FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH was formed by Zoltan Bathory and Darrell Roberts in 2005, they had a vision of old school metal, with a few specks of new school mixed in. They then added to the mix Matt Snell and Jeremy Spencer as bassist and drumming. The final item to be added was a singer, which brings none other than Ivan Moody. These guys have created a hard and crushing first album with WAY OF THE FIST, released in 2007. I got a chance to speak with Mr. Ivan Moody about the album and to see if there was anything new in the life of FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH.
ARE YOU WRITING ANY NEW MATERIAL?
We are writing new material, but we are trying to stay focused right now, in the middle this tour. We just got off Mayhem and we have yet to go to Europe. Just trying to give the fans what they came for and stay as focused as possible.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR MAIN FOCUS FOR THE NEXT ALBUM?
To top this album. Zoltan and the guys wrote the music almost close to a year and I spent three months on it. So I would really like to sink my teeth into this next one and maybe dig a little deeper than I did the first one.
YOUR BIO SAYS THAT ZOLTAN’S GUITARING AND JEREMY’S DRUMMING HAD A TRADEMARK OF THE “DOUBLE-BASS MAYHEM”. DO YOU THINK YOUR MAIN FOCUS ON THIS ALBUM WAS THAT SOUND?
You know I can’t really speak for them on that, like I said when they handed me the album, it was done. So, I know they wanted to cut out of the gates swinging, so to speak. I know that they wanted the metal community to respect them as well as make good songs, which is really first and for most. So I’m not sure what their mentality was on that, besides getting out there and kicking ass and making sure the rest of the music industry has respect for their abilities.
YOU ALL CAME FROM DIFFERENT BACK GROUNDS. WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE THING THAT BROUGHT YOU TOGETHER?
The music. We started out as business partners, which is ass backwards for most bands. We didn’t know each other, we weren’t friends, all in all I had no idea who these guys were. But daily we become family, I mean I love these guys, they are great musicians and killer people.
FIVE FINGER DECIDED TO KICK IT OLD SCHOOL WITH THE HEAVY METAL GENRE, GUITAR SOLOS, AND HEAVY VOCALS AND EVERYTHING. BUT YOU ALSO HAVE A LITTLE TWIST OF NEW SCHOOL. SO WHY DO IT THAT WAY?
Because, to be one sided. To be a blank piece of paper and just not into it, and so much music has been done already and I appreciate things like grunge and punk rock and I love SLIPKNOT, KORN, and bands like that. For me not to enter the kinds of music I prefer into what they listen to. I mean Zol came from Hungry, so he’s got a European style, he’s really into black metal and what not. Jeremy listens to anything from DAVID BOWEY to Prince, every band you can imagine, Jeremy has listened to and he is an encyclopedia of music facts. Matt is AC/DC, ZZ TOP guy, Midwest kinda. So I think adding all those together, creates a better sound, I don’t think people get bored with it. I know I don’t get bored with it.
DO YOU THINK YOUR FANS SEE THAT PORTRAYED THROUGH YOUR MUSIC?
I hope so, most definitely, I think our fans see a lot of things in us that a lot of bands have lost perspective on in the last few years. Like I was telling ya earlier, we are all blue collared cats. I still take off my shoes in my mom’s house and yeah I don’t think there is one rock star in the band to be honest with you. We are pretty serious about what we do. I think that shows through.
YOU CALL YOUR FANS KNUCKLEHEADS. WHY IS THAT?
Me and Zol were sitting around trying to think of something, you know you have the KISS ARMY, MAGOTS for SLIPKNOT, and then it hit me. With a name like FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH and an album WAY OF THE FIST, KNUCKLEHEADS seemed like it would sit well. Pretty funny because I thought they would get offended, when you call someone a knucklehead and right off the bat they are like “oh thanks.” But no it’s cool. I’m glad the kids caught on to it.
WHAT WAS THE BEST PART ABOUT WORKING WITH STEVO-SHOT GUN, MIKE SARKYSIAN AND LOGAN MADER, OR DID YOU REALLY NOT WORK WITH THEM?
