The Way of the Fist is Serendipitous: FFDP's Jeremy Spencer talks to Metal as Fuck.

The fact that a lot of amazing things have "just happened" for US groove-metallers Five Finger Death Punch doesn't mean that there hasn't also been a shitload of hard work behind the scenes. In four years, these guys have come to the world's attention. Drummer Jeremy Spencer talks to MaF about FFDP's rise to fame, their forthcoming album, and much more.


When Five Finger Death Punch released their debut album, the Way of the Fist, they experienced a sudden thrusting into the spotlight. Their released raced up their local charts, it got a lot of media attention, and they gained a shitload of fans. And all of this just two years after FFDP itself came into the world. 


The band had written and recorded the album on its own, before they'd even gained a record deal of any kind. It happened because they wanted to make music that they wanted to make, and had gotten together to make an album that they were all very proud of - they were all very focused on the way they wanted it to sound, and weren't thinking about chasing the popularity trail. Maybe there really is something to the notion of not trying too hard.


After FFDP put a couple of their recorded tracks up on MySpace, the band started to generate a lot of attention from even more people. Pretty soon, it caught the ear of the people at what is now their record label: Firm Music. 


'They came down and saw a live show, and then set up a showcase for us and signed us,' Jeremy recalled. 'And then they agreed to put out the record as it was. So they put it out and we started the Family Values tour with Korn, and off we went!'


While these guys had been working hard for a couple of years before their debut was picked up and put out, the whole process of signing, showcase, release, touring, was a bit of a whirlwind for them all. 


'Once it started taking off, it was just an incredible feeling,' Spencer said.


The important thing to note here is that while a lot of what happened to push FFDP out even further into the public appears to be serendipitous because they didn't actively chase labels. 


'We never really pursued that,' reflected Spencer. 'It all kinda happened fast, once we had the record in our hands. But we never really played that game of shopping into labels.'


The reaction that people had with The Way of the Fist says a lot for the way that the band works. Unlike a lot of bands that tend to have a defined method of working, Five Finger Death Punch tend to shift and change how they write their material, according to how they feel is the best way of working. The only thing that is really constant is that the music is written first.


'Basically the last thing written is when Ivan puts his vocals on it,' Spencer explained. 'So we pretty much create the music, and then turn it over to Ivan, and he puts his magic on top of it,' he laughed, 'and it kinda is what it is.'


Having a strong online presence, and managing that presence well, has been crucial for the band. Much of the early attention that they gained was not, in fact, from live shows, but, as mentioned earlier, from the tracks they'd put on MySpace. 


But their view of the online space as important didn't stop when the band was signed. The FFDP website has dedicate fan spaces, and the band sees ongoing interaction with its fans as absolutely crucial to its ongoing success.


'A lot of people were wanting to know more about this band, and that's what caught the attention of the label and what not. But as far as us having a relationship with our fans, it's everything,' Spender emphasised. 'Because without them, you don't get to do what you get to do. We love interacting with fans, hanging out with them. We do a lot of radio promotions because it's very important. I mean, we wanna give back what we can because they're helping us out by being so supportive.'


Since releasing The Way of the Fist, FFDP have been touring really hard, and have played shows in their home country that have featured some amazing acts. I asked Jeremy whether he could possibly pick one show out as the best. It turned out that it was one that these guys played in the rain. 


'You know what, it was kind of a strange show,' Jeremy said. 'It was in Albuquerque  in New Mexico, and I think we were about two songs in and it started pouring rain. And it was raining so hard that it was raining in and on the stage, and on our instruments - because it was an outside festival. There was, like, water filling up my kick drum and finally we were like "man, are they gonna stop this thing?", because we thought we were gonna get, like, electrocuted,' he laughed. 'It was crazy, the crowd was insane. It was a really fun day. That was probably one of my favourite shows, for sure.'


Earlier this year, the guys hit the UK and Europe for the first time. This is partly because The Way of the Fist only just came out in January 09 in Europe, even though it had been out in the US since July 07. So, while the band was anxious to get over there and play, they were also wondering what the crowds' reactions would be like to them and to the material.


'That's because the record hadn't been out very long, but we were very surprised,' Jeremy told me. 'I mean, people knew who we were. Certainly the web is amazing for that - people can dial in, in any part of the world, and listen in. So until we were there, we were wondering what that would be like. But I mean, the response was great, man,' he enthused. 'We played some small shows and some big shows with Lamb of God over there. We were well received, it was great.'


When I spoke with Jeremy, FFDP had nearly finished recording their follow up release, having gone into the studio in April this year. But even though they'd gone into the studio not long after getting back from Europe, they haven't been playing their new material live.


'We were just focusing on the shows we were doing here in the States. We just wanted to do that tour, introduce that to people, then come back and focus on a new record. Now we're gonna start playing new material from here on out,' he explained. 'We really haven't played any new material. Yet. Live.'


The forthcoming material, according to Spencer, is definitely not going to be the same as The Way of the Fist. At the same time, there was no preconceived plan - what the band produced was what just happened to come out at the time. The result is the forthcoming War is the Answer


'I feel, honestly, that it's a much more mature Death Punch. I don't know what that means, necessarily,' Jeremy laughed, 'but it sounds like we've grown to me.'


The upcoming Australian tour that Five Finger Death Punch will be embarking on, has, like a lot of their other tours and opportunities, just kind of happened for them. It's a big achievement to get this far in four years, especially when many other bands don't make it this far in fifteen or twenty. 


'It just kinda worked out the way it did,' Spencer explained. 'I mean, we're very excited. We always wanted to play everywhere! I mean, we wanna play any place that'll have us, so I guess the timing's right before our new headlining tour here in America.'


The set list that fans can look forward to will include a couple of new tracks from FFDP's forthcoming album, and potentially all of The Way of the Fist


Five Finger Death Punch's sophomore release War is the Answer is tentatively due out late northern summer or early northern autumn, on Firm Music.