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Flobots finding new footing for their political material

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

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Denver's Flobots have enjoyed a reputation as a political band since its formation back in 2000. But MC and frontman Jamie "Jonny 5" Laurie says that recent events have changed the group's tenor, which the hip-hop/rock-blending band addresses on its latest album, "The Square in the Circle."

"I think when we started, being a political band meant you would say things that are anti-war or pro-peace, and a lot of slogans," explains Laurie, 35. "But once Occupy happened, once the Arab Spring happened, it's no longer about making music that makes people want to go to a rally or want to go protest. People are already protesting and living in encampments and marching in the streets.

"So now suddenly need music that builds community in those settings and creates a different kind of atmosphere. We need to make music for what happens once you're already out there."

One of those lessons, Laurie adds, is that "music and especially hip-hop can be a rapid response network to all sorts of things." And in that spirit Flobots have just released a new song inspired by the case of Bradley Manning, the U.S.Army Private who's being court-martialed on accusations of passing classified information to WikiLeaks.

"I bought into the stigma around (Manning) for a long time and have been shying away from saying 'Free Bradley Manning' or taking a stand on the case," Laurie says. "Maybe a month and a half ago I was reading the transcripts of his first appearance in court and the statement he made, and for the first time I thought, 'Y'know what? This guy sounds like one of my friends,' and he did things that were similar to how I would do them. I felt ashamed I had fought the urge to write a song for so long.

"It's about Bradley Manning, but the chorus could be about any number of things. It's the feeling around the chorus, the community that's created when a group of people sing that chorus together. I'm so glad it can be out there in a timely, appropriate fashion."

Flobots, Wheelchair Sports Camp and Of Mice and Musicians perform Friday, June 7, at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. Call 248-544-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

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