Ex-FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH Guitarist JASON HOOK's FLAT BLACK Releases First Two Songs, Performs Live For First Time
August 25, 2023
Guitarist Jason Hook is storming out of the gates with his new band FLAT BLACK. The former FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH guitarist has recruited a trio of young and talented turks, and the band has signed with Fearless Records for its debut album, the details of which have not yet been announced. The album, produced by Hook, was recorded at both Hook's home studio and The Hideout Recording Studio in Las Vegas.
FLAT BLACK has just shared its first two songs, "It's Your Lack of Respect" and "Halo". "It's Your Lack of Respect" has a raging, gnarly fire in its belly. With its percussive thrust, chunky riffs, shreddy guitars, and sheer attitude, the song will ignite mosh pits from the first note. The alternately snarled and sung vocal add a hefty dose of dynamics to a song that's already got plenty of grit and girth. It has a defiant energy — and what's more rock 'n' roll than that?
"I didn't want to play it safe with the first release," says Hook. "Sure, there are other songs on the album that are more geared towards radio, but to me, 'It's Your Lack of Respect' makes a statement. It's unapologetically defiant, which is how I feel as a songwriter and we feel as band in today's seemingly homogenized rock landscape."
"Halo" is a mid-tempo rock anthem that demonstrates all of FLAT BLACK's hallmarks. You're in for rapid fire riffing, soaring and thickly layered choruses with emotive clean vocals, and searing solos. The band doesn't scrimp on deep grooves, as the song is teeming with them.
"I love 'Halo' because the song sets a dark, sinister mood," Hook explains. "'Its charm is all about the contrast between the piano part and the guitar riff, not to mention the big chorus and guitar solo. To me, that's the FLAT BLACK sound."
Despite having reached a commercial summit with his prior band, thanks to multiple platinum certifications, sold-out arena shows, and a string of No. 1 singles, Hook remains as hungry for musical blood and thunder as the day he first picked up a guitar at the age of six. He is eager to not only replicate but to surpass his past successes with his new band.
"I feel like FLAT BLACK is a secret I've been keeping for three years," Hook says. "It's finally time to unleash this band on the world. I'm grateful to Sully [Erna] from GODSMACK for giving us the chance to get out on the road and play for such an amazing group of fans."
Having left his prior band in February 2020, which was right before COVID-19 put the entire world on pause, Hook wanted to assume creative control and let his musical free spirit soar in a project that was truly his. He opted to gamble on himself. With great risk comes great reward and the decision to form FLAT BLACK clearly worked out in his favor.
"As a musician, I crave freedom and I wasn't ready to stop creating," Hook shares.
"Life is short," he continues. "We all want to feel satisfied and happy with what we are trying to accomplish in life."
The pandemic shutdown allowed him the opportunity to assemble the right musicians and carefully craft their debut album. FLAT BLACK is armed with an arsenal of riffs that'll rattle your teeth loose from your gums, stadium-sized hooks, arena-ready anthems, and choruses that are guaranteed to touch a nerve. All of those factors combined make FLAT BLACK poised for success.
The origin stories of the rest of the players are indicative of a lifelong love of music and plenty of road-worn experience. The desire to play courses through their veins and propels them forward, which is why they all meshed so well with Hook.
Singer Wes Horton was introduced to music at age 13, thanks to his sister and Guitar Hero. He honed his vocal chops by playing in local bands and making online videos. Various music industry friends and acquaintances would become the connective tissue between himself and Hook. Horton knew he wanted to be a frontman, and FLAT BLACK afforded him that opportunity. Wes loves the fact that his bandmates prioritize songcraft — and that allows him to be the singer he has always wanted to be.
Bassist Nick Diltz, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, is the son of a legendary rock music photographer who brought him to concerts during his formative years. He recalls being inspired by watching a VHS video of U2 performing at legendary venue Red Rocks. Seeing fans clamoring for a piece of Bono in the footage is a vision that never left his head. This first exposure to the power of a true rock icon solidified Nick's destiny as a live performer.
Drummer Rob Pierce hails from Nashville, a.k.a. Music City. His dad was a race car driver and his grandfather was a pastor. He grew up racing go karts and at first, wanted to follow in his dad's footsteps until he joined the fourth grade band and was bitten by the music bug. He chose the snare drum over the saxophone and from that moment on, music was the only thing that mattered. Rob got his first drum kit at age 11, which he set up in his dad's car shop. He learned to play his instrument next to 1,000 horsepower engines, which influences his highly energetic style to this day.
The chemistry between the players in FLAT BLACK is palpable. And while FLAT BLACK's songs are built to take up real estate in the brains of fans for weeks at a time, the true nature of the band's material is meant to be experienced live. FLAT BLACK are now ready to hit the road and bring these brutal bangers to the masses live and in the flesh.
