Five Finger Death Punch: An Interview with Jason Hook from Download Festival 2013

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Five Finger Death Punch Band Photo 2013

Last week, Five Finger Death Punch were celebrating the release of the first of two albums this year, with The Wrong Side Of Heaven & The Righteous Side Of Hell, Volume 1 hitting the shelves on both sides of the Atlantic. Last month the band made their third and most high profile appearance to date at the UK’s heartland of metal Donington Park for the 2013 Download Festival (read our review of their performance on the Sunday here). A few hours after stage time Rocksins was very lucky to sit down with 5FDP’s guitarist Jason Hook to discuss the performance, the new album, plans for the rest of 2013 and more.

Rocksins: Obvious question to get out of the way first, did you guys enjoy your performance earlier?

Jason: Yeah! You know Download is one of the biggest and I think it still makes us nervous. It’s an important show. It’s important for every band to have a good Download, there are a lot of people here with their eyes on the stage saying “Let’s see what they’ve got”. You’re trying to protect your reputation. But we had a good one! The feedback so far has been awesome. We’re coming back in November with Avenged Sevenfold so all of this time we’ve spent here with the festivals and the press, we’re building the hype for that tour.

Rocksins: The tour (with Avenged Sevenfold) will be the first arena shows Five Finger Death Punch has played in the UK right?

Jason: Yeah, it’s a great package. We’ve always wanted to tour with those guys and I think it’s a strong pairing. Everyone’s definitely looking forward to it.
Rocksins: I think the ticket sales for the tour sound like they have been very strong so far.
Jason: Great! I think we’re pretty potent too as an opener. Having to play thirty five to forty minutes, it’s a very potent presentation.

Rocksins: I think a lot of people by now will know you’ve worked with Rob Halford (from Judas Priest) on your new single (Lift Me Up). How did that come about if you don’t mind me asking?

Jason: It actually had nothing to do with me, although the song was a song that I brought in. The feedback on the song was that it had an old eighties metal dun-dun-dun-dun-dun feeling to it. Then somebody piped up and went “what if we got Rob Halford to sing on this?” as it had kind of a Priest feel. Now that we’re talking about it, you know Another Thing Coming? (Judas Priest song) It has kinda that same rhythm. So someone throws out the idea and then it’s like “Fuck! That would be awesome! What’s his phone number?”. So it turns out he’s actually a fan of the band…
Rocksins: Awesome.
Jason: So we sent him the track and he got on a plane and came to Vegas where we were recording the album and banged it out and that was it! It was awesome.

Rocksins: It must be quite a thrill to have someone like that who’s been doing this for forty years coming in and working with you…

Jason: Not just the music part of it but the hanging out, the dinner conversation, just hearing the stories and being able to pick his brain about stuff. You’re talking to a legend! We’re on the fourth record and how many records has he done?! It was so fun to pick his brain and he’s a really nice gentleman as well. We had a very good time with him.

Rocksins: What was behind the decision to do a double album? Was it a case of you’d written so much material that you were so happy with that you had two CD’s worth of material?

Jason: That was it. We’re very prolific and a lot of material comes quickly. So instead of chopping it down to an eleven or twelve song package, we were ending up with twenty songs, or twenty two or twenty four. So in the end we decided to run with it and put it out as two separate records. Why do we have to throw half of it away? If half of it was eight out of ten and the other half were like two out of ten then maybe. But we were listening to the whole collection thinking “I think we have a double album here”. Typically I think that when you’re doing a record you’ll over-write for it. So if you need ten or eleven songs you’d do maybe eighteen and then whittle it down to the best ones. But we were twenty five songs deep and being “I like all of it” , you know? The big dilemma was do we put the two records out on the same day, kinda like Guns N’Roses did with Use Your Illusion. We were going to call it Abuse Our Delusion *laughs*. But we were thinking do we do that or do we stagger them with one now and one a little later. It turns out that the management and the label said “please don’t put it out on the same day as that’s a fucking nightmare for us”. The second one will be available November-ish, we don’t have a hard date yet.
Rocksins: But it’ll be by the end of 2013?
Jason: Oh yeah, done! I was listening to both records on the way over here. Plus you get a live record included in the deluxe version of the first record. I think the live record is awesome, it’s like a night with Ivan Moody where he’s doing his schtick. It’s a real cool, personal and intimate recording.
Rocksins: Where did you record the live record? Was it bits & pieces from all over?
Jason: I think it’s two shows only,one was maybe Jersey and I can’t remember the other one right now. But it’s a pretty cool package! We’ve never released anything live before.

