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    • CommentTimeSep 12th 2008 edited
    This band Flobots have been around for a while I think, but I only just came across them after watching the video for 'Handlebars':

    I really enjoyed 1) the animation, 2) the sentiment and 3) the fact it is commercially appealing - it's almost as if they're trying to put across similar points to Rage ATM but in a more radio-friendly way.

    However having listened to Rise, and having looked at both their site and the site they started for their activism, AmericaWillBe, I'm left with a weirdly funny feeling, like I may just have been had, yknow?

    Interested to hear what you Whitechapel folks make of them as a band - know any stories about the members, or anything about the band's history and agenda?

    Essentially I'm asking: is this very cleverly packaged revolution, or is it revolution being used to sell product? I honestly can't tell, and that is what alarms me.

    I can't help but love 'Handlebars' though... Emo-hip-hop is here. Interested to hear your thoughts...
  1.  (3574.2)
    Flobots are so sparkley with label cash they're almost a boy group.

    Emo hip-hop has been here for a while. Anticon, Sage Francis, Sole and, doseone to start.
  2.  (3574.3)
    Emo hip-hop has been here for a while

    while they may have a good message, being a band-of-the-moment makes it pretty much impossible to judge their actual stances on anything from the outside. id lean toward the "packaged revolution" side, though i may be wrong.
  3.  (3574.4)
    Eh. I was really into Jonny 5 and Yak's old album about five years ago, and it's all about politics Some of my favorite political songs while I was protesting about the Iraq invasion in 2003 were Jonny 5 songs ("The Last Straw Part 2000" and "Onomatopoeia" specifically. Damn good songs.). I honestly haven't noticed their evident rise in popularity, but I know Jonny 5 was saying this stuff back when absolutely nobody had heard of him.

    Is it the same message these days, coming from the same place? I have no idea.
  4.  (3574.5)
    Point being: Just because they appeared to come out of nowhere doesn't mean they haven't been toiling in obscurity for many, many years. "Onomatopoeia" came out in 2001, and yeah, thinking about it now I remember listening to it pretty soon after 9/11. They've been around for a while, and activism has always been their thing.
  5.  (3574.6)
    thats good to know-but i assumed they didnt just decide to be revolutionary overnight. i think its more of the way they have blown up huge with major label support and orchestrated airplay affecting my decision to lean more towards the packaged. does a message have the same meaning when its paid for by the people its against? like i said before i could be very wrong. i dont know them, and for all i know they truly are just using the money/system against itself, which i commend when it happens- but that is EXTREMELY rare.
  6.  (3574.7)
    i looked at wikipedia for random stuff to see their deal ( dear god, i know not trust it in regards to getting things straigh) and found this amazing line in regards to jonny 5: "not to be confused with... the robot from Short Circuit, Johnny Five". hahahahaha, im sure that happens ALL THE TIME
  7.  (3574.8)
    I saw them in Columbia, SC a couple months ago and it was a pretty darn good show. Mostly preppies in the crowd but that's because it was Columbia.

    You can't compare major record labels to racists and corrupt politicians. I'm sure there are some music moguls in bed with politicians, but for all intents and purposes I don't think we can say that they're just hypocrities because they have a major record deal. After all, I don't follow labels that closely, but wasn't RATM signed to a major record label? What I'm trying to say is that I think you can protest politics and do it on a major record label. Pearl Jam, Neil Young, and so on.

    They definitely have a protest thing going on. Interestingly enough, some of the protesters at the Republican National Convention were wearing the US flag bandanas over their faces the same way the Flobots guys do. And I think I heard on the news that Flobots was at the convention protesting peacefully and they were trying to get other people to stop being violent.

    What remains to be seen is whether they'll keep the protest stuff going after they've made a few million. They've just had their first successful album and it's possible that they'll continue to have hit records. We'll see what happens then.

    My verdict of the band's music? In the grand scheme of things, a 7/10 maybe. Nothing terrible about them, but some of their lyrics are crappy and some of the songs on the album are repetitive. And "Handlebars" is just too mainstream for me. I like the song but I think of MTV every time I hear it. They could improve. Listening to the album wasn't anything like the first time I heard The Fragile, for example.
    • CommentTimeSep 12th 2008
    Flobots are so sparkley with label cash they're almost a boy group.

    I kind of suspected as much, but it is invaluable to get all of your opinions... I've spent the week agonising over whether I think they are totally the most brilliant idea i have seen in ages, or the most worrying and disturbing... and I still don't know if I have made up my mind. Still, I think Handlebars is a work of genius... a very clever manipulation of commercial hip-hop nous to make a powerful point. Thanks joe.distort and everyone else for your insight, I'm glad they also polarise your opinions.

    not to be confused with... the robot from Short Circuit, Johnny Five

    Ha ha yeah, that's pretty funny. It's not the best choice of MC name.

    Interestingly enough, some of the protesters at the Republican National Convention were wearing the US flag bandanas over their faces

    I guess that's why I started the thread - is this marketing used as protest or vice versa? It's hard to tell where they are dcoming from.

    Anyone care to comment on where their label / money / backing comes from?
    • CommentTimeSep 12th 2008
    if they're spreading a message you like and it sounds good to you, does it really matter? really?

