Five Finger Death Punch’s Zoltan Bathory Talks Touring With Papa Roach, New Album + More
Five Finger Death Punch are getting ready to co-headline one of the biggest tours of the year, joining co-headliners Papa Roach and support acts In This Moment and From Ashes to New on a U.S. trek that begins Sept. 4 in Lexington, Ky.
Loudwire recently had a chance to chat with Five Finger Death Punch guitarist Zoltan Bathory about the tour and he spoke about the band's relationship with Papa Roach, plus he gives an update on the band's new album, Got Your Six (due in August), and talks about why they love the ShipRocked Cruise so much (they'll be back to headline the cruise in January 2016). Check out the chat below.
Congrats, another amazing tour package you've put together. It rivals the one you guys had last fall. Can you talk about your thoughts on getting a chance to play with Papa Roach?
Papa Roach, those guys are really good friends and we've known each other for years. We've played so many, not tours, but festivals and various shows together. We've been talking about doing a tour for about three or four years. So this is years in the making. It just so happens, the timing was always off. One of us were either in the studio or in Europe. It never came together, and every time we'd see each other it would happen on festivals and we'd say, "Man! We should do a tour together!"
What people don't know is behind the scenes on how the bands are excited, since we talked about it for such a long time. The second part of this is, this tour was really a fan demand thing because we did a campaign and we always say this, that this is a people's band and no matter what city we're playing it kind of came together from a demand campaign. The response was just out of control, 1.5 million votes were cast and we started out with 60 cities and just broke it down to whoever stayed. So it's a real interesting way to [do research] - this is the time of crowdfunding. This is the time when people and their opinion, the effort can generate something big. It was interesting to do it through an actual tour.
Did you find out anything from the data that came in? Maybe markets you weren't aware of that were bigger supporters?
Yeah, definitely. It's eye-opening. From past tours, you have a breakdown on what cities are buying tickets. From the record label, you can get that data and sort of do market research. Rock 'n' roll and market research, these two things just don't fit [laughs]. But at the same time you have to put together tours and you have to look at it. So you have this data, but at the same time you have these cities that don't have a big radio station. So the people are effected completely differently by the music. Sometimes you get a surprise, like oh my god, a truckload of votes came out of Eugene, Ore., and you would never see that coming. Sometimes that happens and it's funny tours that we're putting together, like wow, they're actually surprised there -- a particular city -- radio station where we know we have a huge fan base.
Papa Roach and FFDP both have massive fan bases but the band's don't necessarily the same style of music. How cool is it to bring the two fan bases together and see how that will play out?
This is interesting because Papa Roach, basically the fan base is different, a little bit. But at the same time you're kind of in the same genre. Papa Roach is a band that's really big on active radio. This means it's two bands, 25 to 28 Top 10 hits between the two bands. So both bands are on the same radio format and hitting a common fan base. So I think that is what makes it a good tour, when you're different enough that each band brings a different fan base and we can share the retention, but at the same time not too different. It's not like people would scratch their heads asking how it will work. So, it's not crazy different. I think that's actually hard to find, to find the perfect band for a tour, especially for a co-headline, where the band is big and has the same kind of fan base but not exactly the same. Then you don't necessarily bring in different ears to their shows. So that's the balance. We had a great run with Volbeat that way, that was the perfect run. I think this is the next tour that makes sense.
You've been working on a new album. We now know the title is Got Your Six. I get the military reference, but how did that end up as the title?
Well, obviously because it's our sixth record. We were thinking of what would be the title of the record and No. 6 would go in somehow to stick in people's minds. We just got off the Wrong Side of Heaven albums and the tours we did and working with homeless people off the street and working on the PTSD campaign that was extremely successful. I can't even tell you the honor, like when five military personnel come up to you and shake your hands and say how much they appreciate it. That's amazing, we're just musicians man. You guys are the real deal. These guys are really out there and risking their lives.
When I make a mistake, it's like, "F--k, I hit the wrong chord." When these guys make a mistake, somebody dies. It's a little bit of a different level of responsibility. When these guys come back sometimes they break down -- it really has dark times over there. Especially when they come back with dog tags of their fallen buddies and say hey you should have these because you guys were his favorite band and we lost him on the battle field. Those things are hitting hard. "Got Your Six" is just a military term for "got your back." Also, coming off of that campaign it just made sense. We sort of had this whole realization with these soldiers. They say that, we got your back and we got each other's back. This is sort of the area of conversation that we were having with veterans or active military.
