Recently I spoke to the newest Five Finger Death Punch member, guitarist Jason Hook who actually hails from Oakville, Ontario, Canada. Jason was without a doubt an awesome guy to talk to and anyone interested can check out his solo work at his official website www.jasonhook.com. Without a doubt, Five Finger Death Punch is one of the fastest rising stars in metal music today. In barely five years since forming, the band has become one of the elite players in heavy metal, largely thanks to their massively successful 2007 debut The Way of the Fist. And not one to rest on their laurels, the band members worked very hard to release their sophomore CD War is the Answer despite an enormously taxing tour schedule. The group is currently preparing for a May tour of the US with a busy summer ahead of them including a place on the massive Mayhem Fest featuring Korn, Lamb of God, Rob Zombie and more.
You’re currently on a Canadian tour with Korn. Are you pleased with how it’s been going?
Jason: Yeah, Canadian audiences have been a nice surprise. I think the Canadians, they really appreciate when a big American package comes up across the border you know, they look at it as a rare opportunity to see bands that normally don’t come that way. The excitement level seems to be a little greater.
What’s it been like playing with a band like Korn who’s been around for so long and has such a solid fan base? Are the Korn fans digging you guys?
Jason: Oh yeah, I would say that just looking back at it, our popularity seems to be growing rapidly and I could hear a pretty balanced response for both bands and we sold a lot of t-shirts in Canada. Hopefully we picked up a bunch of new fans too that weren’t aware of the band.
Your second record War is the Answer has been out now for about six months. How do you feel about the album now in comparison to around the time it was released?
Jason: Um… how I feel about it now…. Well I’m probably listening to it a lot less now. We’re all very proud of the record, we worked very hard on it and you know when you finish a project like that there’s a great sense of accomplishment. You just created this whole thing from nothing and now here it is out on the store shelves and on the radio. It really does feel amazing; it’s a high you can’t really get from too many sources you know. And the fact that it has resonated with all the metal community like it has, it really is a buzz you know. I think that we’re talking about trying to get in and start working on a new record as early as spring of next year. We don’t want to be that band that puts out an album every two and a half years. We’re going to try to take more of an older band approach like Kiss in the ‘70s, they were putting out two albums a year and they were just cranking through it. Foo Fighters as well, they have consistently dropped records, if the audience is high on a band they can’t get enough of it and an album every two and a half years is not really enough. You know what I mean?
Yeah I totally agree with you. Even two and a half years is a short time these days. Sometimes you go four, five years without seeing a new album from a band.
Jason: Exactly. We’re trying to break a lot of patterns, you know we’re trying to make sure that we don’t make mistakes and I think we’re going to try to get in the studio sooner than later.
You worked on War is the Answer with Kevin Churko who just a few years ago produced Ozzy Osbourne’s Black Rain album. How did this association come about and how did you like working with Kevin?
Jason: Kevin’s amazing; he fit in perfectly with this band. He’s a very talented musician and he worked with Mutt Lang for four years in Switzerland so being a fan of Mutt Lang and knowing what he’s capable of, I knew that Kevin, having worked underneath him for four years, must have developed some pretty good recording chops and his quality meter must have been pretty refined as a result of being with Mutt Lang. How did we meet Kevin Churko? Kevin’s Canadian, I’m Canadian, I have a bunch of Canadian friends, we all sort of gravitate towards each other. I met Kevin through a mutual friend of mine Brent Fitz who is sort of a token Canadian musician that a lot of people know of. You know Brent?
No I’m not familiar with him actually.
Jason: Brent Fitz played with me in the Vince Neil band, he was the drummer, he was also in the band Union with John Corabi and Bruce Kulick. He also played drums with Theory of a Deadman for a couple of years. Anyways, Brent Fitz was friends with Kevin Churko, I guess they’re both from Winnipeg? I can’t remember. But anyways, he introduced me to Kevin and I just hit it off with him right away, I was playing with Alice Cooper at the time when I met Kevin and I knew instantly that I would come back for Kevin and try to integrate him in to something with Death Punch and it all worked out.
