Now that your band, Five Finger Death Punch has all but conquered the world, how would you describe the rise of the band and what is your favorite part?
To sound a bit cliche, it has been a dream come true. When you're growing up you always want to find success, but never really know if you're going to make it or not. There are a lot of new sensations that come for the first time -- we pay close attention to our records. If people don't like the records it's hard to build the other areas -- to me it's everything. My favorite part has been making the leap up to arena headliner — for me that signifies the top.
Your latest album entitled American Capitalist is grabbing a lot of attention. How did you view the process of recording that album and how was it working with famed producer Kevin Churko?
American Capitalist was a tricky album to make. Personally, I was in a horrible place. I had just moved to Las Vegas and was essentially homeless. I had purchased a house that was supposed to become available before we started recording, but ended up taking 7 months to build. All my recording gear was in storage and I was writing songs out of some shitty one bedroom apt that I was renting temporarily. The drive to Kevin's old studio was an hour each way and by the time I got there to work there was always some dramatic issue that I got pulled into. It was a tough one. I'll give it to Kevin though as much as we rake him over the coals, he keeps it together mentally. We're a tough camp -- no question!
You also have some critically acclaimed solo projects. Any new solo material we can look forward to?
I have a second solo album that has been done now for about five years (laugh). I always think I have a gap of time to polish it up and release it, then poof we're back in Five Finger Death Punch mode. We never have a second to do much else!
With all the shows you've played, do you have one that sticks out that was crazier than all the rest?
I liked the Download (UK) Festival a lot -- 100,000 people -- and just chaos! To me, bigger is always better!
What is your favorite and least favorite thing about touring?
When it's over! I have a love/hate relationship with touring. The best part is playing the show, but that's only an hour and a half each day. The other time is spent waiting to play again. Last year I built a portable studio to get some work done during the day. I start to feel guilty when I sit around too much!
Gibson recently introduced your signature Explorer guitar, the Jason Hook M-4 Sherman model. How did that partnership come about and what was it like working with Gibson to design this guitar?
I have been playing Gibson for a very long time now. I patiently and consistently dropped little hints to them about my idea for the M4-Sherman, eventually it reached the CEO Henry and he loved the idea. It went very quickly from there. They are in to visionaries -- real players with unique ideas. They agreed to every single detail I wanted on the guitar, including the olive green case.
We asked our Facebook fans if they had any questions for you and received some good responses. Jon asks, what's your opinion on Gibson's approach to renewable resource fretboards? Is there really a tonal difference compared to rosewood?
Hey Jon, here's my honest answer: I commend Gibson for perusing an environmentally friendly, alternative fretboard material. I tried out what they have called the Richlite fretboard and was impressed. Having said that, I still went with a dense wood called Grenadillo on my guitar. It's very hard and smooth -- and sounds good.
A lot of people would like to know how you get your sound. Do you have a special signal path you like to use?
Effects, dynamics, amplifiers, etc… Marshall JCM 800 with a Boss Super Over Drive and a TC electronic Flashback delay set to dynamic / one repeat only. That's it -- that's my lead sound.
Does Five Finger Death Punch have big plans for this summer? Any major shows/tours planned?
Yes. We're co-headlining the MAYHEM fest this summer with Rob Zombie. It's hands down the best summer tour out there, and I highly recommend that everyone come out for the day. It's really a great day of sun, fun and music!
Here at American Musical Supply, we have a lot of great customers who aspire to one day become professional musicians. Do you have any words of advice for them?
Practice Practice Practice. Don't aim to be good … aim to be AWESOME! Role model people that have what you want. Be picky -- oh, and always practice using a metronome!