This song about power, corruption and the potential that lies in one individual first appeared on an independent EP in 2005 (as "Handle Bars"), and was re-released on the band's major-label debut Fight with Tools
two years later as their first single. This song is about the life of a dictator. It starts with the dictator as a young child learning how to ride a bike without handlebars. In the end, the boy is all grown up and has taken over the world.
Brandon - Aurora, IL
In an interview on KROQ 106.7 Los Angeles, the band said that this song's meaning is open to interpretation but hinted that it was influenced by the events going on around the world.
The Flobots, are an indie hip-hop band with an activist-oriented philosophy from Denver, Colorado.
The Flobots' MySpace site describes Fight with Tools as "a fire-breathing rallying cry for all free-thinking individuals fed-up with the violence and apathy that have thus far defined the new millennium."
MC Jonny 5 (a.k.a. Jamie Laurie) told MTV News: "The song is about the idea that we have so much incredible potential as human beings to be destructive or to be creative. And it's tragic to me that the appetite for military innovation is endless, but when it comes to taking on a project like ending world hunger, it's seen as outlandish. It's not treated with the same seriousness. The lyrics came to me as I was riding a bike home from work with my hands in the air - I had just learned how to do it - and I felt triumphant, but at the same time, I knew there were people at that moment who were being bombed by our own country. And I thought that was incredibly powerful. We have these little moments of creativity, these bursts of innovation, and every time that happens, that innovation is used to oppress and destroy people. So it struck me as beautiful and tragic at the same time."
The music video was done with computer animation at the London production house DirtyUK. It depicts the journey from young man learning to ride a bike with no hands to power-mad megalomaniac.
Brookis Vermillion presents this case that "Handlebars" is about autism:
Autism is a brain development disorder that usually sets in the first four years. Autistic people find it difficult to be in social situations, communicate verbally or with body language, and can become obsessive about order. In this song, the singer boasts of his abilities like taking apart a remote control, keeping rhythm with no metronome, and splitting the atom of a molecule.
"I can take apart the remote control, and I can almost put it back together..." - Thomas Edison, the inventor of electric light was autistic.
"I can keep rhythm with no metronome" - Wolfgang Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven are two classical composers who are believed to have suffered from acute autism. Their works are widely observed and appreciated by all ages throughout the globe.
"I can split the atoms of a molecule" - Albert Einstein, the famous physicist who developed the theory of relativity (E=mc2) was also an autistic individual. His formula lead to the development of the atomic bomb, where a uranium atom is split, during World War II.
"and I can end the planet in a holocaust" - Adolf Hitler. Professor Michael Fitzgerald examined the life of Adolf Hitler, the German Nazi dictator of the 1930s and '40s, and concluded that he expressed aspects that proved he was autistic.
In a Songfacts interview with Jonny 5
, he described this song as "both very poppy and catchy and actually speak to something deeper the more you listen to it."