The band formed in 2003. That's when we got it together. It was really just a very natural thing that came together with all of us. I've known the guitar player Steve and the drummer Dave from a group that I produced that they were in, in 2002. I produced something for a band that the singer Dale was in out of Minneapolis. I had known all of them because I had worked with them in other settings and I always liked the way that they worked. When we got together and got in a room and started writing some songs together, it really became a natural, fun, new project to work on and a band really just formed real easily. We brought in our second guitar player John Davis a couple of months later and by mid-2003 we had a real kickass real solid slamming band.
Where did the name F5 come from?
Our drummer brought it in because he was reading something about tornadoes. An F5 is a top level tornado. I didn't really care for that analogy of it that much because being born and raised in the Midwest, the tornado thing seemed a little trite to me. As we kept playing I liked F5. It rolled off the tongue nice. F5. Simple, easy to remember. Coincidentally when we came up with the name, there were only four of us in the group so it was funny that we ended up five of us. As we all started playing together, I used to stand in the rehearsal room when we were writing the material and go "it's like a force of five." It's the force of the five of us playing the material together. It really to me represents just power.
Having a second guitar player also makes it possible to write more complicated stuff.
That was part of what was starting to happen. We were writing new material and the demos we were making were very well produced and they had a lot of guitar overdubs and a lot of stuff going on with them. It seemed like it really got to this point where we had to have another guitar player to just really be able to pull the whole thing off. What's nice about it is that John and Steve are very different guitar players from each other. Steve is more of a traditional metal meets shred player and John is very much a modern rock guitar player who also is a big fan of modern metal. The two of them together have a really cool combination.
This band is really heavy then.
I think it is and I've obviously stood on several stages with several bands over the years. To me when we're playing as F5, it's a heavy band. I think the thing that probably throws people for a little bit of a loop is that it's also very melodic. That's the thing that I think if you're into really, really super heavy metal music, often times there isn't a lot of melody in it but that is one thing that we wanted to always make sure we did in F5. That our songs as heavy and at times progressive as they may ever be, we wanted to make sure that we always had some really powerful melodies.
I love really heavy music but I think that it's nice to like both kinds. The melodic and the non-melodic and have a little bit of an open mind on that.
Yeah, and I think it's women generally tend to lean more toward melody. I think that there is some younger fans that we have also really like the melody because a lot of them grew up listening to bands on the radio and that's where they've come to know music from. The F5 stuff I think sits really good in that whole mix.
When you guys sit down and write music together, what's the process like?
Initially, most of the stuff starts with Steve Conley or myself throwing ideas out for all of us to start jamming on. Essentially it all originates around guitar riffs or bass riffs and from there, once we get the initial meat and potatoes tune together, Dale Steele starts bringing melody ideas in. I got to be honest with you, we quickly either keep or discard songs based on whether Dale is feeling a melody around it because if he's getting excited about a melody, I always feel like at that point that we really have the beginnings of a song. If it's just a self-indulgent musical guitar wank, then there's not much really more to go on because we're not an instrumental band. It's nice to be able to have these three and four minute songs that really envelope themselves around the singer.
You guys have a record that just came out this month called A Drug For All Seasons. Tell me a little about the record.
Overall the album is I think a pretty cool listening experience. It's not really long. It clocks in under 40 minutes. The songs are all about three to four minutes long so I think they really keep the listener's interest if you're listening to them. They're powerful, they're heavy, so they make really good driving songs.
If someone picks up this album and they're not really familiar with the band, what three songs do you think would really represent F5 the best and why do you feel those songs would?
I would recommend probably "Dissidence", "Fall To Me", and "Bleeding". I think the reason I like those, "Bleeding" is kind of more of a traditional old school metal type song. "Dissidence" is very much a modern song and "Fall To Me" is a very melodic song with a great hook in the chorus.
How long did it take you guys to put the album together?
We wrote about 30 songs over the course of a year and the actual recording of the album then including all the pre-production, it probably took about three months. Right around three months, maybe a little longer. It actually moved along pretty quickly. Everybody in the band plays well so we were able to get in the studio and get through the production of the record pretty quickly actually.
You used a gentleman by the name of Ryan Green to produce the record?
