Death Punch drummer pens lurid, life-affirming autobiography

The story begins at the moment his life nearly ends.

It’s January 2012, and Jeremy Spencer’s been up for two days straight, holed up in a suite at Mandalay Bay with a meth-addled sexpot, gallons of Jack Daniel’s and copious amounts of cocaine that’s somehow both too much and yet never enough.

Spencer chops the stuff up into lines so big, he likens their heft to the furrows in a snowy field.

He’s a rock star, the drummer for Vegas-based metallers Five Finger Death Punch, which has earned a mess of gold records for him to snort coke off of.

But here in his hotel room, years of partying as hard as his band’s tunes are have caught up with Spencer, and he feels it in his chest, his heartbeat coming and going in irregular intervals, terrifyingly s-l-o-o-w and then superincredibly-dangerouslyfast.

His body is burning up, hot to the touch, and yet he feels cold, as if he’s been getting high inside a meat locker.

He begins convulsing.

He thinks to himself: “You’ve gone too far … and there’s no way back. This time … you’re gonna die.”

This brush with death doesn’t kill Spencer, though.

Instead, it gives him new life.

He’d enter rehabilitation shortly after the Mandalay Bay incident, and the day he left the program upon getting clean, he started writing.

“I thought, ‘This will be good therapy. It will kind of help heal some stuff and keep me busy,’ ” Spencer recalls. “I needed to find a place to put my energy in a positive area after being on the party schedule for so long.”

And so he wrote, little by little, day by day, eventually sending a rough draft of what he’d come up with to his father.

“He was like, ‘I think you have a story here that could actually help some people, but you’ve got to let me help you with some revisions because if you release it like this, you’ll be hated. It’s brutal.’ ”

The story: “Death Punch’d: Surviving Five Finger Death Punch’s Metal Mayhem.”

Yes, it’s brutal.

No, Spencer probably won’t be hated afterward, even though in his autobiography, which comes out Tuesday and begins and ends with his near-death experience, he does provide plenty of reasons not to like him — at least an earlier version of himself.

He recounts, in detail as grim as a series of crime scene photos, his life as a womanizing booze and drug sponge, the kind of guy who reacts with joy and relief upon learning that his girlfriend at the time has had a miscarriage with his unborn child.

“Under the influence of drugs and alcohol, I’m a really horrible person, someone I don’t like and most people don’t like,” Spencer says. “So, I had to own it.”

Despite plenty of gnarly details — his description of a summer spent touring on the Mayhem Festival and having sex with groupies in sweltering, filled-to-the-brim Porta-Johns complete with Jackson Pollock-worthy fecal splatters is a thing of perverse poetry — “Death Punch’d” aims to be more than yet another lurid rock star tell-all.

“I didn’t want it to just be a rock and roll debauchery book,” he says. “That’s been done to death. I wanted this to be kind of a hopeful read, something that makes you laugh, makes you sad.”

Spencer does earn a few chuckles along the way.

He’s a quick-witted dude with a bayonet-sharp tongue, the kind of guy who recounts an alcohol-induced vomiting spell by likening himself to “Mount Vesuvius erupting carbonated gravy.”

The humor brightens the book’s darker moments, of which there are plenty.

Ultimately, though, the story has a happy ending.

Spencer gets a grip on his addictions — he’s been sober for more than two years now — and his tale boils down to the value of perseverance in the relentless pursuit of one’s dreams, even when those dreams occasionally become nightmares.

However, Spencer doesn’t want his mother to read certain parts of the book, and he doesn’t think his bandmates have had time to dig into it yet.

Things could get interesting when they do, as Spencer is open about the sometimes fractious relationships within the group, equating life on the road with Five Finger Death Punch to the nerve-fraying experience of traveling in a “bus full of sweating nitro.”

And so Spencer knows that not everyone is gonna dig what he has to say here.

But for him, reconciling his past is the only way for him to have a future.

“Some of the people I grew up with will probably be a little shocked,” he says, pondering the reaction “Death Punch’d” might elicit. “But I can’t really worry about that. This is my life.”

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

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