Jason Hook by Anne Erickson Jason Hook knows how to make a killer, stuck-in-your-head rock song. After all, his band, Five Finger Death Punch, holds more than a dozen rock radio hits: “The Bleeding,” “Never Enough,” “Walk Away,” “Under and Over It,” “Remember Everything” and “Wash It All Away,”

Although Five Finger Death Punch's songs are guitar-heavy and have great riffs, Hook says that’s not what he’s thinking about when he first writes.

“We usually try to use a really great tempo or beat, something that’s really infectious or makes you want to move or get up,” Hook told me over the phone. “If your drums or rhythms aren’t great, then you’re already starting at a deficit. I often write music not thinking about the guitar parts but thinking about the drums. I always write and jam with our drummer Jeremy (Spencer), and if something is really exciting, we can tell right away, because of the groove or the beat, and that kind of gets you halfway there.”

Hook and the guys of Five Finger Death Punch are on the road much of this year in support of their latest album, Got Your Six. He spoke more with Gibson.com about his signature Jason Hook M-4 Sherman and why the loss of Prince hit him so hard.

You guys recently announced an arena tour with Shinedown, and you’re playing some shows with them now. What makes Five Finger Death Punch and Shinedown fit together on a bill?

Shinedown have been around for a very long time, and they have a massive following. We’ve been trying to package with them for a tour for a long time. I think it’s undeniable that they’re a really powerhouse at radio. They’ve done very well. I think that what we bring is that when people come to the concert, it really is about the songs. People want to hear music that they like and are familiar with, so at the end of the day, it’s to try to get people who have a catalog of well-known songs. Shinedown couldn’t be a better choice.

Five Finger Death Punch is known for having one rock radio hit after another. Why do you think you guys are consistently able to churn out popular tracks?

I think our songs come from a real place. It’s not fabricated. It’s very real for us. The lyrics are written by Ivan (Moody) our singer, and he’s bleeding onto the page. It’s not like he’s making stories up. He can only write songs and lyrics that he can relate to. I think those types of songs and stories set us aside. He doesn’t hold back. It’s all graphic and real, and I think that’s why it touches a nerve with the listening public.

Congratulations on the new album, “Got Your Six.” It’s so heavy but melodic-- just great stuff. What was your guitar approach to this album?

Thank you! The guitars are kind of icing on the cake. The most important thing to me entering into a new record is the songs. I think it’s nice to have guitar sounds or work that you’re happy with, but if it’s all on a bad song, I don’t think it will be heard. So, my first priority is, What are the songs? Do we have good songs that will resonate with people? From there, we complete the songs with as much good performance as we can extract. For me, personally, I do all the guitar work that I contribute from my home studio that I built a few years ago, so I can make it fit with my schedule. So that gives me the edge, as far as putting my time in and getting results.

Let’s talk guitars! It’s been a few years since you released the Jason Hook M-4 Sherman with Gibson. How is it performing?

I love it. I am very blessed to have been given that gift. Gibson are very selective about who they make signature guitars for. It’s still my absolute favorite guitar to play. When you design something that’s custom to all of your desires, it’s really hard to imagine playing anything else. This is your one shot to design something that fits perfectly with your specific needs. It’s a great instrument. It’s designed to have some modern playability in a classic design. I encourage anybody who likes Explorers to at least give it a try, because it’s built for speed. It’s a high-performance instrument.

Jason Hook by Anne Erickson

Is the M-4 Sherman your main guitar on the road, and did you use it on the new album?

Oh, yeah! I don’t even know how many M-4s I have but probably 20-something of them. A couple of them I’ve dedicated as my main, go-to ones.

What do you think makes Gibson stand above other brands?

I would say it is extreme quality. Gibson is an iconic brand, and I think it’s synonymous with extreme quality. I think it’s well-known that Gibson insists on top quality. If anything doesn’t meet the standards, it’s put back in the wood chipper. I’m a bit of an instrument snob. I like driving the Rolls-Royce of guitars. That makes me feel good. I love the instrument. I have several not only Explorers but Les Pauls and acoustics. They just seem to be better instruments than the other stuff I’ve tried. I think it’s just a very well-made, high-quality level instrument, and those things matter to me.

You use KRK Systems studio monitors in your home studio, right?

Yes! I think it’s a great rock monitor and studio monitor. They’re punchy and loud. I’ve tried many different speakers, and I find myself coming back to the KRKs because they sound right for the kind of music we’re doing. I like the way it sounds when I’m trying to get work done. They’re very good for rock. They have a very aggressive punch to them. There’s a clarity that I like.

What are your thoughts on the loss of Prince, who, of course, was a great guitarist?

Absolutely shocking and very sad. It’s a reminder that it doesn’t matter how talented or successful you are when something happens with your health. You can’t control that stuff. It’s really sad. To think of how old I am and how old he was when he died, I really reminds me that life is short and that nobody escapes that fate. It’s a just a question of when. He’s obviously an incredibly talented individual-- not just a great guitar player but piano player, and he played the drums and sang and did everything. It’s a great loss. It’s very sad, and he’ll be missed.

Thank you for chatting with me today, Jason! Is there anything you’d like to add?

I made a movie—it’s a documentary about musicians, and it took three years to make. It’s called “Hired Guns.” It’s out this fall. There are a ton of Gibson artists in the movie! You can find out more at www.hiredgunthefilm.com.

Photo credit: Anne Erickson