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I’ve never been in a music store with a section marked "Christian Dance Music."

However, for a practically nonexistent "genre," it seems to have a lot of fans — enough to enable Family Force 5’s "Dance Or Die" to debut atop Billboard’s Christian album chart last month.

The band’s sophomore release is a wild mix of retro and futuristic vibes that’s guaranteed to get you moving.

Although dance wasn’t in the plan when the Atlanta-based band started its follow-up to "Business Up Front, Party in the Back," it came naturally.

"We all love to dance and that just kind of came out," said guitarist Derek Mount — known to fans as "Chap Stique." "It wasn’t an intentional decision."

When asked what propelled them in that direction, Mount pointed to everything from a stint by drummer Jacob Olds — aka "Crouton" — as a dance camp teacher, to Depeche Mode and to Voltron cartoons.

"The biggest influence of the ‘Dance Or Die’ record was the cartoons that we watched as kids. … That robotic explosive element is evident," said Mount as the band was gearing up for its "Dance Rawr Dance 2," which starts in October.

He added that FF5’s writing process is a bit unique. Vocalist Solomon Olds — aka "Soul Glow Activatur" — serves as the beat doctor, and everyone else whistles and hums until they find the right tune.

"Once we come up with the hooks and melodies, we sit down and write the lyrics, which can take awhile," Mount said.

The results are downright fun. In the synthesizer-laden title track, the band declares a dance war. "Get Your Back Off the Wall" lays down a heavier electronic vibe. "Rip It Up" has more of a retro disco beat as it describes a girl who cuts a rug like a razor. "Party Foul" is a fun response to a guy who’s hit on another man’s girlfriend. "D-I-E 4 Y-O-U" is a raging declaration of devotion. The steamy "Fever" is climbing the R&R Christian Rock Radio chart.

Mount said the band performed some of the songs during the summer’s Vans Warped Tour. The results: "They’ve been huge dance parties."

At one concert, FF5 told fans: "If you stop crowd-surfing, we’ll stop playing." The results: Security told them to pull the plug after the crowd went wild for 10 minutes.

Mainstream audiences might find it easy to warm to the band since its lyrics aren’t overtly religious. However, most songs point toward something more.

"It’s all part of telling a good story," Mount said. "You don’t give away the story at the beginning."

Mount points to the song "Dance Or Die" as an example."It’s a big allegory. It’s a metaphor," he said. "We have a life and you can choose what do to with it. You can choose to live a liberated life of abundance … or you can choose to die, to live the mundane, to be trapped by this world."

And "Radiator" comes off as a clear reference to Matthew 5:16, when Jesus told his followers to be a light in the world.

"It’s a song about the experience of the liberation of Christ," Mount said. " We’ve become a source of light. ... It’s a very powerful message."

Avoiding bluntness enhances credibility with many audiences, Mount said.

"I think Family Force 5 is a big part of the change in the Christian music industry," he said. "A lot of us are trying to make music that is relevant to everyone not just the church. ... We want to make something that’s good and uplifting — and relevant."

On the Web; www.familyforce5.com

Today’s Praise is a roundup of news and reviews from the contemporary Christian music industry.


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