Five Finger Death Punch

An interview with Ivan Moody
by Mike Smith
January 2012

Five Finger Death Punch - photo by Mike Smith

Five Finger Death Punch
photo by Mike Smith

Five Finger Death Punch has exploded onto the metal scene with a power and vengeance that has not been seen since the likes of Pantera when they kicked the “Grunge Scene” in the teeth in the 90’s.  Recently I was given the opportunity to sit down with Ivan Moody (vocals), Chris Kael (bass), Jeremy Spencer (drums) and Jason Hook (guitar) and pick their brains about the new album and random thoughts. 5FDP sat down with Mike Smith of Maximum Ink Magazine to discuss their new album, what makes them tick and what pisses them off!

Maximum Ink:  Who wants to tell me about the new album?
Ivan Moody:  American Capitalist out October 11th of this year (2011). For me lyrically it was probably the most painful and personal album I have done yet and I know the guys put their heart and souls into this. I am sincerely proud of this one and I know a lot of musicians say that, but I truly believe this was our best work of art up to this point.
Jason Hook: You know we work really hard on these records and all I can say is that, to me it sounds like an extension of “War Is the Answer”. It seems like a logical side 3 and 4 if you were to put them together.  It has only been since October of 09 and we started recording this December 2010 and we are pretty much the same people and not a lot has changed, so we just pounded another one out.

MI: Now as far as writing new material, are you guys practicing on the road or are you recording samples for new material?
Ivan: We absolutely do not practice on the road and we keep ourselves away from writing on the road as it gets in the way of the purpose of why we are out here; which is to perform for the fans. I think we do better work by our selves anyway, I mean Jeremy spent a lot of time in the studio with Kevin Churko our producer on this last album and then it kind of feathers its way around you and then Jeremy gets a hold of it and Zoltan gets a hold of it and they send it off to me when they are happy with it. I do my part and we sit down and critique it, so we try to keep it all home based and that is the only way to stay sincere about it.

MI: The first single from the album “Under and Over It” has a definite message, was it written in response to someone or something specific?
Ivan:  It was written to a lot of people and the message was “FUCK OFF”.  I get really tired of hearing the shit on the internet of the people judging my band and my friends.  I mean these guys are my family and you’ve got some jackoff sitting down in his grandmother’s basement commenting on what we do for a living and it gets irritating to me I take it very personally and like I said, I love these guys to death I am really proud of what we do and if someone’s got something to say, say it to my face man, have the balls to do it.  Don’t cover your name up with Dragon Force 6 and then talk shit about Jason, I mean fuck you.

MI: Which song on the new album is your favorite and why?
Ivan:  Let’s go around the room on that one.  Honestly my favorite one on the album would have to either be “Under and Over It” or “Menace”, I think because “Menace” is very personal to me.
Chris Kael:  Mine is the title track “American Capitalist”. Nice strong groove to it.
Jeremy Spencer: That’s mine too, title track.
Jason: Oh ahhh fuck, ‘cause that’s what I was going to say, that too. I was going to say “American Capitalist” because it grabs you by the fucking nut sack and peels your face back. 

MI: What is your Favorite 5 Finger song, favorite to play, hardest to play etc.
Ivan:  Hardest to play I would say is every one of them for me and Jeremy, I can’t answer for the other guys, but I know we walk off the stage sweating and the rest of the guys are powdering their faces (no I’m just kidding… not really). My favorite to play and we just started playing it is ”Far From Home”, the reaction we get back form the fans on that one and how personal it is for me, it’s just really a great piece, it’s overwhelming. 
Jeremy: “Under and Over it” is my favorite to play. Good groove, four on the floor groove stomper, it’s like dance music, but heavy.

MI:  Tell me about why heavy and melodic are such key components to Five Finger Death Punch.
Ivan:    Because we like all sorts of music. We are all musicians and at the end of the day we all come from different backgrounds we like different elements of different songs, it just comes together right. I have always loved big choruses and listening to artists like David Bowie or Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel and you move down the line to Pantera and Sepultura and really have that thrive on the groove.