Well Stevo, we really didn’t work with him, he owns a studio out in LA, and we used it to record the vocals. Like I said the album was done, but working with Logan is amazing, the guy is one of our best friends and sonically he is a genius. So having him master the album was really cool. Mike from SPINESHANK, the funny story is when I first flew out to LA to try-out for these guys, DEATH PUNCH, I had three auditions that weekend. It was ADEMA, SPINESHANK, and FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH. I figured I would take care of FIVE FINGER first because I knew ADEMA and I knew Mikey from SPINESHANK. The second I walked into the room and sang with these guys and had dinner at OVER THE RAINBOW, I just knew it was perfect. The chemistry was immediate. So I called up Mikey and ADEMA and said that I had found my band. Mikey was cool about it let us finish out last song in his studio.
WERE THERE ANY DIFFERENCES THAT YOU NEEDED TO WORK OUT WHEN YOU WERE SINGING WITH THEM, DEATH PUNCH?
There is always differences, everyone is different. Zol comes from a communist mentality, it’s hard for him to see more patriotic views. Be democratic about opinions. So that was a little bit of a struggle, he didn’t like some of the ways that I yelled at the world, so to speak, he thought it was kind of vulgar. So, there are always difference, the biggest thing is that at the end of the day we do what is best for the album and have respect for each other.
WE HAVE ONE FUNNY STORY. SO ARE THERE ANY OTHERS ABOUT THE RECORDING PROCESS OR THE WAY YOU MEET OR ANYTHING?
There’s a lot of them. ASHES was actually written about myself, it was one of the last ones I wrote. I couldn’t figure out what to write it about and ma and Zol got in our first confrontation over stupid shit. And he literally told me, he kept texting me, I know a black belt in Kerupt, King Solomon and everything… Blah blah blah. You’re the opposite of King Solomon, everything you touch turns to ash. All these things he kept texting me and I kept texting him rude shit back and I came up of with half the song via text.
THE LYRICS ARE AS DARK AS THE MUSIC AND THERE ARE A COUPLE OF THEMES THROUGHOUT THE ALBUM. WHATS YOUR STRONGEST THEME IN THE ALBUM?
Personally? I’ve never been asked this, so thank you. I think the whole album the theme is honesty, no matter what the scenario or consequences of that. I think my favorite songs on the album are one: THE BLEEDING because it was such a painful piece to write and I couldn’t believe that cam from my fingers. MEET THE MONSTER because I based those words on MOTOGRATER, we weren’t so friendly to each other, so that was kinda my lashing at them. And THE DEVIL’S OWN definitely, because it’s about my parents and I never sank that deep into myself and publically talked about it, and never meeting my father and being raised with a little brother and sister and then being put up for adoption. Everyone has their story, but for me that was a deep one, took a lot for me to write it.
HAS IT MADE YOU STONGER BY WRITING THESE?
AbsoGodDamnlutely. Cause when someone else can look at me and say I understand that, kinda put that chip back in your shoulder, so it’s pretty cool.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST EXPERIENCE WITH FIVE FINGER?
Honestly, being on stage. Even touring with MOTOGRATER and other bands, think it was a respect difference. But I think it was because who MOTOGRATER was and we perceived ourselves. With DEATH PUNCH we have gotten to tour with the biggest bands of the world at this point, minus METALLICA. Everyday we get on stage and to see the accumulation of fans base we are getting and to know that these guys are in it for the long hall and to know that this isn’t going to be a one CD deal, that to me is the best experience.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST EXPERIENCE?
Being away from my daughter, it bugs the hell out of me. This tour is 11 weeks long, so that’s 11 weeks I don’t get to see her. I think all in all I’ve gotten to spend 2 and a half months at home and that’s speratic pieces, that’s two days here, two weeks there. It takes a toll on her and myself for sure.
HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT TAKING HER OUT ON TOUR? BECAUSE THERE ARE SOME BANDS THAT DO.
