Once in a while a book comes along and you can't put the damn thing down. For me, that recent book was the tell all from Five Finger Death Punch co-founder and drummer Jeremy Spencer. Moving along the path that was his life gave me a new found appreciation for him and his contributions to the rock world and as a human being - he shed all of his skin and left himself raw and exposed and ready for the world... just as he was for our interview - what a humble and cool individual. This is hands down one of the best interviews I ever did, due to the human side of this piece... I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed chatting with Jeremy hours before he took to the stage in Plymouth, MI.
Toddstar: We've got Jeremy Spencer from Five Finger Death Punch and recent author of Death Punch'd: Five Finger Death Punch's Metal Mayhem. Jeremy, thank you for taking time out of your schedule for us today.
Jeremy: Of course. Thanks.
Toddstar: Let's talk about the book. This book was amazing read from front to back. I like the fact that you took a little bit of the past and brought it current, then went back to the past. Was there a thought process behind that?
Jeremy: That was actually suggested by the publisher. I've read a lot of these rock books and a lot of people just start at the beginning and then go all the way to the end in chronological order. We thought, let's try something different. Let's tie it all together and keep it interesting. Let's not do the same thing that we've read a million times. That's why we tried to do that.
Toddstar: Sure. Why now? What made this point in time, this point in your life, the pivotal time to drop a book like this?
Jeremy: It really wasn't going to be a book. I got out of rehab a couple years ago and I was just feeling raw and exposed and wanting to maybe process some stuff that I'd never really dealt with so I just kind of started writing everything that I could remember about my life from the beginning on. I did kind of write it in chronological order. Any time I'd have down time like on tour or something, I'd just start writing. Once I collected a large body of words I was like, some of this stuff's kind of funny and interesting and sad so I sent it over to my dad. He's written some stuff and I trust his opinion. I was like, what do you think about this? He said, I actually think that you have some stuff here that might be a benefit to people but if you release it in this raw form, you're probably going to be ostracized. Why don't you let me maybe suggest a few revisions and see what you think? He did that and I actually sent it over to my management and they really thought it was great. They shopped it for me and landed a book deal which I really wasn't expecting.
Toddstar: Oh cool.
Jeremy: It kind of worked out.
Toddstar: You mentioned your dad. Your parents are a pivotal part of the book; they're woven in the past and the current parts of the book. How have you been able to maintain that relationship, let's be honest, through all the shit that they went through? How were you able to just tie that up and maintain that?
Jeremy: They're great people. They obviously would prefer to have me alive rather than dead, even an asshole Jeremy. There's a whole new respect there and I think we're stronger than ever. I talk to them all the time and they're great. They're my best friends. I love my parents. They've always been supportive. Anyone that lets their son play drums from six years old in the house, that's a pretty cool parent.
Toddstar: You mentioned being ostracized. Has there been any kick back from the book from anybody that you know or even guys in the band?
Jeremy: No. Not one. Not one person. All I've heard is positive feedback and people are saying, thanks for writing this. Stuff like that that makes you feel real good. If there are people that think, what's this dude writing a book for? He's only been in this band a couple years. If one person's affected positively and maybe are inspired to work on an issue that they're having, then that outweighs any negativity or criticism that I might get so I don't even care.
Toddstar: People that I know have read the book or have done some research; they're shocked to find out that you actually co-founded this band.
Toddstar: How big a part of forming this band do you think lead to some of the mayhem? If you'd been just a member versus a co-founder, do you think there was a difference there?
Jeremy: I don't think so. I just think it all fell into place the way it was supposed to. It just lined up so painlessly. Then obviously the pain started once we got together. I don't think it would have any difference. Zoltan and I did start tracking the record before there was a full band and then we were just looking for players to complete the band. It fell together pretty fast minus the Ivan situation where it took a while to get him to actually commit to come to Los Angeles. Once we got him here, then we cancelled his plane ticket and basically held him hostage in the studio until he finished the record.
Toddstar: You talk about that in the book which was interesting to hear because normally the front guy is normally the one that is first to sign on.
Jeremy: Right. Yeah.
Toddstar: It was cool to see that. Let's talk about you for a minute. Looking back, you mentioned different influences and different things like that. At the heart of it, at the beginning of the day, who was the one guy that made you want to pick up a stick and beat it on something?
