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Five Finger Death Punch play at Coliseum

Hard rock band joined by country star Gilbert at Coliseum concert

Five Finger Death Punch will be at Memorial Coliseum on Nov. 10.

Chris Hupe

Whatzup Features Writer

Published November 2, 2022

Five Finger Death Punch have built a career with great songwriting, smart choices, and an incredible live show, night in and night out. 

That exciting show will be at Memorial Coliseum on Nov. 10, co-headlined with country superstar Brantley Gilbert and special guest Canadian country rock singer-songwriter Cory Marks.

integrating new member

Formed in 2005, 5FDP released their ninth studio album, Afterlife, on Aug. 19, which rocketed to the top spot on the Billboard U.S. Top Hard Rock Albums chart. Their first album since 2007’s The Way of the Fist without longtime lead guitarist Jason Hook, who was replaced by Andy James in 2020, it is a diverse offering that features the band’s better known aggressive side mixed in with some songs that touch on other genres and styles. 

Prior to Afterlife, fans were more than curious about how the band would handle Hook’s departure. Hook was seen as an integral part of the songwriting, but he wanted to “move on to new challenges.” 

But the band took it all in stride. According to bassist Chris Kael, the change may have actually reinvigorated the band. 

“We’ve always been a team,” Kael told Whatzup in a recent interview. “You know, you lose one team member and you look to find someone who is going to help you elevate your game a little bit. That’s what we found in Andy James. “

James’ songwriting and musicianship confirms the band made a great pick, and the additional time the pandemic gave to write and record allowed the band to gel. 

“We didn’t have any timelines or deadlines, so with a brand-new writing situation like that, we were able to get in there to hash things out and take the time needed to get the new record,” Kael said. “I think this is my favorite record. I know that every artist in the history of ‘everdom’ always says that the new record is their favorite record, but anybody that knows me, knows I’m authentic and genuine and mean that. I love this new record.”

new lease on touring life

The title of Afterlife can be interpreted a few ways. Not only does it mark the beginning of a new era for the band, but Kael said it also references the two years of uncertainty the world had to endure due to the pandemic. 

“For the longest time with COVID, you didn’t know what life was going to be like,” he said. “We didn’t know if we were going to be living in spacesuits, or what the hell was going on.” 

Given that aspect, Kael said he and the band have greater appreciation for the life they are able to lead as touring musicians. 

“We been gifted extra time on so many levels, and we want to continue making the most of it at every opportunity,” he said.

Though they are often pigeonholed as just a hard rock or metal band, Five Finger Death Punch have always recorded diverse songs, and Afterlife continues along that same path. 

“We have been one of those bands, right from the very beginning, that did what we wanted and how we wanted,” Kael said. “Even now, the record label has never heard one of our records before it’s been completely done. We have such a track record of garnering incredible support from all the fans out there, the label trusts us and we trust ourselves. That hasn’t changed on the new record. We’re definitely a nice mix of everything and I enjoy it being that way.”

reaching new audiences

The tour that brings 5FDP back to Fort Wayne features more of that diversity. In teaming with Gilbert, both artists hope to expand fan bases. The pairing rose from the recording of a cover of the Kenny Wayne Shepherd classic “Blue on Black” the artists released in 2018. 

“We’ve been friends for a little bit now, and when you’re touring or whatnot, you’re always trying to figure out, ‘What’s the next step?’ or, ‘What’s going to open this up to a new audience?’ ” Kael said. “We’re always trying to figure out how are we going to bring more people to the shows, continue to grow, and get more people to hear the music that we’re putting out.” 

Because Gilbert borders on “hard rock country,” as Kael described it, the pairing seemed like a good fit. 

“He’s got a little bit of an attitude, like a Death Punch attitude, and he’s got some brass knuckle visuals in his stuff, so there’s a tie in there, too,” Kael said. “The response so far has been great. There’s a definite curiosity about it, with people looking to see how it’s going to work, but, you know, we’ve taken chances before and always come out on top, thankfully, and I expect nothing less out of this one.”

connecting with fan base

Rarely, if ever, disappointing in a live setting, fans are very loyal to 5FDP because of the energy they bring each night and will come out to see them whenever they are in close proximity. Kael said one of the reasons he thinks they connect with their fan base is because, like their fans, the band members are huge fans of music and understand concerts from that perspective. 

“We all spend hours listening to music and checking out new stuff,” he said. “We’re all fans, whether we’re the people on the stage or the people out in the crowd.”

Kael also credits social media for loyalty as they were one of the first artists to aggressively market themselves through that medium. 

“We have a genuine, honest connection with our fans through those platforms,” he said. “If you’re getting in contact with one of us on one of those pages, it is us you’re contacting. It’s very punk rock and DIY in that sense, for sure.”

With more than 25 charting singles from which to choose to assemble a setlist, Kael said the band has a good problem in having to choose the list of songs they play. 

“Those are success problems at their finest, to have so many records and everybody out there wanting to hear their songs,” he said. 

The band researches what is trending on Spotify and other social networks to see which ones are resonating with fans, and build their set list with that information in mind. Kael said the set the band just did while opening for Megadeth was one of his favorites in terms of how it flowed and he is sure whatever they play on this tour will be even better. 

“We continue to step up our game because we know all eyes are on us. We believe in ourselves, know we have what it takes and continue proving that every single day with all the songs and all the shows. Life is good man. I’m grateful.”

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