You know I would be up for it, once she is a little bit older, but if I ever saw anyone groping on her, oh my God, you don’t want to know that half of me, I would commit many homicides.
WHAT IS SOMETHING NEW THAT HAS BEEN OPENED TO YOU THROUGH THE BAND?
A rekindle of passion for music. I know its not new, but at one point I loved what I did and I lost sight of it for a few years and so fed up with all the politics of this industry and all garbage, I didn’t want to sing again honestly. And they rekindle something in my heart that made me realize I’m still that ten-year-old boy that’s in his room and everything in this world was a song. And to reach out and touch other kids and people like that.
WHAT WOULD BE THE THING THAT ENDED FOR YOU WITH THEM, BUT MADE YOU STRONGER?
I don’t know, I cut a lot of ties when I got with these guys. I’m not the same person I was in MOTO. I’m not the same character. It’s nice to be myself out on stage, by the way, instead of a comic book character. That’s probably the coolest thing that I got to cut away.
I THINK YOU TOOK THAT CHARACTER OFF STAGE WITH YOU, WHEN YOU WERE IN MOTO. I WAS SCARED OF YOU.
Definitely, I was a little coo-coo back then when I was in MOTOGRATER, very cocky and I thought I was above the world, which was a reality check for me.
YOU WERE SICK A COUPLE MONTHS AGO, HOW ARE YOU FEELING NOW?
I’m good. I’m trying not to talk loudly. Took some more vocal training when I got home and I was really scared of losing my voice, its something I’ve had my whole life and an instrument I cant replace. So I’m trying to do what I can to nurture it. It’s not always easy.
THERE WERE RUMORS ABOUT YOU GETTING SURGERY.
Yeah I came really close. You develop nodes on your throat. And to do that I would have had to take off three or four months and to me that was too much, so instead I canceled the ALL THAT REMAINS TOUR and took a month off at home and rehabilitated. I wrapped my neck and drank a whole lot of tea. The best part of it was I got to spend it with my daughter, it was great because I couldn’t talk a whole bunch and she got to yell at me about everything. So I learned sign language really quick.
YOU’RE STARING IN A NEW MOVIE, IT’S CALLED THE BLED, WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
It is about, well I don’t want to give too much away. Our friend Scully, who does the artwork for us, he is a really good friend of the band and he wrote this script and handed it off to some friend producers and they bought into it. Basically he offered me a character role, which is the Incubus of the movie, which is the monster. Its kick ass and to die for, its awesome because they used my real screams.
DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO ACT OR WAS THIS JUST A NEW PASSION?
For sure, who doesn’t just to get out there and be somebody else and get paid for it. I think its neat, but I don’t think I could do it full time, I’m not Will Smith. I enjoy music too much to walk away from it, maybe some day.
I WANTED TO ASK ABOUT THE NEW VIDEOS.
The WAY OF THE FIST one? Yeah I think its pretty kick ass.
IT’S KICK ASS, BUT ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE WHOLE END RESULT?
It was my vision for going into the writing of the script. I think once you get other people involved you loose parts that you would of like compared to what they would of liked. We found a medium for it.
I THINK IT’S COOL, BUT YOU SEE THE BLEEDING AND THE STORY BEHIND IT. ITS JUST SEE THAT AND THEN THE OTHER VIDEOS.
But that’s the thing we wanted to cover a spectrum, we didn’t want every video to be a concept because it gets boring after a while. WAY OF THE FIST, we are all in a fighting ring with our UFC friends and NEVER ENOUGH is kind of post-apocalyptic kind of thing, where you’re in the bottom of a cellar, which is where we practice anyway. We wanted more of a rehearsal vibe. STRANGER THAN FICTION is going to be a good video as well.
ANY LAST COMMENTS ABOUT THE ALBUM?
Not about the album, but to the fans, I wanted to thank them for coming out and supporting us. It’s a hard deal to get a metal album on the charts these days and they keep coming back, so we have no choice but to come back and kick some ass for them.