Geschreven door Jessica Santiago Lopez op 2014-01-19 18:09:29

Interviews :: Interview met Five Finger Death Punch

19 november 2013 was de dag dat Five Finger Death Punch dan eindelijk in Nederland te zien zou zijn, als support van Avenged Sevenfold in de Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam.(Review van de show is hier te lezen). Dit was niet alles, want 19 november was ook nog eens de dag dat hun tweede 2013 release uit zou komen, namelijk ‘The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell Vol.2’.  19 november was dus een uitstekende dag om de band even wat vragen te stellen en dit deed Metalkrant dan ook! Ik sprak gitarist Zoltan over het nieuwe album, het afgelaste optreden van FortaRock en meer. Check it out!

Interview door Jessica Santiago Lopez

Q: Hey Zoltan. How are you?
Z: Good! Good times. It’s a good tour.

Q: Great to hear! Let me start by asking about the cancelled performance. You were supposed to play here in June at FortaRock and I spoke to Ivan a few days before, during which he told me that you guys were excited about the show. Then it got cancelled and a lot of people got mad. So, what happened?
Z: Yeah, I remember this vividly, because Ivan and I were already here on the ground and we were waiting for the rest of the band. What happened was that a big show that was going to happen a few days after the FortaRock show got cancelled, on the promoter’s side. A bunch of bands like Megadeth, ZZ Top and all of these guys were supposed to play as well, but a lot of bands pulled off the bill because there were some major issues with those promoters. So what happened and what people on the outside don’t see is that for us to be here in Europe, we have to have busses, trucks, crew etc. If we don’t have a show, that doesn’t mean we don’t have to pay this guys. So when a situation like this happens, we have to look at our schedule. So the show after FortaRock fell out and we would be sitting here around 4 or 5 days after, doing nothing. It was just a logistical nightmare for us to do the show anyway. Those days with no shows would throw the tour upside down for us you know. So since that show had to be pulled, the rest of the guys and crew flew in a couple of days later. It was just a logistical thing. A lot of bands, when they book a tour, routing, travels and everything is pretty much figured out way in advance. When a show falls out like that, it can cause a big problem for a lot of bands, especially overseas. So pretty much, that was it, it wasn’t anything else.

Q: Yeah, it was a bummer.
Z: Yeah it was. I mean, like I said, Ivan and I were already here doing a press tour. We were here for a month prior. We were travelling around Europe doing the press tour and we came to Amsterdam and FortaRock was going to be the first show. We were sitting here and going like “so, what’s up?”, while the conversation was going between the label, management, booking agencies, promoter, like “How are we going to do this?”. The local promoters here, the guys who were doing the show, they were great. They were really trying to make it happen; trying to figure out if it was faceable. It just simply wasn’t making any sense because of the distance to the show after.

Q: Ok, well I hope this clears it up for people…
Z: Yeah, this usually is like an inside thing. I don’t like to throw people under the bus or anything or talk crap about anyone, but the bottom line was that because of that show after FortaRock falling out, we just couldn’t fill up.

Q: Ok, but hey, you’re finally here now! Haha…
Z: Yeah, finally right! Haha.

Q:  A lot of people are really excited to see you guys tonight. It surprised me to see that you guys had such a big following over here now! I mean, I got to know you around the ‘War Is The Answer’ days and since then, you seem to have really grown over here. Even looking at how many people were pissed when you cancelled FortaRock, which really surprised me. So, what can all those fans expect tonight?
Z: This band has always been very high energy. We’re a live band. I think that one of the biggest parts of success for the band is that when somebody sees the band, when someone comes to the show and experiences the live show, then it makes sense to them.  It makes sense what this band is all about. I think a lot of people might hear songs from the radio, but those are the lighter songs. Radio just doesn’t play the heavy stuff. So people might have the misconception that we’re a pop/rock band or something. But we’re road dogs, we’re a live band, people have to see the show to understand what this is about, to experience the energy of the show. Tonight it’s not our own headlining show, it’s Avenged Sevenfold headlining obviously, so we’ve brought some stuff with us, but we couldn’t bring out entire stage set. We’re gearing up for our own headlining tour!

Q: Cool! So, talking about this tour, how have the rest of the shows been going so far?
Z: Good! Almost everything has been sold out, you know. Especially Norway, Sweden, Finland, it’s been really big, big shows. This is a really good tour, because Avenged Sevenfold and us have a very similar fan base. Both of these bands are really breaking out in a big way now. So put this together and you’re going to get a big audience you know. In America people are complaining because this tour is happening here, haha. They’re like “ah! We want that tour here!”

Q: Really? Haha, we’re always complaining here about the big tours in the States! Haha.
Z: Well this has never happened over there, so they’re complaining now, haha.

