Getting friendly with
Five Finger Death Punch
By Naughty Mickie  notymickie@earthlink.net

Metal rockers Five Finger Death Punch appear on stage as hard as their name. But off stage, they are quite amiable and truly appreciate their fans. At the Family Values Tour, when FFDP finished their set, they exited the stage and then went out to the crowd, signing autographs, posing for photographs and giving huge bear hugs. This may seem paradoxical, but read on and you'll soon discover why it's perfect.

FFDP is fronted by vocalist Ivan Moody (Motograter) and includes guitarists Zoltan Bathory (UPO) and Darrell Roberts (W.A.S.P.), bassist Matt Snell (Anubis Rising, Deadsett) and acclaimed studio drummer Jeremy Spencer. They have been touring in support of "The Way of the Fist" (Firm Music).

"Zoltan formed the project with Jeremy the drummer and truly, we all had the same goal," Moody begins. "Once I joined the band it was for the reason of honesty. It seems that some bands these days they've lost their integrity, there are too many politics involved and they're just too wishy-washy. I really wanted something that was a little bit more solidified and was looking for a group of guys who were not going to turn back. This industry really has a lot of ups and downs and it's hard to find people who will stay focused for a duration of a year let alone ten. When I showed up with this band it was the integrity I was looking for, something that would be true to myself and the guys for that matter at the end of the day."

I ask Moody to go a little farther back and tell me about his childhood.

"My grandmother put me in choir when I was about seven years old," Moody responds. "I was only in it about two or three years. Music's always been real close to my heart. Like anybody else, there were ups and downs in my life and music just always seemed to be consistent, so it was easy to latch on to.

"I started singing in bands when I was 16 years old. They used to kick me out of bars after my set was done."

I wonder if Moody went to college and also about his various jobs before his career took off.

"I didn't manage to go to college. That was a great question by the way, my mom's would probably like to shake your hand. She yells at me constantly for not finishing school." Moody goes on, "I was a production assistant in L.A. For a little while, I worked on a couple of different video shoots. Actually, it's a pretty funny story, a friend of mine, who I roommated with in L.A., he used to do editing for a lot of the different porn companies in the area. What we would do is rent out part of our house for these people to come in and shoot porn and that would pay for our rent for the month so it made it a little bit easier to not to have to always work."

Moody keeps busy when he's not with FFDP.

"I'm a sincere snowboarder. I live in Colorado so anytime the season's in I love to go traveling and go about snowboarding. Other than that my daughter is everything. I like to spend any time off with my daughter. For smaller hobbies I collect comic books, I love horror films and I'm actually writing a book right now. I have a lot of different little things to keep myself going," Moody tells me.

His daughter is 9 and doesn't want anything to do with the entertainment industry.

"Another awkward thing is she's going to see me for the first time on this tour (Family Values) perform. She's never seen me play before. I do a lot of screaming and of course there's vulgar things that happen at these concerts. It's going to be a little awkward walking back in the house and have her drop an f-bomb and I can't really discipline her for it because of 'I saw you do it,'" Moody laughs.

"I'll tell you, she is the most ingenious singer that I've ever heard in my life," Moody goes on. "I'm trying not to encourage it, I take that back, of course I encourage it, but she's the most brilliant little singer. She loves music and half of it is genetic."

I want to learn more about his fiction writing.

"I'm writing a horror piece right now, it's called 'Apple Box.' I don't want to let too much of it out, but I'm really excited. I've got a publicist who's been sifting through it with me and hopefully I'll get to do some stuff with it," Moody says.

When it comes to music, artists seem to be continually honing their craft. Moody is no exception, comparing his work in the past with his inkings today.

"With Motograter I was, I don't want to say naive, but I was definitely a little green in some areas and so it was a little bit more gung-ho when I was writing in Motorgrater," Moody admits. "It didn't matter what it was about. That's another thing, in Moto a lot of the things that I wrote about were more outwardly things. In Death Punch I get to write about my soul, my heart, about the things that affect me on a daily basis. And again, that would be from maturity's standpoint, that's probably the biggest thing.

"Sometimes I'll dabble in the music; in this particular project there's no reason to." Moody continues, "The musicians I'm surrounded by are all extremely talented and very respectful, honorable cats, so I really don't have to do a whole bunch except write lyrics. When they sent me the CD it was basically three-quarters done and they let me sit down with the thing for about two months or a little bit shorter than that and, yeah, I came back with the lyrics and we sat in the studio. Of course you always massage things a bit, but overall no, we really have an equal respect for each other and let each other do our thing."

So what about the scene?

"I think there parts of the industry that are growing and getting better. I think that the world is getting smaller, I mean with the

Web involved. You can't be an '80s rock star any more, you can't use these very elaborate productions and hope to sell 500 thousand copies. You really have to get out there and be willing to do gridwork these days. You have to meet with your fans. I think too many bands sit back on their ass and wait for somebody else to do their work for them." Moody goes on about the fans. "For us to not be out there with them, it would make this whole thing moot. We're all fans to begin with front to back. We pride ourselves on that, I love going up and shaking a kid's hand. To know that these kids are being affected by something I'm doing, I would be an asshole not to go out and say thank you and shake hands or give an autograph or have a conversation. It sucks, you can't always sit there and give them hours of your time, but even the smallest gesture can make the biggest difference."

