On June 12th 2017, we had the distinct pleasure of doing a video interview with the mighty Five Finger Death Punch. Does that date sound familiar? It was the day that Ivan Moody “quit” the band while on stage. The interview we did was before the now infamous show, and the mood backstage was already chaotic and strange. Nevertheless, we had a great talk with the ever positive Chris Kael.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today. How are things in your world?
Things are great! we’re just coming off download France, download UK, and we’re here today just plugging away man. It’s good to be back over here, big receptive crowds, it’s nice.
So a good time to be in a band?
Very much so. Is there really a bad time to be in a band? I’ve had real jobs, this is not one of them.
Well, there are bad times. You’ve had some recently with your record label.
Yes, well you know. They like to do some sort of a lawsuit thing.
Yeah, I was shocked to hear that.
It’s the music business you know, it’s one of these things that people want to do their own thing and people bump head. But that’s what you’ve got business people involved for, we just get involved in the rock & roll and playing live.
What exactly happened?
I don’t even know if I want to get in to it because there is a lawsuit. So I am not gonna get the hired gun bass player that said some shit to get the band into more trouble. So that’s not gonna happen.
Yeah, it’s a shitty deal.
I’m very Swedish in the sense of riding in the middle. Very neutral.
In your latest press release you said something like the new album will be released through prospect park so can we assume it’s all being dealt with?
Oh, yeah exactly. We are just going through the channels to make sure that everybody is happy and everybody got their hands on the damn pot. But we’ll get it all worked out.
So you’re actually working on a new album now?
The album is pretty much done. It’s in the hands of other to people to taking it out there for as far as I know.
What can we expect?
Jeremy has said it best in past interviews, if you’re a fan of 5 Finger Death Punch before you’ll still be a fan. And if you didn’t like us before then you’re probably still not gonna like us.
So it’s a little more on the same roan you’ve already traveled?
Well, I wouldn’t say that but we’re good at writing songs. Our craft is good song writing. And that allows us to go over here and play these huge things that we’re playing and have the following that we have. Without good quality songs and that affect that Ivan has on reaching people on a deep level you know, we’re good at that.
It’s really hard, I think, to describe your music.
I’ve heard it described as thrashy influences, and I've heard it described as radio rock, How would you describe it?
Both of those. I mean, you know. We’ve got element songs like “Here to Die” for instance. It’ starts off really thrashy but then it’s got that big chorus. We’ve got older songs like “Dying Breed” you know, that’s the same type of thing. Heavy with those big choruses that people can sing along to.
Sing along, that’s very important.
Very much so. Hell, over here you guys are even singing along to the guitar solos all the time. I love it, I love it. It’s great. Even… I forgot where we were, South America actually, and I’m familiar with other cultures, mainly Europe and America, singing along to the guitar solos, which is very unique to the area. But they were even singing along to the rhythm of “Under and Over it” and if anyone knows, it’s just “duh duh duhduduh, duh duh duh duh” and they were singing along to the rhythm of it.
That’s how you need to do it, right. Sing along with the guitars, do the drums.
Yup, yup. People are in to it, I love it.
So you have a full summer ahead of you, a lot of summer festivals and stuff like that.
Oh yeah. From here we are doing Graspop, we go to Hellfest, and from there I honestly can’t remember. It’s just been so hectic the last 2 months. Between South America, doing some beats in the states and then coming over here, it’s all a whirlwind. But there are worse problems I have than not being able to remember where the hell I am.
Graspop I will be front center, absolutely.
I can not wait, man. It’s gonna be good. All these festivals have been huge. Download this year, we;ve done download a few times since I've joined the band 6 years ago, and it just seemed like it was bigger than ever. The Europeans, you guys really know how to do festivals over here.
Metal is bigger than ever right now.
It really is, it’s crazy. Just when you think that things have gotten bigger than it possibly could, you go to the next show and it’s even bigger than that. So yeah.
I love it. Controlled chaos.
You recently also did Rock am Ring, where you there for the terror attack?
