While in Paris to promote the latest Five Finger Death Punch album and the forthcoming one set to be released in the next few months, RockUrLife had the opportunity to meet the drummer of the extremely talented and already established metal band, Jeremy Spencer, who was all smile and in a very good mood!
First, how are you?
Jeremy Spencer (drums) : I’m doing great! Kind of adjusting to the time difference and the jet lag but I feel good today.
Your last album is called “The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell, Volume 1”. What’s the story behind this title?
J : What a nice title isn’t it? (laugh) Ivan, the singer, came up with the title. He was writing this song on the Volume 1 called “Wrong Side Of Heaven” in which you can find the lyrics “I’m on the wrong side of heaven and the righteous side of hell”. We decided to take some inspiration from that because we thought that would sound cool. So, that’s an Ivan lyric thing, he definitely writes what he’s feeling at the time.
Let’s now talk about “Lift Me Up”. Why did this end up being your first choice for a single?
J : It just had a good energetic up tempo feel and it was a good way to get things rolling, to say that we were back. Having Rob Halford was a great bonus because we’re huge fans of Judas Priest and he added a eighties rock metal feel to it and everyone was like “dude, how cool would it be if you could get Rob to sing on this!”. So we got in touch with him and we made him listen to the track and he really digged it so he flew to our studio as we were recording, he did his vocal part and it was awesome. He’s a really cool guy, very humble, and it turned out so good we were telling to ourselves “this is it.”
You’ve worked with a few high-profile musicians such as Rob Halford, Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed or even recorded a cover of a LL Cool J song. Is there anyone else you’d like to work with that you haven’t yet?
J : Talking about LL Cool J, we decided to cover his song with a rapper called Tech n9ne who did an excellent job. I’d certainly would love to work with James Hetfield from Metallica. I’d like to tour with them at least! (laugh) There’s lot of people. Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden… that might be rad too. I don’t know if it’s ever going to happen but we can always wish, right? (laugh)
Considering the fact that “American Capitalist” was such a success and so critically respected, was there a lot of pressure after this album?
J : You know what, not really. Anytime we were inspired to come up with music or be creative, we just started documenting our ideas and we came off this last summer, we had a handful of ideas ready to go and it took some pressure off. We started recording as we had some stuff ready to go and then when we got to the studio, things just started flowing really well. We’ve gotten this really creative output process. We got about 24 or 25 songs, and we were like “what songs are we going to take off?!”. We didn’t want to take any of the songs off because we thought they sounded so good, so we decided to release two albums!
You’ll be opening for Avenged Sevenfold in Paris in November. How did you come up being chosen as an opening act?
J : I think it was the management. We’ve known these guys for a while, we’re huge fans of their band and they’re certainly more established here so it’s a great opportunity for us to get in front of some of their fans and maybe introduce them to Five Finger Death Punch because they may have never heard of us. We’re happy about the opportunity and very excited about it but we’ll try to come back next year and do a headlining tour as well. Things are looking busy for us!
What do you expect from the French audience?
J : I think a lot of people, at least from what I’ve seen online, are excited to see us because they have never seen us so there’s an anticipation and that’s very cool. I hope people will have a lot of energy and that we will have a great time. Hopefully there will be a great moshpit!
“The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell, Volume 2” is set to be released a few days before your show with Avenged Sevenfold. Do you already have an idea about the setlist you will play? Are you going to play some new songs from this new album?
J : Yeah we will! I don’t know for sure which ones but we’ll definitiely play songs out of our Volume 1 and Volume 2. We’ll probably add some songs from both new records. We’ll just try to make it well-balanced and make it a great introduction to Five Finger Death Punch for the fans.
“Battle Born”, “The Agony Of Regret” and “Cold” are a bit slower than the previous songs, almost like ballads, just like in the first volume. Was is intentional to create a kind of dynamic wave between aggressive songs and slower songs within the album?