Q: Well, ‘The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell Vol. 2” is out today, congratulations on that! The record is sounding great, but what can you tell about what the record sounds like for the people who haven’t heard it yet by the time this interview goes up? What’s it sounding like?
Z: Since it’s a double record, if they heard the first part, they’re going to like this part as well. It’s very much the same as volume 1, sound wise at least, because obviously they are different songs and then some.  We had plenty of songs, we had 34 something, so we could afford to experiment a little bit. When you have just 12 songs maybe not so much, because if you have 3 or 4 songs on there for experimentation…that’s one third of the record. But since we have two records, we could have around 6 songs on there that are a little bit different, a little bit progressive, and it definitely enabled us to do things like we normally would as well. So both records have a little bit of experimentation, the second one even has a little instrumental piece on there. Volume 2 might be a bit heavier maybe. Not too much, but I think the second one is a bit heavier, angrier, than the first one. But, if you like Five Finger Death Punch, you will like it…if you don’t, it’s the same haha.

Q: Back in June when I spoke to Ivan, he was really excited about ‘Vol 2’. What was it like for you? Did you have any volume that you were particularly excited about?
Z: That was our goal. To split up two equally good records that I could not make up my mind which one was better.  So, when we were splitting up the songs, we already had all of them. So that was the hardest thing to do. How do we split this up in to two batches that were equal, that you can’t favor.  That was the goal. I think we achieved it, because I can’t make up my mind. Both records have songs that I really, really like. Both of these records are part of the best we did so far. Every band says that, “this is the best we’ve ever done yeah!”haha, so it’s a cliché, but you just have to hear it. When you do, you’ll know it’s not just talk, it’s when the band became it’s best formation, when it’s crystallized. When we really worked together and we really became a band that knows exactly who we are and what we’re doing and this is it. As I said, both records are equally good for me and that was the idea. It’s weird because the second is maybe a little bit heavier, but it also has some lighter songs.

Q: I also noticed that on ‘Vol. 1’ you had more collaborations on there, but on ‘Vol 2’, there aren’t any. Any special reason why you did this?
Z: We have the tracks, we have a bunch of them ready. We just didn’t put them on the record because we did it the first time and we also wanted to make sure that people knew it’s a Five Finger Death Punch record. All the collaboration tracks were going to be bonus tracks, but we just added them to the record. We kind of did that for the fans as a gift or something. Instead of putting it on something extra, we just wanted to make sure everybody could hear them. When the second volume came about, we had a couple of really cool collaborations and we ended up not putting them on the record. Then it might have become a gimmick you know, we would have done that on the first record and then on this one again…We didn’t want people to get the impression that we like needed to do this. We didn’t want to take the attention away that it is our two best records to date, you know. If we have too much extra stuff, then people might not notice that. It takes away the attention that these are our two most solid Five Finger Death Punch records. We will release them though. Maybe in a video game, or on TV or whatnot. There are a couple of cool ones still. We have one with Rob Zombie and I really like the one with Ryan Clark from Demon Hunter.  He sings on one of the songs and it is fucking amazing.  So, I can’t wait to release them, we’ll find a special thing to do so!

There’s also a cover, “House of the Rising Sun”, on the record. How did you guys come up with the idea to cover that one?
Z: Well, every song that Ivan sings is about real life. He doesn’t write about fiction things. Every lyric that he sings, he sort of relives it on stage, like the whole memory. I think that’s why people connect with him, because they can tell that whatever he talks about is real. So when we look for a cover, it happens that we might like a song, but he can’t connect with the lyrics, because that is important to him. That the lyrics make sense to him. “House of the Rising Sun” is about gambling and drinking and since we live in Las Vegas, there is a lot of gambling and drinking going on. That was a problem for Ivan, which he is still trying to get over. He used to gamble a lot and het used to drink a lot, so this song just made sense to him. The only thing about “House of the Rising Sun” is that the original was in a weird time signature. It’s in a 6/8, which is kind of a waltzy thing and we wanted to make it to a rock song. So that was a challenge, because it’s a fundamental change, changing the time signature.  We did and it’s pretty interesting because a lot of people don’t notice this at first. They notice that you can kind of rock at it. Non-musicians will notice something is different, but they might not know what it is. Musicians will notice immediately that we changed it to 4/4. It was big challenge to do that to the song, to like not destroy it. It’s a trick to figure out how to do it without losing the song. We’re pretty proud of it, because you won’t notice it until you go like “huh, what’s different?”.  That is what it is, we changed it into a rock tune.

