It’s been a tur­bu­lent 24 months for FIVE FIN­GER DEATH PUNCH. With rip­ping sev­enth LP AND JUS­TICE FOR NONE, though, IVAN MOODY and ZOLTAN BATHORY have stormed out the other side, tap­ping into that tumult and set­ting the world to rights…

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The world is burn­ing. Torn be­tween the ‘fas­cist’ right on one side, and the ‘snowflake’ left on the other, cross-cultural di­a­logue sits at an all-time low. Las Ve­gas met­allers Five Fin­ger Death Punch mightn’t seem like the most ob­vi­ous ex­po­nents of con­sid­ered diplo­macy. Hav­ing ne­go­ti­ated their own rock­i­est of roads, how­ever, the hard-bit­ten quin­tet are ready to pass on their wis­dom to the world at large.

“It’s about try­ing to find com­mon­ground,” ex­plains gui­tarist Zoltan Bathory, “not just shout­ing louder than ev­ery­one around you.” That’s not to say there’s any risk of soft-spo­ken un­der­state­ment as sev­enth full-length And Jus­tice For None kicks their con­quest for world domination up a gear. Har­ness­ing the heart-on-sleeve mus­cu­lar­ity, adren­a­line-fu­elled bom­bast and OTT self-ref­er­en­tial­ism that’s rock­eted them from anonymity to arena dom­i­nance in 11 fleet­ing years, their mes­sage of mod­er­a­tion won’t be ob­struct­ing FFDP’S patented brand of shock and awe…

It’s not a ‘po­lit­i­cal’ al­bum per se, but And Jus­tice For None seems to lo­cate the par­al­lels be­tween FFDP’S tur­bu­lent two years and those of the world at large. Was that in­ten­tional? Ivan Moody

“The record’s re­flec­tive of how we feel – es­pe­cially on pol­i­tics – about ev­ery­thing that’s go­ing on around us. It seems like there’s (vo­cals): no real jus­tice for any­one these days. Ev­ery­one’s ei­ther set [for life] or thrown to the curb. It’s also about our per­sonal tri­als and tribu­la­tions. The law­suit [with record la­bel Prospect Park, which has held up re­lease for over a year] re­ally felt like such a kick in the nuts. It be­came part of ‘the in­dus­try’ rather than al­low­ing this to just be a great al­bum.” Zoltan Bathory (gui­tar): “Some peo­ple can sing about [mythol­ogy] or Vik­ing war­riors run­ning around – and that’s great, but it’s not what we do. As artists, our job is to push the but­tons. I can’t tell you what to be­lieve in, but I can tell you to ques­tion fuck­ing ev­ery­thing.”

Naysay­ers would ar­gue that your mu­sic and im­agery sits at odds with that kind of in­tel­lec­tu­al­ism… Zoltan:

“It’s like this big in­side joke. In the middle of the Middle East con­flict, we came out with a record called War Is The An­swer. When ev­ery­body was talk­ing about the rise of the so­cial­ist/com­mu­nist idea, we re­leased Amer­i­can Cap­i­tal­ist. We named this band Five Fin­ger Death Punch – the stu­pid­est fuck­ing band name in ex­is­tence. If that doesn’t tell you we’re be­ing sar­cas­tic, noth­ing will.”

Ivan: “We ab­so­lutely love – and hate – the naysay­ers. Right from day one, we’ve been lis­ten­ing to peo­ple tell us what a wreck this is gonna be – and we’ve al­ways prided our­selves on stay­ing our course. That’s the gas that fu­els our fire.”

The Prospect Park law­suit in­sin­u­ated that AJFN would be ‘sub­stan­dard’. Does the record you’ve re­leased fuel your sense of vin­di­ca­tion? Ivan:

“We could’ve gone back to the stu­dio and made an­other al­bum, but we’re proud of our work. We were like, ‘Fuck that! Let the masses de­cide who’s right for them­selves!’ You can hear it pretty clearly on a song like Sham Pain: there’s not much [minc­ing of words] on how the band feel about deal­ing with that petty crap.”

Zoltan: “My hands are some­what tied about what I can say about the law­suit. But when some­one says [your record isn’t] good enough, you’ve got to read be­tween the lines. Once AJFN comes out, we’re free agents. We can leave the la­bel. And if a la­bel’s only band leaves – what’s go­ing to hap­pen to the la­bel? When some­one [starts say­ing] crazy shit, you’ve got to ask why. The la­bel pres­i­dent be­came some­thing of an ad­ver­sary, but even in


the middle of the law­suit, we would still [chat] and joke about things. He’s a busi­ness­man. I re­spect that. If I was in his po­si­tion, would I do the same? Maybe… You’ve got to make the moves on the chess­board to try to win. In­stead of bitch­ing and moan­ing, I just say, ‘Okay, that’s your move. This is mine!’ In the end we made an agree­ment, shook hands and laughed about it. ‘…And Jus­tice For None, right?’”

