Flobots are an alternative rap/rock band from Denver, Colorado, United States. They consist of Jonny 5 (vocals), Brer Rabbit (vocals), and Kenny Ortiz (drums). The band became popular in 2008 when their singles "Handlebars" and "Rise" became hits on American alternative rock radio. Mackenzie Roberts (viola/vocals), Jessie Walker (bass), Andy Guerrero (guitar) have previously been considered members of the band and have recorded and toured with them as well, although the band frequently uses touring musicians to fill out the lineup.
When a pair of quick-witted emcees joins forces with a battle-hardened, groove-fusing rhythm section, a classically trained violist and trumpet player, the result is a sound that explores and expands the frontiers of live hip-hop. Progressive in both style and message, the band's ability to drop from symphonic rock-infused crescendos into stripped-down string-laden breakbeats has earned Flobots a reputation for both originality and authenticity.
After originally forming as a side project in 2005, Flobots brought together Emcee’s Jonny 5 and Brer Rabbit with violist Mackenzie Roberts, guitarist Andy Guerrero, bassist Jesse Walker, trumpet player Joe Ferrone, and drummer Kenny Ortiz. By the end of the year, it was clear that the band's refreshingly positive message and nontraditional instrumentation gave it both a universal appeal and a marketable buzz factor. Whether sharing the stage with jam bands, indie rock acts, or hip-hop groups, Flobots won the crowds and quickly reached a tippping point to became one of Denver's most influential bands.
The band's first EP, Platypus, was recorded quickly in response to the clamor of eager fans. Platypus' CD sales in the first week put Flobots at #1 on Twist & Shout's bestseller list. In just a year and half, Platypus has sold over 3000 copies in Colorado and the surrounding region. The strength of this small record and a relentless performing schedule has enabled the band to open for acts like The Coup, Lyrics Born, Immortal Technique, and 2mex. Even Multi-platinum recording artist The Fray took notice, inviting the band to open the last night of their North American Tour at Red Rocks amphitheatre.
Now, just two and a half years from the birth of their first song, the band regularly sells out Denver venues and is developing sizeable followings in California, Nebraska, Utah, and Wyoming.
The upward trajectory continues as the band prepares to release its first full-length record, Fight With Tools (October 2007). Representing a year's worth of writing and recording, the record is a fire-breathing rallying cry for all free-thinking individuals fed-up with the violence and apathy that have thus far defined the new millenium.
In February and March 2009 Flobots are going to join Rise Against, Anti-Flag, and Propaghandi for their United Kingdom tour.
Armed with musicianship, intelligence, and a passionate loyalty to the power of creation, Flobots are looking to engage a new musical culture, one mind at a time.
Acclaimed Universal Republic alternative/hip hop collective Flobots released their sophomore album Survival Story on March 16th. The first single from their new offering is a call-to-unarm, “White Flag Warrior,” featuring a guest appearance by Tim McIIrath, founder of influential Chicago band Rise Against. Survival Story is the follow-up to their 2008 game-changing, 300,000-plus selling Universal Republic debut album, ‘Fight With Tools’. The new album was helmed by noted producer Mario Caldato Jr. (Beastie Boys, Beck, Jack Johnson, Moby), and finds the group at yet another turning point of inspiring transformation.
Flobots garnered across-the-board critical, cultural and commercial acclaim in 2008 with their grassroots-waged kickoff single, the rousing Top 5, platinum-plus smash “Handlebars.” The song became the mind-bending clarion call of both the rap and rock worlds, with the spirited anthem soaring to #1 on the alternative radio chart as the format’s most requested song of the year. “Handlebars” became a digital, video, and MySpace phenomenon, (along with ‘Fight With Tools’ follow-up hit “Rise”) soaring to #10 on the iTunes hip hop chart, with the digital version of the band’s CD climbing to #2 on the iTunes hip hop countdown.
The six-member band was also recognized as innovative agents of massive cultural change during their mainstream rise, with media outlets such as USA Today praising their “stinging social commentary,” and the Boston Herald calling them “rap’s most singular breakthrough act in years.” Flobots became a symbol of a new generation shifting priorities at the decade’s close, thanks to the hands-on and highly charged social-activism embedded in their music and their vigorous community networking. Their uplifting calls to action mirrored the communal reawakening taking place throughout the entire country. The band’s galvanizing live presence rocked late night TV (The Tonight Show
, Conan O’Brien, and others,) and saw them ‘own’ the stage at the Democratic National Convention in their hometown of Denver, as well as on election night. The group also logged several sold-out tours across the U.S. and inspired audiences throughout the world with their incredible live show.
Survival Story finds the band invigorated by the range of life-experiences that flowed through the Flobots’ global collective the past two years (their extremely effective non-profit organization, flobots.org, has mobilized fans to become change-agents in their own communities throughout the world). But, the sophomore album also arrives in 2010 as a vision of hope for a world pondering its limits: Flobots’ unique birds-eye view of a world changed and rearranged – both inside and out.
The new effort features songs such as the counter-intuitive “White Flag Warrior,” the signature “Whips And Chains,” and the funk-infested “Infatuation,” among others. “We understand change can be complicated,” says co-founder Jonny 5. “We’re six different people ourselves trying to make a difference. We’ve always been about valuing everyone’s voice, whether in or outside of the band. We believe Survival Story is a true record of our growth as we all process this great new world that’s emerging.”
Created in Blasting Room studios in Ft. Collins CO, Survival Story was produced by Mario Caldato Jr. (Beastie Boys).
In the summer of 2011, Andy Guerro left Flobots in order to concentrate in his older band, Bop Skizzum.