Saturday, June 23, 2012

INTERVIEW - JONNY 5 (FLOBOTS) - Cracking the Surface of a Musical Freedom Fighter

Recently I managed to catch Jonny 5 the lead vocalist of Flobots for an interview. This was very hard mind you since they're recording a new album and when I last spoke to him he was off the grid! I really appreciate him taking the time to answer me though! I did this entire interview on my phone and I can ride my bike with no handlebars ;)

RSF-Thanks a lot for taking the time to talk to us. I know how busy you are!

J5-Sure. Sorry it took so long. I am indeed pretty busy but no complaints!

RSF-Could you introduce to yourself to our readers?

J5-I am Jonny 5, an emcee with the band Flobots.

RSF-You're currently working on an album with no set release date as of yet. Could you give us a hint as to when it will be released?

J5-Leap day's have birthday.

RSF-Flobots are what you could consider Rap Rock. Who would you say are your biggest influences in both rock and hip hop?

J5-Personally, I'm a lyricist so hip hop is my background and influence more than anything. I came up in the 90's so stuff like The Roots, Outkast, Goodie, Saul Williams were big. Also West Coast Underground like Freestyle Fellowship/Project Blowed, Hiero, Living Legends, Solesides/Quannam Latyrx, etc.

RSF-You are one of the few politically outspoken bands that I know of, the other one I can think of off the top of my head are Rise Against. Why did you decide to take your music in a more political direction?

J5-It's who we are. We talk about things we care about.

RSF-Your music has a very global focus, especially in the Middle East. Have you ever been to places like Iraq or Afghanistan?

J5-Recently Brer Rabbit and I went to Jordan and Jerusalem, including trips to both Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories in The West Bank.

RSF-This isn't really a question but, I'd like to say that your music reminds me a lot of Rage Against the Machine in terms of when you hear it you lose all sense of apathy. I don't know if you've ever heard of them, but Japanese band RIZE has a very similar message to their music, albeit not as political, but very much high energy.

J5-I'll have to check them out!

RSF-Okay so every time I do am interview I like to mix things up a bit, this is a freestyle after all so I hope you're ready!

I'll say this so I won't be sending mixed messages! I always ask about relationship status. Are you single?


RSF-Has anyone ever mistaken you for John 5; the guitarist who's worked with Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson? Jonny 5 and John 5 are very similar after all. I'm not saying you two look alike, there's no way someone could mistake you for him in person! (Laughs)

J5-Wikipedia has a disambiguation page about us, so I'm thinking some Wikipedians have mistaken us.

RSF-Flobots have been around since W was elected back in 2000, was that the reason you formed the group and were you glad when those 8 years were finally over?

J5-The modern incarnation of Flobots started  2004, using music to change the nations course was certainly a motivating force.

RSF-Your band made it clear that they supported the election of President Obama four years ago. Would you say things have gotten better or worse?

J5-Good question. President Obama's domestic policies have been good steps (look at what he did for student loans, for example, and his words on marriage equality, and the healthcare improvements). But President Obama's foreign policy has maintained too many elements of empire. More drone attacks than ever and prosecuting of whistleblowers. The kill list does not get me excited.

RSF-Are you going to support President Obama's reelection or have you decided to start the Apocalypse, just so you can stop it and support Romney? (Laughs) (Note:The Circle in the Square was originally called Stop the Apocalypse.)

J5-I don't want Romney. I want a better version of President Obama. The most important thing though us for us to build movements that drive the conversation.

RSF-You performed right when it was announced that then Senator Obama would become President-Elect then President Obama, have you ever played at one of his events and would you accept the offer if you were asked to perform at his inauguration party? Although that'd be one hell of a party that would give the Republicans even more to bitch about! (Laughs)

J5-We'd probably say yes and figure out what message we want to put out there in our performance.

RSF-Do you think things will get better with four more years of President Obama? I mean he didn't even shut down Guantanamo yet and we're not out of Afghanistan yet either.

J5-It will depend on what the social movements do to put pressure on him (or Romney)

RSF-Have you ever considered going on a show like Real Time with Bill Maher? I know he's a comedian, but he brings a lot of attention to things that are wrong with this country. I think you would be great on the discussion panel and you could plug to your new album! (Laughs)

Please tell him to call me.

RSF-Before we go would you like to say anything to our readers?

J5-Thanks for caring!

We would like to thank Jonny 5 for answering so many questions about so many topics! Please be sure to check them out at and be on the look out for their new album The Circle in the Square August 28th!

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