Elliot Levin of the NY Hard Rock Music Examiner recently conducted an interview with FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH guitarist Jason Hook. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
NY Hard Rock Music Examiner: One thing that’s always impressed me about DEATH PUNCH shows is the stage set you guys bring out. Last tour you practically had a military outpost set up on stage. Who comes up with the design?
Jason: We do, usually. We talk about it as a band and put ideas down on paper, and then send somebody out with a check to go buy it and put it together. You know, I grew up a major KISS fan and it’s still my favorite band, and luckily, everyone else has the same thought process as far as we have to have a strong visual element to our show, so people go home and talk about it.
NY Hard Rock Music Examiner: It’s an interesting time for [the title of the new FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH album, “American Capitalist”], since here in New York we’ve had people protesting and occupying Wall Street for months now, protesting the idea of the American capitalist. Do you feel strongly one way or another about those protesters?
Jason: My opinion may not be the popular opinion. I understand that people are suffering, they’re calling out for help, but I don’t think that corporations or corporate America is a bad thing. I think that corporate America is a wonderful thing. Big business is exciting, big business is born out of passion and desire and people that are successful put themselves there. And they put themselves there by pushing themselves, and taking risks, learning, asking questions, education, desire, work ethic. To me, that’s all good stuff. Somebody that just doesn’t take risks and plays it safe and is lazy, unmotivated, those people who are going, “Help me, help me, help me…” And so for me, personally, I don’t have a lot of compassion for that. I’m more interested in the guy that builds the empire than the ones complaining about it. FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH IS a corporation; we had to incorporate to run our business. And I love it; to me, it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever been involved in. We have full control over what we want to do, and we make a lot of people very happy. And for me, I think it’s all good stuff. I can’t wait to get it bigger and better. Now the millions of people sitting on the sidewalk with a sign saying, “We’re getting screwed,” why don’t you put some time in and learn something and do something, you know?
NY Hard Rock Music Examiner: It’s kind of hard to tell, with the title, and especially when you look at the cover art, if it’s meant in a sarcastic or tongue-in-cheek way. But you’re saying you guys are proud to be successful American capitalists.
Jason: Exactly. The cover, obviously, is portraying a wealthy, successful businessman. And if you look up “capitalist,” it says something about a wealthy businessman that uses capital to invest and seeks opportunity to do business. But we’re not really focused on the money part of it or the monetary implications, we’re talking more about what drives those types of individuals, the thought process. Successful people don’t just turn a corner and fall into the success hole. Successful people start with the desire to push themselves in that direction, and work for that, and I think that’s awesome. That’s who we are. I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs. We exercise, we have a portable recording studio on the road, we’re already writing album number four and the third one just dropped. I see other bands getting fucked up every night, waking up at five in the afternoon, that’s good for you. That’s not good for me. I’m in here to divide and conquer, and if that makes people uncomfortable, I don’t care.
NY Hard Rock Music Examiner: It’s interesting, because you mentioned KISS before. Have you read Ace Frehley‘s new book yet, speaking of not doing drugs on the road?
Jason: Dude! Not yet, I have it pre-ordered from Amazon but I’m probably going to end up buying it from a bookstore because it’s waiting for me at home while I’m on tour. I know Ace; I played in Ace‘s band for about 10 minutes. Right before Alice Cooper, I flew out to New York. Anthony Esposito, who was Ace‘s bass player, and I’ve known Anthony for a long time, and he said I’m putting a band together for Ace and it’s really important that I find guys that are sober, because Ace is trying to stay sober. And he was like, “You were the first guy I thought of.” So I said , “Say no more, I’ll be there on Monday.” And we spent a couple of days with Ace down at Anthony‘s loft in the city, and then we spent a couple of days up at Ace‘s house, and that whole experience was just surreal to me. I was showering in Ace‘s shower, you know? Ace was hellbent on finishing the record, and he was like, “If you guys can just hang tight, I gotta put a couple of more months into this record, I really don’t want to tour until this record is finished.” I was like fine, I was back in Los Angeles, and then I got the call for the Alice Cooper gig. So now I had a problem. I can’t believe I’m going to miss this opportunity to play with my hero, but the Alice Cooper gig, and I don’t even like Alice Cooper, but the money was incredible and the opportunity was solid, so I had to take it, so I spent two and a half years playing with Alice Cooper, thus missing the tour cycle that Ace Frehley went out on. He ended up getting some other guy from New York, but it kinda broke my heart. And that’s my Ace Frehley story.
Read the entire interview from NY Hard Rock Music Examiner.