Obviously you've done quite a bit of work with the military over the years and the new album has that title, but with this tour - are you already thinking ahead that there may be a military tie-in at some point?
We always do military and USO shows, it's just not in the schedule. It's not about -- you never see a military show on a website as a show because it's really about -- the reason why we're doing it is what it does to people and how we relate to the military and how they relate to us. It's not about us saying, "Hey look, we're doing something here." That's not the reason. That's kind of lame. These shows always happen. You just don't know about them, we don't put it on the schedule. We've been doing it for 5, 6, 7 years. It always happens, and it's always on the schedule. When you see a couple of weeks off between two tours, most of the time we're doing a military show. It's just not public.
As for the new album, I know it's still kind of fresh in terms of finishing up and putting things together. Anything you can share on direction, song titles? Anything on what we can expect?
We all came into the studio kind of high off the tour that was extremely successful. Both [Wrong Side of Heaven] records were very successful. We came into the studio with that and I think it shows on the material. It's high energy, a little bit faster. The whole record overall is mid-tempo / high-tempo. Everyone wanted it to be a little bit more of a harder record. We didn't go back to The Way of the Fist times, when we started. It's not that, but it's more closer to that.
I guess it's also coming from the live shows, when you're doing the live shows you see the reaction of the crowd and there is a balance where if you're a club band, in the beginning, you're playing these tiny places but we were super happy! That's the energy that speaks in those clubs.
If you're a band that plays "arena rock," a club, that's just not the right place for it. So, how do you get bands that play arena rock in the first place? You develop into that. As the band is growing because we are very much a live band. The band is growing. The live shows will reflect the music you write. There are certain things you can do in certain arenas or in certain size venues. Even bands like, I don't know DImmu Borgir, I don't think they'd like playing festivals if they had to play 3PM at some outside stage because their image and what they do just doesn't fit that. So they have to go and play inside, under the lights. The band is playing bigger and bigger places, it does affect the music. We know this - we probably need some mid-tempo, songs that make sense in those places. I think it affected the songwriting. Like, yeah, when we come in, we're excited about certain songs because we know when we play that song the whole crowd will freak. You need to write something in that tempo because that's something the crowd enjoys. All these things are affecting each other.
The record is faster and high-tempo. I think we did maybe one slower song and aren't sure if we'll put it on the new record, we might. There's 15 songs right now that we'll probably end up with so that's the thing that the live shows affect it and everybody was in a good mood and was bringing songs that were faster and harder. I'm not even sure when I'm saying that the live shows affected the songwriting, not saying it was concrete either. We didn't come in saying, "OK the market research said you need a tempo of 147." [laughs] It was just sort of everybody was a band member talking about songs amongst each other. It came out anyway, but we had an idea, let's make a record that's a little harder and more uptempo.
Saw you guys are playing ShipRocked again. What is it about ShipRocked that makes such a great time to be a part of that?
When you do something for a living that you love to do, it isn't a job. So we never really feel that we are working because this is what we wanted to do our whole lives. It doesn't feel like work, so for us it sounds funny when I say, "It's kind of a vacation, not work." There's something about that when we go there, but at the same time it is kind of a vacation. For every band, it's a fun time because you're on vacation while you're actually playing a show. So there is that element and you can really enjoy in the ship. You're locked in with everyone. The whole thing is a backstage, everybody is there, everybody is invited. There's something going on at all times. Because it's 24/7, there is no down time. It's 3-4 days of crazy s--t going on and it's just non-stop. If you get up 4AM, 5AM you know you go out to the deck there's going to be people. Something is going on. Somebody is doing something stupid and you'll laugh about it. It's life. That's why people love ShipRocked, it's a vacation with your band who you love. There's just so much life there, so much energy. That's why that is such a unique thing.
Our thanks to Five Finger Death Punch's Zoltan Bathory for the interview. Their tour with Papa Roach, In This Moment and From Ashes to New kicks off Sept. 4 in Lexington, Ky. Dates can be found here. As for Got Your Six, the disc arrives Aug. 28. Keep an eye out for pre-order info coming soon.
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