As one of the biggest up-and-coming bands in the nation, Five Finger Death Punch is going full-throttle while trying to establish themselves as a legitimate force in the world of heavy metal. Since their inception in 2005, the gang has toured all over the globe, including March 2010’s trip to Iraq to play roughly a dozen shows in front of the U.S. troops.
Coming into 2011, Five Finger Death Punch had released two albums: 2007’s The Way Of The Fist and 2009’s War Is The Answer. While both managed to achieve gold status, the band is hoping their brand new release, American Capitalist, does even better. And with American Capitalist launching to number three on the Billboard charts after its first week of sales, you can bet the house that it will certainly eclipse its predecessors.
Five Finger Death Punch will be making some stops in the Tri-State area as part of their Share The Welt tour. You can catch them along with Hatebreed and All That Remains on Wednesday, Nov. 23 at the Best Buy Theater in NYC, Saturday, Nov. 26 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes Barre, PA, and at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ, on Sunday, Nov. 27.
I recently spoke with guitarist Jason Hook to talk about the band’s new album, the recent departure of bassist Matt Snell, and the band’s future plans. The conversation is below.
I see that you’re a few shows in on the Share The Welt tour. How has it been going so far?
The tour is rad McAwesome sauce, and you can print that! Tonight is a festival called Freakers Ball [Oct. 21] so the lineup is a little different. We have Anthrax and we have a costume contest so you can see that it’s not really the full Share The Welt tour.
What can you tell me about the new album American Capitalist and how did you guys select the title of it?
We always sort of try to pick titles that are a little outside of the politically correct zone. Things that might make you scratch your head and go ‘Geez, why are they saying that, what does that mean?’ Certainly, War Is The Answer—we had all sorts of fun with that one. But we liked American Capitalist instantly.
The definition of capitalist is somebody with wealth, who is into investing and seeking business opportunities and things like that. And so we wanted to sort of clarify that our statement is more about the personality type, the thought process that drives those types of people to success.
People that are considered capitalists [such as] investors, people with money and things, they don’t just turn a corner and fall into the success hole, it all starts off with a decision: I’m going to push myself to be that guy. I’m going to push myself to work harder so that I can have tons of money and buy things that make me comfortable.
So our statement has more to do with the personality type than just talking about blowing cash and having cash. It’s more about pushing yourself to be that type of a thinker, you dig? And to us, that’s everything. It’s like, choose to push yourself and be successful instead of just accepting what you think life has handed you and therefore settling.
In what way do you think American Capitalist compares with War Is The Answer, if at all?
I look at it like this: It wasn’t that long ago that we made War Is The Answer. The record came out the end of September 2009 and we started writing this record in December 2010. So on a personal level and on a musical level, we’re pretty much the same people that did War Is The Answer. I’ve been telling people that if you liked War Is The Answer, you’ll love American Capitalist. It could have easily been sides three and four of War Is The Answer, a natural addition to that record.
The album just came out last week and it’s already at number three on the Billboard charts. What do you think this says about the band?
That we’re pretty fuckin’ lucky (laughs). We’re keeping it real honest here. We’ve been developing skills our whole existence to be able to take one shot at this so it’s not like it’s a fluke. I mean, we’ve been studying hit songs, song structure, hooky elements of music, rhythms that transmit to the audience, I mean, all those things—how to perform, you know, everything. It was designed to work and the fact that people get it doesn’t really surprise us.
That’s kind of the way we wanted it to be and we are only doing what comes natural. Nothing is forced, contrived or fabricated, it’s what we are and who we are and we’re extremely picky. If there’s a section in a song that doesn’t seem to need to be there or it’s not going to speak or it’s the weakest part of the song, we just chop it out. We’re brutal with each other to try and edit our music down to moments that only speak to the listener.
Have you paid attention to the reviews so far for the album or do you not really pay attention to that sort of thing?
It doesn’t matter to me, all I care is that people get a feeling from it because if they don’t get a feeling from your music than it will probably be on the downs. If critics get it, that’s great. If they don’t get it, that doesn’t matter to me, but I have read that the reviews are pretty good.
It was announced in April that the original bassist for the band, Matt Snell, had departed. What was the transition like going from Matt to the current bassist, Chris Kael?
Seamless. I mean, Matt had a pretty limited role in the band. He wasn’t part of the writing team so whatever was intact before he left was still intact after he left. The main requirement for a new member was a good musical ability, a good vocal ability and then beyond that, it was like, we hope we find someone who’s healthy, as far as mentally healthy. Someone who’s not a drug addict, not an alcoholic, not an angry person, you know what I mean?
[Those things] are always available to play around with but if you’re really trying to be in business and do stuff long term, that stuff will interfere and so we certainly didn’t want to bring somebody in new that had any of those elements as a problem already, obviously. I think that would be pretty much standard for any business person that was looking to hire somebody new or add somebody new. Why would you want to hand-pick somebody who’s got problems, you know? It’s a great story.
Shooting your latest video, “Under And Over It,” must have been amazing.
Yes! For me, it’s real simple. Everyone was trying to find a deep meaning like, “The video, was that a satire on the rap genre? What was that? Was that a parody of rich people?” No, it’s us throwing a party with cameras rolling. I mean, it’s pretty simple. It was a good time.
I saw in a recent interview that lead singer Ivan Moody said that he vomits before each show. Do you partake in any pre-show rituals?
Drink. Heavily drink. That’s what I do. I drink three or four Monster Energys before I go on. He likes to throw up, I don’t know why. I think it might be something like having a full stomach or having anything in your stomach prevents him from either bouncing around or singing properly or something, I don’t know. He might do it because he likes to watch our faces when we’re grossed out, it’s hard to tell.
Seeing as how you guys are becoming pretty well-known worldwide, do you think 5FDP is received better in the U.S. or in other parts of the world?
I think the U.S. is pretty much dominating at this point. Our second biggest market is Canada and our third biggest market is the U.K. so we’ll take it from wherever. There is something going on in the U.K. I mean, there’s a lot of popularity and excitement around the band there for whatever reason. They seem to like it, so that’s a great thing.
Do you have anything planned for after the U.S. tour is over?
I think the next thing we’re talking about is going to Canada for a tour. You know, I’m Canadian and in the winter date they still like to come out and go to concerts where in other parts of the world, no one likes to be active during the winter so it’s a good time to go and squeeze in the Canadian thing, you know?
Five Finger Death Punch will perform at the Best Buy Theater on Nov. 23, the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes Barre, PA, on Nov. 26 and the Starland Ballroom on Nov. 27. For more information, go to fivefingerdeathpunch.com.