MI: Nice crescendo with that build and then BOOM.
Ivan: Exactly, and for us that’s what it’s all about, just doing what we like. You know, at the end of the day I what to go to sleep and be proud of what I’m doing.  That’s what makes me happy.
Jason: I think a balance is important too, it’s like nature and life everything is a balance. Like if you are going to get really hardcore in the verses you need a little ear relief you know, to get back to, you know a little push and pull. If there were no predators and prey than there would only be predators.

MI: Can you discuss more about new(er)  bassist Chris Kael (pronounced like Kale) and what he brings to 5FDP?
Ivan:  He brings the element we’ve been looking for, you know we are a really solid unit of guys and we wanted someone who was cool to be on the road with, someone who respected the music and as well someone who was cool to hang out with. He brings a lot of energy and positivity which is something we were missing for awhile and if you haven’t seen us yet, wait till this guy starts fucking throwing down; it’s a good deal.
Jason: Ivan pretty much hits it on the head, a lot of energy, good positive influence and extremely fucking humble.  Also he is a great singer as well.

MI: (To the band) Who are/were your major influences that made you start playing guitar or drums?
Jason:  Ace Frehley, Ritchie Blackmore, Eddie Van Halen.  BAM
Jeremy:  Peter Chris, Lars Ulrich, Charlie Benante, Dave Lombardo.
Chris: Ahhh bass, Gene Simmons for me. (Ivan says Cliff Burton) Cliff Burton ah yes, but he is a finger player and I am more of a pick guy. Oh and Jason Newsted who gave me my right hand attack.

MI: (To Jeremy) What advice do you have for drummers to take their double bass to the next level?
Jeremy: You know what, it’s about stretching out and warming up properly. That’s the thing I never did growing up and I am paying for it now. Although, I am taking great measures to correct myself and get better as I go along. Stretching out and warming up is vital.

MI: Do you guys have any superstitions or “rituals” before going on stage?
Ivan: I vomit every time before I go on stage. 
Jeremy: He vomited on me once too, that was nice…
Ivan: I still get nervous, I have really horrible nerves and I get anxiety attacks and before I go on I always make myself vomit to clean out the system and try not to pass out on the way up the staircase.
Jason: I like to suck back a bunch of Monster Energy Drinks. 

MI: Actually, I have heard that about you.

Jason: Well yeah, it’s like I just started off by getting just a little boost from it, but I found you get a big boost from like… seven of them (laughs).

MI: Lastly tell me about your tattoo’s, do you guys have a featured artist or..?
Jason: Okay first off the place TO GO that has done most of our work is Chrome Gypsy Tattoo in Vegas (Ivan, “right next to the Spearmint Rhino”) and the owner is Cleen Rock One and he has done almost all of mine, and Rick Trip.
Ivan:  You know we have had a lot of people approach us about doing tattoo work and what not and we take our tattoo art work seriously just like our music and Chrome Gypsy has hooked us up time and time again. I mean I am still looking at some of the work on the guys’ arms and some of it is really fresh and they do such stellar jobs down there. Like I said, if you are in Vegas look for the Spearmint Rhino and it is right next door, you can’t miss it.

MIM: Anything else you guys would like to add?
Jason: We recently hired an IP tracking company that will be able to trace who is downloading the record for free. So, we just want to let people know that because we don’t want anyone to get into trouble and that’s the truth.
Ivan: And when he says trouble he means we are going to show up at your house with a fucking bat! (laughs)

Let me just say that I had meet these guys before, but this was the first time I actually had the honor and privilege to sit down with them and fire off some questions. I have to admit that they are some of the nicest, down to earth guys in the business. They instantly make you feel right at home as if you were a long lost friend, just shooting the breeze over a beer. Make no mistake though, once these guys hit the stage it is all about kicking ass and taking names. If you have not seen Five Finger Death Punch live, you are seriously depriving yourself of a hell of show and a hell of a good time!

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CD: American Capitalist Record Label: Prospect Park
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