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Five Finger Death Punch’s Jason Hook Talks New Album, Fall Tour and Internet Haters

Jason Hook of Five Finger Death Punch
Mary Ouellette, SheWillShootYou.com

On Oct. 11, Five Finger Death Punch return with their newest album, ‘American Capitalist.’ Never one to err on the side of caution, Five Finger Death Punch come out guns blazing with first single ‘Under and Over It,’ an aggressive yet infectious ode to online trash talkers.

If the title ‘American Capitalist’ makes you raise an eyebrow or two, mission accomplished, but it might not mean what you think. It has an underlying theme of capitalizing on the opportunities that come your way in life. For Five Finger Death Punch in particular, it means fighting for everything you have, tooth and nail, and loving every minute of it.

‘American Capitalist’ promises the best yet from Five Finger Death Punch and will help solidify their role as the frontrunners of modern metal.

Loudwire recently talked to guitarist Jason Hook about ‘American Capitalist,’ their new bass player and their upcoming Share the Welt Tour with All That Remains, Hatebreed and Rev Theory.

When you wrote the first single ‘Under and Over It,’ you were lashing out a bit. But now that some time has passed and the fans have embraced the song, can you kind of sit back and enjoy the fun that you’re having with it and the implied sarcasm?

The lyric came from a direct response to Internet haters. The Internet has a small community of haters, people that try to stimulate themselves by attacking any news post that comes up on some of the favorite music news sites. They leave harsh attacking comments and encourage other haters to get on board. We read this stuff and kind of scratch our heads a bit wondering where it comes from. I don’t understand why some people feel that that’s necessary. But ‘Under and Over It’ was a direct response to that kind of stuff and that small group of people. The comment threads are coming from anonymous people.

Online, people can flex their muscles anonymously without having the nerve to say the same things to your face right?

Exactly, it’s pretty lame. It’s anonymous so it’s pretty safe to drum up the most horrible stuff you can think of and not have to accept responsibility for it. That’s pretty weak. Ivan, who is responsible for 99.5% of the lyrics, had originally written them as ‘I’m F—ing Over It.’ We told him we weren’t sure if he should say that, there’s got to be a more clever way of saying the same thing. We tossed around some ideas and came up with ‘I’m Under and Over It’ which actually fits the whole concept of how much work is involved and how we’re under a lot of pressure. Even though we enjoy what we do, you can’t get away from it.

As far as the success of the song, it’s now No. 8 on the Active Rock charts after three weeks so we’re very happy with that. It’s a pretty aggressive song; we didn’t know how it was going to perform at radio. We’re really pushing the boundaries which is kind of what we’re all about anyway, taking chances. No great reward comes without great risk. When we went to pick the first single we decided to plant our feet as being an aggressive band without seeming like we’re concerned with the commercial response that we may or may not get from it.

Was the writing process more collaborative this time around now that the lineup is solidified and you’re three releases in?

I feel like we’ve settled into a really nice system. Jeremy, Zoltan and I are responsible for coming up with the music. Each one of us has a home studio and we all live within five minutes of each other in Vegas. It’s very easy for the three of us to brainchild the music and as soon as we have a finished track or an outline of a song from beginning to end, that’s when we pass over to Ivan. It’s usually in the form of an email.

Ivan was living in Denver until just recently so that’s why it worked that way but now Ivan lives in Vegas, too. A lot of his preliminary writing is best done when he gets a chance to soak on it by himself. The creative process is kind of like growing grass, you want to plant the seed but you don’t want to hold a football game on it the next day. You have to water it, give it sunlight and basically ‘do not walk on the grass’ – so we usually let him be alone for a little while. Coming up with the subject matter and the story lines is a very difficult job and he’s extremely good at it so we try to let him have his space with it.

Does the album title ‘American Capitalist’ relate to the overall album or is it just a blanket statement that you’re making?

When it comes to picking album titles we like to come up with stuff that makes people scratch their heads a little bit. It would be easy to go with something safe but we love to try to say something or have it raise an eyebrow. With our last album, ‘War Is the Answer,’ you always hear “war is not the answer, peace is the answer” and all that f—ing crap. We knew people might think it was bold to come out and say, ‘War is the Answer’ and what are they trying to say? It was all just a mentality about winning, war being the absolute struggle between life and death. The mentality that you give it your all because there is no second place.

With ‘American Capitalist,’ we are five extremely driven and motivated individuals and I think capitalism, for me at least, says that we’re always trying to capitalize on whatever our situation is at the time. We like opportunity, we like turn opportunity into bigger and better. A winner takes all mentality of capitalizing on the situation, whatever that is for you. For me, it’s a positive thing, we’re fighters, and we want everything. You work hard for your money so we work hard for your money.

Do you think it’s strange that healthy competition within our society has been turned into a bad thing?

I’m not sure people are really going to dig too deep into the album title. They may think it’s a political thing, but it’s not. For me, the United States of America allows you all the freedom to go out and take as much as you are able to take. So, that to me is exciting, we are into that and if you don’t like it … f— off. If you want to be a part of it that legion then come on board, we’re the lions of the jungle. It’s an honorable thing.

Zoltan said something interesting about it. He said, “If we were all equal, evolution wouldn’t exist. The human spirit encourages us to excel.” I thought that was a powerful message that people could stand to be reminded of every now and then.

