Five for Fighting to kick-off tour at Keith-Albee

Five for Fighting’s John Ondrasik said that there are still songs that he never gets tired of performing.

“There are some songs of mine that, honestly, if I never played them again, I wouldn’t miss them,” Ondrasik said. “The one song that never grows old for me is my song ‘100 years.’”

Ondrasik’s song, “100 years” was a chart-topper in 2003 and a single from his album “The Battle for Everything.”

Ondrasik said “100 years” is a song that grows throughout life. When Ondrasik wrote the song, he was in his early twenties. Now is in his early fifties, he said the song still is relevant to his life.

“As we grow up and change, the song goes along with it,” Ondrasik said. “It can be used for so many emotions and life changes: sad, happy, marriage, birth and death.”

Ondrasik said the song is about life and all the things that come along with it. He said that now when he sings the song, he feels melancholy because his son is 18, getting ready to leave home for college, and when Ondrasik wrote the song, his son was only 3 at the time.

Ondrasik said he gets the inspiration for his songs from his own emotional experiences, but when he had children it became more about the world that they were going to grow up in. Ondrasik said he looked outside of himself and more at the world from a cultural and proactive view. He said “Two Lights” is an example of how he wants the world to be.

Ondrasik said that he has performed with some of his biggest inspiration, James Taylor and Paul McCartney. He said that it’s a great experience when he can share the stage with someone he looks up to.

“It’s also great touring with fellow bandmates, which is the string quartet this tour,” Ondrasik said. “It keeps your juices flowing, and it’s rewarding if you’re fortunate enough to have people know your songs and sing them back to you.”

Ondrasik said that he no longer gets nervous when performing. He said the more shows he performs, the easier it gets. Ondrasik said live television still makes him a little nervous, because things are out of his control.

“When I’m feeling under the weather, I might get a little nervous,” Ondrasik said. “Life is about learning to perform when you’re not at 100 percent, though.”

Ondrasik said he considers himself lucky to be able to be on tour and make music for a living.

“It has been my dream since I was little,” Ondrasik said. “My mom was a piano major, and I grew striving for this.”

Until his first hit-song, “Superman,” Ondrasik said he was rejected from every record label.

“Finally, the stars aligned,” Ondrasik said. “I broke the ice and got my shot.”

Ondrasik said he believes his younger self would be proud of all that he has achieved in his life. He said he still tries to look back on the work ethic that he had when he was younger and tap into that.

“Younger me would think I’m a nerd, but he would be happy that everything paid off to a certain degree,” Ondrasik said. “He would give me a high-five.”

Ondrasik said that some of his songs are post-it notes to himself, like how “100 years” was about learning to live in the moment. He spent his time looking into the past or the future but forgot to live in the moment. His song “Superman” is about learning that he can’t be everything for everybody and to not be as hard on himself, he said.

“I would tell my younger self to listen to those songs and take notes,” Ondrasik said. “I never gave myself a break, and I was a little too hard on myself.”

Ondrasik said that his band name itself happened in the moment. His record label had asked for a band name, even though there was no band, and he had just come from a hockey game. The term five for fighting is hockey term for when players fight, get a penalty and are sent to the penalty box for five minutes, coining the term five for fighting.

“I said ‘What about five for fighting?’ sarcastically,” Ondrasik said. “I didn’t expect them to like it, but here we are today talking about Five for Fighting.”

Five for Fighting with the string quartet and symphony will begin its tour 7:30 p.m. March 8 at the Keith-Albee Theater.

Marshall University students with a valid student ID can purchase one ticket for $10 at Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center’s box office. 

Rachael Cook can be contacted at [email protected]