J : Yeah, we wanted to take the listener to a journey. We didn’t want to make ten songs that sound the same, it gets boring for the audience and for us. So we basically wrote what we were feeling at the time, sometimes it’s a slow piece of music, sometimes it’s brutal, we just do what we do. At the end of the day, when the music is done, we want it to make it as well-balanced as we can.
Let’s move on to another song now, “Cold”, a very different and really beautiful track, in which we can hear piano and violons. Do you like using instruments that many metal bands don’t usually use?
J : Thanks for the nice words! We don’t really think like that, but we like piano, we like strings, so sometimes when we feel like using these instruments, we do what we want to do.
Now let’s talk about the last song in the Volume 2, which is a cover of the famous “House Of The Rising Sun” song. How did you come up with this idea?
J : That was Ivan’s idea. He’s been a fan of that song ever since he was a kid and we thought “that’s an interesting choice… why don’t we see what we can do with it and maybe give it a little Death Punch makeover?” The original song has this 60s signature with this folk feel to it and we wanted to change that. I feel like it turned out to be one of the most interesting songs on the record, I’m really proud of it.
What song would you consider to be your favorite from this record and why?
J : “Here To Die”, which is the first song on the album. It has this good up tempo, it’s a good way to get things started, I really like it. I’m sure I’ll get tired of this one and get another one to be my favourite but right now it’s my favourite. (laugh)
If you could show one song off the album to a brand new listener, which one would it be and why?
J : I would probably pick “Here To Die”, definitely. I just think it represents everything, it’s heavy, it has a cool groove, it’s kind of up tempo, it has a good melodic chorus, I think it represents what Five Finger Death Punch is about.
What adjectives best summarize the new album?
J : I would say: focused, energetic, well-rounded… arhhh this is tough… I would probably say those pretty much represent the album.
What are your band’s plans for the rest of the year?
J : We’re here doing a press tour for the rest of the week, and then we go home doing a US headlining tour. We come back and do the tour with Avenged, and then Volume 2 gets released, we go home for a lil of a break for a couple of weeks and then it’s going to be pretty much touring for the rest of the next year. We’re coming back here to do a headlining tour, I don’t have the dates yet but you’ll have it soon enough.
Let’s talk about you. In 2012, your were named Golden God’s “Best Drummer” by Revolver Magazine. Are you happy with where you are now or do you still have goals to achieve as a drummer?
J : How the hell did this happen? (laugh) I’m definitely happy but you always try to strive for more. I’m pushing myself with every release, I try to do things that I have never really done with the previous albums. I’m certainly grateful that I won the award just to be even brought up at the same category as the rest of all those drummers, that’s a real honour and I was really surprised. It’s very humbling. Anytime you get recognised for something that you love to do, that’s awesome so I’m very happy it happened.
Do you have favourite drummers?
J : For sure! I remember hearing the “Master Of Puppets” by Metallica when I was younger and I really loved Lars Ulrich’s drumming style. I thought “Wow this is cool!” and I started listening to all those bands that had double pedal like Slayer, Dave Lombardo was a big influence. Anthrax too. There weren’t so many drummers at the time that were incredible beasts at drums, but these are the guys that got me started. I’m talking about metal bands but I like all styles of drumming though, I like jazz, Buddy Rich was a great drummer. If you were talking about hardrock drummers, then maybe even like Dave Grohl from Nirvana who’s in Foo Fighters now. What a great drummer…
Who was the drummer who inspired you to become a drummer too?
J : At first, I think I got a KISS record when I was about 6 years old. I remember starring at the album cover seeing their faces painted and you could see on the gatefold the drumkit on the elevator riser and I thought “THAT looks really cool! I want to do THAT!”. I was really young and I wanted to do it :laughs: KISS kind of got me started in music. We got to play a couple shows with them during the summer, dreams come true! We got to play our shows for thousands of people, then we got to be on the side of the stage watching KISS, so that was cool.
Some bands have been accused of exploiting their fans for making them pay to meet them with Golden Tickets or VIP Packages that cost hundreds of dollars. How do you feel about this system?