Interestingly enough I'd actually worked with him on some demos in a demo session at EMI Music Publishing studios in L.A. back in 1991. I walked into my friend Steve Smith's studio here in Scottsdale last year and Ryan happened to be here producing the Authority Zero album on Lava on Atlantic Records and it was one of those "hey, wow, good to see you. Haven't seen you in a long time." We got caught up on stuff and he said we should do something together and I said well actually I have my band F5 that Steve Smith has been offering some song developments and talking ideas with. Steve said let's bring F5 in and have Ryan produce some tracks and we'll see what we come out with. The first three tracks we did were "What I Am", "X'd Out", and "Fall To Me" and what we walked out of there with was so powerful that we just went wow. We need to just go ahead and finish up an entire album. What initially started as sort of album demos actually became the album because they were so good. Ryan is a phenomenal producer and he's a drummer. It's his instrument of choice so he really understands music from the most basic levels.
Would you say that most producers are basically musicians?
I find most of the best ones are. At least they've got some musical experience. And even most engineers. Most people that get into studio record production on some level are probably musicians. Now I've run into a few that aren't and I definitely prefer to work with those that are.
I think you'd have to have some fundamental understanding of some kind of a musical instrument to be able to aid in the production of a record.
Yeah, in order to sit there with a musician and to be able to coach them and guide them and encourage them and help them. I think the best ones I've ever worked with are the ones that have come from strong musical backgrounds.
You do producing yourself.
I do, right.
What got you into doing that?
To be honest with you, I got asked. Back in the early '90s I got asked to do some stuff by some other band that respected the work that I was doing and I'd had a lot of experience making successful albums before. As I was always writing and working on material myself, I just kept going in the studio to help others which was a natural progression. That's really how I look at it. I just thought "let me go in and try to help this band become better" and I always find that if I go into a production situation with that sort of mentality, we can together work as a team to make the band better and make a really exciting album.
Then you really enjoy that work a lot.
I do. I wouldn't want to do it all the time because I also like to get out and play gigs and I also like to be able to work on some of my own music too. Producing is satisfying in a lot of other ways. It's very creative. It allows you to be very spontaneous because you have to make decisions on the spot about things. I find it a very creatively rewarding endeavor.
Since you guys have put out the album, have you done a lot of shows?
We did a few back in 2004 since we were getting some record company interest. The album was done at that point. We were just shopping the album for release so we did a few. Once we started to get interest in securing the record deals, I wanted to wait to play any more because you can only go through and play some place so many times and they're not going to want to have you back for a while. Rather than playing that card when the album's not even out, let's just wait and get the album out. Then at least everyone will know what the hell we sound like and then we can go play and people will probably enjoy the concert a lot more.
Do you guys have touring plans now that the record is out?
We just started talking about it because since the record just came out a couple of weeks ago, we're just now starting to get into the idea of getting out and doing some shows.
How have people received the record so far?
So far I have to say the response has been excellent. I'm very happy with it. Unless everybody is lying to me which I don't think they are. They seem to be really happy with what we did and obviously coming out of my former situation, I think they're very happy to see me move on into new things now. I think for a lot of people, happy that I didn't just try to just do what I'd always been doing before. F5 is a new band, a new set of faces, it's a new sound, it's refreshing, and it's a very modern sounding band. I'm really happy that the fans and the media and people have really supported me. It's stepping out and trying to do something new now.
I'm very happy to see you still out there plugging away. I know a lot of people go through a lot of shit sometimes and they let it get them down and they give up on it. You seem to be a trooper.
Yeah, I figured I'd come this far. No turning back now.
I think that's awesome. Are there any places you look forward to playing in particular?
I love being on the road. Touring America of course is fun. I love doing festival shows in Europe. Japan is great. South America has always been a big supporter for me. I really like going everywhere that I can possibly go.
I definitely look forward to you guys passing through Dallas sometime soon.
Thank you. I appreciate that.
Any other thoughts or comments?
To all the fans out there reading this, I just want to thank everybody for sticking by me and sticking with me. I've got a lot of new music coming out here this year and nearly into 2006 so I look forward to seeing everybody and thanks for hanging in there with me.