We were, yes. We were the last band that got to play a full set. I had actually gone back to the hotel which is right there kinda on site. I was gonna go take a shower and go see Rammstein. And I am in the room, listening to some decode orange probably, and I look on twitter and Sultan has posted a picture about an evacuation with video of people coming out. And I’m literally in a room with a balcony that looks out there and I'm like what the hell is going on, I didn’t hear anything about this, I thought he was joking. And then I look out and sure enough there is a full, steady stream of people leaving the festival. Now the thing that I do have to say about that is kudos for the German military, the German police, and the German fans. Because it was very organized, something that could have been absolute chaos, everybody reacted to it very well and I was surprised at how smooth everything was going.
Very organized people.
Very much so. It was indicated and organized filing out, I didn’t hear of any problems at all. Kudos for all you guys for keeping your head together. Someone else was like Chris Kael is putting out the propaganda that everything is cool. It was cool, it wasn’t bullshit. I was looking out the damn window, it was controlled.
If you hear something like that and you’re standing on an event like that. How does it hit you?
It sucks that you even have to think about that crap. You know, you go to rock & roll concerts to get away from the daily life and then have something like that happen, you know… But no one is gonna stop playing shows and I think it works out well because everybody is much more vigilant. Everybody is always looking for that. I don’t know if it’s a paranoia or if it’s just a vigilance but you have to aware of things. Life has certainly changed.
You have been in a hell of a lot of spotlight with this band. Your merchandise is everywhere, your music is even being played on the radio in America. Not so much here, it’s not so much metal orientated for some reason, I don’t know why.
That’s what we do those radio songs for. Get on the radio even if they don’t play metal.
It also means you have a lot of press. You recently had an incident with the press that wasn’t that cool.
Which one was that one? Me personally or someone else?
They said that the singer was leaving the band.
Oh, hmpf. You know, every time your name is in the press it’s a good thing. You’ve got people talking about it. I mean, stories happen all the time. We’re 5 very confident, strong headed dudes and tou’re gonna have budding heads all the time. But hell, I've quit the band twice since I joined it. You know, you get mad and start talking. Luckily mine didn’t make it to the press. Well, it has now.
Nah, I'm good, I'm good. I didn’t even quit I was just like Fuck this, I was so mad. But it was just one of those things where your budding heads. It’s like having 5 brothers out on the road.
You do need to fight sometimes.
Yeah, exactly. Get it out. Especially doing the aggressive type of music that we do. That’s our outlet, fighting among each other. It’s crazy though because as much as any fighting might be happening, anytime something from outside comes we all circle around each other and it’s one Five Finger Death Punch.
I think you need that as well for your creative inputs, your creative energy.
Oh yeah, I mean you hear about it all the time. bands fighting and trying to get something done. But that aggression kinda contributes to the creative process, oddly.
It can’t all be rainbows and puppies, right.
Very much so. Not in Five Finger Death Punch.
When you double released Dark Side of Heaven You were joined by many guests, how was it to work with those names?
Gosh. Any time, obviously when we did the record with Rob Halford it was just incredible, you know. And even past that, after that we did a tour in Europe with Judas Priest. And just to be able to hang out with Rob and actually get to know him, the dude is… Every single show that we played he would be on the side of the stage watching. Rob Halford, hanging out and enjoying the show. One of my favorite Rob Halford stories. We were doing a festival somewhere over there as part of one of the dates with Judas Priest and I walk into catering, Rob has got a piece of paper in front of him and he is circling stuff and I’m like “Hey Rob what’s going on over there?” Oh, I'm just mapping out the day, circling the bands I wanna see all day today. He’s been doing music so damn long, and I am the same way. Jason actually makes fun of me, he’ll wake up at 10 o’clock in the morning and be like “Where’s Kael?” Must be watching Corpse Christ in the parking lot today doing their greatest hits record at 10 o’clock in the morning in the parking lot. But that’s me going out and doing the same thing. So it’s cool to hang out with Rob and see someone that, you know… He doesn’t have to go see anything at all but he’s still into metal, still checking out new bands and I really look up to… I mean, with metal there is that community spirit you know. And it is lead right to the top and I've seen it first hand with Rob Halford and Judas Priest. So you should all be more like Rob.