Without being too heavy about it, that’s really the message we’re trying to get across. We’re trying to push people to go out and create their future instead of settle for what they think they’ve been handed, and that’s the ‘American Capitalist,’ that’s what we are and that’s the name of the record.

Let’s talk about some of the new songs on the album; what can you tell me about ‘Everything’?

‘Everything’ is the sort of ballad on the record, if you will. It was actually a song that I brought in. Zoltan isn’t really a ballad guy, so it was something I was working on with Jeremy and we played for Zo and tweaked it all together. I think it’s a pretty moody piece of music and I’m proud of it. When you talk about the lyrics, I’ll leave it to Ivan. When you hear it, it’s pretty poignant; he talks about his upbringing and his childhood. It’s pretty heavy duty and I’m excited to see how that song performs.

On the song ‘If I Fall,’ you incorporated a lot of different elements; how did that song evolve?

That was another one from the batch of songs that I brought in. It pretty much was stuck on the back burner for the whole record, I’m not sure if anyone else liked it. I know our producer liked it a lot and it went through many different face lifts before it ended up at ‘If I Fall.’ I love the lyric; again Ivan takes something that’s potentially pretty safe sounding and puts a lyric to it that makes you say “Huh?” The lyric is something like ‘If I fall, I’m taking everyone down.’

Back in June, you officially announced Chris Kael as your new bassist. What sort of dynamic has he brought to the band?

We’re such a big fan of this guy; I like to half-jokingly say ‘God sent us Chris Kael.’ Chris was the last fellow to come in and audition. Chris actually had been sniffing around our camp before we even announced that we were looking for a bass player. Chris is from Vegas so he had some advance information that there might be an opening. We had auditioned a handful of guys and then Chris hit me up on Facebook and asked for a shot at an audition. I asked him if he could sing because we needed to be able to cover Ivan’s call and answer and we need someone that can sing melodies and harmonies and he sent me an MP3 and said he was the lead singer in his last band.

At that point, I figured, this is probably going to be the guy as long as he’s not a douchebag. We liked him right away, he’s a very healthy, peaceful individual with great musicianship and vocal ability, and he’s local. Everything seemed to happen for a reason, he was so perfect for the group that it was almost weird that it worked out that way.

The band has referred to this album as ‘night and day’ from the music you released back when the band first came on the scene – what do you attribute these changes to?

Well, I think that the honest answer is that the band was really put together in the beginning by Zoltan and Jeremy. I have a great amount of respect for Zoltan, because in this day and age to start your own band and finance every rehearsal and pay for all the demo-ing, it takes a tremendous amount of will power and belief. At 20 years old, you do it just because you love it to death; when you get older and everyone has mortgages and bills to pay, to dedicate that kind of energy into a brand new band is very admirable. I think ‘The Way of the Fist’ primarily was built out of Zoltan, Jeremy and Ivan.

Why are things different now? Well, it’s seven years later now. I came into the band right before ‘War is the Answer’ was released, so that added that element to the sound as far as songwriting and flavor. Also, the producer that we work with, Kevin Churko, is a great talent and quite a musical force as far as the way things sound when we done.

You mentioned producer Kevin Churko, he produced the new album, as well as your last one. Is it that chemistry that made you work with him again this time around?

We’re a bit of a tricky cat and I think it takes a specific talent level and a certain individual to come in and work alongside of us. I don’t think it’s an easy fit so when we find someone that does fit, it’s worth keeping. It worked out so well with ‘War is the Answer,’ that was a big album for us. We had no problems working with Kevin, it was painless. He’s very good at helping us get through the record so I wouldn’t be surprised if you see him again on the fourth album.

You’ve always been very supportive of our military. Why is that so important for you as a band?

I think that there’s a tremendous amount of respect for the armed forces and the people that serve our country and protect our freedom. We went to Iraq, so we got a real snapshot of what it’s like over there and I don’t think people really fully understand how brutal it is. Just the living conditions are brutal, never mind combat. Once we realized how many military personnel were coming out to our concerts and as we were meeting these guys and they told us on how much they relied on our music out there. It was pretty eye-opening to find out that we were resonating so well with them so we went over there for a tour. We would do little meet and greets to dig a little deeper to talk to the individuals and just thank them for what they do.

You’re gearing up for your ‘Share the Welt’ tour in October and November with All That Remains, Hatebreed, and Rev Theory. What do you want to tell fans about the tour?

That’s a great question. When we did the Mayhem Fest last year, we talked about wanting to develop our show into a more visual experience. We spent some time touring with Rammstein in Europe and if anyone has seen their show, they understand that it’s really over the top as far as visuals with pyrotechnics and theatrics. I remember watching the band and talking to the guys and saying ‘whatever this is, we need it. This is awesome.’ We have to make note and do something like this, it was so much fun to watch their show.

So basically, we’ve spent a ton of cash designing this show. The accountants are already telling us that we spent too much, but we don’t care. It’s a gamble; we’re investing into the show so we can create a buzz and people will leave the concert and tell their friends about it. We’re trying to build things into the show that are new and fresh and haven’t been done before. We’re spending a fortune on it. I believe personally, being a big Kiss fan, that if you have a visual element to your show, then you stand a better chance of getting people to come back two years later. That’s what we’re shooting for; we’re trying to build something spectacular visually. So that’s all I can say, expect something big!

Watch Five Finger Death Punch Perform ‘Under and Over It’ in Albany, N.Y.

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