Flobots emcee/vocalist Brer Rabbit (born Stephen Bracket) said he started rapping and emceeing when was 11.

"I would love to say I had incredible lofty ambitions and other such things, or had foundations in altruism, but when I started, the earliest stuff I started rapping was juvenile stuff," Brer Rabbit said with a laugh during a phone call from Denver.

"The easiest metaphors in the English language are sexual. You could make an innuendo out of anything and come off sounding clever."

Obviously, the vocalist has more important things about which to convey, he said. "As I started getting into emcees and listening to the art of emceeing, I started seeing it as a tool for talking about what's oppressing the youth, and our world."

When he joined Jonny 5 (James Laurie) in the Flobots in 2005, Jonny 5 had already released a Flobots CD called "Onomatopoeia."

Adding Brer Rabbit gave Jonny 5 a chance to bounce off his rhymes with another emcee.

"In the beginning, me and Jonny 5 said, 'Let's make some music. Let's make some hip-hop,' " Brer Rabbit said. "We worked with several different DJs and felt something was missing from the shows.

"We ended up running into (violist) Mackenzie Roberts, and she added her influence into it," he said. "Then we started realizing how much more it became."

These days, the Flobots feature Brer Rabbit, Jonny 5, Roberts, guitarist Andy Guerrero, bassist Jesse Walker and drummer Kenny Ortiz.

"When we started working with the band, of course, their influences came in," he said. "Everybody in the band is writing the music. It's not like we set out to make a different sound. It's just the different sound is happening because everybody has a different musical background."

Brer Rabbit said the band's songs became more issue-oriented, and since many of the band members were school teachers during their day jobs, they found out what their students' concerns about the world were.

"What was on their iPods?" he said. "Is any of the music telling them what they can do? Or is the music telling them to consume more of the (same) music?

"So, we decided to make something that we'd like them to listen to."

Still, Brer Rabbit said, the purpose of the Flobots' music is to communicate.

"One of the most valuable things in this world is dialogue," he said. "(It's about) people sitting down, being able to have conversations about differences. And those conversations aren't going to happen unless people are made aware of the differences.

"We're trying to highlight some of these different stories so people can talk about them. We want to highlight issues and topics for people to think about.

"The humanity behind these issues is what we're trying to highlight. Because we find ourselves in a country that's incredibly polarized and people are just talking about the labels. 'You are military.' 'You are liberal.' 'You are progressive.' People aren't looking at the stories anymore, and that's a problem."

Earlier this year, the Flobots released "Survival Story," the follow-up to the critically acclaimed and No. 15-charting "Fight With Tools," featuring the hit single "Handlebars."

"Survival Story" debuted at No. 44 on the Billboard 200.

"We felt huge amounts of pressure because we don't take sitting still easily," Brer Rabbit said. "We try to make the best music possible. We have to see progress with each album. There was a lot of internal pressure. But we feel like we were able to do it."

If you go...

What: Flobots. Trouble Andrew, Champagne Champagne

Where: Murray Theater, 4959 S. State

When: May 12, 8 p.m.

How much: $13

Phone: 801-654-6678

Web: www.24tix.com

e-mail: scott@desnews.com