Chris Kael, Kentucky native, and bassist for the heavy metal band, Fiver Finger Death Punch (known by fans as 5FDP) was recently awarded an honor from the Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Andy Beshear. More specifically, he was commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel. As many are not familiar with this honor or its long history, this article will dig into its origin and purpose, as well as cover the many successful ventures of both Chris Kael and Five Finger Death Punch. According to the official website of The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, invitations into the organization are given as “Recognition of an individual’s noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to our community, state, and nation.” While Kael’s specific reason for being inducted is unknown, this nonprofit organization typically focuses on “Caring for children, supporting those in need, and preserving Kentucky’s rich heritage.” In 2021, the trustees of the Kentucky Colonels granted over $2.1 million to over 275 different organizations. This money was used to serve “Nearly 3.7 million people…which is over half the citizens in the Commonwealth.” What an honor for Five Finger Death Punch.
This award, having existed since 1813 – has honored several other musicians over the years including John Lennon, Robert Plant, Dave Mustaine from Megadeth, Tommy Thayer from Kiss, and Zack Wylde from Black Label Society. In June of 2021, Andy Beshear also awarded Judas Priest’s Rob Halford with the title. In response to his own commission, Chris Kael replied with “I am OFFICIALLY Colonel Kael now! As a kid from Kentucky who followed his dreams until he caught them, this is an absolute honor.” According to this same post on social media, Kael shared his intentions of attending Thunder over Louisville and the Kentucky Derby in 2020. Both events are typically attended by Kentucky Colonels, as they are frequent sponsors of the organization and their charitable work. Kael also added the hashtag #VegasMade, connecting the birth of his career (where he joined up with Five Finger Death Punch) with his actual birth in Louisville, Kentucky.
Becoming a Kentucky Colonel isn’t Chris Kael’s first experience with being a lauded celebrity. In addition to being the longtime bassist for Five Finger Death Punch, he also has some acting experience under his belt. Kael starred in the 2019 short, “Blue on Black,” and has recently finished filming for the upcoming horror movie, “The Retaliators” – now in post-production. As himself, he has also participated in a documentary entitled “Hired Gun” and has appeared on series such as “That Metal Show,” and “The Weekend in Vegas.” Chris Kael joined Five Finger Death Punch in 2011, taking over for the former bassist, Matt Snell. And while he may not have been with the band since its inception, he has been the bassist for more than twice the amount of studio albums than those produced with Snell. In addition, hits such as “Remember Everything,” “Wrong Side of Heaven,” and “When the Seasons Change” all included his undeniable talent. Also, as recent as 2019, he took home the coveted Kilpop VP (Vinnie Paul) Award. During this Kilpop Award Gala, Five Finger Death Punch also claimed the following three awards: Best Damn Band, Best Album for “And Justice for None,” and the Spirit Award.
During this same year, Five Finger Death Punch also wrote and recorded their most recent studio album, “F8” which was surprisingly released (in February 2020) from Better Noise Music – a departure from their long running relationship with Prospect Park. The two singles already released from this album, “Inside Out” and “A Little Bit Off” have both landed on various Top 10 lists. In addition to releasing their new album in 2020, Five Finger Death Punch made headlines for donating $150K to the Gary Sinise Foundation. According to this organizations mission statement, they serve the nation “By honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need. We do this by creating and supporting unique programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen, and build communities.”
The Importance of those Who Serve
The selection of this organization didn’t come as any surprise to the fans of Five Finger Death Punch, as the band members are quite outspoken about their interest in and respect for veterans and first responders. In fact, a majority of their music videos contain scenes involving the two. In fact, the video for their hit, “Wrong Side of Heaven,” contains scenes of soldiers in action juxtaposed with ones of homeless veterans living on the streets. Captioning throughout the video shares the devastating statistics related to the epidemic of homelessness and suicide experienced by combat veterans. The video ends with a call to action to join various organizations such as American Legion, American Gulf War Veterans Association, American Ex-Prisoners of War, and Wounded Warrior Project.
Another video based on their celebrated cover of Offspring’s, “Gone Away,” explores the devastating effects of combat veterans returning home to their families and how they, and their families must cope with their debilitating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This video does not shy away from intensity and shows the deterioration of one soldier’s mental status that very nearly ends in suicide. As with the majority of their videos – both of these examples view more like cinematic shorts than music videos – highlighting their commitment to producing quality entertainment while also aligning with their values. Currently Chris Kael, and the rest of Five Finger Death Punch are working on their next album and prepping for upcoming tour dates, which include headlining at Blue Ridge Rock Festival in Danville, Virginia and Rebel Rock in Orlando. In 2022, they start their international tour – which includes appearances in Austria, Czech Republic, Norway, Russia, & France for the Hell Fest Open Air Festival. For more information on Five Finger Death Punch, including updates on their next studio album and touring dates/locations, check out the band’s website.