Flobots Bassist Jesse Walker
The Flobots are a rock and hip hop musical group from Denver, Colo., formed in 2000 by Jamie Laurie. Flobots found mainstream success with their major label debut Fight with Tools (2007), featuring the single "Handlebars," which became a popular hit on modern rock radio in April 2008. The ’bots will perform at the Waiting Room tonight (Wednesday, Aug. 22). This week, The Reader asked our Facebook followers to submit questions to the band and here's how Flobot bassist Jesse Walker answered them via email:
Laura Marie: where did they come up with their name?
JW: Brer Rabbit and Jonny 5 have been using the name in various projects for many years, but the current iteration of the Flobots with the live band kicked off in 2005. When it came time to pick a name, we just kept using the name they had been using since they were kids.
Lisa Marie Bare: How did they end up working with Tim Mcllrath from Rise Against on White Flag Warrior?
JW: We toured with Rise Against in the UK a couple years ago, and we got to know them. They're really great people. If you didn't know better you would have no idea that you were talking to huge rockstars, they're that down to earth and humble. While recording on our second record we started working on a song that needed big screaming vocals. We reached out to Tim and he was excited to be a part of the song. He came out to Blasting Room Studios in Fort Collins where we were recording, and he just killed it. He was amazing to work with.
Pam Franco: Why did you change the title of your new album (to be released August 28th, 2012) from "Stop the Apocalypse" to "The Circle in the Square"? Also what is the meaning of The Circle in the Square?
JW: We changed the name because it seemed to fit better with the texture of the record and feel of the times.
The Arab Spring kicked off while Brer Rabbit and Jonny 5 were on a trip to the Middle East. Mubarak was actually toppled while they were in Jordan. Jonny 5 noticed that many pundits were saying that it is impossible to have arab democracy, that it would be like trying to square a circle. Yet on TV across the world everyone saw a circle of people in Tahir Square demanding democracy. We started thinking about this concept in the larger context of the Occupy movement, and suddenly we had not only an idea for a song but also a conceptual guide for a record.
Mikie Todd: Favorite place to eat on the road? Favorite in Omaha?
JW: There's this cafe in San Luis Obispo that I love. Not being from the west coast, we also get excited about In-N-Out Burger.
Justin Avery: How were you influenced by the bands of the 90's who combined rap and hip hop together into one sound?
JW: Everyone in the band comes from a different musical background. Mackenzie comes from a classical background, the emcees come from a hip-hop background, and Kenny and I come from a more rock background. Our writing process is very democratic, for better or for worse, and everyone has a voice in the process. When we sit down to write we rarely determine up front how we want the music to sound. It usually just starts with an idea, and then everyone adds their input based on the their background and their own inspiration. So I don't think we set out to create a sound similar to anyone, in fact it was just the opposite. There's a lot of great bands out there, but there are a lot of bands out there that sound very similar. Our goal was to not sound like anything else out there currently. Utilizing a process a that draws on people from different backgrounds generally ensures that we reach that goal.
Rhea Franco: You guys are known for your activism expressed through your music. What is one of the biggest causes you see yourselves to stand for?
There are several issues about which we feel passionately - immigration, marriage equality, health care. But I think we have spent the most time considering the issues that have ignited the Occupy movement. We feel strongly that Corporate Personhood should be abolished, and that Citizens United should be reversed. We also would like to see Dodd-Frank fully implemented, and Glass-Steagal reinstated. America cannot lose the middle class in order to protect and expand the power of a small number of people.