“Rock music has lost too many people to addiction, we weren’t going to let that happen…” - hmv.com talks to Five Finger Death Punch
In the years between their 2015 album Got Your Six and new LP And Justice For None, metal titans Five Finger Death Punch have been through an awful lot.
First, in April 2016, the band’s long-time label Prospect Park filed a lawsuit against the band over a contract dispute, a lawsuit that wasn’t resolved until October 2017. So, despite sessions for And Justice For None being completed at the end of 2016, the album hasn’t been able to see the light of day until now.
Banned from putting a new album, the band instead headed out on tour, but the wheels swiftly came off there too. Frontman Ivan Moody, always a hard partier, suffered an onstage meltdown.
In June of 2017, during a concert in The Netherlands, Moody didn't show up to perform the band’s first song, with Tommy Vext, frontman with support band Bad Wolves, filling in instead. Moody arrived in the next song, only to walk offstage later, leaving Vext to fill in once again.
Moody ended the evening by telling the crowd that “there is no other singer for Five Finger Death Punch”, and then later said, "This is my last show with Five Finger Death Punch". The next day, Moody left the tour and entered rehab for substance abuse. Vext filled in for Moody while he recovered, which he did and he returned to front the band once again in August 2017.
With Moody now sober, the lawsuit settled and And Justice For None on shelves (you can purchase it here in hmv’s online store), the band can focus on the future. We spoke to the band’s founder and key songwriter Zoltan Bathory about bringing Five Finger Death Punch back from the brink…
This album has been ready since the end of 2016, but you’ve had a bit of trouble putting it...
“This band is a bulldozer, nothing can stop us. It’s been the most chaotic year we’ve ever had, but the most amazing one too. We’ve done what we always do, we’ve stayed on the road and we’ve kept going. It took a long time, but eventually, we settled things and we’ve moved on with our label. You never win a lawsuit, even if you come out on top in court, it costs so much to you and everyone else, it just ends. There’s no justice.”
Is that where the title came from?
“It is. Ivan joked to me ‘This is And Justice For None’ and I really liked that for a title. It’s true, you cannot win, you can only hope it stops.”
Were you able to keep working on the album during the lawsuit?
“We kept working on it and the time meant we could add two more songs. An album is a piece of art and not every song can be a single, you need variety and diversity and to take the fans on a journey."
You’ve got two covers on the album, The Offspring’s ‘Gone Away’ and Kenny Wayne Shepherd's 'Blue On Black', why did you decide on those songs?
“It’s pretty simple, they are both songs we like. Ivan loves The Offspring, they’re his favourite band and he loves that song, so we decided we would try it.”
And the Kenny Wayne Shepherd track?
“Ivan is a big country guy. You take him to a country bar and he will be there for hours and hours. He particularly loves that song. It worked for us too, if you’re a heavy metal band there is no point in covering Metallica or Iron Maiden, the song needs to be a little off, something we can make our own. I wasn’t sure about either track, but they have come out amazingly.”
What kind of album is this lyrically?
“What we do with our lyrics is we try to connect, whether that’s culturally, politically or personally, what we say has to be relevant to everyone. There are no Vikings or wizards with us. An album is a snapshot of what’s happening with us and it’s no secret that Ivan has had problems and he has faced them. He’s a tornado, he goes through so many emotions on this album.”
How is Ivan now? You’ve been through a tough time...
“We might be a bulldozer, but we leave no one behind. We were lucky to have friends who stepped in to help us through that time. We were lucky to have Tommy step in, not only to be a friend to us but to Ivan too. We never want to let anybody down, whether that is by cancelling a show or not supporting a brother. Our band is a community, we stand together.”
You had to send him home from tour, which must have been a very tough decision...
“It was difficult, but we had to step in. We had to say to him ‘You have to go home, you have to get help’. Rock music has lost too many people to addiction, we weren’t going to let that happen. Now he’s been to rehab, he’s been sober for six months. The band is better than it has ever been.”
How are things now?
“It’s funny actually, we’ve been all over the world, seen so many cities, but I don’t Ivan remembers any of it. He’s seeing all these places for the first time! I’d say he was living his second life, but it’s more like his ninth!”
You tour very, very hard, after what happened last year, do you think you’ll pare back a bit in that regard?
“It’s no accident that this band is the size it is. In 10 years we’ve put out seven records and a ‘Greatest Hits’. In our first few years, we were just road dogs, we did 260 shows in a year, we lived on tour. Now we play arenas so the schedule isn’t so crazy, we can play to more people at a time. Saying that the year is already full, we are working right up until 2019. Then we can sit down and decide what to do next. We’ll vote on whether we make another record or if we have a break. That will be 2019.”
Finally, as you said, you’re seven records deep now, how will you decide what goes in your live set?
“We have anchors, songs we have to play. We have to play ‘Bad Company’, we have to play ‘The Bleeding’, a few more like that. Then you have to layer the set, you have to start powerful, you can’t start with a ballad, you have to work them in. We’ve realised now if we play all our Top 10 hits, it would be 19 songs, but they would all be heavy, we can’t do that. You need to make the set flow, to rise and fall. It is a challenge and it gets harder with every tour!”