  8.  (3574.11)
    in the end, that is all that matters...but he DID ask.
    • CommentAuthorIvadell
    • CommentTimeSep 12th 2008
    If you do like political Hip-hop, Sage Francis is probably (in my opinion) one of the best.
  9.  (3574.13)
    As someone who lives in Denver, where they're from, I'll just chime in to say that they came up through the ranks. These kids knew each other in high school, and toiled in relative obscurity out here before "Handlebars" hit the big time.
  10.  (3574.14)
    To quote tool:

    "All you know about me is what I've sold you,
    Dumb fuck.
    I sold out long before you ever heard my name.
    I sold my soul to make a record,
    Dip shit,
    And you bought one."

    If their music communicates a message worth listening to, then the more they sell the better, and you can judge that by the music alone.
    A band needs to make money to be anything more than a side project for the members, so you can't hear their message without buying the product... as tool so, uh, eloquently pointed out, the message and the product are the same thing, regardless of whether the band toils in obscurity or is with the largest and most corrupt record label in existence.
    • CommentTimeSep 13th 2008
    if they're spreading a message you like and it sounds good to you, does it really matter? really?

    Aye, but that's why I was asking really... not sure whether their message was for real, or just a pose. They seem genuine enough but are very very slick... Almost too slick. But...

    they came up through the ranks

    Which is good to know... now I feel a bit less like I've been sold a boyband Rage ATM. For the record, I laid down my £8 for the album on the strength of the music alone... my wondering about their intentions came after.
  11.  (3574.16)
    That insipid "Together We Rise" song is a brilliant marketing strategy in the era of Obama.
    • CommentAuthorScrymgeour
    • CommentTimeSep 15th 2008
    i quite like this song, but im not so sure i like the ending emoticve bit, it seems a bit contrived (i just love the mexican horns though,,,lovely)

    i think rise is a bit cack though. (together we rise ad nauseum)

    back to the original point. Im not sure it matters ghow sincere the message might be. Whether or not its very cunning marketing, hopefully it will make at least a few people engage with politics and godforbid form a thought out critique of whatever regime they live in.
    Political bands are rarely very lucid or coherant. If you dontr believe me just go back and look at RATM, boysetsfire or Refused and genuinely look at their lyrics, they dont know whether they are coming or going but they make people think. Its a bit like they read the synopsis of teh communist manifesto (or a review of the abridged version) or gave against history against leviathan a brief skim. Nevertheless they are allowing people who otherwise be excluded (for one reason or another) to connect with politics which can only be a good thing

    sorry to ramble
    • CommentTimeSep 15th 2008
    I bought this album in the UK on the weekend, pretty big fan of Sage and cLOUDEAD etc.

    Have only heard the album once, while I was driving, but yeah i agree its fairly mellow, over produced stuff (for my taste) but still catchy in parts.

    Still, if I was listening to RATM, while driving, people may end up hurt.
    • CommentTimeSep 15th 2008 edited
    REFUSED were doing something different and were more about music not staying stagnant, with heavy anticapitalist overtones.

    a band that had toured the world over for years on the back of their ideals, without funding from a multinational corporation=refused

    a band that plays big local shows (from the information i have found, correct me if im wrong) and gets a record contract out of a radio contest=no matter how legitimate their convictions, they are not coming from the same place at all. if they were a danger to anything, the flobots would not be being distributed by universal. i do think these things are good overall, better something thought provoking than another rap-metal album about bitches and money, but not a serious protest.
    • CommentTimeSep 16th 2008 edited
    I first ran into the Flobots when they were doing Kids' festivals around the Denver metro area. (yeah, don't ask me why they did "Handlebars" there...) I gotta say i really like their stuff, and there's some things they do in concert that'll likely never see an album, which is sad. I saw them a year later at a legitimate venue (the CD release at the Ogden, for those who know...or care), and it ran more like a political rally than an actual concert. It was kinda neat to see. They very definitely deeply believe what they sing.

    The other thing you have to remember is that they are kind of religious:
    From "Rise:" "If you believe in redemption, comin' to ya from another dimension."
    From "Stand Up:" "If you feel like I do about the son of man, we shall overcome."
    and so forth.
    Once of the things I've noticed about Christian artists is that the sound does tend to stand out- it's hard to describe, but no one believed me about Flyleaf until they played at a BattleCry rally. It can come across as over-produced. Not that Flobots would be caught dead playing for BattleCry, thank heavens.
    Also, not a boyband... there's seven regular members, the viola player is married to the bass player, i think, and they play in concert with a 4 part orchestra.

    I also agree, some of their lyrics "I can split the atom of a molecule?!?"

    But on the whole, I'd say they understand that they have to sell their message to get it out there (Handlebars on PLatypus and Handlebars on Fight With Tools are very different), but that doesn't stop them from being sincere- as Mr. Duffield pointed out. I thoroughly endorse them.

    Being a fan of them and RATM and Faithless, I'll have to check out Sage Francis.

    -edit-of course, Thousand Foot Krutch played for BattleCry, too, and i still like them...take that for what it's worth.