Time Stands Still was one of the year’s most anticipated releases as fans wondered just how the new Family Force 5 lineup would sound. Through the changes, the album was a huge success, and the band retains their remarkable live appeal.
We visited Crouton (Jacob Olds) and Chap Stique (Derek Mount) on the band’s tour bus before their frenzied set on the Winter Jam stage at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta to learn about the making of their latest album and life on tour. Crouton had a heating pad on his lower back following an on-stage injury, and Chap Stique was nursing a bit of laryngitis, but the band soldiered on through a stellar show.
TSO: So, this is a hometown show for most of you. In what ways is that special?
Derek: I would say this is special because we’re from Atlanta, and we’re playing the Dome. I’m a huge Falcons fan. To play the same venue as your favorite NFL team is pretty special.
[A probably too-long discussion followed about the Falcons’ prospects and their new head coach. But back to the music….]
TSO: Your lineup change occurred before this past album. How did that change your songwriting and your style?
Jacob: My voice is a lot different from my brother’s voice. His voice is a lot more raspy, and mine is a little more clean, so there’s some cool things that happened. Luckily, we have always all written songs together. Every song that was written, we wrote together. The dynamic change when he left made us grow in different areas.
TSO: If you want to just say you’re the better singer, go ahead. Solomon’s not here, after all.
Jacob: (laughing) Oh, I’m awesome! We do have a chance at radio on this album, and we’ve never had that before. I don’t know if that’s the writing or the voice. It’s been a really exciting time, so we’re really thankful for that opportunity.
Derek: For a lot of bands, it’s such a huge departure when they have a new vocalist, but Jacob has always sung a lot from behind the drums, so a lot of fans were familiar with his voice. And Josh, our bassist, does some awesome screams. It was really not quite as shocking a change for the fan base. The five of us together, writing has always been this unique combination of Family Force 5 music. Jacob’s falsetto is so cool, we were able to do this new-wave sound on “Time Stands Still” and some other songs.
TSO: I understand that Jacob had aspirations to be a backup dancer for Janet Jackson. So I’m thinking “Rhythm Nation” would be such a great cover!
Jacob: We’ve actually practiced it at sound check a few times!
TSO: So who’s the best dancer?
Derek: (points to Jacob) It’s not even close. That’s one of the coolest things about not having him behind the drums anymore.
TSO: I think playing the drums and singing at the same time has to be one of the hardest things in music. Is it easier — can you concentrate more on the vocals, now that you’re away from the drums, or has it always been the same for you?
Jacob: There were definitely some raps on the first record that I really had to sit there and practice a lot because there was a different rhythm on the kick pedal and hi-hat that you’re playing versus singing. But I always said that I only got the gig to play drums in the first place because I could sing, and I wasn’t that fancy of a drummer. I could just play two and four the whole time and do some BGV’s. I think I’m a better dancer than a drummer.
Derek: You played one and three sometimes, and it was good!
TSO: This is a long tour. Is it intense for you guys?
Jacob: It’s long, but it’s incredibly easy on our bodies compared to what we’re used to doing. We used to do club shows, six or seven a week, and get some sleep on some random person’s floor that you don’t know, eating one meal a day; so we get spoiled here. This is a three or four month tour, but we get to go home every now and again, and sometimes they have a massage therapist out, and three meals a day and it’s pretty easy, especially since we’re only playing 15 minutes and we’re used to playing a 60 to 75 minute set. It’s a joy that it’s a cakewalk for us.
TSO: What other acts were you excited about on this tour?
Derek: I’m really enjoying Blanca. It’s what you were saying, when there’s a new lineup, you’re not really sure what to expect, but she’s knocking it out of the park. I’m also enjoying for King & Country. They’re really great people.
TSO: Who would you say has the best pipes on the tour?
Jacob: Blanca, Deena, Jen… all the girls. They’re all really good at what they do, but they have different styles, which is interesting.
Derek: I’m going to throw your name in the hat, too, because I know you would be too selfless to do that, but you have a really good voice.
Jacob: Well I’m going to throw your name in the hat, even though you don’t have a voice!
TSO: Okay, a few questions about touring together. Who is the messiest on the tour bus?
Jacob: Probably Fatty. This toiletry bag up here, this belongs to him. These receipts are probably his, too.
TSO: Who is the least punctual in the band?
Derek: I’m the slowest. If someone tells me what time to be there, I’m always there, but if someone says, “Be ready in five minutes” I’m never ready.
TSO: Who’s the most intellectual?
Jacob: I would say that’s a toss-up between you (Derek) and Nate.
Derek: We nerd out on different things. He’s electronics and I’m esoteric things. Literature, theology.
TSO: What’s the last book you read that had some meaning?
Derek: I recently reread Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I’m doing a journey through the Bible that’s really cool right now in II Kings, which is awesome. William James, Varieties of Religious Experience.
Jacob: Mine is Thing One, Thing Two.
The 2015 Winter Jam Tour Spectacular features Skillet, Jeremy Camp, Francesca Battistelli, Building 429, Family Force 5, NewSong, for KING & COUNTRY, speaker Tony Nolan and a Pre-Jam Party with Blanca, About A Mile and VERIDIA. The tour continues through the end of March, with no tickets required, only $10 at the door. Visit www.jamtour.com for more info and a full list of dates and cities.