The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world








Toddstar: Derek, how are you brother?


Derek: I’m good man.  How are you?


Toddstar: Good, good.  Thanks for taking the time.


Derek: Absolutely, no problem.  Where are you based out of?


Toddstar: I’m just outside of Detroit.


Derek: Oh man so this is kind of late for you, isn’t it?


Toddstar: Yeah, but you guys are worth it.


Derek: Well, thank you, thank you sir.


Toddstar: No, I appreciate it.  Well, let’s get this going because I know it’s late in your cycle as well so different zone so you can get on with your life.  Thank you so much for taking the time out for the Rockpit, we really appreciate it tonight.


Derek: Dude, no problem….likewise man.  We appreciate the support.


Toddstar: Glad to support you.  Well I want to start this with the fact that I saw you guys back in the day before you guys really were marching, you guys always marched to your own beat before you could call the stage your own.  I saw you guys at a small club in Pontiac, MI called Clutch Cargo and you guys opened for Alter Bridge way back.


Derek: Oh, that was old school man…wow!  Well done.


Toddstar: Yeah, I saw you guys on that tour.  I mean, I think your first album was either getting ready to drop or had just dropped.


Derek: It was not out at the point.  I vividly remember that show.  We always laugh because that was, I don’t know if you remember this, but somebody in the audience just kind of heckling Soul, our lead singer, and he called him out.  That’s so weird man, you saw us at Clutch Cargo.


Toddstar: Yep, I do remember that.  I just remember it was a weird bill because it was Alter Bridge, Submersed, and then you guys.  It was three totally different bands.  It’s good to see you guys kind of stuck to what you started with. Let’s jump right into 3.


Derek: Sure.


Toddstar: What can you tell me about the new album?


Derek: We’re just excited to have it out man. It’s been you know, awhile since we put out some new music and we’re just chomping at the bit.  We’re a little bit nervous, to be honest with you.  Just hoping people dig it and I don’t know.  It was a very intense to process.  Where we had a lot of second guessing and this record looks completely different from a year ago and looks completely different from a few months ago.  We just kept rewriting and writing new songs and re-recording and in the end I think it came out with a really strong cool mix from very different experiences that we’ve all been thru.  I think it’s pretty powerful.  I think there are some rock songs, there are some clubbing dance songs, and there are definitely a few pop songs.  A few the fans probably aren’t used to from us.  It was a really fun experience, so we’re chopping at the bit to put it out.  I wish it was out right now.


Toddstar: (Laughing) well, unlike most people, I’ve at least had the chance to listen to it so I’m really happy with what you guys have put out. It really…


Derek: Oh cool.





Toddstar: It really, you guys have always just kind of done your own thing.   You don’t worry about fitting into a nitch or genre.  You just kind of do what you want to do.  Regarding the new album, you say you did a lot of rewriting.  Is there a song or two that just from the time you guys first started writing that it stuck out and it’s still there?


Derek: Oh absolutely. One of the neat songs on that record is a song called “Not Alone” it was a big departure for us, it almost was thrown out.  I remember it was like we did these different writing experiments so we do like a week where we only wrote early in the morning, then the next week we only wrote during like from 12 to 2 in the afternoon, then the next week we wrote after midnight and we just trying these different things.  We tried a week where it was just acoustic guitars, a week with just laptops, and a week with where we would set up like the practice space for the band.  There were only two songs that kind of came up with these different sounds.  I remember at this particular time we’re doing the week where we’re like “We’re only writing after midnight so we’re going to get this weird and tired and experience” and all the factors that helped us out and a year before that we had to do a blog.  That was just like “Hey we need a blog for Family Force 5 about going to Europe for these shows.”  So we do the blog where you know, we’re making a video; we’re down in the green room kind of messing around with the piano and we came up with this really cool sound.  It was just like really pretty and we tracked it and made it this big epic song.  It was really cool and whatever and you know, just laughed at it.  Then this one time we went to a truck stop, we were in the middle of the tour, and we got back on the bus and all of us been talking to our loved ones at home.  A few of the guys are married, a few have kids and stuff, and we just got on the bus and we’re like “Man dude, this is tough.  It’s been 6 years of touring you know, anywhere from 200-300 days out of the year, and our families are hurting with us being gone” and we just kind of busted out that old track from that video blog.  This is really cool, let’s try to write something to it and you know, I mean the entire time I’ve been in this band, we’ve never written songs like this.  It just came out and we’re just we’re not alone man you know, like the song is… like I wish I wasn’t so lonely and so our family’s you know, kind of fall apart at times and we miss our parents, our kids, our lives, and our friends and it just feels lonely you know.  That’s what this song was about.  It’s so funny, we got done writing it and it was really a pretty song and Family Force 5 is only crazy rock and we’re just kind of like “Well, I guess we can see if we can find a country artist to sing this song, maybe give it to a friend of ours that’s in a band that plays more pop music.”  We got done and we went to all these meetings with different producers and stuff and we would show them like, “Really oh yeah, oh yeah.”  We’d show them some of the songs and they were “That’s cool, that’s cool” and then we’d show them “Not Alone” and they were like, “Yeah, dude that’s awesome!” and we’re like “What?” We were like “we can’t do that.”  We got to a point where we’re about 5 or 6 people told us that in a row and we’re like “Well, let’s do it, let’s go ahead and record this song” and so… I’m sorry, I’m getting long winded but it just was so… was a powerful moment for us to kind of, where we are just kind of trying to grow and let’s see if we can be a band that can evolve and it’s the song and that’s what happened.  The radio plays it now and some of our fans at first were shocked and they’re like “Is this really you guys?”  But I hear a lot of people were all about that song so it was at least the only song that has been tampered with from Family Force 5.


