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Five Finger Death Punch Interview

A Conversation with Guitarist Zoltan Bathory

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Five Finger Death Punch

Five Finger Death Punch

Prospect Park
Five Finger Death Punch quickly rose to fame with their 2007 debut The Way of the Fist. It’s been nothing but a straight shot to the top for the Los Angeles, California quintet. With a third album in the works, the band is re-releasing their first album for the second time in a nifty box set. The box set includes a bonus disc of hard-to-find tracks and a DVD that tells the history of the band from the members themselves. I spoke to guitarist Zoltan Bathory about the reissue and what the future holds with the upcoming album.

Dan Marsicano: The band is re-releasing The Way Of The Fist for the second time. What made the band decide to put it out again after re-releasing it only two years ago?
Zoltan Bathory: Well, our first record is still selling a lot of copies every week. First of all, it’s because the band grew organically and a lot of people discovering that we have this first album. They maybe just heard the second one, and they are going back and buying it. I think that’s what is actually happening. It’s an unusually high number that we sell weekly of the first album, but there are a lot of complaints that they can’t find it in the stores because the brick and mortar stores went away. There are not many of them, and when people go in to try to find something, obviously new records are replacing the old records, so they may not find it.

It (the re-release) is kind of a way to put the record back in the stores and we put together a package that actually has the story of the band. So whoever has the first record already, they have the first record, but whoever doesn’t and decide to get this box set, they actually get a history of the band. If you have the first record, you kind of already know what’s in it, but people who are discovering the band now and are picking this up will have the DVD that has the whole story and introducing them to the years that they may have missed.

This re-release includes a bonus disc of eleven tracks. Where did these tracks come from?
There were a couple of tracks that we made exclusives. For example, the Pantera cover, we made that for an exclusive Guitar World and Metal Hammer collection. So that was not available for people largely because it was part of the magazine, so we figured it’s a good way to include that one. Another one was “From Out of Nowhere,” a cover of Faith No More. That was a European edition; same thing, if you didn’t have the European edition, you really couldn’t get the song.

There was a song “Succubus” which was released in a weird way that we had a demo version of it, but it didn’t make the first record, right? Somehow, the song got out. We don’t even actually know how it got leaked. A lot of people loved it, and it was not available because it was a demo version, an older version. Basically, there are all these tracks that are either floating around or are simply not available on American releases.

With these bonus tracks coming out, is there any material left from The Way Of The Fist recording sessions back in 2007?
We do have the demos when we were writing the songs, but I don’t think we would ever release those. They are basically just writing session. Pretty much everything that connecting to the first album’s era is in this box set. We’re not going to have another re-releasing, if that’s what you are asking.

I want to talk for a few minutes about the DVD itself. Tell me a little bit about the creation of the DVD and what it entails.
The DVD is the story told by the band. Basically, we had the videographer sit down with every band member separately and asked him about the rest of the band members and their relations and the chemistry and what not. We figured it would be an interesting thing, sort of a confession style, where anything goes and you can say whatever you want about the rest of your band mates. We have the story of what happened, when it happened, how the band was signed.

The success happened to us fairly fast. Every single one of us came from bands that had some level of success before, so we paralleled all the stories and all the stuff that was misunderstood in the press. How we recorded this first album on our own, we produced it, paid for it. It was done and ready to go and the record label actually picked it up and released it as it was; they never touched it.

That’s the real story and I think people needed to know that this is not some major label wizardry and the reason that it happened this fast was a different factor, not because we had a big label and big machine and big money behind us. That never happened. We told all those stories and all these things are touched upon. Also, the DVD includes the official videos of the first record; “The Bleeding, “Never Enough,” and “The Way Of The Fist.”

Now you say that all the band members were interviewed that were involved. Does that include former guitarist Darrell Roberts?
No he is not. Basically, we recorded this on the road, so we didn’t have access to him at the time. It’s tasteful; everybody was respectful. We’re still friends with him. We just parted ways, but it wasn’t an ugly split. It’s very respectful towards him. We tell the story, but he’s not on it.

Going back through the album now, how do you feel about the material with everything that has happened to the band since the album’s release?
To tell you the truth, The Way of the Fist was something that I’m really proud of still to this day and I wouldn’t change a thing on it. At the time, we were in a position where we didn’t have a label, management, we didn’t have a producer; we didn’t have people attached to this project. It was really music we wanted to write. Nobody was twisting our arms; nobody was telling us how to write a radio hit. Those things were not in the picture whatsoever. We just wrote music we felt good about. We had enough time because that was our first record. It was what we wanted to do and it sounded the way we wanted it to sound.

Could you see your second album, War Is The Answer, getting the same re-release treatment down the line?
When we released War Is The Answer, we already released it with a DVD, so there was already a deluxe package. I don’t think we’re going to do that because the second record had enough on it; the band was big enough and people have access to all the material that surrounded us. There is no bonus material that was left off of it really. I don’t see that happening.

This first record was important for us to bring out this box set because it contains the whole story. The second record is an established band already, so people have access to all the material. Right now, we’re concentrating on the third one. So if we release anything, it will be a deluxe edition of the new record with a DVD, but I don’t see War Is The Answer coming out with a box set.

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