J : I think it depends on what it is. We have a new VIP package coming for our upcoming headlining tour, some may consider that it’s pretty expensive but what you get is pretty cool. You get a gold plaque with 3 gold albums in it, you get a guitar and you get a chance to win a motorbike signed by the band and you get to hang out with us for several hours so it’s a pretty cool package. We’re not trying to exploit fans, we do things in a certain way. We’ve done three meet and greets out of different packages for different levels, prices and stuff like that. Moreover we try to stay in touch with our fans as much as possible online to connect with them in a way in a lot of other bands don’t. We’re into socialnetworking and we try to answer to as many questions as we can. We’re certainly grateful for our fanbase because they’ve been with us since day 1. Even when we weren’t signed yet, we used to put our songs on MySpace and people were supportive even before we got our first record deal… They’re great.
Have you ever had any doubts about dedicating your life to music?
J : Sure. There’s a lot of ups and downs and trials, sometimes you think things will work out but it doesn’t, you tell yourself “It’s never going to happen.”, and sometimes it does, you get a record deal, you go on great tours… but there’s so many years of preparation, going to make it along other bands. Now things are going great for us so we’re grateful for where we are, we don’t want to take anything for granted. It’s tough to sell records, because people can steal music these days, you just go online and download. We’re very fortunate that our three albums are gold in America in a age where people don’t have to buy legally to have a Five Finger Death Punch record.
Talking about illegal download, what can people do to help bands in their careers?
J : Definitely buying CDs first. It’s our livelihood. Coming to shows, buying T-shirts at those shows too, just all the normal stuff. It’s helpful and we’re certainly grateful for the people who do that, because we know they don’t have to spend their money on us, there’s soooo many bands out there trying to do the same thing. We consider ourselves lucky and very fortunate.
We met a couple of bands and many of them told us that the best way to help bands is going to concerts because most of the money comes from touring.
J : It’s different for all the bands. Some have record deals that allow them to make money out of record sales, some don’t, and some need to play live. It just depends on the way the business side of their career is built.
Do you prefer recording or being on tour then?
J : I like them both! They’re different energies. We were in the studio for eight or nine months, making records so by the time it was over I was ready to get out and play live again because it’s about an exchange with the fans, they give you that energy and you give it back. It’s different of being cocooned up in a studio. Stop playing for months and when you finally can play shows again, you go crazy! Making records is necessary and fun for a while but when it’s month six, you’re over it and you just want to play live again… (laugh)
We see you’ve got a lot of tattoos. Can you tell us more about some of them? I heard you got or were about to get a back piece tattoo, is that true?
J : A back piece tattoo? I wasn’t, right now I’m probably good on tattoos. (laugh) I always liked horror movies so I got some zombies/monsters on my arm and I always liked japanese design so I got some japanese stuff too. Fire, masks… I just love the way they look more than anything else. There’s no deep meaning to any of my tattoos. Once I started I just couldn’t stop! (laugh) I try to make them look as good as I can and the artist did a really good job I think. I’m kind of good on tattoos… and I’m running out of space!
You still have your legs!
J : I started my legs and I don’t even continue, I’m done with tattoos… (laughs)
What’s your favourite one?
J : I like my neck tattoos, I’ve got a tattoo on each side of my neck. It was a little painful. You can definitely feel when the needle is on your skin…
What was the most painful tattoo you got?
J : Oh the fingers! I was like “dude, please hurry but make sure it looks good!”. The chest is painful as well, but it’s pretty much all painful. I’d like to say “Eh it doesn’t hurt at all!” like a boss but it’s not the case. (laugh)
Finally, our website is called “RockUrLife!”. What rocks your life Jeremy?
J : What rocks my life? Just being able to do what we do with Five Finger Death Punch, playing shows in front of thousands of people everyday and they sing the lyrics back… That’s huge, that’s a great feeling. Having people like what you do, and knowing that this is our job, and we do this everyday… so I’m very fortunate. That’s what rocks my life.
Thank you so much for your time!
J : Thanks to you guys!
Website : fivefingerdeathpunch.com