Interview: Five Finger Death Punch
Mon, 11 Aug 2014 09:46:19
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"From day one, we always had a very serious and solid connection to the armed forces," exclaims Five Finger Death Punch guitarist Zoltan Bathory. "I guess it comes from the lyrical content and the mentality. It takes a certain kind of person to hold that. We approach the music with that in mind. These are the guys who come to our shows, and we're so grateful. "
Five Finger Death Punch show their appreciation in the hard-hitting, heart-wrenching, and heartfelt music video for "Wrong Side of Heaven". The track remains one of the most powerful from last year's The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Vol. 1. In the video, it helps convey the plight of soldiers returning home and facing the horrors of post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] within the video. The clip itself proves simply riveting, watching these real soldiers and their struggles. It's one of the most powerful statements yet from metal's leaders.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Zoltan Bathory of Five Finger Death Punch talks "Wrong Side of Heaven", the band's connection the military, and so much more.
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You make a very poignant statement with the "Wrong Side of Heaven" music video.
That was definitely the goal. We basically wanted to hit America in the chest with this. The news hops around to whatever the hot, current item is. If there's a car chase today, everybody is watching the car chase. With this particular issue, just because the media moved on, it doesn't mean it was solved. What the soldiers are going through and what's happening to them is not being talked about. Sometimes, news pops up by The VA (The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) or some issue these guys are facing, but there's a lack of public awareness about what's happening and the Post-War situation. The only way it's going to change is if there's public awareness and public opinion which contributes to the solution. These guys signed up to technically lay down their lives if they have to. Not many people in the world can comprehend that or would ever do such a thing. They're back home now, and there's a split public opinion. Some people say, "Thank you for doing this so I didn't have to". There's an opposing opinion too though. Imagine the feeling of that. One day, you get embraced and thanked. Another day, somebody is calling you all kinds of things and saying you killed people. Public opinion contributes to the problem. We are not politicians. As a band, we have an avenue, a channel, and a large audience. If anything, we can do fundraisers and raise awareness of these astonishing numbers. People should know this is happening.
The numbers are staggering...
They are. More than 5,000 veterans take their own lives every year. They survived the war, and this is how bad their suffering is. They didn't have a problem risking their own lives, and now they're taking their lives. There's a big problem there. Light has to be shone on it.
The song "Wrong Side of Heaven" fits so well. Why does that song work for this topic?
Basically, I believe good lyrical content is when you listen to a song and you can apply it to your own situation. Every other person can do that. A song can mean something to you and something completely different to another person. A good song always gives you some space for interpretation. This particular song can be perceived in many different ways. If you put pictures to it, it can mean a million things. Even among the band members, it means something different to everyone. I can talk about what it means for me.
What does it mean to you?
To me, this particular song is exactly this situation we were just talking about. It's how I would imagine a soldier would feel somewhere between. He's wondering if it's right or if it's wrong. For example, taking a life is a very serious thing. That life ended, and everything connected to it is gone. However, war is not pretty. That's what happens. Even though these guys are doing a job and they're doing something for the greater good. As an individual in that situation, you don't know. You signed up. You're ready to lay down your life. You're ready to uphold the rules of engagement even though your enemy doesn't. It's a very difficult thing to go through. Nobody really understands the politics. A lot of information is hidden from us. We know half-truths. What if you got the wrong half of the truth? Imagine a soldier in the situation. He signed up to defend his country and all it stands for. Now, he has to go do things beyond what a civilian could even fathom. "The Wrong Side of Heaven" was that line. That's what the song talks about. He's thinking, "Is it right or wrong? I'm doing what I have to do. This is my duty. I'd like to believe I'm sent here for the right reason".
For you, what have been some of the most powerful experiences interacting with soldiers?
To tell you the truth, there are so many of them. Even in civilian life, a lot of my friends are soldiers. In the band we employ, we have a lot of ex-military guys, and they are extended family. I hear the stories. I have friends who have PTSD. We used to call it "Shellshock" back in the day. They suffer from these things. I see how their families suffer too. Sometimes, they lose their families. All of the things we show in the videos come from personal experiences of what I saw or my friends saw. We were talking with soldiers and friends of mine before we did the video. It's really hits home emotionally. There are so many stories, and they're so incredible. These guys are so humble. They have to stay in a micro-cosmos to stay sane. When you're there, you're not thinking of the policies of the government and the Republicans or the Democrats. You're thinking about the guy standing next to you. His life is dependent on you, and your life is dependent on him. The brotherhood, friendship, and connection these guys are forging with each other is unfathomable to anyone on the outside. Your life is in the hands of the man next to you. It's amazing. We'll get these dog tags or flags. Ivan got an iPod from a fallen soldier. It was charred up. His friend gave it to Ivan because the fallen soldier would go out on missions and listen to Five Finger Death Punch. That's what he listened to. He didn't make it back, but his unit thought we should have his iPod. We have many stories like that. We've gone to the Middle East, Germany, and Japan. We always go to military bases and play them.
What's your favorite Five Finger Death Punch song?