Jeremy Spencer Pounds Five Finger Death Punch
When it came time to start tracking American Capitalist, Death Punch was ecstatic to once again work with Churko. “He’s another member of the band, man,” Spencer gushes. “It’s an invaluable asset to have him on the team.” The group set up camp at Churko’s personal studio — The Hideout in Las Vegas. By this time, all the members of Death Punch had relocated to Sin City, making the recording experience a relaxed one — which is just how Spencer likes it. Who wants to be sequestered in some exotic locale for months anyway?
“I’d go in — just Kevin and I — bang my stuff out [to just a scratch guitar and click track] then go home and shut it out of my brain. I try not to live through it the whole time, because you tend to over-think things. I want it to be pleasurable. I don’t want it to take me over. I prefer just going in individually and being able to come home and be with my dogs on the couch after I’m done, you know?” Spencer considers this for a second before adding, “Though I wouldn’t oppose going to the Caribbean and making a record there for a few months. In fact, let’s try that next time!”
For American Capitalist, Spencer made a concerted effort to let his fists do their share of the talking. “On the first two records it was more about footwork,” he explains. “I incorporate a lot more toms on this one — even Rototoms! We were joking about how cool it would be to do one of those big Keith Moon–style tom fills and Kevin’s like, ‘I have more toms out in the garage.’ So I was like, ‘Cool — let’s set ’em up!’”
Look no further than the title track for evidence of this new approach, where Spencer delivers a tom-centric, face-melting finish. “There’s toms for days on those fills! It’s almost like a drum solo outro. It’s kind of an homage to Neil Peart — it’s something he would do in my opinion. It’s even got splash cymbals in there!”
The up-tempo “Under And Over It,” is teeming with high-pitched toms darting in and out of monster fills. Many of these are meticulously placed over the top of Spencer’s precision kick drum attack, engaging all four limbs in full-on shred mode. “That’s mostly being done for sonic purposes, for weight. I’m not doing it to impress people. It’s just really noticeable if that low end goes away during those fills. If you’re off even a little bit it starts flamming, so you have to be locked.”
“Back For More” is similarly brutal and anthemic, with a Tommy Lee–esque, four-on the-floor pounder of a groove giving way to chest-thumping sixteenths in the refrain. “Coming Down” has Spencer juggling eighths and sixteenths in the chorus in tricky fashion. “That’s a really challenging song. There’s a breakdown in the middle before the guitar solo that’s nasty — there are some bizarre fills going on.”
But the piano-laden “If I Fall,” may feature Spencer’s most difficult drumming to date. “There’s a lot of double bass chops underneath drum fills that are hard to execute on that one, man. I’m proud of it. There are some nasty, cool counter-rhythms going on and a really cool ride pattern in the solo. To me — if Ray Luzier heard that track I’d think he’d go, ‘Cool! Right on, bro!’”
In addition to committing the bevy of new tunes off American Capitalism to muscle memory, Spencer is hard at work writing an extended drum solo for the unprecedented number of headlining dates Death Punch has on tap. It’s something he’s done before, but not quite to this degree. “I’m going to target five to seven minutes for this one. You know, drum solos are usually the time when people go get beers — I like them, but not your average person really. I’m going to try and make it so they can’t leave.”
Armed with a new album brimming with cross-over potential, Five Finger Death Punch is poised to reach even loftier levels of rock stardom in the near future — which means Spencer’s dream of coaching football may be on the back burner for awhile. As a bit of a consolation prize, however, the aforementioned “Back For More” received the high honor of being featured on the soundtrack to Madden NFL 12 — the latest addition to the astronomically popular video game series that Spencer plays religiously at home and on the tour bus.
Just how excited was the NFL überfan about this bit of news? “I was totally stoked,” Spencer says, sounding like a six-year-old about to rock out in his Kiss make-up. “I was like, ‘We have an opportunity to do this? We have to make it happen.’” Now at least Spencer can virtually call the plays for his beloved Arizona Cardinals — all while soaking in the sounds of his own big-time rock band. Who says you can’t have your cake (and icing) and eat it too?