I comment that FFDP is a super group of sorts.

"It's funny because before I joined, the only person in band that was ever in a popular band was Zoltan and he was a hired bass player for UPO," replies Moody. "I didn't even know who the hell UPO was before I met him. I didn't go after him with that mentality, of course that's journalism's loss, but he joined after the whole thing was done. For us it wasn't like, 'Hey, we've got to get this starstruck guitar player,' the pieces just fell into place organically, it was natural. I wish that I was going after a super band, fortunately I was just lucky enough to land in an amazing project."

But you all have terrific resumes, I counter.

"Absolutely and that's just the luck of the draw," agrees Moody. "When Zo and Jeremy set out to find me, from what I understand, they sifted through 20 or 30 vocalists before I went down there and sat in with them. I got really really extremely lucky."

OK, OK, now for the important part-- where did the group get its name?

"As far as I know Zoltan was watching 'Kill Bill 2,' you know he's from Hungary, right?" Moody explains, "His sense of humor is a little bit different, so to him I guess it was the funniest thing in the world, this five finger lotus punch or whatever it was. And I guess it started out as a joke thing, he said, 'This would be a great band name' and yada, yada, yada. When they came to me they were actually thinking about changing it and I told them, 'Dude, that is the most killer heavy metal band name ever. That's like Slayer, that's Metallica, Five Finger Death Punch, it sits well with me.' I pushed it around in my own head to make it work a little bit more metaphorically, but yeah, it came from 'Kill Bill 2.'"

And what about their fans taking on the moniker Knuckleheads?

"Every fan base, well not every fan base, but a decent fan base deserves a decent name," Moody replies. "Our kids are so militant that it's almost like they're thick skulled, hard, militant kids, they'd die for us and we just wanted to give them a tag. We gave them a whole bunch of options, we wanted to call them pit bulls and bullies and this and that. We had a big vote on it and they titled themselves the Knuckleheads, so we stuck with it."

The voting was done online at FFDP's Web site.

"We didn't want to go after this mentality of it's us, it's us, it's us," Moody continues. "Metallica had the best idea and Pantera carried that forward, you've got to put your arms around your fans, it's got to be a family. Too many people just neglect them, these are human beings and it's not the fact that if you're lucky enough to join a band; it doesn't mean they owe you anything, you have to go out there and give them a little love."

We go on to discuss "The Way of the Fist."

"I can't tell you how proud I am of these guys. They really pulled this album off," Moody says. "When I first heard it, there was no double bass on, there was no bass guitar for that matter, it was just guitar and snare and to watch it mold into this beautiful thing. I'm such a metal head at heart, I grew up on Testament and Pantera. For me to be involved in such a serious and honest pure metal project has been a dream of mine since I was 12 years old running around in a 'Master of Puppets' t-shirt and having my mom scream at me 'Turn it down.'"

"That's funny," I respond. "My mother likes all kinds of music, even Gwar."

"You're lucky," Moody says. "My mom was more into Fleetwood Mac and Barry Manilow. I can't blame her, that's her stuff, but it just never rubbed off on me."

"You'll have to do a metal version of a Manilow song for her," I tease.

"Ohhh, oh no. A metal Barry Manilow song," Moody laughs

Moody has a busy year ahead of him.

"I have a movie that I got to star in called 'Bled' coming out at the end of October. There should be trailers for it pretty soon. I was the executive producer for 'Texas Chainsaw.' After this tour, we are definitely looking to stay out on the road for a year or two, but who knows, as long as they can keep us out. There's a lot of stuff coming, but nothing's really been solidified yet, we'll just take it as it comes," Moody shares.

Some bands begin working on new material as soon as an album is released, I ask Moody if FFDP is like this.

"The guys are constantly in the background writing pieces, but I've got a rule of thumb for myself. I won't write anything until I have the time to sit down and spend on it, that's just lyrically and melodically. While I'm out here I've got to focus on this one thing. It's a huge tour, but at least you know I'm paying attention to this theater. It would be like cheating myself, spreading myself too thin," Moody says.

"I understand," I reply. "If you're writing lyrics, you can get too many things in your head."

"You really do," Moody asserts. "I have a hard enough time at night sleeping anyway. I've got so many little things going on, plus I still have my daughter, so it's got to be tempered."

And for FFDP, yet again, it always comes back to the Knuckleheads.

"I just want to tell the fans, and I know they hear this, but from my heart, I'm so appreciative of everything that they've given to us and if they keep coming to the shows, we'll keep coming back. We'd like to see them all there," Moody says.

Find out more about Five Finger Death Punch at www.fivefingerdeathpunch.com  and www.myspace.com/ffdp

Visit my blog at http://mickieszoo.blogspot.com

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