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Punch Drunk - Not!
Interview by Daryl Soar

daryl soar

Gone are the days of rock'n'roll debauchery, it seems. Daryl Soar asked a few questions of Five Finger Death Punch's JASON HOOK, hoping for amusing anecdotes and tales of infighting during the recording of 'American Capitalist'. Instead, he found a hard-working, clean, lean precision machine...


The third Five Finger Death punch album sees the third incarnation of the band. The line-up has retained a core unit with Canadian Jason Hook surviving from 2009's 'War Is The Answer' after finally joining the band before the recording of that album. Jason's been a busy boy, having already made his name as a session musician, playing for the likes of Alice Cooper, Vince Neil and The Bulletboys, and releasing his own solo album, the instrumental hard rock/Metal album 'Safety Dunce' in 2007. Jason is a professional, and his demeanour reflects that.

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Jason's memories of recording 'American Capitalist' leave little to report. I'd hoped to hear some tales of fall-outs, drunken bouts and wild behaviour, but apparently the songs were all laid down easily and without incident. I asked him who writes most of the songs:

"Well this one and the last one (WITA) was the whole band... I work my ass off in the studio, try to address any part of any song that I feel could use improvement. The team really is Jeremy, Zo, Ivan and myself."

As yet, bassist Chris Kael remains unlisted, having only joined earlier this year. With several people writing songs and contributing to the album, and Ivan locking himself away to write the lyrics, I asked how they bring their ideas together:

"We all have our own recording setups at our houses. I'm a Protools addict. For me, I like to polish an idea as much as possible before showing it to the guys. It may make it a little slower, but I like to get my whole idea down so the guys can hear it, instead of me having to explain what will be in the song when it's done. I just feel more comfortable writing this way."


This probably explains the lack of studio infighting. Jason also made it clear how they don't tolerate anything less than the highest work ethic in themselves, staff and any of their crew:

"We are very demanding when it comes to crew members. Anyone that is here for the lifestyle doesn't end up lasting too long. We keep people that are focused and hard working. Tour planning comes from the band and management. It's a major task to put it all together."

So, anyone found indulging in the rock'n'roll lifestyle soon finds themselves being offered the opportunity to look for work elsewhere. They take their professional attitude on tour, as delivering the perfect show is of paramount importance to maintaining the band's popularity and reputation. I asked about fitness and health:

"I don't drink for one, also we stretch on tour and exercise when we can... The larger the band gets the less time we seem to have to ourselves. Staying up all night really isn't an option."

The band have a close working relationship with Kevin Churko who produced 'American Capitalist', en route to picking up a writing credit and playing bass. This no-compromise attitude must have made for some intense sessions in the studio with five strong personalities fighting it out to make every element perfect.

I moved on to the meat and gravy of a musician's life - touring. Management pretty much take care of everything. The task has become mammoth, especially when considering the demands of international travel and the band's preferences. They did, after all, choose to play to troops in a war zone, which can only have been a logistical nightmare, however noble the cause. In one interview I saw, Jason talked about an email with too many dates to remember. It must be nice to be part of such a massive business machine, even if that machine takes an ever greater toll on your free time.

I've always been impressed by their live performance. Ivan's command of an audience is top class and he always gets a brilliant response, wherever the band appears on the bill. With even unsigned acts like Haethen putting in meticulous planning to their gigs, I wondered how prescribed the Death Punch is:

"The stage performance isn't too worked out, but after doing our show year after year we landed on a bunch of moments that work well, so we kept them."


According to Jason, it has been, as their current strap-line reports, a process of evolve or die. Rather than plan the course of the show, they have found things that work. I guess it takes a little bit of working through the breakdowns in the rehearsal room, but what it leaves is the flexibility to respond to events in real time.

Given the title of the band's latest release, I dropped in a question about America's place in the world. With a rigorous touring schedule that takes them all around the globe, I wondered if it had impacted on their sense of identity. Bearing in mind Jason's idea of relaxation is watching the Military Channel (he keeps it on in the background all the time), I guess the answer's fairly predictable:

"I would imagine the world thinks we're a power hungry nation. I would hope that there is a global appreciation for the USA for stepping in to help fix problems when they arise".

Patriotic indeed.

It's clear to me that - love them or hate them - Five Finger Death Punch are a group of uncompromising professionals who know how to deliver in the cutthroat music world of Metal. Touring with the heavy Metal machine amounts to staying in, staying sober and working hard. Which seems par for the course in modern music.

Long gone are tales like that of Led Zep's Red Snapper...



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