Five Finger Death Punch – 'If Ivan's angry, you're going to know about it'
- Henry Northmore
- 1 December 2017
5FDP at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Nov 2017 / Pierre Vincent
US heavy metal monsters prepare for their first UK arena tour
Formed in Las Vegas, Five Finger Death Punch specialise in bruising heavy metal, masters of huge anthems built from the ground up to be roared back by audiences across the globe. Sin City seems like the perfect breeding ground for a band like 5FDP: they're dark and heavy but instantly accessible, never forgetting that high octane entertainment is a key component in metal music.
'We try to keep the songs as hooky as possible but as heavy as possible and as powerful as possible,' explains drummer Jeremy Spencer. Taking their name from a 70s kung fu movie, founding members Spencer and Hungarian guitarist Zoltan Bathory starting playing together in 2005 but the band really found its voice after recruiting former Motogrator vocalist Ivan Moody, drawing together elements of thrash and groove metal and adding their own spin on muscular rock ballads.
5FDP have sold millions of records worldwide and have hit a milestone in their career, releasing their first greatest hits collection A Decade of Destruction, in December. 'I was actually surprised we had so many [hits] but what a great feeling. We kept doing the "make a record, tour, make a record, tour" thing, so we've been wrapped up in a vacuum, and I never really thought about our hits,' laughs Spencer.
But there has been plenty of drama along the way. Moody in particular has tackled his own demons on the road: there was an onstage 'meltdown' in November 2016 in which Moody claimed was because his mother was dying (a fact quickly refuted by his sister). And in April of this year rumours emerged that Moody was unhappy and thinking about leaving 5FDP; then in June during an erratic concert in Tilburg in the Netherlands, Tommy Vext (Divine Heresy / Westfield Massacre / Bad Wolves) filled in for Moody on several tracks while various band members left the stage multiple times before Moody stated 'this is my last show with Five Finger Death Punch' and made a cutting gesture across his throat.
The band released a statement the next day: 'Those who have followed 5FDP from the beginning can tell you there has always been an element of danger and unpredictability in our music and in our shows. That's rock'n'roll. When you do over 150 shows in a year, you will inevitably have a few derailments, but the train always keeps on moving. Last night in Tilburg was one of those instances, but as they say, you aren't a race car driver if you don't wreck a car or two.'
Vext stayed on and finished the tour while Moody headed to rehab, writing on the band's official Facebook page: 'I am in a treatment facility addressing the addiction issues that have interfered with everything in my life. I love you guys and I love my band... It's what I do and I can't imagine my life without it. I am 100% committed to getting healthy so I can get back on stage with Five Finger Death Punch.'
With Moody's return, 5FDP are back firing on all cylinders, with a new album ready to drop in 2018. 'I'm excited for people to hear it, it's been done for a while, I think it's a strong record,' says Spencer. 'Ivan definitely delivered some powerful lyrics. You definitely feel how he's feeling every time he writes. If he's angry you're going to know about it.'
And in December, they're heading out on their first UK arena tour with some seriously heavyweight support from US metalcore act Of Mice & Men and Swedish melodic death metal pioneers In Flames. 'People can choose any concert they want to go to, so you want to put together the most exciting bill,' says Spencer. 'We always try to put together the strongest package possible, I think everyone wins.'
Five Finger Death Punch play Birmingham Arena, Sun 17 Dec, then touring.