by MIKE CHAIKEN
Jason Hook’s gut reaction when asked why his band Five Finger Death Punch wanted to head out on the road with the Trespass America tour was simple.
“We get to headline, which is always nice,” said Jason, in a phone interview from Evansville, Ill.
And Five Finger Death Punch, which is touring behind its latest album “America Capitalist,” is headlining with a pretty impressive metal bill. Besides, Five Finger Death Punch, the tour sponsored by Metal Hammer magazine, also includes Massachusetts-own Killswitch Engage, Emmure, Trivium, Pop Evil, God Forbid, and Battlecross. The tour plays the Scion Festival Stage at the Comcast Theatre in Hartford on Wednesday, Aug. 15.
“We’re into doing stuff that’s new,” said Jason. He explained Metal Hammer, a U.K. metal magazine, is looking to increase its presence in the U.S. And Jason said the magazine invited Five Finger Death Punch to participate in the tour, which is a “cool thing… It’s an honor to be asked to headline.”
For Five Finger Death Punch, Jason said the tour is a reunion with some bands it has toured with in the past. God Forbid and Trivium both have opened for Five Finger Death Punch on other tours.
Additionally, Jason said many of the other bands on the bill are friends of Five Finger Death Punch. And this will be the first time they all have toured together.
Asked if he has taken the time to check out the other bands on the tour before Five Finger Death Punch goes on stage, Jason said, “I’ve been watching Killswitch a lot. I really dig the band. I am a fan of their records.” And, he said, Killswitch Engage has been helping him pump up the energy before he goes on stage with Death Punch.
With so many bands— young and energetic bands looking to headline someday— on the bill, Jason was asked if it helps sharpen up Five Finger Death Punch’s performance to ensure they put on their best show each night. “There’s no real competition (between the bands),” said Jason. And for Five Finger Death Punch, he said, “Our philosophy is always bring our A-game.”
For Trespass America, as headliners, Jason said the band will be playing a 90 minute set, “which is the longest show we’ve ever done.” For the set list, Jason said the band—which is also vocalist Ivan Moody, guitarist Zoltan Bathory, drummer Jeremy Spencer, and bassist Chris Kael— has added some new songs. Also, he said, “Jeremy has a drum solo, which is something new.”
As for the stage show itself, Jason was excited about what fans are going to see. “We have a half million dollar light and video rig, which s pretty over the top.”
The band’s ability to pull together the stage set for the tour is due to Metal Hammer’s sponsorship, said Jason. But even if Metal Hammer wasn’t involved, Jason said the band would have secured the set.
Jason said the band wants to have the reputation of being a visual act. And the set, said Jason, “is pretty spectacular.”
For Jason, the grand stage show makes sense given which bands he personally admires. He played in Alice Cooper’s band and is a long-time fan of that theatrical metal star. And he also grew up listening to Kiss, who are the kings of over the top stage shows.
“I understand the importance of a visually stimulating performance… to entertain the crowds,” said Jason.
Even how he approaches how he plays his instrument reflects his emphasis on stage craft, said Jason. You’ll never find Jason on stage, lost in thought, noodling over his guitar, as the fans only see the top of his head. He said he is far from a navel gazing guitarist. He said he puts on a show with his guitar in hand.
In press materials, Five Finger Death Punch makes a point of declaring itself a people’s band. “Music is designed to transmit a feeling,” explained Jason in his interview. When you create a record, you want the listener to feel something. If the listener feels something and the song resonates with the listener, that’s the essence of what makes a band popular. If a band is able to transmit a positive feeling about its music, and the listener feels something positive about the music, that helps the band build on its success. So it’s a win-win situation.
Jason said Five Finger Death Punch tries to keep on the cutting edge of technology. In today’s fast moving technological world, Jason said Five Finger Death Punch recognizes that people are consuming things at a much faster rate than ever before. These days, he said, if you miss your favorite band’s show the night before, in all likelihood someone has posted the entire show on YouTube the next day. And it’s a high quality video.
So, the band tries to keep the cycle between albums down to less than 18 months to feed the needs of the fans.. Thus, he said, the band is already making plans for its fourth album to follow up “American Capitalist.”
Trespass America, with Five Finger Death Punch, comes to the Scion Festival Stage at the Comcast Theatre in Hartford on Wednesday, Aug. 15 at 5 p.m. For more information, go to TrespassAmerica.com or FiveFinger DeathPunch.com.
by MIKE CHAIKEN