Q & A: Jason Hook of Five Finger Death Punch: "We Are the eBay of Metal."
Hailing from Los Angeles, Five Finger Death Punch is one of those in-your-face hard rock acts that revel in just about every foul rock cliché in the book. Profane, sexist, volatile and surprisingly hook-laden, the songs of Ivan Moody and the rest of this rather unwashed five-piece sound like early Kiss if you take away the make-up and add a couple cases of Red Bull.
Starting with 2007's The Way of the Fist, Five Finger Death Punch has rarely lifted the foot off the gas pedal. Songs like "The Bleeding" and "Death Before Dishonor" showed a band with a lot of macho, but also with a good sense of humor as well.
Guitarist Jason Hook joined Five Finger Death Punch in 2009, and the band released what many consider its best effort, War is the Answer. The band's third album, American Capitalist, came out this past summer and was another loud, profanity-filled, ass-kicking affair.
Speaking from Houston and in anticipation of Saturday night's performance at The Palladium Ballroom, Hook spoke to DC-9 about fitting in with a new band and appealing to a wide demographic.
You joined Five Finger Death Punch in 2009. Was it easy to fit in?
Yes, I've known [drummer] Jeremy [Spencer] and [guitarist] Zoltan [Bathory] for a long time. I was told that I was supposed to be in the band from the beginning. At least, that's what they say. I was sort of keeping tabs on it. I had to wait a while, but it ended up being a very good fit.
You've played so many festivals. Do those shows become a beating at some point?
No, not really. I like playing festivals because it's usually with a lot of great bands and it gives us the opportunity to play in front of people who haven't seen the band before.
There are so many sub-genres in metal these days. Does your band fall under any particular category?
I just say we play hard rock. I think that heavy metal is certainly awesome, but hard rock has a wider audience. And I don't think there is anything wrong with being a hard rock band. I could go into it in more depth, but I'll take answer A: hard rock.
The band achieved success relatively quickly. What about the music drew a large fan base in such a short time?
I think the music is designed to be accessible. We always prioritize the song first. The priority is the song, and I think that has an effect on the listener. [Singer] Ivan [Moody] does a great job telling a story. That is just something he has as a gift.
You've stuck with the same producer, Kevin Churko, for the past couple of albums. Why stay with him or why not produce the music yourself?
Well, we do co-produce with Kevin. We are certainly capable of producing our own records. Personally, I am kind of a studio rat. But recording a record is a long and arduous process, and it's nice to have someone else in there that has extreme chops to help fill in the blanks. Kevin is an incredibly talented guy, and if we didn't think he could add to our records, we wouldn't use him.
Are you guys working on a fourth effort and will it be a CD/DVD combination?
I don't want to get in trouble by leaking it out that we are already starting our fourth record, but the general idea was to start preparing for the next record as early as possible. I think that the more choices you have, as in pieces of music, the better. Let's say you have to have a 10 song record in 18 months. Well, I'd rather start preparing 35 songs now and pick the best 10 later instead of having to crunch out 10 in the last month.
You weren't on the band's first album. Is it odd learning and playing songs that you had no input on?
I had to go back and learn a handful of songs. When I first came to the band, there was only that one record. Surprisingly, those songs fit in my vocabulary quite easily. It was a style that was easy for me to pick up on. I think now we are only up to four songs on that record that we even do.
There is a wide demographic of people who go to hear the band live. What does it take to appeal to fans of many different ages?
I think it comes down to songs, personality and performance. There is a lot there for everybody. If you are a drummer, we have a star drummer. If you like hotshot guitar playing, we have that. If you are into bands that are angry, we are certainly that. But we also have melodies and choruses. There is a lot there for just about everybody. We are the eBay of metal.
You guys also have a nice sense of humor. That's missing from a lot of metal bands.
Again, that would be part of the personality of the band. People like the music and then they want to find out about you. If you have a good personality, that makes it so much fun for everybody else. If you are a dud, it makes it one dimensional. We like to use humor and have fun with people. I am glad that we are not a stick in the mud.
How was the recent tour to Iraq?
I am kind of the military enthusiast of the group. So, for me, to go over there and play was a special treat. I like being up close to it and seeing how tactics work. It was awesome. It was a special thing. I'd like to do more things like that.
Were you ever in danger?
Not really. I didn't feel in danger. There were a couple of incoming shells that were pretty loud. I never felt like we were going to be hurt.
When you were making your latest album, American Capitalist, did it feel like you were creating something different from previous efforts?
I don't think so, for me, personally. It was more familiar territory seeing that I've been in the band for three years. I moved to Las Vegas, so it was easier for me to set up and start working. We got together and started sharing ideas. It is like sculpting. You have a hatchet and a hammer and you see what you can do.