They play alongside musical legends, sometimes on stage in front of thousands of people, but you would be hard pressed to find people who know the names of session musicians.
Jason Hook Toronto-born lead guitarist for Five Finger Death Punch, explores the life he once lived in his film Hired Gun.
“When I first moved to the states, I took anything I can get. I had five bands at a time, did sessions during the day played on anybody’s demo record, you name it,” Hook said.
Those jobs included Alice Cooper, Hilary Duff and the Vince Neil Band.
“The more I did the more people recommended me, and that branched into those higher-profile gigs,” Hook said.
“Death Punch, I’m a band member. I left all that behind, but I still have stories and I still have friends today who are doing that,” Hook said. “We just compiled all of the best grit and put it together in a documentary and I really think it turned out great.”
The film belongs to Hook and director Fran Strine.
Hook is featured in the documentary alongside Quiet Riot/Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Rudy Sarzo, KISS and Alice Cooper drummer Eric Singer and many more who have appeared on stage with the greats, but may not be household names.
Strine was on tour with Five Finger Death Punch and expressed his interest in doing a full-length documentary. The two became partners on the project and are currently looking for distributors.
The most impactful story from Hired Gun in Hook’s opinion is that of longtime drummer for Billy Joel, Liberty DeVitto.
“He was in Billy Joel’s band for 30 years and got fired. He devoted his whole life to Billy and wound up as an old man basically out of work,” Hook said. “It’s shocking, sad, scary and it’s an eye-opener.”
As a band member, Hook feels fortunate, he is able to spread his wings a bit more returning to the creative side.
“A large part of my brain needs to be creative and when you’re hired to play your instrument there’s no need for your creativity,” Hook said. “You’re basically just delivering music that somebody else wrote. That always frustrated me, I always considered myself an artist.”
“I couldn’t be done with that fast enough. The fact that I took a chance on leaving that for Five Finger Death Punch, and that it thankfully has worked, what can you say, I’m very, very happy,” Hook continued.
It helps to tour with bands you get along with too.
“Let’s be honest, if you’re going to spend two or three months on tour with somebody, you kind of want to pick the people that you’re friends with,” Hook said. “It has to make a good evening of music for starters.”
The bands were brought to multiple Canadian cities on this tour after an online voting process to determine where the shows would be. They tried it in Europe and decided to do the same in Canada after a great response.
“It really does make sense, instead of us trying to look into the crystal ball and guess where people want us to go, which is traditionally how it works, let’s ask the people where they would like us to play,” Hook said, calling it an “extremely effective” way to tour.
The bands enjoy each others company, Hook said, calling Papa Roach down-to-earth people and Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx has become a good friend as well.
“It’s a real honour to share a stage with a legend like Nikki. We all loved Motley Crue and support his new band 100 per cent,” Hook said.
Five Finger Death Punch is half-done their latest album, Hook said, adding that making new music is his favourite thing to do.
The goal for the as-of-yet untitled follow up to 2015’s Got Your Six is to not repeat past successes.
“I think the goal is to deliberately not make a clone of the last record,” Hook said. “Certainly we want to include the style everyone expects but we also wanted to reserve a few tracks to allow ourselves to break outside the box a little bit. That’s when the fun begins.”
Five Finger Death Punch join Papa Roach at the South Okanagan Events Centre Sept. 10.
Check out arts and entertainment editor Dale Boyd’s Q&A with Papa Roach bassist Tobin Esperance.