We are born out of a community ourselves, our magazine, so I really know how important it is to have that connection to the people.
Oh yeah, for sure. You see me on the social networks as well, always reaching out to the fans.
I just saw you outside taking selfies with the people.
I’ve gotten very good at that because you have this person trying to figure out the phone. And i’m just like, my arms are long so let’s just do a selfie here, nice and easy. Smooths out the process and make sure that everybody in line gets a picture too.
I loved seeing you out there.
I do it all the time. I went out to see Code Orange in Milan, I walked out to the crowd and that’s the one thing as you’re trying to watch a band and getting crowded. And I'm like, after the bands done playing. I don’t want to be that guy out there “Oh, what’s Kael out there doing taking pictures with the damn crowd when were out and playing. So I am gonna watch the show too.
But I never turn away an autograph or a picture. I heard Ronnie James Dio say one time, well 2 things, one of them was “Sign every autograph, sign every picture, you’ll be famous forever. The other one was “You’ll never remember their name, you’ll never remember their face, but they’ll remember that one minute for the rest of their life.”. So I hold those statements close to my heart.
He was also an awesome guy, Dio.
Oh yeah! Again, one of those dudes like Rob Halford. Very approachable, into the metal, into the community. I am basically the guy that got lucky playing bass but this could’ve been anybody.
You’re a metal fan that got lucky to play in a band.
A hundred percent. I always say that I was a fan of metal before Death Punch and I will be a fan of metal long after Death Punch as well.
That’s the right way to do it.
One of my favorite memories of watching a show was when I saw Death playing at Dynamo festival and I saw the singer from Pantera in the sidelines rocking out to Chuck. It was awesome to see.
I got to see Death way back on like the Leprosy tour in Santa Ana in a place called Bogards. And actually I saw Monty Human and Paul from Cynic, that was playing with them. And he gave me a demo tape before the Cynic record came out. And it didn’t have all the keyboard vocals on it and all. Like heavy death metal vocal so that was very interesting.
Yes, exactly! I have no idea where it is though, it’s in a box somewhere. But I still have it.
You should definitely dig it up. Are there any artists out there that you would love to do a collaboration with?
I don’t know about collaborations because we’ve kinda done that thing. You know, we’ve worked with a bunch of different artists. I think of tours now. There’s a tour that we’re announcing. We’re doing this interview right now but we’re announcing it tomorrow, I don’t know when this interview comes out. But we have a brand new tour coming out with In Flames and we’re hitting all of Europe and going to the UK. That’s gonna be October / November, I don’t remember the dates exactly but it’s gonna be in the fall.
Any chance you’re coming back to Holland with that.
I would hope so. Lets see how you guys will do it here tonight, if we can get it going and get back in the area for sure.
I will be again front in center.
I will look for you and get you some great shots. Throwing shapes and mean mugs in the camera’s. I am very nice back here but very different on stage.
We are also just metal fans, so we’re always at the shows and also at the front, just rocking out.
That’s something people always ask, “What are you doing here at the show?” Uhh… Watching Rock and Roll! I did it before the band and now I do it for free.
Get on the guest list and going to shows now. That’s the best thing about being in a metal band, hahaha.
I think we’re almost done with our questions. So that leaves me one last question. Do you have any last words for our readers?
Any last words for the readers? I always like to say... Dream big, Take chances, Never settle. *Thumbs up*
That’s the best way to do it.
Exactly! It worked for me.
Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us.
I appreciate it man, thank you very much. And we’ll be back in the fall so everybody stay tuned. Us and In Flames and one other band that we have not announced yet but it is another big band the kids are gonna love and are friends of ours as well.
Transcription by Melissa Heesakkers