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Issue: January 2012

INTERVIEW W/ Five Finger Death Punch Bassist, And Former Kentuckian, Chris Kael

Hey Chris, Congrats on the success of your band FFDP. I've been a fan for a few years now and have covered your shows whenever you are even near Louisville. I can honestly say that FFDP is one of my favorite newer metal bands! I had almost given up on good new American metal until I heard FFDP. That makes it all the more cool that one of their members – you - are actually from Kentucky. This state hasn't bred too many rockstars as of yet. Until you, dude.

Thank You for taking the time to do this interview (when you are so fargin busy stomping ass every night) and letting everyone in your home state know whats up with you.

Eddy: Let's talk about your upbringing in Kentucky, Chris? Lexington, right? Where did you go to school there, and did you get good grades? And what are some of the things you used to do there as a kid/teenager? Were you a wild destructive kid who carried brass knuckles? And now you have one on your bass! Cool –.

Chris Kael: Yessir! Born and raised in Lexington. Went to Lafayette High School but ended up bowing out about a year early, as I was spending more time writing and playing with other musician friends in my parents' attic than I was actually making it to class! So I'm living proof that dropping out and following the dream can work! Though I don't recommend it for most.

During those years, I spent a lot of time going to all-ages shows at The Wrocklage. Once that shut down, I was pretty instrumental in bringing all-ages shows with James Flax into The Millennium (though now the entire block has been torn down!). All-ages shows growing up were extremely important to me in both my social and musical upbringing. Gave me nice solid base for what I'm currently doing now.

As far as being a destructive kid, I was always the type that looked pretty intimidating but, was the exact opposite once you actually approached me and got to know me. Someone actually described me, and fairly accurately I believe, as the nicest scary guy they've ever known. That pretty much hits it right on the head.

Eddy: Do you still have family here in Kentucky, and do you get a chance to visit when you come in for a show? And does your family ever come to see you play? If you like, tell us metalheads about your family –any characters, goofy uncles, a mammaw, etc.

Chris Kael: Oh yeah. Most of my family is still back in Kentucky. Once I moved out to Vegas about ten years ago, they've been out to see more than I've been back to Kentucky to see them. Given the chance to hang in Vegas, I'd take coming out there too! Though, I do try to get back every now and then - usually at least once a year. It's been great seeing friends and family out on the road with Death Punch when we come within driving distance. After all the years of putting up with me pursuing this dream, it feels nice to be able to extend a little VIP courtesy to all of them. I certainly haven't forgotten my roots. And, I'm STILL an avid UK fan. If it's on TV, I'm watching it. Hoping to make a trip back to see a game or two in the downtime this January. I'd love to address the team with my story as there's a lot to be said in never giving up, listening to that inner voice, and going after whatever it is you want in life.

Eddy: Did you play in any original bands in Kentucky? If not, then how did you get started at playing music? And who were your influences growing up?

Chris Kael: I picked up my first bass at age 15. It was some cheapie that I'd picked up from one of the guitar stores on Southland Drive in Lexington (Willcutt's Guitars is STILL my favorite guitar store. Period.) My first "real" bass when I really started getting serious a year or so later was an Ibanez Rickenbacker copy.

The bass that most people back home from that era will remember me with was my B.C. Rich Warlock. That's the bass that I always used when gigging out. Hated the tone; but loved the look! Nikki Sixx played one in "Looks That Kill" and I knew I had to have one the moment I saw it. After mowing grass over a summer, the bass was mine.

Spent many years gigging with various bands between Lexington, Louisville, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Nashville and Huntington. Shared bills with a TON of great bands from that area growing up like Chum, Crone, My Own Victim, Flaw, Supafuzz, Ted Bundy's Volkswagen, Kinghorse - SO much good music was coming out of the area at that time. I l look back quite fondly knowing that I had the chance to be in Kentucky during a very special time musically. So many great musicians there. A lot of those guys are still playing today as well. The move to Vegas, luckily, worked out for me. Ten years after moving to Vegas, here I am touring the world with Five Finger Death Punch. It still amazes me.

Eddy: You live in Las Vegas now, which is like another world from here. Tell us about your life in Las Vegas! Wife, kids? Big-ass house? Stacks of music gear out by the pool? Hot little Vegas rocker chicks lounging half naked? Lol. What'cha got cookin' out in Vegas bro? What do you do for fun out there?

