Interview conducted November 04 2015
Interview published November 10 2015
"The more you blend into
the sound of everybody else, the less focused the attention will be on
Five Finger Death Punch is definitely
starting to become one of the bigger acts in metal. The band is currently
on a European tour with Papa Roach and Devil You Know and in Stockholm,
Sweden, a crowd of 6500 [Estimated] came down to see this package. Before
the show, Metal Covenant talked to guitar player Jason Hook
about their new album Got Your Six [Street date: September 4th], but also,
among other things, about how they are trying to come out original and
how they are trying to make it to the absolute top of the staircase.
"We completely say, with
a clear conscious, that we're doing exactly what we want to be doing
Tobbe: It's been 2 months since the album
release and perhaps it's too early to answer this question at this point,
but how do the songs stick up to the old material?
Jason: I think so far, so good. I think that,
as you would expect, nearly new material is not as well known and therefore
not as well received live. But I think that people like this record
and so they kind of know it. I think it's been well received and when
we play the songs, they seem to know it. You'll see tonight.
I think the record basically follows the footsteps of your previous work.
I mean, there aren't any major changes musically and it's a Five Finger
Death Punch record to 100 percent. Was that what you were aiming for,
to come out with?
Jason: That seems to be the stuff that people
will expect from us and that people enjoy. It's just the real good meat
and potatoes metal, you know. We kind of decided; let's make a real
potent, high-energy record.
Tobbe: Without being patronizing - how many
records can a band release before you have to make some adjustments to
Jason: I don't know. I mean, we'll find out.
But I think it's good that we've established a sound. You know, you
don't wanna take too many turns on the way there. Right now I think
we have established a sound and if we branch out from here, we always
have that core 6 albums of catalogue, you know, that people are used
Tobbe: Do you guys talk about if it's important
to come out pretty original?
Jason: Yeah. I think if you have your own style
and your own sound, then people will go to you. If people like it, they
get it from you, and only you. The more you blend into the sound of
everybody else, the less focused the attention will be on you. I always
thought that the bands that were unique, like Pink Floyd or, you know,
like one-off kind of bands, could really capture that audience, 'cause
they were the only band that sounded like that.
Tobbe: Again without being condescending,
why do you always include a couple of ballads on each album and not going
heavy all the way?
Jason: Well, you know, sometimes stuff happens.
We write and something comes out in the creative process that we feel
good about and we just kind of let that happen. I think that, on this
record, it never really gets full ballad. I think that there's just
some moments of relief, but within that song, it's always mixed with
some heavy moments.
Tobbe: When you start the songwriting process
or start to think about the new album, do you feel like you kind of enter
a comfort zone nowadays?
Jason: I don't think being comfortable is necessarily
the best thing, you know. I think the magic happens slightly outside
the comfort zone. It's just like pro athletes. They have a coach that's
yelling at them and telling them to "Run 4 laps!", or "You
missed the pass!", or "Give me a 100 push-ups!". And
these are world leader athletes that are paid millions of dollars, but
they still have somebody pushing them outside of their comfort zone.
So I think comfort can be dangerous.
know, we work as a team and we're accepting that the team is pushing
each other and criticizing, or critiquing, each other. That may not
feel comfortable, but we accept that. It's good for the end result.
Tobbe: I was talking to Chris [Kael, bass]
this June and I told him that many loud people on the internet don't even
consider Five Finger Death Punch being metal
Jason: Isn't metal
Okay. You know, I don't
take any offense of any of that stuff. We completely say, with a clear
conscious, that we're doing exactly what we want to be doing, and whether
it fits somebody else's perception of what they think we should be and
generate, you can't control that and you can't worry about that. I just
think that it's important that we're true to ourselves and that we do
what feels normal and natural.
Tobbe: You're getting closer and closer
to achieving your goals, I guess, 'cause you're getting bigger and bigger
for each record. So is it possible that you're starting to take things
more lightly, since things are getting smoother now?
Jason: Well, you know, we like to work hard,
so it's kind of a double answer. We're not taking our foot off the gas,
as far as our goals and things that we wanna do, but I think that we
are going a little easier on each other, as far as, you know, letting
go and understanding that this thing has taken on its own momentum,
and enjoy it as it's happening.
