Interview with Five Finger Death Punch drummer Jeremy Spencer

- Feb 04, 2009 at 12:07PM
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Five Finger Death Punch rose to the forefront of the metal music scene in 2006 with their debut album The Way of the Fist. The five piece has since toured relentlessly, including a spot on the “Bitch We Have a Problem” tour with Korn and Hellyeah, direct support for Disturbed’s “Indestructible” tour and the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. FFDP will begin the European “Defenders of the Faith II” tour on Friday, December 6th, 2008 and recently I was able to speak to drummer Jeremy Spencer about his touring experience, the bands’ plans for the future, and what it’s like to live on a bus for a year.

So tell me a little bit about how you guys got together.
Jeremy: Well, Zoltan was looking to put together a band, and I heard some of his demos and I was like, "wow, this is great!" so we agreed to get together in a room and jam and hash out ideas and basically we started tracking the record like a couple months later before we even had a band. And then we found Matt who was in a local band in LA, he stood out, and we were like, "man, we need to get that guy," so Matt came on board, and then Zoltan had known Ivan from his previous band, kept in contact with him, sent him the material and Ivan loved it and came down and auditioned for us and we were so blown away by what he did, we were like, "dude, cancel your plan ticket, you’re in the studio on Monday," so we basically held him hostage.

And it worked out for the best.
Jeremy: Oh ya, and then we added Darrell, basically after the record was done, we brought Darell in. We needed a second guitar player. We did add one of his songs to the record and that’s “White Knuckles.”

Oh okay, that’s a great song.
Jeremy: Thanks.

What are the advantages to having a band that is comprised of people with previous experience being in a band and touring and things like that?
Jeremy: Oh it’s excellent, because you know, you learn the dos and don’ts of every situation that you’re in. We’ve all been in lots of different bands, which we all enjoyed and learned a lot from but it wasn’t quite what we wanted to do, and this band we all kinda had... we wanted to make sure we had people in place that had the same vision. So we’re all doing what we want at this point and we’ve learned what to do and what not to do and we’re still learning and this thing’s building and building and growing, it’s awesome. So it certainly helps to have had some experience without question.

So you guys all have a pretty good chemistry?
Jeremy: Ya, you know, well it’s weird because we really weren’t friends when this started. It was more of like a business partner thing, "this is the vision, this is what we’re gonna do if you’re into it," and everyone kind of signed on and we were thrown together on tour in a bus and we learned how to know each other and be around each other and became really good friends, so that’s kind of how that worked out.

Well that’s great! So what is it like to live on a bus for a year?
Jeremy: Let me put it this way, I haven’t felt right since July of 2007. [laughs] I feel like I’m 75 years old, but other than that it’s awesome, I mean, it is a cramped space, you want to make sure that you have people around you who get along and respect each other, which is what we have. We’re like brothers and we fight too, it’s normal, but we have some of the best times ever just driving down the freeway in Texas at 4 in the morning jamming 80s music on the satellite. It’s awesome!

I can only imagine what goes on on those buses...
Jeremy: Well we have a lot of it documented. Some of it can be seen, some of it will never be seen, but the stuff that can be seen is pretty funny.

Tell me about how you came up with the name.
Jeremy: Well Zoltan, he saw that Kill Bill movie, where, whatever, she hits the guy and he takes five steps and his heart explodes, the five finger death punch. So when he presented it we thought, "man that’s so stupid it just might work," I mean really if you think about it all the good band names are taken and the music is what makes the name cool anyway so we’re like, "let’s do it, let’s go with it" and we’re stuck with it and it’s funny because the crowd’s always... "Five Finger Death Punch!"

Ya, I never made the connection between that and the movie, but that is cool. So you recently recorded a drum loop CD? Volume one is the double bass, what’s the status on volume two?
Jeremy: It’s done, I haven’t put together the art work or anything like that because I’ve been busy, but it’s mainly gonna focus on blast beats, which you know, a lot of death metal musicians will appreciate that because you can’t always find a drummer who can do it or a studio that will record it so now all you have to do is pop in the CD and click your mouse and you’ve got an instant drum track that’s done in their bedroom or studio.

That’s a good example of new technology.
Jeremy: Ya and the reason I made the CD is because there wasn’t really anything else out there like it and I thought, "ya know what, there needs to be something" because you get a lot of loop CDs and there’s like two loops that work for what you’re trying to do but there was never any metal ones out there so I’m like "I’m gonna create one that’s just the stupidest metal grooves I can come up with and I’ll give them like a thousand of them and they can find one that will work." And even some bands have used to record their record and everything, so I’m like, "wow, this is great, this is cool."

So is there a second album in the works for you guys?
Jeremy: Ya after we get off the road we’ll take a look at where we are with material we have a lot of it stockpiled and we’ll get in a room and create some fresh stuff and start recording it because we need to have it done before summer. Ya, I won’t have much time off we’re gonna be right back to work, but as soon as we get off it’s going to be phones off and rotting on the couch!

[laughs] Well, you need that, you guys have been really busy, touring like crazy.
Jeremy: Ya, without question.

I read that you guys do a cover of “Bad Company.” Is there any truth to that?
Jeremy: We do as a matter of fact. Ya we kind of threw everything away with that song and recreated it ourselves, I mean, we kept the lyrics obviously and some of the melody, but we kind of altered it and made it our own.

That’s cool, I have never heard of anyone covering that song before.
Jeremy: I’d never even heard it once, I’d never even listened it before we recorded it I was like, "I don’t care what they did, I’m just gonna make up what I want to do." So, and then I went back and obviously heard it after, and there’s some similarities, but it’s drastically different. You can see it on YouTube I’m sure there’s live clips of it.

So what’s your live show like?
Jeremy: It’s pretty intense, there’s a lot of interaction with the crowd, which helps because they’re rapid and they just want to knock each other around and have a good time and it really boosts our energy level because they’re participating and singing the songs back to us, sometimes louder than we play, and we’re going, "wow, this is cool," so we feed off each other, there’s a lot of energy, a lot of excitement, we have some cool lighting things that we brought out on this headlining tour. Finally because we’re headlining we have some production this time which is cool but we don’t mind playing at three in the afternoon on stage with no lights, I mean we did that all summer with Mayhem which was fine. But ya, the live show’s pretty intense.

Who inspired you to start playing?
Jeremy: As soon as I got my first KISS record when I was like six years old I was totally enthralled by staring at the album cover, I was like, "as far as I’m concerned I’m in KISS right now, I’m a member of KISS." So I’m not saying that he specifically influenced me, but it opened my eyes to a whole different world and then I discovered double bass drummers along the way and that total changed my life I just focused my life on double bass, double bass, double bass! So, but KISS was responsible for inspiring me.
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