Rocksins: As Ivan alluded to on stage last time you were here (at Download) you got your performance cut short, and it was looking a little ropey at one point today with stewards lining up on the side of the stage. You must have been thinking “oh no not again”…

Jason: Well it’s funny, we were actually told before we went on today that the security now has a red sign that says stop the show. So I think we set a new standard, if you fuck with the audience too much and cause a problem, they are ready to stop the show. When we did it back in 2010 I don’t think anyone was prepared for that.
Rocksins: You guys and Airbourne both got cut on the same day (in 2010) so I think that must be some kind of record.
Jason: Well we’ve been talking about that ever since it happened, like “hey tell us about that time at Download” so I think they were ready for us this time. I noticed that Ivan through his microphone out into the audience at the end of the show, that cost us eighteen hundred dollars!
Rocksins: Oh shit!
Jason: Yeah, just like “here you go, catch”. So there we go.
Rocksins: Expensive souvenir for somebody.
Jason: Yeah, for us! *laughs*

Rocksins: This is the first time you’ve been back to the UK in awhile, and obviously as mentioned you’re coming back at the end of the year with Avenged Sevenfold. Looking into early 2014 are there any prospects for some headline shows here?

Jason: Oh yeah. We’re always building, you know? The idea is to increase the exposure of the band to the point where we can stand on our own feet over here. When we got over here the first night we played a show in Hamburg and it was sold out. So we just want to make sure that we complete this year building. Then we’ll start to see what it looks like to book ourselves headlining in 2014.
Rocksins: The double album will certainly give you a lot of material to tour behind.
Jason: Exactly! We’re headliners in the States but the more material you have the more that can qualify you as a headliner. When you only have three records it’s still a little nervy. It’s a little hard to say we’re headliners anywhere in the world with three fucking records! So we’ll see how it goes.

Rocksins: Speaking of headlining, once you go back to the US you’re very high up the bill on Mayhem which you’re doing with Rob Zombie, that kicks off in a couple of weeks?

Jason: It’s crazy. Literally as soon as we get back we have maybe ten days, and half of that is booked for rehearsals so there really is no catching your breath. We’re gonna be busy this year and we’re feeling it trust me. It’s just back-to-back-to-back. After Mayhem we go straight to Canada for a headline tour across Canada, then we come for a little bit and then we start the Avenged tour.
Rocksins: Is that just in the UK or are you going out with them all across Europe?
Jason: Yeah. We haven’t toured with them before but I do think it’s a great package. It seems like we share a lot of the same fanbase. Stylistically their fans like us and vice versa.

Rocksins: One last question which we’re asking to everyone across the weekend; Do you have any funny or interesting stories from the road involving yourself or one of the others that you could share with us?

Jason: I remember the first time we came over and toured Europe, we were on a small budget and there was no hotels or anything like that. We’d play the show and sleep on the bus, drive to the next place. One morning Ivan got up early and was asking “is the club open? Because I gotta take a shit”. So I was like no there’s nobody in the club until noon. So he went out behind the bus and shat on the sidewalk and covered it with a pylon. So there we go, Ivan Moody ladies and gentlemen.

As discussed in the interview, Jason Hook and the rest of Five Finger Death Punch will be back in the UK with Avenged Sevenfold for three arena shows in late November and early December. A reminder of the tour dates follows below:

Avenged Sevenfold, 5FDP & Device UK Arena Tour 2013:

November 30th – Manchester – Evening News Arena
December 1st – London – Wembley Arena
December 5th – Birmingham – LG Arena

Tickets can be purchased from Ticketmaster, Seetickets and all the usual online outlets, as well as directly from the venues. The Wrong Side Of Heaven & The Righteous Side Of Hell Volume 1 is out now on Eleven Seven Music. If you’d like to know what we thought of it here at Rocksins you can read our review right here. Jason Hook’s personal website can be checked out at https://jasonhook.net/.

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