Fireworks Magazine Online 64 - Interview with Five Finger Death Punch

FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH: Interview with Zoltan Bathory

Interview by Hazel Fern


The band's profile may not be that high worldwide but ElevenSeven Music had enough faith in Fiver Finger Death Punch to allow them to release two studio albums in the same year, six months apart, with equal success. During a thirty minute chat with guitarist and founder member Zoltan Bathory, Hazel Fern found it much easier to extract lengthy answers than ask questions...


FFDP

You're nearing the end of the tour with just one more date left in the UK, so how has the tour gone?

We've been here for a while now actually and this is the fourth show. So far we can't complain.

I was lucky enough to catch you last November in Manchester supporting Avenged Sevenfold and from what I saw you got a fantastic response. Were these current dates already planned or was it due to the response from the crowd that they were added?

We knew Avenged Sevenfold needed a strong support band and from our side we needed an arena setting for greater audience exposure. We were planning this tour whilst in Australia but it was a bit blurred round the edges. Though the audience was singing every word everywhere we went it's not just the band, the promoters have to know what the reaction is likely to be.

I've viewed your video for 'House of the Rising Sun', which you released online and it's received quite mixed responses. Do you think sometimes it is a bit dangerous to do a cover?

The mixed responses usually come from the song itself, you know it's a cover and either people love it or don't like it at all. So it's kind of like a mixed bag. We did twenty-two original songs during the last writing cycle over two records. Twenty-two original songs and three covers so nobody can say we have to have a crutch. It's fun for us to do these things and this song is one we've thought about many times before. The other was 'Momma Said Knock You Out' which we thought would really piss people off. Interestingly 'House of the Rising Sun' is a folk song but The Animals version became the most well known. Nobody spends money on videos anymore so we wanted to do something different, something cinematic that didn't just involve the band jumping around on stage with guitars. There are a lot of challenges involved with that because all of a sudden you have to deal with characters and a storyline. You realise you have three minutes to build the friggin thing and that's how we ended up using a remix of one of our songs as an opening sequence. Eventually one day we will probably do a movie.

Is this you first time dabbling in the directing side of things or have you been involved with previous videos?

For most of the videos I was involved in writing treatments but this is the first full-scale direction. Directing is not as simple as it sounds. You stand there for long periods and it's like herding cattle. You have your crew, the artists, it's fairly difficult to do and the crazier the band is the harder it is to do. I'm proud of what it became regardless of all the last minute holy shit stuff that went down.

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Your current producer, Kevin Churko, also works with In This Moment, so what does he bring to the FFDP mix?

Kevin is a very well known engineer and producer, who has won multiple awards. When we were doing 'War Is The Answer' we had already hired Rene Stapp, who has worked with Metallica. We were looking for a studio in Las Vegas to record the album and that's where Kevin lives. We talked to Kevin and it was clear he would be the best for the band. It was such a great experience with Kevin that he kinda became 'the' guy and he did the third, fourth and fifth records with us. He is someone who can build on our idiosyncrasies because everybody in the band has some quirks.

How did the collaborations on 'Wrong Side Of Heaven' come about?

The first collaboration we had was with Rob Halford because we heard FFDP were one of his favourite bands. We had twenty songs done and as we were listening back to them somebody said this sounds a little bit Ozzyish maybe Judas Priest so we just thought what if.... You're talking about the "Metal God" you know. He got the track, listened to it and called us saying he would like to come to Vegas and do it. We were like kids in the studio sitting there, going holy shit, that's Rob Halford singing on our song. Then we got greedy because if we can get Rob then who else? We called all our friends, like Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed), Maria Brink (In This Moment) and Max Calvera.

'The Wrong Side of Heaven' came out in two instalments and both are very strong albums in their own right. Where did all the material come from?

We had our studio with us on the road because we work in a different way to most bands. Once the music is done we give it to Ivan to sing on it. When we went into the studio we were already six or seven songs ahead. We kept writing and the songs were better and better so while Ivan worked on the first seven we wrote another seven. Then when he was done we were like Ivan we have another seven and he's like Jesus Christ, you know! All of a sudden we had twenty something songs. That was the moment we knew it would be a double album because we did not want to throw any away.

I watched your recent live DVD and was intrigued as to whose idea it was to get the kids onstage?

At the very beginning when we were basically an opening band at festivals we would have thirty minutes to play and we would always play the heavy stuff. The mosh pits became dangerous and people were beating the crap out of each other. We would look out at the audience and see these six and seven year old kids with their dads in the front row and Ivan was like dude these kids are gonna get crushed here, so we would do it as almost like a safety thing. We realised what kind of experience it would be and the kids would remember it for the rest of their lives.

After tonight you've just got Glasgow left on the UK Tour, so what's next?

Well, were gonna go home and sleep for five days straight. It's been a long, long tour. It started in Japan then Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, then Europe. We also have six nominations at the Golden Gods so we're gonna go and visit those guys. Through the Summer we'll be doing festivals and probably in the Fall a proper headlining tour.

Will that include the UK?

Hopefully. The next step in Europe is moving to much bigger venues allowing us to bring a full stage show. We have four trucks of crap that we travel with in the US, we have video walls and stuff and it's very expensive. The biggest complaint we always have from European fans is, when are we going to see your show like we see it on YouTube.

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