Interview: Ivan Moody of Five Finger Death Punch and Aaron Nordstrom of Gemini Syndrome
Wed, 24 Jul 2013 15:07:09
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Real artists always share a thing or two in common.
Five Finger Death Punch frontman Ivan Moody and Gemini Syndrome singer Aaron Nordstrom could've been brothers though. Their views on art, music, and the world intersect in a rather intriguing fashion. Moreover, both of these men possess the capability of encoding thought-provoking intelligent lyrics within the landscape of hard-hitting hypnotic music. It's why they're both extremely crucial to the genre and its next generation.
Five Finger Death Punch unleash The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Vol. 1 (pre-order at www.fivefingerdeathpunch.com or by texting 310-494-2991) on July 30, while Gemini Syndrome are set to drop their debut Lux on September 10. Both are bound to be game-changers for hard rock. Moreover, they'll be touring the states and Canada all fall together.
So, ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino brought Ivan Moody of Five Finger Death Punch and Aaron Nordstrom of Gemini Syndrome together for this exclusive interview...
When did you first hear Gemini Syndrome, Ivan?
Ivan Moody: I heard Gemini Syndrome when they first got together because their drummer Brian is an old friend of mine. We've known each other since back in the Colorado days. I've always had a deep admiration for Aaron. I saw him play guitar and do backup vocals in Otep. I think Gemini Syndrome are a fantastic group of guys. They're up-and-coming. That's where metal needs to be going.
Aaron Nordstrom: I've been listening to Ivan since the Motograter days. I've been following him for ten years now.
Ivan Moody: It was that long ago, wasn't it?
Aaron Nordstrom: I guess it was! I've been paying attention for all of those years. I got to play with Ivan at a radio show in New Jersey when Five Finger Death Punch was on the first record. That was quite some time ago.
Ivan Moody: You're right!
Aaron Nordstrom: We met after the show. Evil J came and introduced me to Ivan. We got to hang on the bus for a little bit. That was the first time I had ever done that was major league stuff. I was still pretty green. I was really nervous.
Ivan Moody: It didn't show through, man! You killed it.
Aaron Nordstrom: It was like meeting a hero. Now, I've watched UFC fights at your house. My things have changed!
Ivan Moody: I know, right?
For both of you, what's the lyrical process like? You write in a visual, yet personal style.
Ivan Moody: I'm going to take it from how I see it. Aaron and I both have really relatable lyrics in general whether it be socially, politically, or artistically. We both speak from our hearts, and we're both huge fans of art in and of itself. I don't want to speak for him, but I think both of us come from really deep backgrounds and that shows through in the everyday situations we speak of.
Aaron Nordstrom: I couldn't agree more. I definitely think there are a lot of emotionally charged subjects we write about. I think that's pretty obvious—whether it be coming from an angry place or a more introspective place. Writing about things you've experienced directly or that you feel something so strongly about enough to put it into song, that evokes people to feel that with you if you're really feeling it in the first place.
Ivan Moody: Either one of us is capable of writing songs about riding out into the sunset and slaying dragons, but that doesn't seem like it has anything to do with us [Laughs].
Aaron Nordstrom: That might be a fun side project some day.
Ivan Moody: Yeah, let's do a duet!
Where does the effect come through? You're both adept at veiling subjects, while wearing your hearts on your sleeves.
Ivan Moody: As a frontman, you don't have any filters. You have to find your own ways to be introspective. Standing on that stage and writing lyrics, you're exposing just about every good or bad thing about yourself and you're leaving yourself open for complete judgment from any angles of the world. It's a gift, but it's a curse at the same time.
Aaron Nordstrom: You're taking words right out of my mouth [Laughs]. You have to be vulnerable to be in that place. You have to allow yourself to be, but at the same time, you have to remain strong through your own vision and feelings. You're an open book.
Ivan Moody: Most definitely!
Aaron Nordstrom: As a frontman, you have to channel the energy of the entire band through you and communicate it to a crowd. At the same time, you receive the crowd's energy and bring it back to the band as well. You become that filter in and of itself.
Ivan Moody: I absolutely agree one-hundred-and-ten percent! I just caught myself. There's such thing as a fucking one-hundred-and-ten percent [Laughs].
You both add a degree of intelligence and introspection to a genre not normally associated with either quality. The music's still catchy as well. That's a delicate balance...
Aaron Nordstrom: You're totally right in the sense that in this genre of music people get stereotyped into meatheads, knuckleheads, or whatever. Certainly, that exists. Again, talking about being at the front of the stage and communicating, you can't be afraid to address people's intellect and maybe try to make them think a little more than the status quo expects them to.
Ivan Moody: Most definitely! It's so off to me that this genre of music gets pigeonholed as having a mongoloid mentality. It's the farthest thing from the truth. I've met some of the most intellectual people in this facet of the music industry. You start at Corey Taylor and work you're way through. I've had some of the best conversations in the world with Aaron, sitting at my house and talking about everyday live. It's really imperative that people like he and I be on this. Guys on our side of the industry don't get enough credit. By the same token, it's like being a silent assassin. You let somebody else take all the credit and you turn around and do their gig better than they do.
You both also draw from the same well of influences such as Maynard James Keenan and Mike Patton—singers who weren't afraid to be "smart".
Ivan Moody: The world needs better and more gentlemen [Laughs].
Aaron Nordstrom: Amen!
Does the meaning of music change for you after it becomes your living?
Ivan Moody: Personally, for me, it means even more. It shows people are relating and listening. It's a small victory. You get the sense that you're not the only out there with these issues. It can be relatable to everyday things. The bigger project is the more it means to myself and the guys around me. By the same token, when I was growing up, it probably meant more to me in other areas. It was a form of salvation for me. It was a blanket, so to speak. Nowadays, it's an expression.
Aaron Nordstrom: Totally! When I started playing this kind of music when I was younger, it was more therapeutic, coping with my demons and my situation. As time went on, the desire to share that with people came into play. You start pursuing that. Now that I have a platform to speak and people are listening, it's a different type of meaning, so to speak. It's more external than it used to be.
Ivan Moody: There's more of a responsibility because there are so many people following your words, listening to you, and paying attention to every detail of your life. It truly becomes more of a leadership role than it ever was a following position.
Aaron Nordstrom: To maintain that without becoming the iconic "idol" or golden calf is important. I watched a clip from a Tool concert. I actually saw the tour and Maynard goes, "Think for yourself, strive to be an individual, strive to be virtuous, etc." Everybody is repeating after him, and then he says, "Never repeat things other people say". The audience started cracking up. I thought that was absolutely fucking genius!
Ivan Moody: Maynard's one of the best. He's just special. I don't know if he was the Immaculate Conception or what [Laughs].
Aaron Nordstrom: It's that separation like, "Don't idolize me because I'm far from perfect. I've definitely been through some shit and I can give my testimonial of how I got through it". Look up to me in that way, but hopefully it starts there.
Ivan Moody: Well put!
Did you dig this interview? What's your favorite song from either band?
See our review of Five Finger's new album here!