Interview: Five Finger Death Punch
Mon, 21 Sep 2009 09:30:12
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Five Finger Death Punch come out swinging on War is the Answer.
This is what a sophomore record should be. It's louder, heavier and angrier than the band's breakthrough debut The Way of the Fist. At the same time, it's far more epic, including a couple songs, such as "Walk Away," which elevate Death Punch far beyond the realm of heavy metal.
The Death Punch faithful won't be disappointed.
This industry needs a good kick in the ass, and Death Punch are the band to do it. They defied convention, expectation and pretty much everything else with The Way of the Fist. On War, they're laying down new rules for the game in the wake of every wall they've burned down.
In this exclusive interview, drummer Jeremy Spencer talked to ARTISTdirect.com editor Rick Florino about the band's growth, what movie War is most similar to and guitarist Zoltan Bathory's living room…
On War is the Answer, it feels like everything has become far more intense. Would you say that's the case?
Jeremy: Yeah, that's what we were hoping would happen [Laughs]. We really didn't know how it would end up when we were making it. After it was finally completed, it was everything we wanted and more. We really achieved what we were hoping to achieve.
And what were you hoping to achieve exactly?
Jeremy: Just growth! We didn't want to make the same record again, and we didn't want to make a record where every song sounded the same. We wanted to take the listeners on a journey up and down. I think we struck a great balance between melody and aggression. It just sounds like a more mature Death Punch record to all of us. We've been on the road for a few years, and we learned how to play together. We saw what worked live and what didn't. When we went back in to write songs, everything started flowing. It came out exactly the way we wanted it.
Where did the "journey" for this album begin? These songs definitely didn't just happen overnight.
Jeremy: Yeah, you're right. Some of them did happen rather easily. A lot of the time, we were just writing and demoing in Zoltan's living room. We camped out at his house for a couple months. Some of the songs were more difficult than others, and we experienced a few computer problems recording along the way [Laughs]. That made the creative process a little more difficult, but we basically tried to stay out of the way and let the songs write themselves. I know that sounds a bit cheesy or whatever, but it's true. The more you try to mess with something, the more you interfere with it. That just stifles the process!
You guys must know each other inside and out musically now after all of that time on the road.
Jeremy: We do—maybe even more than we want to [Laughs]. It's all good. When you live with somebody in a tube for years, you figure out what you like and what you don't like about them. For example, I don't like the way you chew your cereal. Or, you're really cool to hang out with, let's chill. We've grown as friends and as brothers. We're a team. We've got to make it work and we do it.
If there was a story to sum up this album what would it be?
Jeremy: Zoltan and I started recording the first record before there was even a band. There were basically a couple guys on that album before there was a whole team. On War Is the Answer, everyone was involved in every detail. That's the difference. We've grown and branched out. This album has everyone's individuality wrapped into one cohesive vision.
The core is now five guys. Jason [Hook, guitar] adds a lot too.
Jeremy: He absolutely did. We're thrilled to have him. He stepped up and added a lot of things that we knew he could. On The Way of the Fist, Zoltan had the music done, and Ivan came in with his lyrics and put them on in the end. On this album, everyone was involved right out of the gate.
There's a real cinematic sentiment to the album. If War is the Answer were a movie, what would it be?
Jeremy: That's a great question, man. I don't know, E.T. [Laughs]. What would you say Jason? We'll let you chime in on this.
Jeremy: War movies are all he cares about.
Jason: It would be the beginning of Platoon, the middle of Apocalypse Now and the end of Saving Private Ryan—but the director's cut.
That's a pretty violent movie!
Jeremy: Throw E.T. in there just for fun [Laughs].
It's a lot like Reservoir Dogs too because there are five different voices coming together in this one cacophony of emotion.
Jeremy: That's a good one! I can't disagree with you there. Let's add all of those together, and there's a good answer!
How has your drumming changed?
Jeremy: The first record had a really intense energy with lots of double bass everywhere. Once I got on the road and had to play it every night, my body was getting a little beat down. On this album, I tried to consciously let it breathe in a few spots. There is still lots of double bass. However, I didn't want it to constantly be like machine gun fire throughout the whole song. Physically, I almost need a walker now after the first two tours [Laughs].
The jump from The Way of the Fist to War is the Answer is massive. It's similar to Pantera's transition from Cowboys from Hell to Vulgar Display of Power.
Jeremy: That's great, man. It's kind of what we talked about. We thought it'd be really important for us to make Finger Death Punch's Vulgar right now. I'm not comparing War is the Answer to Vulgar at all, but we wanted to make our version.
Exactly, this is that big, important second record.
Jeremy: It's everything. People are asking, "Who is this band that came out of nowhere? Let's see what they've got the second time around." It was important for us to step up and make the best record that we could.
"Walk Away" shows everything you're capable of.
Jeremy: When the music was first finished for that song, we were excited about it. We knew there was something special about that song. A lot of people are gravitating towards it. I'm excited about departures. I don't want to make the same records. I like variety. Anytime we can push the envelope, I'm all about it.