Q+A: Five Finger Death Punch Stay Focused on its Mission
In the metal community, Five Finger Death Punch is one of the most popular modern acts out there pulverizing speakers and galvanizing those who need heavy music to make it through the day.
With increased popularity has come big album sales, a ton of devoted fans and of course a little bit of controversy along the way.
Riffyou.com got on the phone with Five Finger Death Punch guitarist Jason Hook to discuss the band’s new album Got Your Six, handling popularity and what has helped the quintet deal with sticky situations.
RY: Online, Five Finger Death Punch made a big push to have Got Your Six to reach #1 on the charts and it got there. How’s that feel?
Jason: “It really feels great. I know it’s predictable to say, ‘It’s awesome and it feels great,’ but I don’t know what else to tell you other than it’s a fantasy for every kid whose dream it is to have a band that people give a shit about. It really does feel magical.”
RY: It’s easy to expect pop or hip-hop acts to get high positions on the chart, but it’s not always somewhere a metal band can go. Is it a different kind of accomplishment when a band like Five Finger Death punch reaches such heights?
Jason: “I think so. There are an endless number of tasks that come along with trying to get the word out there and try to get peoples’ attention. We don’t take that for granted – it’s hard work every step of the way. I think we can live with having a good album, but it’s nice to know that people are agreeing [with the music] by running out and buying it.”
RY: When you went in to make Got Your Six, what did you attempt to do to ensure that the band was happy with its direction, all the while ensuring die-hard fans would stay stoked?
Jason: “It’s important to satisfy both the fans and us. We would never want to release anything that we didn’t like and were just doing to try and impress another group of people. All we’ve ever done is get off on [the music.] If we get off on it, then the public will feel the same way. That kind of thing can be easy to lean on the next time you have to make an album, but if you’re not doing something that’s honest, it’s really hard to repeat it.”
RY: Musically, what is it that gets you guys off the most now, versus earlier albums?
Jason: “We know now how to get to results more efficiently. I know that when it comes to making an album, we’ve tried many different approaches and in a cool way, we’ve been able to eliminate those that don’t work so well and focus on the ones that do, method wise.”
RY: A lot of metal bands are doing well these days, but Five Finger Death Punch remains near the top of the ladder. How has the band been able to adapt to continually increasing popularity?
Jason: “It has actually made us calmer and grateful. Stories of all of our favourite bands that we grew up on [are about how] success created demons, competition, resentment and weird things. With us, it’s been the opposite. The stress is a little less. When you’re trying to introduce your group to the world and nobody knows you, yet you’re working really hard, there’s no room for failure there – it’s imperative then that things go the right way. Now that we have reached a certain level of popularity, things are less stressful. Not that we would ever compromise making records, but at least we have a certain confidence now that’s making everything more enjoyable. We focus on the things we can control. You can’t control the public. You can’t decide whether they’re going to like something or not. All you can control is making something you like that speaks to your heart and punches your nerve. That is the one thing we’ve relied on since day one.”
RY: With that increased attention, Five Finger Death Punch has received negative headlines along the way. How does the band handle that stuff?
Jason: “It doesn’t matter to us – it’s just the law of large numbers. If you have 10 people who like you, you will have one person that doesn’t, but no one really pays attention to that one person. If you have a million people that like you and 100,000 who don’t, that’s a significant number that can get heard and be seen. It comes with the territory. I don’t particularly care.”
RY: You guys were dragged through the mud earlier this year over walking out on a show in Memphis and legal issues with [vocalist] Ivan Moody. Do you have a way of sorting that out internally in order to keep everyone on the same page?
Jason: “Every time we have any kind of problem, we’re real and that stuff is real. It’s like a marriage. I know that’s an old cliché when talking about rock bands, but every time something happens, it almost brings us closer together because nothing is more important than what we are trying to do here, musically. Nobody wants to jeopardize that over some kind of personal problem. So, we talk about it and things get fixed. Wounds heal stronger and we move forward.”
RY: Not all bands are able to do that. What makes the communication within Five Finger Death Punch so good?
Jason: “I’ll tell you what helps – sobriety allows for clear and focused decision making. Most of us in the band are sober, so we don’t let alcohol interfere with decision making.”