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Grammy-nominated Five For Fighting singer and songwriter is set to return to the stage in Ventura County

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KCLU
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John Ondrasik from Five For Fighting in his home studio in Ventura County

John Ondrasik, who lives in Westlake Village, has hits including Superman and 100 Years.

Five For Fighting’s John Ondrasik is playing one his biggest hits - Superman (it’s not easy) – on guitar in the music studio of his Westlake Village home.

Incredibly the song is 20 years old now, but he says it’s as rewarding to play it for fans now, as ever.

"I'm lucky because I still enjoy playing Superman and 100 Years, the two big songs.

"There may be someone in the crowd that will only see me one time in their life so I owe it to them to give it my best," he told KCLU

Playing live is an opportunity which has been off the table for nearly two years, but Ondrasik is now set to play a rescheduled date in Thousand Oaks on Saturday – after it was postponed because of the pandemic.

"They've been pushed out almost two years, we've postponed them three times, so thank you to everyone who has been patient," he said.

"The cliché is to say you don't know how much you'll miss something until it's gone but I really felt that. This is a blessing to do this for a living.

"We're very grateful and excited," he says of being back on tour.

His most recent release is also probably his most controversial.

Blood On My Hands – which he wrote after seeing images of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan and has become a viral anthem.

"It's like no other song I wrote. I didn't intend to write Blood On My Hands, I took no joy in putting it out. It's an Afghan protest song.

"It's a song about our withdrawal strategy, it's not a song about the decision to withdraw. I think there's good arguments on both sides."

He says the song came about when 13 American soldiers and at least 60 Afghans were killed by a suicide bomber in Kabul in August.

"I was very angry.

"As a cathartic exercise I started banging on that piano right there.

"The song finished itself after the President gave his extraordinary success speech. I think we all were kind of like, 'that doesn't make any sense, it's not what we are seeing.'

"Presidents will say things. We saw that with the last President and we see it with this President. They say things that are crazy."

Ondrasik says it was then seeing Joint Chiefs Chair General Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin "parrot the 'oh what a great airlift we had and things went according to plan'" narrative.

"I was scared. The Orwellian narrative scared me."

The singer says his friends warned him not to release the song, concerned that it would be career suicide.

"I felt it was too important to not put it out," says Ondrasik.

"Someone has to say it. No one was saying it.

"The song has resonated, I think, with a lot of folks."

All proceeds from the sale of the song are going to the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, as well as to the Gary Sinese Foundation.

Five for Fighting with a string quartet are at Thousand Oaks Performing Arts Center on Saturday night.