Q: What’s it been like for you guys to release two records in less than six months?
Z: haha, chaos! Haha, it seemed like a good idea, well it was a good idea. But, when we did it we had no idea it was actually going to be twice the work haha. We had all this material and we didn’t want to cut out anything, so it was important to release both. Especially if you heard the record, you now know why. There was just no song that we could cut out, you know. So we went to the label like “guys, we want to release all this, because this is the best shit we’ve ever written.”, and the label agreed. But we had no idea at that time that it would take twice the touring, twice the promo stuff, twice the travel to do press tours. Then there was the challenge of what new songs we were going to play, because there are 24 of them, haha. Right now we’ve put a couple of new songs in the set,  but now it’s put us in a situation that we’re going to have to play a lot of songs. The shows in America are now an hour and a half or even longer, because we have a lot of songs. So that’s a challenge, haha, it’s a lot of work.  Twice as much work, but I’m really happy that it’s getting great reviews.  I just got the press kit today with a lot of reviews from like Kerrang, Metal Hammer, magazines in Germany and it was overwhelmingly positive. I mean, a lot of bands say this, that it’s the best record because you’re not going to say like “yeah, it’s just ok” you know, haha. So when you do a double, people start to wonder, ok…the first one is good and if it gets really successful, they’ll be like “ohh, the second one will probably be with just fillers and stuff, you know. So when a lot of people say “hey listen to this shit, the second one is even better than the first”, what is what I hear from people… that’s a good position to be in. Especially when the press and everyone realizes that “oh shit, these guys are not kidding”, you know. That was a good feeling.

Q: So the second record was already done by the time the first volume came out. How was it for you guys to have all these songs ready and know that they were good, but no be able to play them live?
Z: Yeah, I was impatient, haha. Yeah, it was certainly interesting, because when you create something…you want to put it out there, you want to share it and we had to sit on it for about four months more. It’s like when you’re waiting for Christmas morning and it goes really slow and you’re like goddamn, haha. But yeah, I think at the same time we were really impatient, like ok, it’s time. We wanted to put it out at the same time, but I think it was better that we did it this way. Releasing 24 songs at once, it’s a lot. So I think it was better like this.

Q: Since 2005 until now and with all these records out, what’s been the most valuable lesson you have learned as a musician?
Z: By the time we started with this band we had all been in bands before and we kind of learned what not to do, the mistakes, you know. I think that’s also one of the reasons for the fast rise. We didn’t make the mistakes that some bands make, because we learned it in the previous bands that were somewhat successful, but not this successful. So when this band got together, we had a goal and we stuck to it and we didn’t make those same mistakes. The lesson is something that you don’t expect I guess. When something blows up, that fast especially, you will attract a lot of hate and negativity too, because it’s just what it is, you’re successful. People immediately will turn against you, because for some reason they will connect that because you’re successful you’ve sold out. Which is ridiculous, it’s actually retarded. There’s a lot of ignorance in that. But I think you learn to do what you really like to do, you really learn to protect and defend what you’re doing and you learn how to turn those things of so that it doesn’t affect us. The first time it happens you really have to wrap your head around it, because I mean, I just write music. But some people go like “well fuck these guys, I hate them, I wish they would die” and you’re like what? It’s really bizarre.  That happened for the first time to us years and years before and we learned how to…first we were surprised and then you go like “oh, it comes with the territory”. So you make fun of it. When you think about it, a lot of that also actually helps the band, haha, so, the more people are talking, it’s all good! I guess you learn just to go like, ok this is bullshit. Anyone that is out there typing messages and all that fucked up stuff, it’s kind of like, if you’re doing that, you’re wasting your life, you’re not a competition to me. The competition is some other kid that is practicing 24/7.

Q: So what are the plans for Five Finger Death Punch in 2014. Maybe a headline tour?
Z: We have an Australian tour coming up and we’re going to Japan. Then we’re coming back here for a proper Europe headlining tour. Probably do a few festivals in the summer and then do a big festival tour in the US. In the late fall or winter we’ll probably come back again. So, now that we can see that we have fans over here in Europe, it makes sense to start to spend more time over here than before. You’ll probably see us around two or three times here in 2014!
(De eerste show is alvast gepland: Five Finger Death Punch staat op 24 maart in 013 in Tilburg!)

Q: Well my last question, do you have any message for our readers?
Z: Yeah! Just like, come out to the shows! Just come out to the shows and you’ll see. We love Amsterdam actually, it’s one of our favorite cities in the world, as most people, haha. It’s too bad we couldn’t play that festival (FortaRock), we really wanted to. That was a logistical thing that was really out of the band’s control. The fans… I just really want them to understand. If we can play a show, we play a show. We don’t cancel shows because of sickness… Ivan has a broken foot right now, for the last four shows…

Q: Oh really?
Z: Yeah, he broke his ankle and he’s hopping around. He doesn’t even have crutches.  He’s too much of a guy like “I’m not fucking going to walk on crutches” haha. So he just didn’t let it be a problem or anything, but he has a broken foot.  So that’s what I mean, we don’t cancel shows just like that. If we cancel a show, you know that it was for some serious reasons. I just want to make sure that all the fans hear and understand that that show was really out of our hands. We tried everything and they local promoters we’re really trying. We really tried to figure out how to make it happen anyway, but it was just not coming together. But we’re here again and were going to be here as many times as we can.




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