Toddstar: That’s top 2 for me. I like that and I like the disc opener “Can You Feel It?”



Derek: Cool, yeah, yeah “Can You Feel It?”  That’s a fun song.  Totally written like a sports anthem of sorts.


Toddstar: So you can hear that being played on ESPN or maybe on WWF?


Derek: Yeah, I hope so.  I’m a big sports fan, that would be amazing for me.  I’d love it.


Toddstar: Well, then I’ll venture off to the side for a second.  Are you a Packers fan?


Derek: I respect the Packers but you know, I mean...I’m a huge Falcons fan.  And last week you guys… are you a Packers fan is that why you asked?


Toddstar: No, no, but you guys have a very good friend who I happen to know who is a huge Packers fan….Chuck Peoples.


Derek: Nah, I respect the Packers they’ve got good history, but I am definitely a Falcons fan.


Toddstar: Ok.  Being from Detroit, right now I’m riding high with the 5-0.  I know…


Derek: Dude!  I mean, Congratulations!  You know, you guys have earned it.  I’m definitely a supporter, especially for Matt Stafford, the quarterback so…


Toddstar: Right.  Now, like I said.  I had to ask about the Packers because I know you guys and Chuck Peoples go way back.


Derek: Chuck is a… he is a HUGE Packers fan.  He’ll rub it in my face the next time I see him about last week’s game for sure.


Toddstar: (Laughing) Yeah, I met him on a different tour once and he…all he talked about was you guys and so it was cool.  Okay, let’s move on a little bit. This album kind of harkens back to your first album much more than your second album, which really seemed like a detour.  This one kind of rides the groove that you guys introduced with your first album.  Was that a conscience effort on your guy’s part to kind of go back to roots?


Derek: You know, Family Force 5 never really sits down and says “This is where we wanna go” or “Let’s try to make a song that sounds like this or an album that sounds like this.”  We’ve done that a few times, and every time it ends up sounding like an okay song, that might be popular, but something that doesn’t sound like Family Force 5.  We’re like “No, let’s not do that.”  So the answer to the album situation was a little departure from the first album, but we never sat down and said let’s make this crazy weird album. We just were listening to a lot of different songs and styles.  You know, we’ve been to Europe a lot at that point and we’re just kind of really excited about the dance music scene and so that’s kind of where that came from.  It wasn’t any part where we sat down and said I want to bring back the rock guitar stuff.  We just made something we thought was cool and like I said, there was a certain point where this record did sound a little bit like something else.  We’re a lot more like the first record, but I think overall we kept changing and growing and came up with something that sounds even different from the both of those.  It’s kind of like its own entity and that’s important to us to grow but ultimately we don’t care if a record sounds like something we’ve already put out.  We just care if it sounds great and that’s all Family Force 5 can try to do, to make something to make people happy and that we like to play.





Toddstar: Well, there’s one word and it’s where I want you to try to go with it.  There’s one word that I’ve always used to describe any of your music to anybody who’s not familiar.  I use the word fun.


Derek: Cool.


Toddstar: If you had to describe your music to somebody who had no clue what Family Force 5 was, how would you describe yourself?


