Interview with Jason Hook of FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH
Written by Wezley Pitt
With the release of Got Your Six just around the corner, Amnplify caught up with Jason Hook of Five Finger Death Punch to talk about all things rock n’ roll; from the story behind the new album, to touring with Judas Priest and what it takes to make it in the music world.
Good morning Jason, Wezzy Crüze here from Amnplify, how are you?
I’m great! How are you?
I’m well, thank you! I recently saw you had shoulder surgery, what happened there man?
I’m fine. You know, it’s amazing we post these little stupid things on the internet and all of a sudden everyone in the world is asking “oh my god, I hope you’re OK!?”. I just had a little bit of a bone spur that was irritating me on the inside, and I decided to go have it shaved down. It was really nothing, I was in and out in a couple of hours. Nothing major! I’m already back in the gym with the trainer, pushing the weights around. I’ve just gotta be careful about putting my arm above my head for a while. I’m happy to have it fixed.
So there’s two weeks until the new album drops, and also two weeks until you hit the road again with the guys. Firstly, let’s talk about the album. Got Your Six. Straight away, the title is taken from the military term of “to have someone’s back”, was there a story behind this? And where there any other album titles that were potentially being thrown around?
That’s pretty wild that you know that – You’d be surprised how many people want the explanation for that!
I indulge in a lot of paintball rounds.
There you go! Well, we, the band, have such a great rapport with the military, and it was kind of an inside message to do with our support for those guys. And it’s also our sixth record, so it’s also tied to that as well. I think it was Zoltan (Guitarist) came up with the idea and we all loved it. Alternate titles though? *laughs* All the funny answers are coming to mind, so I’ll just stick with “No”.
The first single off the album was Jekyll and Hyde. You used voicemail messages that Ivan Moody (Singer) sent to you within the song for the verses, what inspired you to keep it in such a raw form?
Well, I had done a quickie demo tape here at my studio, utilising the audio from the voicemail, and of course thinking that if the song ever got used, we’d simply redo it. And there was just something about it that was quirky, interesting and unique, so we decided to keep it.
Do you think that this is a quicker and easier way to lay down vocal tracks?
HA! Well, that’s funny, well it comes from the perspective that it gives the public a chance to look at something that was personal for us, being the voicemail itself, something that was never meant to be shared publicly. I think it’s kind of neat that it stayed in there. Creativity comes in all shapes and sizes, and that one just worked.
This album comes across more brutal than previous efforts. Was there something built up as a band that needed to be released? I’ve also found that the songs are slightly shorter in length, which help to deliver a burst of energy.
I find it interesting that you noticed that, cause I think that what you noticed was intentional. We don’t want to make the same record over and over again, even though it still sounds like us and it’s sonically familiar. I think that we wanted the songs to be concise, punchy, high energy – all the things that you heard, were discussed and intentional. My only desire is that when we make records is that the songs are good, I know that’s the objective always, but to me, I don’t want any ploppers, I don’t want anyone skipping over any tracks.
The artwork for the album features your mascot fending off hordes of what appear to be the undead, how long do you believe you would survive if an apocalypse broke out? and would you be prepared if you woke up to it tomorrow?
HA! How long would I survive? Forever! I’m not much of a prepper, but I’ve got plenty of water and a few guns stored around the house. I know some people who are really crazy about that stuff, with bunkers and what not. But I think I’d do alright!
You teamed up again with producer Kevin Churko, who you’ve worked with since 2009, is there a reason you stick with him? What’s the chemistry like there?
Well to start with new people, would be a new learning curve – trying to get all the personal dynamics reestablished to get to the creative stuff. With Kevin, we all know what to expect of each other, we all know how we are as people and our personalities. So when we start a record, we know exactly what to ask for, we know what he can do and vice versa, and we can get right to work which is what we like – we like to get stuff done and get it done efficiently.
Your tour kicks off in two weeks with Papa Roach and In This Moment, what’s it like in the lead up to it?
Well I do a lot of press, a lot of phoners. It is a bit of a dense period – There’s a lot of things that have to be done to prepare a new tour. We’re learning a four or five new songs so that the set has that new stuff. We’re building some new things for the show, and that takes planning and attention to detail. There’s a lot of stuff. Jeremy (Drummer) was over here just before actually, we were working on the new intro to the show. I don’t want to give it away, but it’s like an angry spoken thing that sounds perfect to start the show.
You also just toured with Judas Priest recently? Did anything interesting happen on the road?
We ending up having such a great time with those guys, they’re so nice and they’re so cool – it really made it pleasant. We had dinner with them one night which was pretty cool, we closed this restaurant in Italy. I could only just imagine if someone who had walked in and seen it, and if you were a music fan, it would have looked like The Last Supper of Heavy Metal. Rob Halford (Singer – Judas Priest) has become a great friend of the band – Rob watched our show every day! I was walking off from our set one night and I caught up with him, and I asked him, “Rob, what’s the deal with wanting to watching this loud, obnoxious noisy show every night?” and he just looks at me and goes *soft english accent* “I love the band”. So yeah, there’s my best Rob Halford impression for you. And I go, alright, Rob Halford loves the band!
Funny thing is though, even if it was my favourite band playing or not, there’s only so many nights I could take of dealing with the loud and watching the same thing over and over, but I was so impressed with him, he has such an absolute genuine love of music. It’s cool.
The Soundwave lineup for 2016 is slowly being released and Death Punch is one of the most talked about bands people would love to see, is there any word of you guys returning to Australia in the near future?
Well I’ve answered this question for someone else, but for now, we don’t have anything on the calander that I’m aware of. But of course, with this album, we want to spend the next two years travelling, and I would guarantee that Australia would be apart of that.
Are there any new bands that are playing in your stereo at the moment that we should check out?
I discovered this band, I don’t even think they’re together anymore – I heard it in a club actually, and said “This is a great track!”. The band is called Pure Reason Revolution, and the song is called Deus Ex Machina. It’s kind of like a club/house track, but it’s fucking cool. So I ended up buying all their records and that’s what I’m jamming to right now. It may not make any sense to anybody, but you know what, sometimes you need a little inner release and I listen to things that are a little different.
And lastly, any words of wisdom for those who want to make it in the world of rock n roll?
Hmm, I get asked this a lot, and my advice would be to make it a priority. I know, for me, I was broke, I didn’t have a day job, but everything was geared towards that one goal, and if you ask one of the success gurus, they’ll go “pick a goal, and do something to work towards it everyday”. Sometimes I meet people who say “we only rehearse on weekends” or “I can’t do that right now, because of my job”, I was never like that; this was the only thing that mattered and I thought about it all day, every day. I also believe in role modelling, like find someone who’s doing what you want, and learn how they are doing it or how they did it, ask a lot of questions, and above all else, just ask a lot of questions.
That sounds awesome. Thank you for your time, Jason. And best of luck with the tour and congratulations with the new album! We’ll see you when you get here!
Connect With Five Finger Death Punch
August 21st, 2015