Jeremy: Well, for me it was seeing the Kiss record Alive and seeing the faces on the cover. I've discovered many different drummers along the way after Peter Criss, but he was the first guy. I was six years old and to pick up that amazing record cover it just had a huge impact. That's what did it.
Toddstar: That's cool. I'm a huge Kiss fan so it works for me. That being said, what's it like for you when a kid comes up to you and says, you're the reason I'm playing today?
Jeremy: I guess I don't really let it sink in. If you stop and think about it, that's cool. What a great feeling for me and for that kid because he's found something that, yes now I want to be that guy that plays- has fast double bass and all that stuff. That's really cool. That's what it's all about. It just kind of keeps giving from generation to generation.
Toddstar: Coming from the roots that you did and then you made it out to LA and Vegas and everything else, but there are little places along the way that you guys have fallen in love with. I know at a recent show in Grand Rapids, Ivan gave a shout to The Machine Shop from the stage. What's a place like The Machine Shop mean to you guys?
Jeremy: It's great because there was like really enthusiastic crowds. Huge sold out shows, just really cool hot sweaty events, man. Great nights mingling with the crowd. There was always a party happening if you wanted to participate in that. It was just great memories. We played there several times and every time it was sold out and it was a great time every time.
Toddstar: Going out on the road, when you're packing up and you're putting together your box of things that you need to take on the road, what is the couple of things that you look around your house and you think, I can't leave without that?
Jeremy: I always bring a computer. I bring some minor exercise gear, stuff like that. Now I've kind of scaled it down because I've learned in the past that you don't need to over pack because you're going to accumulate stuff while you're out here too and then it's impossible- there's no place to put it. Now I bring like three outfits and then a computer. That's pretty much it.
Toddstar: You've got the book title that describes your life, but if you had to pick a Five Finger Death Punch Song, a title, that just describes where you are, what would it be?
Jeremy: Probably “Bulletproof” would be a good song title. Just because we've gone through so much stuff and we've seen so much of how this industry is and the way it's changed and how brutal it can be. I just feel like I'm comfortable in my own skin, man.
Toddstar: Cool. With this tour that you're out on now with Volbeat, any new chapters going to be written with what's going on now in your life?
Jeremy: I don't think so. I'm really at a good place and I could write about how great everything is. This wasn't even going to be a book, man. Now it is and that's cool but I think a one off, that's all I'm planning on doing.
Toddstar: You still have the mayhem, just on the clean side?
Jeremy: Yeah. I'm really excited to wake up now and tackle life and to get things done and to do creative things. It's just a lot better. I've tried both sides and I'm really enjoying the cleaner side.
Toddstar: Cool. If there was one thing from this book that you wanted people to take away, just one thing- there's so many points in here and one of them I'd actually like to read you the quote that ended my review of this.
Toddstar: Just because it was poignant to me. A comment that, "Rockstar? Jeremy Spencer epitomizes the images the word conjures- but he takes credit and blame for his actions along the road often traveled." Is that something you kind of envisioned? This is you saying, this is what I did, I fucked up, sorry. Here we go.
Jeremy: Yeah it's not even really about the sorry part. Obviously the people that are affected, yeah, I'm sorry for that. If I hadn't gone through this stuff and did all these things, I would have probably never been forced to look at the issues that I needed to address. Being sober, I probably would've never needed to address those issues but they've always been there from birth on up and we develop more and more. It's really been a blessing that I went through some of these hard times and crazy times and things that you would go, man that's disgusting or whatever. I needed to go through all of it to become who I am now, which I'm really proud of.
Toddstar: Very cool. All of that said, for you Jeremy Spencer, 2014, what's the meaning of life?
Jeremy: Just live it to the fullest, man. Every day. I lost a friend last year who had a motorcycle accident. I still am dealing with the loss of that. It's so strange to me that life can just be over like that. You got to just live every day like there's never going to be another one man and just love every part of it. Even if it seems like it's a brutal day or a bad day, it's going to pass, man. It always does, it's all the cycles. It's up and down.
Toddstar: Very cool. One last one. When's the last time you were interviewed by a guy in a suit?
Jeremy: I don't think I ever have been. (Laughs)
Toddstar: Jeremy, thank you so much for taking time out for us today. We really appreciate it. We wish you well, obviously with the band, but we really wish you well with this book and also what it's done for you personally, your sobriety and everything else.
Jeremy: Thanks a lot. I really appreciate it.