first feel like you were addicted to God's love?
Jacob: Man, I was probably 13 or 14. And I started getting into that. So it's a cool thing.
Songfacts: Because addiction has sort of a negative connotation to it, have people ever criticized you? Wondering how you can call God's love an addiction?
Nathan: Well, I think the whole point of the song is the irony. It's taking something that people see as a negative connotation and flipping it around and saying No, addiction can be a good thing if it's addiction to the right thing. If you're addicted to shooting people, you probably need to be treated. If you're addicted to loving on people and reciprocating what you're feeling from God and the peace that you're getting, if you're sharing that with other people, that's an awesome thing to be addicted to, and I wish more people were.
Songfacts: I saw you guys with David Crowder and Mercy Me and some different bands, and you have a lot of fun on stage. Where does the energy come from?
Jacob: It's kind of a throwback to us. We love to perform and all of us grew up in Atlanta and we all learned how to dance. It's just that energy from listening to hip-hop music and R&B music and stuff like that. But then also when we used to go see bands, a lot of bands used to put on a show back in the day, and we loved that aspect. That was a really cool energetic feeling.
Songfacts: What bands did you see that impressed you?
Jacob: Rage Against The Machine. Beastie Boys. Michael Jackson.
Nathan: Even bands like U2 and Rolling Stones. I see them live and I just go, "amazing."
Songfacts: It's an event, not just another show.
Jacob: And I don't think there was any kind of a shtick for us or anything. It's just that's what naturally came out when we all started performing. And that's kind of like our diamond for this band. A lot of people enjoy coming to the live show and we enjoy people having fun, and I think that shows in the performance, and I hope through the music, too.
Nathan: Plus, we feel like we're a band that's super interactive with fans, so I can't expect them to give us their all as far as energy during a show or maybe even buying a T-shirt and keeping us going, if we're not giving them 100% on stage. I would never expect them to do anything to support our band if we're not giving as much as we possibly can to them and trying to give them an experience. People aren't coming to just listen to music. They're coming to have a party with Family Force 5 - meet us, hang out with us, get a taste of who we really are and what our personalities are. So we try to give that to them, be honest with people.
Songfacts: I have to ask about the song "Earthquake." I live in Southern California. I know about earthquakes. I don't know about Atlanta. Have you ever had a major earthquake in Atlanta?
Jacob: The only earthquake that I think I've ever been in, it was a tiny one, probably what --
Nathan: Five years ago? Eight?
Jacob: It may have been five to eight years ago or something, somewhere in that span. But I was sitting at the house and the whole house started to shake. And I was like, what is going on?
Songfacts: You can tell, but you don't know what's happening.
Jacob: Yeah, I was like, what's going on here? And it was super small and everything. Actually, Georgia is sitting on a huge fault line. Like, huge. Like, if it went, it would be pretty bad.
Songfacts: Yeah, I can remember my first earthquake. I was in elementary school. And they always seem to happen early in the morning. So you feel this earthquake, and when you wake up you're not fully there yet, because you're still kind of half asleep, so you're thinking, what's going on. It's a really scary thing.
Nathan: He just ended up doing a wobble in his sleep.
Songfacts: So how can you write about earthquakes, having not really experienced a lot of them?
Songfacts: Weird, huh? You had a song on the Hip-Hope Hits album, "Whatcha Gonna Do With It." And you had mentioned that you were a fan of the Beastie Boys. Is hip-hop a big part of your music?
Jacob: Yeah, I think it's a huge influence. Especially coming from Atlanta, growing up with that culture and that scene. We grew up in Atlanta and at one point there was a really big rock scene, but now it's all urban. And you grow up and learn to love it and listen to it and it's the culture down there. It is a huge influence on us.
Nathan: Outkast, Ludacris.
Jacob: Yeah, Outkast, Ludacris, like, growing up, listening to that.
Songfacts: Do you have a new album that's on the way?
Jacob: Uh-huh. We do.
Songfacts: What can you tell me about it and why you're excited about it?
Nathan: We have a new album called III. Just Roman numeral III. We just released some album art for it up on our Twitter and Facebook pages. It comes out on October 18th. We have an EP out for it right now - it's three songs that are going to be on that album. We also have a video out for "Get On Outta Here" which will be on that, as well. It's a super honest redneck kind of ATL swagger record. So it's about the closest representation of who we are collectively, musically, and as people, I think, that we've done thus far. So it's super hype, it's super dance. It's got some down tempo stuff. It's just real swagger.
Songfacts: Why did you call it III (three)?
Jacob: It's our third album and we were like, you know what? Let's just be simple with it: III.
Songfacts: Was it Chicago that ended up getting into these large Roman numerals?
Jacob: Like, every record. Yeah.
Songfacts: That can get complicated, because you have know Roman numerals.
Nathan: When we get to like 57, it might be a little bit difficult.
Jacob: III is good, because it's just III.
Nathan: There'll be L's in there at that point. That's gonna be weird.
We spoke with Jacob and Nathan on August 11, 2011. Get more at familyforce5.com.
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