Somehow it’s fitting that a band like Five Finger Death Punch would make an album called “American Capitalist.”
After all, the original members weren’t friends before they signed on, only five musicians who shared similar musical tastes and like any good capitalists, red, white and blue dreams of success.
“It was more like we were business partners first,” drummer Jeremy Spencer explained in a recent phone interview. “It’s like here’s the vision of the band. There’s no compromise. This is kind of what we’re doing, and that’s how it all came about. Everyone was on board with that.
“We learned to become friends later when we started touring,” he said. “I mean, it was like ‘Hey, it’s nice to meet you’ when we were in a bus together.”
By that time, the band had released its debut CD, “The Way of the Fist.” Since then, two more albums (“War Is the Answer” and now “American Capitalist”) have been made, and Five Finger Death Punch has done a lot more touring. Along the way, there have been a few casualties. Spencer, guitarist Zoltan Bathory and singer Ivan Moody are the only remaining original band members.
The latest change came prior to the recording of “American Capitalist,” when bassist Matt Snell was replaced by Chris Kael in June. Guitarist Jason Hook (who in 2009 followed Caleb Bingham and Darrell Roberts into the lineup), is the other band member.
Spencer admitted that reaching this point has been a process.
“It’s tough. It’s trying,” he said. “We’re grown men.
We’re not 19 years old. Some of us are stubborn. It’s a five-way marriage, man. There are going to be good days and bad days. You learn what you like and don’t like about each other. You may be annoyed by the way somebody chews his cereal. When you’re in a tube together driving around the country, it starts wearing on you after awhile. But it always works itself out. The people that aren’t here anymore, I bless them. I love them. I’m friends with them and I wish them the best. It wasn’t a thing where it was the healthiest situation to stay the way it was going, so we made changes.”
The band started to come together when Spencer found an ad placed online by Bathory, who wanted to start a new band. After trading demos, they got together, found that they were on the same page musically and began finishing and recording the songs that would emerge on the first Five Finger Death Punch CD, 2007’s “The Way of the Fist.”
Soon the other original members were on board and Five Finger Death Punch was up and running – and touring.
The group got the attention of the record company Firm Music, and things have been moving steadily forward ever since.
The band members have made no secret of wanting success. In one interview, Bothery said he wants Five Finger Death Punch to be a band that proves a metal group can appeal to the masses.
Five Finger Death Punch is on its way to reaching that goal. With “American Capitalist,” the band will be trying for its third straight gold album. The fact that the group is headlining this summer’s “Trespass America” tour (which also includes such established bands as Killswitch Engage, Trivium and Emmure – is another sign that Five Finger Death Punch has come a long way in a fairly short time.
The back-to-back success of the first two CDs, in fact, has some predicting that this is the band’s moment, its time to connect with that mass audience it would like to reach.
And the music on “American Capitalist” would seem to have the right ingredients to reach large metal audience. While the music often verges on hardcore/extreme metal with furious songs like “Under and Over It,” “Menace” and “American Capitalist” that also feature Moody doing cookie monster vocals, they also come with far more melody than many of today’s more extreme metal acts. The big hooks in the Metallica-esque “Back for More” and “The Pride” makes such songs accessible, and the CD also includes a couple of anthemic ballads (the first single, “Coming Down” and “Remember Everything”) that could play on radio alongside the mainstream rock of bands like Nickleback or Puddle of Mudd.
Spencer isn’t getting caught up in the early hype, though.
“We’re not going to buy into any press clippings,” he said. “We’re just going to keep going, man, and make music that we like to make. And if it lands, awesome, and if it doesn’t, hey I’m still satisfied because I did what I wanted at the end of the day.”
Five Finger Death Punch is out to make a big impression on the “Trespass America” tour, bringing out a full stage production to accompany a set that will mix in songs from all three CDs in fairly equal number.
“The stage show itself is going to be something we hope people walk away from going ‘Wow, you have to see that,’” Spencer said “So we’re setting the bar pretty high this time.”