Five Finger Death Punch Guitarist Talks New Album

(Gibson) Five Finger Death Punch guitarist Jason Hook is on top of the rock world. After all, not only is his band co-headlining the 2013 Mayhem Festival with Rob Zombie this summer, but the group is also releasing two albums this year: "The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell," Volumes 1 and 2.

How did the writing and recording process for "The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell" differ from how you went about creating your previous release, "American Capitalist?" We did a lot of preparation for this record.

I remember at the start of the "American Capitalist" record, we came off the road, and two weeks later, we were getting back together and trying to come up with the first song. I just remember thinking, "Hey, it would have been great if we could have done some preparation."

So, for this record, we started writing songs last year. We have a portable studio on the road, and we were deliberately trying to prepare in advance to have something to pick from when it came time to start working on the new album. It turns out that we had about 9 or 10 songs ready to go on day one. Those songs were recorded pretty quickly. Not completed, but the basic tracks were recorded, and then we just started writing more material, and before we knew it, we were at 20-something songs.

Tell me about the decision to release the album in two separate installments. The conversation turned to, "What should we do? Should we whittle this down to 12 songs?" We're getting better at making records, so now, we're kind of looking at all this material and saying, "I like all of it! I don't think there is any weaker half of the batch." We thought, "Well, let's release all of it. Let's make two records." So, that's what we did.

What should we expect from Volume 2 of this release, and how does it fit with Volume 1? That's a good question, because Death Punch have two kinds of distinct flavors. There's the really brutal, heavy metal, face-peeler stuff, which I like. And then there's the more aggressive, melodic blend, like "Coming Down" or "Bad Company."

We certainly could have made two different records, and the title would have made sense, meaning one record being the brutal record and the other record being the more melodic record. But, we decided against that, and what we ended up doing was spreading the material out evenly across both records so that it wasn't black and white, night and day.

We decided to shuffle the songs equally so both albums had the same potency. We didn't want one record to outshine the other or to have one record be heavy and one record be soft. We wanted it to be one evenly spread out, potent package. We wanted it be one consistently spread out group of songs.

You have some cool guest appearances on this album, including Rob Halford on the single, "Lift Me Up." He's such an awesome guy. I still get a little nervous when a living legend walks in the room, and you're like, "He's Rob Halford!" What happened was "Lift Me Up" was a song I had started and one of my ideas. I brought it to the band, and everybody liked the song, and someone mentioned that it sounds like an old Judas Priest song.

They were like, "I wonder if we could get Rob Halford to do guest vocals? That would be cool!" We're kind of at the level now where we've sold some records and we have some plaques, and we're kind of doing stuff that's fun again. Just whatever we want to do. Kind of like when you do it the first time: You're not thinking of business or record deals. So, we sent him the track. Turned out he loved it. He thinks, "It's a hit," and he wants to come to Las Vegas and sing the second verse. So, we were all thrilled. More of the interview.

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