It’s good to be the headliner. Just ask the members of Los Angeles metal quintet Five Finger Death Punch.
Since 2008, the band has been a frequent guest in the Capital Region, first at clubs such as the former Northern Lights and the now defunct Revolution Hall, and then last summer second-billed to Godsmack at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
Now, the band is headlining what is arguably its biggest tour yet, the first Trespass America Festival, with fellow up-and-coming metal acts Killswitch Engage, Trivium, Pop Evil, Emmure, God Forbid and Battlecross. The festival, sponsored by Metal Hammer magazine, heads to the Glens Falls Civic Center on Wednesday night.
“I’ve lived on both ends of the bill, and there really isn’t anything better than headlining,” Five Finger Death Punch guitarist Jason Hook said recently from a tour stop in Belton, Texas. “We always envisioned the band in a headlining spot, so the fact that we’re here is sort of validating where we all thought we’d be in the band.”
Trespass America Festival
With: Five Finger Death Punch, Killswitch Engage, Trivium, Pop Evil, Emmure, God Forbid and Battlecross
When: 5 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Glens Falls Civic Center, 1 Civic Center Plaza, Glens Falls
How Much: $40, $36
More Info: (855) 432-2849, www.glensfallscc.com
So far, band members — Hook, vocalist Ivan Moody, guitarist Zoltan Bathory, new bassist Chris Kael and drummer Jeremy Spencer — have been enjoying the tour, and not just because they’re headlining.
“All the guys in the other groups are pretty much friends of ours — we’ve all either toured together or played festivals together,” Hook said. “It’s a pretty easygoing backstage environment. We had a couple birthdays last night, so [the atmosphere] sort of helps me get warmed up. Killswitch is on right before us, and I like that band so much that I usually watch them play.”
It’s been a quick rise to the top for the band since its formation in 2005 by former U.P.O. bassist Bathory and Spencer. The band’s mix of chunky guitar riffs, dense melody and Moody’s guttural growls has evolved over the course of three studio albums.
Last year’s “American Capitalist” has already spawned three singles, including two that reached the Top 5 on Billboard’s Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks. The new songs find the band utilizing melody more than ever on such tracks as the third single and suicide lament “Coming Down,” while also featuring some of the band’s heaviest riffs on the title track and first single “Under and Over It.”
This is Hook’s second album with the band, and the experience recording was much easier than the previous album, 2009’s “War is the Answer.” Hook, who is known for touring work with such disparate artists as Alice Cooper and Mandy Moore, replaced original lead guitarist Darrell Roberts in January of 2009, toward the end of touring behind the group’s first album “The Way of the Fist.”
“When we did ‘War is the Answer,’ I wasn’t living in the same town as Zol or Jeremy; I had packed up and was living with them in Las Vegas for a few months,” Hook said. “Since then I’ve bought a place in Vegas and moved there myself, so now it’s a little easier for everybody to have their own environment to work out of, as well as making getting together easier.”
The band shook up its lineup once more on “American Capitalist” because of the departure of original bassist Matt Snell in December of 2010. Kael has been an immediate fit with the rest of the band, according to Hook.
“When you’re trying to put a team together, all the corners have to be at the same strength,” Hook said. “It’s true when they say that you’re only as strong as your weakest link, and in a situation like this where you can invite anybody into your organization you want, you’re looking for somebody to enhance the team more than what you had. We got lucky; [Kael] covers all the duties we were looking for, which is pretty fortunate, and we all like the guy a lot — he’s a funny character.”
The band worked out much of the new material while on tour, which helped to keep creative juices flowing once they hit the studio with producer Kevin Churko, who also worked on “War is the Answer.”
“I kind of liken it to working out at the gym — you can’t just expect to be in shape if you work out in December and then take the rest of the year off; the muscles get limp,” Hook said.
“Our philosophy has always been to keep the creative muscle tight, so we’re working on material every day, regardless of whether we come up with something usable or not. If you expect to find diamonds, you must go into the mine and chip away at the rock. If you don’t chip away, you’ll never find a diamond.”
Thematically, the album and its title deal with the mentality of successful people throughout history, rather than being a commentary on capitalism itself.
“Successful people, if you track their history — these people aren’t just lined up with money,” Hook said. “We were interested in what makes up those types of people; that to me is inspiring and exciting. We’re saying it like that — analyze what your situation is.”
Trespass America runs through the end of August, and the band will be part of the rock cruise ShipRocked 2012 in November, alongside Godsmack, Korn and other groups. Even still, a fourth album may not be too far off.
“We’ll probably start with a few months of writing, preparing songs to see if we have what we need, and as soon as we have that, we will start getting involved with tracking and recording with Kevin again,” Hook said.