Now included in the album’s thirteen tracks is a cover of the song “Bad Company,” an interesting choice to say the least. How did the idea to include this song on the record come about?
Jason: Well we were… that’s kind of a tricky one because the band started playing Bad Company in ’08, we didn’t have enough material, we were headlining and we needed more material because we just simply only had one record. So the idea was to play a cover song but we didn’t want to play a cover song that would have been typical, we didn’t want to play Metallica or Iron Maiden… We wanted to find a song that nobody would ever expect us to play and a lot of titles came and went. “Bad Company,” we just fucked around with it and it seemed to work out okay and that was going to be the end of it, we played it in ’08 live and we were just going to drop it but a lot of people were like “please tell me you’re going to record that.” And we were like “nah, it wasn’t supposed to be for anything serious,” we just thought we’d play it live. We ended up taking a shot at it and it ended up being one of my favourite tracks. I think it might actually end up being a single.
You probably get this question a lot but of course you played guitar on tour for Mandy Moore. How do you look back on this experience?
Jason: It was positive, it was positive; I mean a lot of people would expect me to try to lift my leg on that kind of a thing. When asked now it’s obviously a contrast to what I’m doing now but I was very specific about what I wanted to do in life. When I moved to Los Angeles I only had one rule and that was don’t stray from the goal of being a guitar player. And so with this rule I had for myself, it was like “you will take every opportunity and do it to the best of your abilities,” that was my rule. So I played in all sorts of bands, unsigned bands, signed bands, bands for free, I did stuff in videos for people, I said I’m going to do everything and do it to the best of my abilities and hopefully eventually I’ll land something I’ll want to keep and that’s where I’ll stay. It’s all education, you can learn from every situation, even if you don’t like it you can still learn from it. I learned a lot from those situations and I made good money at the same time so I have no regrets and I look at it as an important step to where I wound up.
It turns out actually, if you want to know the truth, this is how it works, Mandy’s manager used to work with The Firm, The Firm signed Five Finger Death Punch. So after I had played with Mandy my name was still floating around that company as a result of playing with Mandy and they said Five Finger Death Punch just recruited Jason Hook. Well they knew who I was because I had played for Mandy Moore and Mandy Moore was on that label. So they were like “oh he’s awesome dude, really cool guy…” So as long as you leave good trails everywhere, it doesn’t matter if you’re playing metal or pop or whatever, as long as you do a good job, it all fits together in the end.
Just another personal question for you, aside from the band you’ve also released a couple of solo albums. Do you have any more solo work on the horizon?
Jason: Yep I do actually, I’m glad you’re asking about this. I have one solo record out that’s available on iTunes and Amazon.com, it’s a physical CD with a bonus DVD included, it’s called Safety Dunce and you can find it pretty easily online. That CD was created with Jeremy Spencer from Death Punch so anyone who’s a Death Punch fan should certainly check it out. Jeremy and I wrote, recorded and produced the record ourselves. Subsequently, we started working on another record that’s going to be coming out in the summer that’s called American Justice, we finished it right before I joined Death Punch so I haven’t put it out yet because I started working on War is the Answer right away with those guys. It’s pretty much done though, Alice Cooper makes a guest appearance on the record, Zoltan and Jeremy from Death Punch are on the record and a few other secret guests that I won’t mention right now. That’s going to be ready in the summer, I’m just sort of doing mixes right now and that’s it. You can read all about this stuff on www.jasonhook.com.
What’s next for FFDP after the Canadian tour with Korn? What are your plans for the summer and fall of 2010 and into the New Year?
Jason: Well we’re quite busy, we have another tour in May, we’re going out with Hellyeah, Lacuna Coil, Drowning Pool, Seether, I mean it’s a big package in May. I think in June we go over to the UK again and we play The Download Festival and the Metal Hammer Awards, we do some European dates. Then in July we start Mayhem Fest which is something I’m really looking forward to, you know Mayhem Fest is the big one that comes across the US for six weeks, it’s Korn, Lamb of God, Rob Zombie and us and then there’s two other side stages that have Shadows Fall and all these other metal bands you’ve heard of so it’s a pretty big deal. Tickets are on sale for that at www.mayhemfest.com.