Five Finger Death Punch
Ivan – Vox
Zoltan – Guitars
Jeremy – Drums
Chris – Bass
Interview held on 29th August 2013
London, United Kingdom
Interview by Anna Dumpe
Photography by Graham Hilling
On the 29th of August, we had the chance to join Jeremy Spencer (drums) and Jason Hook (guitar) from Five Finger Death Punch to chat about their new albums The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1/2, live performances, future plans and music in general.
Both Jeremy and Jason come across as really laid back, welcoming and funny dudes who are an absolute pleasure to hang out with.
Hey guys! It’s great to see you today in London! How’s your day going?
Jeremy, Jason: So far it’s been excellent, thanks!
Back in May 2013 you announced that you’ll be releasing a 2-part double album, which is a hell of a lot of material and new songs. Tell me how did you end up with so much ready-to-record material at once and then decided to turn it into a 2-part release?
Jeremy: We started taking a portable recording studio out with us on tours, so any time we felt inspired, wanted to get creative or jam together, we just documented everything in that studio. When we got off the summer tour last year, we ended up with a handful of songs ready to record.
That’s when we entered the studio and just got this creative flow going really fast. We recorded up to 25 songs and then it was time to start figuring out what songs would make it on to the actual record.
It came to the point where we didn’t want to drop any of those songs, so the decision to release two albums was made and we just kept going.
Jason: Yeah, that’s pretty much what happened. We were way ahead of schedule, so we just kept writing more material. Sometimes I or Zoltan (guitar) would come up with a riff, or we’d just get together and jam. There are no set ways in how we write songs, but sometimes we realize that we’re just missing a fucking burner ‘romper-stomper like’ track on this record, so then we specifically target that type of song, which makes the writing process even more interesting.
The 1st double album The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1 is out for just over 2 months now. What’s the feedback been like and how satisfied with the final material are you as a band?
Jeremy: The feedback has been great and really positive. We were working so hard and spent such a long time in the studio, so when it finally came out it was out of our hands and really up to the fans to decide if they like it or not. Everyone’s been saying that they really dig it and it actually debuted #2 on the Billboard 200 in America, so it’s a great relief for us.
Jason: We definitely noticed that there is a strong reaction to this album. We’ve had people say to us that they like the new record before, but this one really seems to have a buzz about it.
On The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume1 you’ve worked together with some big names in heavy metal, like Rob Halford. How did you get him to perform on the album and how was it working with such a legend that he is?
Jeremy: Ivan, our singer, brought up the idea that it would be really cool to get Rob Halford to do guest vocals on this album. So we asked our management to reach out for him and he was just really cool about it and said: “Well, just send me this track and we’ll see what happens!”
So we did and, believe it or not, he loved it! He also agreed to come to our studio in Las Vegas where we recorded the song together.
He’s just this intelligent killer dude who’s really efficient in the studio. Obviously he’s done it for years and is master of his craft, so we were just really privileged to get to hang out with him and get to know him personally.
So one day we just asked him what are the chances for us to get together again on stage at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards and he was just like – “Sure, why not!?”
We obviously freaked out and couldn’t believe that this is really happening. (Laughs)
Jason: Yeah, it really was just that easy to work with him… At one point I was thinking of asking him what are the chances that he comes over and helps me paint my guest bedroom. This is easy! Whoa! (Laughs)
Jeremy: Yeah, we’re really fortunate and I think he did and exceptional job. Everyone really seems to enjoy “Lift Me Up”. It went to #1 in America in it’s going down really well when played live. It’s all good!
Tell us a little about the writing and recording process of these two albums. Is there a specific concept behind them and what was the main inspiration for you to come up with all those songs?
Jason: Ivan (vocals) is the one who delivers all of the storylines for our songs, so I don’t know if we went into this record with a pre-set concept on our minds. We just started rocking out and did what we do and.
We had different working titles for the album all the way through the recording process and it wasn’t clear until it was time to finally come up with one specific title. But as far as concepts go, I think the only concept for this album is just fucking rad songs, man!
Jeremy: We were just trying to make a record that we wanted to listen to.
Jason: Yea, because if it flops, at least we’d have something to jam in the car! (Laughs)
So what can we expect from the following release The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 2 that’s coming out this fall? Is it going to be any different to Volume1 and can we expect more exciting guest appearances?
Jeremy: There will be some guest appearances, but we’re looking at different vocal guest performances that would go on a certain release. One guest performance would go on a Japanese release and another one would go on the European release. This time it won’t be all on one, like on The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1, as we wanted to make Volume 2 a little bit different in that regard.
But as far as it being a drastically different sounding record, it’s really not. You could interchange songs on Volume 1 and Volume 2 and it wouldn’t matter. To me both albums are well-rounded and they fit together well as a body of work.
We didn’t put 10 songs of one style on one album and 10 sons of different style on the other.
We kind of mixed and matched and wanted to take the listener on to a journey that’s more like a rollercoaster ride. It simply gets boring for the listener if there are 10 songs on the album that sound the same.
After watching your set at Download Festival 2013, you left a great impression that once you’re on stage, your focus is 100% on the audience. You manage to create a friendly and familiar atmosphere on stage and within the crowd and make sure that every single person out there is having a good time.
So tell me how important the audience is for you and have you always been trying to make them a part of your performance?
Jeremy: Ivan really is this ‘in the moment’ kind of guy. If he really feels something, he’ll just do it. Just like at Download 2013, he would just start inviting kids up on stage during certain songs and get people to crowd-surft to stage so he can shake their hands. He really comes up with all this on spot.
Jason : And he always like to stir shit up a little bit. Just before the show we’d go: “Right, Ivan, you know that tonight there’s this “No swearing on stage” rule?” He’d just laugh and go: “Got it!” (Laughs)
Jeremy: Yeah, it’s all because there are some cities where we get fined if we use swear words on stage, but he just laughs about it and goes “Oh, so that’s going to be one expensive show tonight, fellas!” He’s crazy like that! (Laughs)