Derek: Well, I have to do that often.  I guess from year to year it might change sometimes but you know, I typically say its electro band music rock with some hip-hop elements, party rock and party music and I mean we have a blast.  My favorite thing about this band is just looking out and seeing people smile.  There’s a time to take a serious detour every now and again and you know, calm the audience but there’s something really special about seeing a group of people kind of forget about whatever trouble they are going thru, whatever trash the economy is in right now, and just seeing people out there partying, moshing, two-stepping, high fiving, having fun, and smiling.  I think we’re the band that brings the party alive and it’s an honor to have that role.  We love that role and it’s kind of I’d say that’s the glue that holds Family Force 5 together; it’s the joy and the music.


Toddstar: Cool. Now are you guys one of those bands…do you guys hang out even when you’re not on the road?  Are you guys that close and tight as friends and family?


Derek: Oh yeah.  I’m staring at Nay Daddy right now and Croutons in the other room.  We’re at a Mexican restaurant; I just went outside so it’d be a little quieter when I called you.  Yeah, we all hang out man for sure cuz this band does a lot together, especially when you have 3 brothers in the band you know.  They’ve certainly spent their whole lives together and especially doing the music, that’s what they’ve been doing all these years, but yeah it’s a very tight knit bunch.  There’s a time and a place when you certainly need to get away and be with you know, with different people then with the guys you live on the road with, but I think everybody on this band would take a bullet for anybody in this band.  I mean, we just we hope this band means a whole lot more than the music we make and our relationships with one another are something special and powerful and deep or there’s something wrong with that, I think that’s important that we try to really, really respect and love each other and the people that we ultimately make the music for.


Toddstar: Cool, very cool.  Well listen, I know you’re getting tight on time so I just got a couple more questions for you.  If you weren’t playing guitar in Family Force 5, what would you be doing with your life at this point?


Derek: Well, hopefully I’d be playing guitar with somebody else. (Laughing)  That’s what I’ve always just been called to do.  My mom always tells me I’m out there like crazy.  The first time I saw ‘Back to the Future,’ I was ripping up the guitar solo on “Johnny B. Good,” on air guitar.  I was just like “Mom, you got to buy me a guitar! I got to do this. I got to do this.”  And I remember hearing “Eruption” by Van Halen and just freaking out and just thinking my world had changed.  That is what I needed to do and so I’d love to be playing you know, if it was for somebody else, I don’t know who that would be, but that would be cool.  If we’re going to get completely away from the music stuff, I’m actually studying to go to graduate school when the guys asked me to go on tour.  I was going to go to school for theology and hopefully be a professor and that was something that really interests me.  I read every day, various psychology type books, but I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be for sure right now and doing what I love.  There’s something very powerful about being together with these guys on the road.  I can’t imagine ever feeling complete if I was doing something that didn’t involve music, so I would hope I’d be playing for somebody else or writing for somebody else, or playing in the studio or I don’t know just doing something involving music.


Toddstar: Ok, Well great answer and it leads us beautifully into what I like to wrap up with.  Hey Derek, what’s the meaning of life?


Derek: Wow, uh that’s the hardest question ever and I don’t mean to have a cop out answer, but I think its love.  You know, I mean one of my favorite books ever is “Cat’s Cradle.”  I wrote this story about somebody who said I figured out the meaning of life and there like “What is it?”  I think its protein, but I forgot. (Laughing)  I think if we’re truly honest, the times when we experience life, times when we have to sit down and say what is your life?  Now everything boils down to love.  I mean, the moment that you remember when you cherish, the feeling to me most, and the experiences that are worthwhile in this life, in the heart, to me have internal value.  Our times when we connect with someone on a loving level and it means a lot for sure and too deep to handle you know.  It’s something that I think we need you know.  There’s a difference between survival and living and I think that is what truly separates it.


Toddstar: Couldn’t of said it better myself. Well listen man…


Derek: Nice.  That’s the first time I’ve been asked that in an interview.  I respect that question.  I’d love to hear your answer too.


Toddstar: It goes along the same way man and I mean, I’ve got a kid of my own.  I’ve got a wife that I would give anything for.  I think at the end of the day if you can’t say you loved and you loved with all you had, none of life mattered.


Derek: Absolutely.


Toddstar: So, I agree with you whole heartedly.  Well again, we here at the Rockpit really appreciate your time.  We can’t wait to get this out there and do a little bit of preview for the album drop on the 18th and we’ll make sure we get everybody pointed to the FaceBook and the Twitter and the website and again thank you so much for the time Derek.  I can’t wait to see you guys back here in Detroit.


Derek: Absolutely, sounds great. Well thank you for your time and we’ll hopefully see you soon.


Toddstar: Thanks man, talk to you later.




By Toddstar