Your tweets in sup­port of Pres­i­dent Trump have ran­kled with some in the metal fra­ter­nity. Do you feel a need to justify them? Zoltan:

“When did heavy metal be­come this con­form­ist lit­tle box you have to fit in?! Con­sen­sus can be dan­ger­ous. I per­son­ally grew up in a dif­fer­ent [po­lit­i­cal] sys­tem. I lived [be­hind the Iron Cur­tain in Hun­gary]. Peo­ple don’t [ap­pre­ci­ate] my per­spec­tive and ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s not some col­lege ed­u­ca­tion. It’s not an ex­per­i­ment in a bot­tle. I’m not a Demo­crat. I’m not a Re­pub­li­can. I’m a cen­trist. I look for poli­cies and ideas, not for per­son­al­i­ties. If the left starts to move too far to the left, cen­trists will fall to the right. But [we] hate to be called ‘right-wing’.”

Ivan, this record marks your recorded re­turn after what seemed like it could’ve been a cat­a­strophic break­down. How dif­fer­ent are you now from the man who stormed off­stage in Til­burg? Ivan:

“I took a 180 on this one. I’m a proud al­co­holic: proud that I turned my back on it; proud to wake up ev­ery day sober. For a while there it felt like ev­ery­one was in my pocket – if not for money, to show me off. But if it feels like the whole world’s wrong you need to step back and look at your­self. I think Trent Reznor said it best: ‘Some­body tells you you’re a god ev­ery day of your life and even­tu­ally you start be­liev­ing it...’ I felt in­de­struc­tible. I could drink any­one un­der the table; I could party; I could meet women at any time. I thought it was never gonna end. Then you wake up one day and it’s end­ing. That’s painful – it’s trau­matic.”

Look­ing back, how for­tu­nate do you feel that the band made it through? Ivan:

“Ad­dic­tion is a hell of a thing. It’s mis­un­der­stood. It’s not just a phys­i­cal thing; a men­tal thing; a spir­i­tual thing. It’s all three combined. Phys­i­cally, men­tally, spir­i­tu­ally – I found my­self in a cage with no way of get­ting out. I was dy­ing. It’s still painful to talk about. [Ju­das Priest front­man] Rob Hal­ford – prob­a­bly the clos­est thing I’ve ever had to a fa­ther – was there with me through­out. It gets dark up­stairs. There are a lot of shad­ows and voices in my head. Sit­ting them all down at a table and fig­ur­ing out what’s go­ing on has been a big deal for me.”

Zoltan: “No-one gets left be­hind. We did ev­ery­thing to save Ivan’s life. It feels like [the dis­tance be­tween us] has less­ened as he’s got­ten sober and we’ve got­ten closer and closer. It feels like a true brother­hood has formed. I would be 99 per cent sure that now there isn’t that pos­si­bil­ity that this thing is just go­ing to run into the fuck­ing wall. That could have def­i­nitely hap­pened five years ago.”

How did it feel to watch Divine Heresy/bad Wolves front­man Tommy Vext fronting the band in your ab­sence? Ivan:

“I’d be ly­ing if I said it wasn’t a kick in the teeth. It was a mix of tough love and nec­es­sary evil, and it re­ally hurt at first. But it also made me step back and un­der­stand it wasn’t just me go­ing down. I was tak­ing my guys with me. They didn’t de­serve that. We’re on tour right now with Bad Wolves, too. Tommy and I had to have a con­ver­sa­tion where I made a se­ri­ous point in telling him I am the singer in FFDP. He to­tally got it. At the end of the day I had to wake the fuck up.”

It al­most seems like the tur­bu­lence in and around FFDP has be­come in­te­gral to your ap­peal. Is there any dan­ger that ex­or­cis­ing your demons will un­der­mine that? Or is it pos­si­ble, to bor­row your own ter­mi­nol­ogy, to be “race car driv­ers with­out wreck­ing a few cars”? Zoltan:

“That fric­tion is [still] why this works. We joke about it all the time – how Ivan is Cap­tain Kirk and I’m Spock. Ivan is a mas­sively emo­tional per­son. He re­acts to things. He’s like the hand grenade with the loose pin. I’m the op­po­site: log­i­cal, prag­matic, me­thod­i­cal. He makes these crazy sug­ges­tions and I cal­cu­late what can ac­tu­ally work. We’re so yin and yang.”

Ivan: “Any­body who says get­ting sober has made me calmer is out of their mind. It’s made me more ruth­less. The fire in my heart and un­der my ass is burn­ing. I al­most feel like Thanos: I’m here for it all.”

Five Fin­ger Death Punch: “It feels like a true brother­hood has formed…”

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