FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH Guitarist: ‘We Make People Scratch Their Heads’

Josh Hart of recently conducted an interview with guitarist Jason Hook of Las Vegas, Nevada-based metallers FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below. “American Capitalist” landed at No. 2 on the Billboard charts recently. Moving more than 90,000 records in one week is pretty impressive for any time, but especially these days when no one’s buying records.

Jason: Yeah, we have a very specific strategy planned. “War Is The Answer” came out a year and a half ago. We want to keep the cycle short. I think having one record every five years really misses the momentum wave. It’s like surfing. You catch a wave and you’ve got to make sure the waves are timed right so you can stay out there and keep surfing. If you only get one wave and there’s no more waves, you ain’t gonna make it to the shore. Terrible analogy, but you have to understand that the first single off the record, “Under And Over It”, wasn’t really a song that we would have expected to perform at radio because it’s so aggressive, there’s a lot of swear words in it, it says “Suck my dick” and all this other stuff. But we had a meeting with the label and they were like, “We 100 percent want this as the first single,” and we were like, “Alright, fuck it. If that’s what you like.” Because we didn’t know, it was like, “We like all of it. You guys pick.” We didn’t expect that radio would embrace that song, but I like it because it’s pissed off and it will probably resonate with our fans. If anything, we thought it’d be a strong live number, but that fucking song is No. 3 at Active Rock. For a song that heavy [metal growl], it’s incredible. The album’s been generating significant buzz for some time now. Not just since its release, but really since you guys announced the album title. A title like “American Capitalist” couldn’t be much more provacative, especially given the growth of movements like Occupy Wall Street in recent months.

Jason: Yeah, and that’s what we’re good at, man! [laughs] We make people scratch their heads. When we came out with “War Is The Answer”, people were like, “What the hell are these guys doing? What are they trying to say with that?” We spent a year and a half answering that question, and now it seems so coincidental … you know, we had the idea of “American Capitalist” months and months before we started recording the record, and now it seems so coincidental that we’re now right here in the thick of the Wall Street protests and the economy in the state that it’s in, and we’re making a bold statement again. You were still somewhat new with the band when you guys were recording “War Is The Answer”. Do you feel like you were able to contribute more ideas this time around?

Jason: Yes and no. I made a very specific deal when I came into the band. I wasn’t really needing money. I was touring around with Alice Cooper before I was in DEATH PUNCH and making a healthy living as a guitar player. I didn’t want that, though. I didn’t care about money. I told the guys specifically that the only way I would want to come over to the band is if I could be an equal partner in the creative department. I have two solo records of my own and my true passion is writing and recording. That’s all I really care about, it’s not even about the money, I just want to be involved in the writing and recording. And they said, “Done!” When you’re writing songs, how do you and Zoltan [Bathory] generally divide up your guitar parts?

Jason: On the last record, Zo kind of had his songs and I had mine. Because we were working so quickly it basically worked out that I didn’t get too involved with his stuff and vice versa. But when it comes to live, we definitely have to sit down and work out who plays what part. It’s a team effort though, there’s no weird competitive thing going on there. I don’t care how it gets done, as long as it gets done on the record. If he’s got a whole arrangement and the song created, there’s no point in my sticking my nose in it just for the sake of it. We give each other that kind of space, and I’m really happy with the way it works.

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