Five Finger Death Punch
By: James Wright
When industrial-metal act Motograter burst onto the scene in 2003, the future looked blindingly bright. The band had landed tours opening for Ministry and then followed that with a slot on the side-stage at Ozzfest and a whirlwind of critical acclaim and magazine covers. The band’s percussion heavy driven sound was winning more and more fans over each day. Then, just as fast as they rose, Motograter fell just as fast. The band was wrung through the music industry washing machine and plagued by bad luck, industry politics and in-fighting.
Now Motograter frontman Ivan Moody has taken his pent up aggression and unleashed it on the industry in the form of his new project, Five Finger Death Punch. Returning ten times more pissed off than he was in his previous outfit, his new project includes, guitarist Zoltan Bathory (formerly of U.P.O.), guitarist Darrell Roberts (W.A.S.P), bassist Matt Snell and drummer Jeremy Spencer is 100% pure American metal.
Ivan sat down for a no-holds-barred interview with Blistering.com to discuss the demise of Motograter, what it’s like to be put through the music industry wringer, his soulful side-project Ghost Machine and the blistering debut album from Five Finger Death Punch, “Way of the Fist”.
Blistering.com: Let’s start by talking about what happened with the demise of Motograter, how did things fall apart?
Ivan: Well it was a domino effect in Motograter and there were a lot of things that went wrong. Our manager and good friend Steve Richards passed away, then Elektra folded so our label collapsed and then there were a lot of politics involved. It just got to the point where we didn’t enjoy what we were doing anymore. There was no love for the music and no love for being on stage with one another, so it just seemed like we were constantly battling one another for different things. We all took time off hoping that would help resolve the issues and then after a year went by I just got tired of sitting on my ass. I’m an artist and I need to be out there doing what I do best. I did Ghost Machine for a short time, but in reality I needed a touring band and I’m a huge metal freak so I wanted something a little truer to my roots and that’s when Five Finger Death Punch came into play.
Blistering.com: Was there ever a part of you that said, “Maybe I should just call it a day” after the demise of Motograter?
Ivan: I never throw in the towel and I will always fight to the very end. It was a group decision to end it and it was so thick with politics that I literally had to take a year off just from writing, because I almost forgot why I was up here doing what I’m doing.
Blistering.com: So give us the rundown of how Five Finger Death Punch came together…
Ivan: Well the band formed before I was in it, with Matt, Zoltan and Jeremy. Zoltan had actually been stalking me on MySpace watching the Motograter dates and he realized that I hadn’t been playing in eight months so he asked if he could send me some material. At first I was a little put off about it, because I didn’t want to get involved so quickly and still had hope for Motograter. When I got the material I flew in for an audition and three days later I was in the studio, because I fell in love with the guys. This is a great opportunity for me to be honest to myself and give the fans back what I felt they gave me. Five Finger Death Punch is a band that I know in my heart would never do that, which made my decision even easier.
Blistering.com: Have you seen Motograter fans come out in support of Five Finger Death Punch?Ivan: In ridiculous numbers; It amazes me. At first I thought they might be a little put off, but I’ve received nothing but positive response from every one of them. There have been a few fans that have asked what is happening with Motograter, but I always tell them that my heart is in this.
Blistering.com: Can you give us some insight into this record; where it was recorded and the creative process behind it?
Ivan: Well this record was pretty much written when I came into the picture. What I did was the arrangements and manipulated where I thought the chorus should be instead of the verse. Lyrically, this is the most painful album I’ve ever written. During the process I was going through so much with my older brother passing on, I came close a couple times to losing my daughter and then watching Motograter go through its downfall. There was just a lot of stuff going on and I decided that every piece of the album would be from my heart and if anyone disliked it, it wouldn’t be for the reason that I didn’t put out 110% of what I had. The writing process for me was very tedious and I really had to dig deep for a lot of these songs, but I think it was for the best.
Blistering.com: Do you think that’s why the record came out so pissed off?
Ivan: Absolutely, because that was my state of mind. I decided that if I was going to go into this it was going to be with a shotgun and not a .38 Special. This is my chance to not be a comic book character like I was in Motograter and let people know more of who I am. It just seemed natural to me write what was in my heart, which at the time was a lot of pain and anguish.
Blistering.com: Do you re-live those experiences when you perform these songs every night?
Ivan: Absolutely; as a matter of fact when we performed in Arizona the girl who I wrote “The Bleeding” for was at the show and that the first time I had seen her in about a year and I almost broke into tears because it all came rushing back to me. I’m not one of those artists that just likes to get up on stage and drink beer, when I sing a song I like to take myself and the fans back to the place where I was when I wrote that song.
Blistering.com: Can you give us some insight into where you are coming from with “The Bleeding” lyrically?
Ivan: That song is a two-part song and it comes across as a relationship piece, which it is. Half of it is about my ex-fiancé who meant everything to me, so once Motograter had fell apart and then her and I dwindled apart it just took a huge part of my life. So a lot of that song was about me losing that love and then having to say that it was over and move on. The other half was written about Motograter, because that was the closest thing I’ve ever had to a real family and it took a huge part of my soul.
Blistering.com: Is the song “The Way of the Fist” about one particular person that you are calling out?
Ivan: Well, there are a couple guys that aren’t on my Christmas list anymore if that’s what you mean. That one and the other song called “Meet the Monster” are about the guys in Motograter and other bands I’ve toured with. You always hear about it but it’s true, the second you’re not in the scene anymore people won’t answer your calls and they forget about you and that really crushed me. It just got to the point where I needed to tell people how I felt and there was never going to be a phone call or me standing on their doorstep yelling in their face, so the best way for me to portray those feelings was through a song. I think there were people that definitely wanted me to go away and there was even some people that wanted Motograter to go away, but I will never lay down because I’ll always die trying.
Blistering.com: Do you think there is a theme of perseverance to this record?
Ivan: Absolutely; it’s the warriors blood, death before dishonor. Anybody can sit there and talk it, but to stand up on your own two feet and start over again from scratch takes a lot of guts. There were days where I was debating why I even did it, but now I know exactly why I did it.