FLAT BLACK made its live debut last night (Thursday, August 24) at the FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine, California as the support act for GODSMACK. Fan-filmed video of that performance can be seen below.
Remaining FLAT BLACK tour dates with GODSMACK:
Aug. 26 - Las Vegas, NV - Bakk Aug. 27 - San Diego, CA - North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre Aug. 31 - Austin, TX - Germania Insurance Amphitheater Sep. 03 - Baton Rouge, LA - Raising Cane's River Center Sep. 05 - Pensacola, FL - Pensacola Bay Center Sep. 06 - Jacksonville, FL - Daily's Place Sep. 07 - Charleston, SC - Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center Sep. 09 - Tampa, FL - MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre Sep. 10 - Hollywood, FL - Hard Rock Live Sep. 24 - Cuyahoga Falls, OH - Blossom Music Center Sep. 26 - Green Bay, WI - Resch Center Sep. 28 - Moline, IL - Vibrant Arena Sep. 29 - Omaha, NE - Baxter Arena Oct. 01 - Rapid City, SD - Summit Arena at The Monument Oct. 03 - Salt Lake City, UT - Maverik Center Oct. 04 - Nampa, ID - Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater Oct. 08 - Kent, WA - Accesso ShoWare Center Oct. 10 - Abbostford, BC - Abbotsford Centre Oct. 12 - Edmonton, AB - Rogers Place Oct. 13 - Calgary, AB - Scotiabank Saddledome Oct. 15 - Saskatoon, SK - SaskTel Centre Oct. 16 - Winnipeg, MB - Canada Life Centre Oct. 19 - London, ON - Budweiser Gardens Oct. 21 - Laval, QC - Place Bell Oct. 22 - Quebec City, QC - Videotron Centre
FLAT BLACK is:
Jason Hook - Guitar Wes Horton - Vocals Rob Pierce - Drums Nicholas Diltz - Bass
In October 2020, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH confirmed that it had officially parted ways with Hook eight months earlier during the band's sold-out European arena tour. He has since been replaced by renowned British virtuoso Andy James, who made his recording debut with FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH on "Broken World", a song that was included on the second installment of the group's greatest-hits collection, "A Decade Of Destruction - Volume 2".
After his recovery from emergency gallbladder surgery at the end of 2019, Hook had to leave midway from FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH's tour of Europe to address further complications.
Jason, who joined FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH in 2009, said about his exit from the band: "As for the reason I'm leaving… well, there really isn't just one. I've been in bands my entire life and I feel like I've done all the good that I can here. It's time to pass the baton and move on to new challenges."
In October 2021, Hook spoke to the "Making Waves" podcast about his new project for which he had been writing music for much of the past four years. He said: "That's been the only agenda I've had, really, since leaving DEATH PUNCH. I just went right to work writing songs. I've got 30, 35 songs. Where I'm getting stuck is I've had many singers come through and I'm just really trying to be patient to pick the right guy. [People on my team] were, like, 'Don't be in a hurry to pick your singer. Make sure you find the right guy.' And I don't disagree with that because it really is the make-or-break element. So, that's top priority right now."
He continued: "I've done my work. I've got all the material prepared; some are completed songs, some are just music. But I really wanna find a co-writer, a partner, somebody that I have that chemistry with and that we're both on the same page musically. I've got the facility. That's the only element that's missing."
Asked what kind of singer he was looking for, Hook said at the time: "I like heavy music, but I also like melodic music. And I think that's one of the things that [FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH singer] Ivan Moody was fantastic with, is that he sells his lyrics, he can sing really well, and he can get heavy but you can still decipher what he's talking about; you can follow the storyline. It's not like that guttural [death metal-style vocal]; you can really understand what he's saying even when he's singing with his heavy voice. And Ivan Moodys don't just grow on trees [laughs]; it's hard to find.
"I like guys like Dave Grohl," he added. "I certainly like Corey Taylor. I always loved Adam Gontier's voice, from THREE DAYS GRACE; those early records and the power and the grit of his voice. But most importantly, I'm just looking for somebody that has something above and beyond, something that's magic. There's a lot of good guys out there — I've certainly had them over here — but I'm looking for something that's magic, not just good."
Hook went on to say that he was not trying to simply launch another version of his former band. "I'm not necessarily looking to recreate FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH," he said. "That band is an anomaly, and I think it would be foolish to try to clone it. The music will have familiar sounds and elements from what they sound like, but that's only because I had a pretty decent hand at writing that music. So it's inevitable that I'm gonna take me over here, and it's gonna have some familiarity, obviously. But as far as a singer goes, it's kind of like when Tom Morello found Chris Cornell, you've got two guys that are extremely good at their role; that was destined to succeed. Now, when Eddie Van Halen had Sammy Hagar, they got very lucky 'cause that clicked, that worked. But when they got Gary Cherone — not so cool."
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