Chris Kael: Vegas has obviously been a life changing move for me. Rather than being the big fish in a small pond, I took the leap and immediately was thrown into Lake Mead as a guppie. I've always been one hell of a networker, so I made a ton of musician friends out here and started up a couple of projects. I did some regional touring through California, Arizona, Utah and what not. Basically just plugging away and continuing to develop my playing, songwriting, vocals and stage presence.

After not having done anything live in a while, I met the guys in the Sin City Sinners. I was going out to see them damn near every week at The Dive Bar here in Vegas when one of my friends told them that I played bass. They invited me up to play a couple of covers and I caught the live bug again. Those guys are great friends of mine and I credit them with initially getting the ball rolling in my getting back off of my ass and back into music. I've had a ton of support from a ton of people and I sincerely can't thank them all enough.

Eddy: Let's get to the band stuff. I recently got an email from your label, you've just put out an album that is doing very well for only the few short months it's been out, as well as selling out in many venues on this current tour! I'm glad to hear it Chris. That's awesome.

So it's obvious you'll be touring for a while in support of Amercian Capitalist, but after that what's next for FFDP? You guys have been super busy it seems for years now. It has to be exhausting at times.

Chris Kael: We just finished up the Share The Wealth tour in support of our latest release, American Capitalist. It was mind-blowing be out there on my first real tour, playing venues ranging in size from 2,000 to 8,000 seaters with my (now) friends in Hatebreed, All That Remains and Rains there in support. It seems that nearly 90% of the shows were sold out. Just massive crowds with such passionate responses. Couldn't have asked for a better first run for me with Five Finger Death Punch.

I'm now at home in Vegas on a bit of a break to kind of recover from the road! The travel alone is the hard part. It just gets draining, physically moving from spot to spot to spot. You give and give while you're out there; so it's good to have that time at home where you can find some time for yourself before you set out to do it all again. I'm certainly not complaining though as it beats serving drinks to tourists at the Hard Rock on The Strip; which, is what I was doing six months ago!

From here, the current plan is to start touring again in February and stay out on the road until close to the end of the year. The guys will be writing while we're out on the road and I'll be contributing in whatever way they think will make Death Punch stronger. I'm a beast live; so, I know I've definitely helped there. Looking forward to seeing where the next phase takes us.

Eddy: Last question; Chris, what are some of your most memorable moments in FFDP? Give us home state fans two stories that you will never forget! And don't hold back on us!

Chris Kael: One of the biggest memories for me will always my first sold-out arena rock show in Denver. That's the one day-sheet and ticket stub that I saved from the whole tour. A lot of great shows but looking out and seeing that arena filled with fans there to see us was an incredible memory that I'll take with me to the grave.

As for great stories, I'll give you one that's suitable for print. The rest you'll have to wait for the book. I think we were playing in Texas when this one went down. At one point in the show, Ivan sometimes invites a handful of kids and their parents up onstage to celebrate the future of rock and heavy metal. They're all lining up onstage and this one TINY little kid is walking around by herself. From the looks of her, she couldn't have been more than three years old. One of our security guys, Case - a massive, straight-out-of-prison-scary-looking-MF type guy (though, like me, is scarier on the outside than once you get to know him) picks up the baby and holds her at arms length yelling, "Who's phucking baby is this? Who the fuck leaves a baby onstage?" The baby then opens its mouth and responds, "Put me down, a-hole. I'm a midget - not a baby! I'm thirteen!" The combined expression of terror, amusement and embarassment on his face was enough to make my first tour with Death Punch a memorable one.

Eddy: Once again, many thanks to you Chris Kael, for doing this interview even with a busy schedule and the holidays right around the corner!

We are gonna have to hang out when you come this way!!! I'll let you buy me a beer for all the shameless plugging I've done for you guys) Ha ha!

Chris Kael: Thanks Eddy for the Interview/Shameless plugs. You can follow the band at www.fivefingerdeathpunch.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter @FFDP. You can find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/officialchriskael and on Twitter @5FDPChrisKael. As for the beer, you can take the boy out of Kentucky; but, you can't take the Kentucky out of the boy - I'm still a bourbon guy at heart! Be ready for a shot or seven of Maker's Mark on me my friend.

Eddy: You've got a deal!!!

(A mindblower - While doing the interview, I noticed Chris' real name on the email, and I was beyond shocked. It turns out that I knew the guy from a long time ago! I used to play his band on the radio and I brought them to louevil a few times to do shows with my band/concerts I used to put on at The Toy Tiger and other various clubs.

It was just plain weird finding out that a bigtime band that I really like has a guy in it from Kentucky, that I know from ages ago! I had no fargin' idea he was in FFDP. What a small world. Chris remembered me as well once I refreshed his memory.)

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