You know, sometimes you're expecting things all
the time and then you set yourself up for disappointment and I think
happiness comes from how well we manage our expectations. And, you know,
just things amongst us personally. I think that we've kind of learned
to relax a little bit. That's nice.
Tobbe: How many years will it take until
you'll be the top name on the posters at bigger festivals?
Jason: I don't know. I mean, I think some of
that stuff just takes time, you know. It just takes time. There is a
certain pecking order, as far as bands that are big and been around
for a long time. I don't know how much of that you can rush, but we're
certainly trying. [Laughs]
Tobbe: So what you're saying is actually
that you think the absolute biggest dinosaurs will probably have to finish
their careers before it's time for you?
Jason: Well, I think it sorts itself out the
way it's supposed to. All we can do is focus on the things that we can
control, which is making good music, good records and putting on good
shows. Those are the things we can control. Everything else, I think,
will fall into place.
What does your music have, exactly, that other bands aren't able to do,
which gives you more radio-time obviously?
Jason: Well, I think that our music found a
specific opening that nobody had filled yet, as far as the blend between
really aggressive, harsh sounding heavy metal and the blend of melodies
and musical sections that are really, you know, not aggressive or abrasive.
And that blend, that push and pull, seems to be a combination that has
made it a little easier for us to get accepted at radio.
Pure metal is, for the most part very heavy and
very abrasive, and it functions to a specific audience. It creates that
feeling of real aggression, but you never get let up. It's just all
the time. But we kind of shift gears throughout the music, so it appeals
to more people perhaps.
Tobbe: So how much of your success is because
of people behind the scenes and how big part, of that same success, is
due to your personal hard work and talent?
Jason: Well, I think it's both. All great success
is made out of a good team, I think, but we're also very hands on as
a band, you know. We get up, we go to work. Whatever needs to get done,
we just try to do it. Instead of relying on other people, or trying
to get things done that way, we've always been very hands on; in the
studio, marketing, everything, and I think the results are there, you
know. It's like we focus on it and work hard on it. If you want something,
you gotta work for it, you know.
Tobbe: About working hard. How much do you
try to develop your guitar playing style nowadays?
Jason: Well, it becomes less and less actually.
I mean, I played guitar every day, for hours and hours and hours, when
I was growing up, and even up to recent years, that was all I used to
do. I was obsessed with it. Ironically, when you start to move at the
pace that we're moving at, there's a ton more things that have to be
done. But I love playing guitar. I work very hard at it and it's very
important to me, but I also wanna learn new things.
am obsessed with recording. I have a full studio at my house and I love
it. I spend every day in there, trying to learn how to get better at
capturing my sounds and recording me. 'Cause that to me is cool and
something that I'm not very good at. But I've been able to do a lot
of the work, that we need to get done for the band, at my place, because
I just put the facility there and then figured out I'd practice getting
better at it, you know. So it's kind of cool. That's kind of what I'm
into now. Just being a studio rat.
Tobbe: How many picks, guitar picks and
bass picks, do you guys throw out to the crowd each gig? You got a number?
Jason: Yeah, um, thousands. But thankfully,
our dear friends at the Jim Dunlop company, and my personal friend,
Scott Uchida, at the Jim Dunlop company, have been very gracious and
they help support our addiction of throwing the guitar picks out.
Tobbe: Will you return to Europe next summer
Jason: I've heard that that is the plan, yes.
It's great that we get to come here. I can see things growing, developing
and it just proves that we need to always make sure that we're here
as much as we can be.
People like to interact with the band, they like
to see that you're there, they wanna buy the ticket, they wanna tell
their friends, they wanna come and hear the records live, and if you
don't come here, they kind of go "Well, maybe we'll get interested
in something else.". You have to kind of feed that. It's important
to be present, you know.
Tobbe: What is most important for the band
at this point, right here, right now?
Jason: I think the most important thing for
us is to probably take care of the fans and make sure that we don't
screw it up. You know, we're very grateful that people like it and people
support it and with that comes a responsibility. There's a lot of people
that are emotionally attached to something and we just wanna make sure
we nurture it and take care of it.
also: review of
the album Got Your Six