Songs & Such: “Handbook for the Sellout” by Five Iron Frenzy

This week we are continuing our look at the lyrics of Reese Roper of the bands Five Iron Frenzy, Roper, and Brave Saint Saturn. This week we are looking at the first song off of Five Iron’s second release. The song is “Handbook for the Sellout” and the album is “Our Newest Album Ever” and with this album, both Reese and the rest of the band found their mark in the Christian music scene. Widely regarded as one of their best albums, the lyrics on this album probably shine through the most. Reese Roper takes time to talk about a lot of topics on this album, everything from selling out to Canada is touched on.

The reason I want to focus on “Handbook for the Sellout” is because it was probably one of the best ways to start off a record. We have to look at the context in time though. This was during a period of time when the Christian punk band MxPx had just signed to A&M records and had released their first album on that label. The Christian punk rockers made it a point to cry “sellouts” because the band signed onto a major label. Much like Green Day had caused the ruckus in the secular punk scene around 5 years earlier, MxPx caused the same stir in the emerging Christian rock market.

Mr. Roper, never left out of the opinion tossing put his in a song. The song “Handbook for the Sellout” basically points the finger at every person that cried “sellout” at MxPx, many of whom were probably Five Iron fans. That is not to say that the lyricist does not make his point. When Reese sings the lyrics “You’re the ones who made them popular, all their songs are still the same” he makes sure to let everyone know that nothing about the band accused has changed. The finger is doubly pointed when the chorus comes in with “Do you remember where we all came from? Do you remember what it was all about?” Making sure to really solidify the point that MxPx was doing exactly what everyone paying attention to the then (largely) underground Christian rock movement wanted to see happen: Christian artists getting a secular following. MxPx started a chain reaction at the major record labels, those suits suddenly realized that there was a whole market they could pull artists from.

The thing that makes “Handbook for the Sellout” so cool lyrically is the same reason I like Ben Folds a lot. They both basically attack the listener, but they do it in such a way that it is not threating so it causes self introspection on the that listeners behalf. Songs are sometimes meant to make the listener think about something and when a song can make the listener look at themselves, wishing they could be a better person in some way, that is always a plus.

Lyrics after the jump…

Handbook for the Sellout
by Five Iron Frenzy
From the Album: Our Newest Album Ever

You found a way to draw a line,
between the world and you.
Faking your idenity it’s true.
Did you think the word “alternative”,
was only meant for the likes of you?
Do you think that they’re too cool now?
Being popular is lame.
You’re the one who made them popular,
all their songs are still the same.

You found them first,
it made you stand apart, you know?
But then everyone jumped on the same bandwagon,
making you an average Joe,
A lemming for the mediocre,
you were just a plain old joker status quo.
Blame it on the band now.
If you pick them do they bleed?
What’s the point in playing what they want,
if you won’t let them succed?

[Chorus]
Do you remember where we all came from?
Do you remember what it’s all about?
When you made a point to be objective,
before you started writing Handbook for the Sellout?

You sunk your worth in being different,
just to be like your own kind.
You traded in objectiveness,
for the underground you follow blin

[Chorus]

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