Forget Gospel music and Amy Grant. Christian music has a new face and it’s young, loud and sometimes guy-linered. To get the scoop on the scene we chatted with Chap Stique, the guitarist of Family Force 5, to find out what it means to be a Christian rocker today. What we found out involves a lot of ’80s references and wholesome fun.
According to Wikipedia, Family Force 5 is an Atlanta-based Christian crunkcore band. And while Southern-style crunk hip-hop, screamo and Christianity may seem like an unlikely combination, the Force has found quite the following. As the band wraps up its Christmas Pageant tour, Chap Stique filled us in on the surprising state of contemporary Christian music.
Museyon Guides: So tell me about the band…
Chap Stique: Family Force 5 is a band form Atlanta, Georgia. We’ve got three brothers in the band—Soul Glow Activatur, Crouton, Fatty—and a man who does a billion things called Nadaddy and I am Chap Stique. It’s real dancey, electro rock that sounds like robots made and saved for their ancestors in the future, and put it in a time capsule so that when they die we’ll kind of know what they listened to at their dance parties.
MG: How would you describe crunkcore?
CS: I was about to ask you if you could tell me what that means because I don’t really know. We just write music that we have fun playing and that we hope people will have fun listening to. Some people define it that way, some people call it metal, some people call it funk, some people call it pop or dance rock or electro or whatever and we’re fine with whatever. It’s just Family Force 5 though.
MG: So what do you guys listen to?
CS: There’s a lot of stuff that helps us write. Video game music has kind of been a big part of our writing. We all like Daft Punk a lot and Rage Against the Machine. We like cartoons a lot, too, like animated movies and old Voltron cartoons kind of help us get in this weird mentality that we sometimes have when we write. Prince is a big influence on us, and Michael Jackson. And a little bit of ‘80s new wave — Tears for Fears and Depeche Mode.
MG: FF5 is a Christian band, but that’s not immediately obvious from listening to your music. Tell me about that…
CS: We don’t necessarily want to slam everyone over the head with a Bible and try to convert the world. We just want to do something that’s full of life and joy and faith and hope and love. We want to make music for everybody, not just people who belong to the same faith as us, which is what a lot of Christian bands have done in the past. Our faith is a big part of our lyric writing, but a lot of it is metaphorical, and not something that people notice right off the top of their heads, but it’s definitely something that’s a huge part of our lives and we would never deny that.
MG: Are there other bands doing the same thing?
CS: I think Switchfoot was kind of a pioneer in that realm. Underoath and some bands like Anberlin and Paramore are similar to the approach that we take.
MG: What should people expect at a FF5 show?
CS: Fun. We always joke that we try to take people to another planet when they come to the show. We’re always going to have some kind of crazy outfit; Crouton, our drummer, handles the wardrobe. He’s very much a fashionista and he’s pretty talented. We always try to go nuts onstage and spin our guitars around our necks and do a lot of high-fives and ninja kicks. It’s quite an honor, sometimes looking around and I’m thinking is this going to be too over the top if I do this? And whenever I ask the guys in the band always say: “The answer to that question is always no. Nothing is too over the top.”
Our band is in the unique situation that we kind of fit in with a lot of different scenes. Sometimes we’re playing to 10- to 13-year-old youth group kids, sometimes we’re playing to college kids, sometimes we’re playing to hipsters, sometimes we’re on Warped Tour.
MG: What are your tour essentials?
CS: We’re big fans of Spinal Tap so once every couple of tours gets a spin on the DVD player.
For more from Family Force 5 check out their YouTube series “The Really Real Show” which just came back for its 25th episode. And to find out about more music scenes from all over the world pick up Music+Travel Worldwide from Museyon Guides.