On Feb. 8, pop-punk band Roper headlined at Chain Reaction in Anaheim, playing to a large and excited crowd of teenagers, which was not only surprising because it was a Tuesday night, but also because Roper has only been a band since August of 2004.
The large crowd that remained until the end of the night was also unexpected considering all of the opening bands each played drastically different styles of music, ranging from ska to indie to hardcore, a promotion strategy that would presumably have a negative effect for the headliner.
This concert-goer definitely underestimated the drawing power of the lead singer and keyboardist of Roper, Reece Roper, formally of the 1990s ska band Five-Iron Frenzy. Reece Roper started the band last year with some friends from his hometown in Denver, along with members from the Supertones and Divit.
‘The idea for this band came from the record company. It’s Five -Minute Walk, the same label that Five-Iron was on,’ Reece said. ‘Frank, the guy that owns the company, called me said, ‘Hey, I think you should do this new project.’ I’m like, ‘OK, yeah, I’ll try it.”
Following up the opportunity to have a life in music after Five-Iron, Reece went into One Way Studios in Concord, Calif. to record with guitarist Ethan from the Supertones. The two had been trying to start a band before Five Minute Walk called Reece and had songs ready to record.
‘We had recorded the whole album before we put the band together,’ Reece said.
In January, Roper began a West- Coast tour in Colorado in support of and debut album entitled ‘Brace Yourself for the Mediocre.’ Despite the band’s brief history it has experienced positive responses similar to its show at Chain Reaction.
‘I think the most surprising or the most fun show for me was the Coo’s Bay Oregon show,’ said drummer Nick. ‘I remember the day before in Portland, some guy was like, ‘Whoa, you’re going to Coo’s Bay, huh? You don’t want go there.’ And then 600 kids were there and they all went so crazy. It was amazing.’
But shows like these are nothing new for Nick and Reece who have each devoted many years to touring in their previous bands. As a result they both seem generally unaffected by having screaming teenagers come out to see them every night.
‘For me, the whole rock star thing is really played out,’ Reece said. ‘It’s so shallow.’
Reece continued to display the maturity of a music veteran and added how important it is to support younger bands when going on tour.
‘When I was in Five-Iron [Switchfoot] was about to break up. Then we took them out on two tours and then they had sold enough albums to stay together. Now they are like double platinum,’ Reece said.
Though the average listener probably wouldn’t be able to derive from the band’s music itself, Roper is made up of mostly Christians and they explain that their lyrics come from a Christian viewpoint. This is why many stops on Roper’s current tour will be at churches and Christian youth centers, which has been a new type of experience for some of the band members.
‘I was in this band called Divit for nine years and all we did [was] play clubs, which are generally very business-like,’ Nick said. ‘However, the hospitality in churches goes above and beyond when some lady in the church is making you dinner and saying, ‘Oh, stay at my house.’ It’s just an amazing experience to me, being someone who’s been in clubs my entire life.’
Reece, who has experienced this kind of tour schedule in Five-Iron Frenzy, comes from a different perspective and explained how he recognizes the challenge that comes from being in a Christian-related band and playing in regular clubs.
‘I think that most people in churches, and the whole Christian scene, accept you based [on Christianity]. There are a lot of bands that just say ‘Jesus’ like 800 times and then they are like these kids’ favorite band,’ Reece said. ‘What I love about a club is that you have to win people over. If you play good music and you are cool, people are like, ‘Man, those guys were rad despite the fact that they were Christian.”
For Reece, it is the band’s pop-punk sound that is new and refreshing, a change from the mainly ska-influenced Five-Iron Frenzy. But the way that Roper operates is what Reece enjoys most about his new band.
‘In Five-Iron, there were eight people. Not all eight people wrote but it was a total democracy, so if you had a problem with something you would just say ‘I don’t like it,” Reece said. ‘It was hard because each song would have to be filtered through seven other members. You couldn’t just go, ‘This is the idea.’ Also, I always wanted to do something more poppy.’
Poppy is exactly what can be heard on ‘Brace Yourself for the Mediocre,’ which is available now in stores. Roper is currently continuing to tour in the Southwest. Information on the band’s album and their shows can be found at www.roperisdumb.com.