FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH's ZOLTAN BATHORY On Lineup Changes: 'If Something Doesn't Work, You've Gotta Move On'
June 15, 2022
FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH guitarist Zoltan Bathory spoke to Rock Feed about the band's upcoming album, "AfterLife", which is due on August 19. Regarding the bandmembers' general mindset when approaching the making of the LP, Zoltan said: "When we started this record… We always had this kind of rule of you go to the studio and you just record everything. And no crazy idea is crazy. Let's see what happens. So that was always the attitude, but this time somehow this was even more emphasized. So we really went to the studio, like, look, this is the ninth album. We have a sound. Fans know exactly who we are. So our sound and how we've sounded for nine albums, that's established; you hear the first riffs and you hear Ivan's [Moody, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH singer] voice and you know who this is — there's no guessing. And that kind of gave us this opportunity, like, 'You know what? Let's just venture a little bit farther.' And also it's that whole idea that this is a new phase for the band as well; we had a couple of lineup changes. So there was this new energy. We went in there happy and the whole process was sort of easy."
He continued: "This was one of my favorite records to make, and also is one of my favorite records. There was this energy of creation. And I think the fingerprints of that [are] all over the record. So it's very special."
Bathory also talked about the fact that "AfterLife" marks FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH's first album with its latest addition, renowned British virtuoso Andy James, who replaced Jason Hook in 2020. James was previously featured on "Broken World", a song that was included on the second installment of FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH's greatest-hits collection, "A Decade Of Destruction – Volume 2", which came out in the fall of 2020.
"You'll never find an interview that I said negative stuff about past bandmembers or even other bands; that's not my thing," Zoltan said. "In this case, we got to the point where relationships come to an end, and so therefore there are some lineup changes. And that's actually healthy. Because if something doesn't work, you've gotta move on. It's just as simple as that."
The "Afterlife" title track, which was released as a single in April, recently gave FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH the most consecutive No. 1s on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Airplay chart. The song is the band's 12th total No. 1 and eighth entry on the chart in a row. FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH broke out of a tie with DISTURBED and SHINEDOWN, each of whom has seven consecutive No. 1s on the chart.
According to Billboard, only three artists boast more No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock Airplay chart, which began in 1981: SHINEDOWN (with 17), THREE DAYS GRACE (with 16) and VAN HALEN (with 13).
FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH's follow-up to 2020's "F8" was once again recorded at the Hideout Recording Studio, the Las Vegas, Nevada facility owned and operated by Kevin Churko, the Canadian record producer/engineer and songwriter who has worked on all of FIVE FINGER's albums beginning with the band's sophomore release, 2009's "War Is The Answer".
Bathory previously said that "Afterlife" was "hands down" his favorite record to make. "It is our ninth album, so at this point we have legions of loyal fans and our signature sound is more than established," he explained. "It became its own island, our ground zero we operate from and we can always come back to. So when we started this record, there was an excitement of impending musical adventures. We knew we could step away as far as we wanted to; there was a freedom of truly 'anything goes.' This resulted in an album that is way more diverse than our previous ones while it feels more unified, because there is a framework of overarching stories in Ivan's lyrics and interconnecting musical motifs between songs. It was not planned as a concept album, but we were so hyper-focused on painting a complete picture, it somehow feels like one... We are very proud of it and are just as impatient as the fans waiting for the release. Can't wait to share it."
Exclusively curated by the band, various limited-edition "AfterLife" vinyl and merchandise offerings and collectibles are also available for pre-order in the official band and label stores.
Since FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH's debut album, "The Way Of The Fist", came out in 2007, the band has released six consecutive albums that were certified gold or platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) as well as two chart-topping greatest-hits albums. In addition, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH has earned numerous national and international awards and honors over the last decade, such as the prestigious Soldier Appreciation Award by the Association Of The United States Army, an honor bestowed upon only one other recording artist before them: Elvis Presley.
"F8" debuted at No. 1 on rock charts around the world, with Top 10 mainstream chart debuts in the USA, Austria, Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and more. It produced four No. 1 hit singles with "Inside Out", "A Little Bit Off", "Living The Dream" and "Darkness Settles In". The band has amassed over eight billion streams and three billion video views to date and has sold over one million tickets between 2018 and 2020 alone.
This past April, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH announced a 2022 U.S. headlining tour presented by Live Nation. Kicking off in Portland, Oregon on August 19, the trek will span over 30 dates, closing out on October 15 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The band will be joined on tour by rock icons MEGADETH, with additional support from THE HU and FIRE FROM THE GODS, promising an intense multi-faceted night of heavy rock music.