Five Finger Death Punch’s Zoltan Bathory Talks Influence of Vinnie Paul + Pantera
Five Finger Death Punch and Volbeat may be the headlining acts on their upcoming tour package, but it's notable that Hellyeah are one of the support bands. The group actually was key in the development of Five Finger Death Punch and drummer Vinnie Paul has been a longtime friend of the band.
When was your first time seeing Vinnie Paul and we're you a big Pantera fan?
My first experience was seeing him with Pantera back in the day. I was a kid hitchhiking in Europe to see -- they were touring with Megadeth. I had all the Pantera records, but I wasn't -- I didn't get it. They had one guitar and I'm European and we have a little different kind of a musical background, so to speak. If you analyze a European rock band, there's an interesting thing about it, even though we're not necessarily listening to classical music, it's still influences what we do. So it's more structures, the harmonies of the instruments, you're not going to hear necessarily classical elements, just the way we put together music is there. While American rock bands, a lot of them are blues based, R&B, more groove instead of the harmonies and stacking of melodies.
Pantera was very much the epitome of that. Just one guitar, groove based heavy metal band. So my first experience was with Vinnie, was watching Pantera in Germany. It changed my life, and I'm not just saying that to say it. All of a sudden I understood what it was. From the records, just one guitar, I didn't get it at the time. Once I saw them live, it changed my life immediately. Oh my god! I was exposed to this very American way of laying those riffs, big power grooves, banging drums like I never used to, I think a quarter of his drum beats had that clicky tone to them. The whole thing was so powerful live, it blew my mind.
I had some amateur band at the time. We were just starting out as kids. I was telling my guys in the band, "I just saw them live. We have to throw out all the material we have and start over and re-think what we're doing. What I just saw was incredible." So I came to this as a big fan of Pantera that changed my way of musical thinking -- the fundamentals of my musical thinking. And FFDP itself is a combination of this European, sort of harmonies and melodies with very much American -- almost Pantera-esque grooves. Or at least the influence of them. So FFDP would not exist if I didn't see that.
Wow, that's interesting. So Five Finger Death Punch's music has some roots in Pantera...
Five Finger Death Punch has unique roots and that influence came from Vinnie. I remember the first time I toured with them [Hellyeah] was 2007 and it was pretty amazing to me. I mean, "Oh my god, here's the band, here's Vinnie Paul," you know? And we were on tour with them, so that was amazing.
And, you know, Vinnie loves Five Finger Death Punch. Even though we were just having the recording start back then, Vinnie shows up in a big green Five Finger Death Punch jersey, like a custom premier jersey, when recording was starting. And I mean, I can't even explain how that feels, you know what I mean? It's like a childhood hero almost for you. Someone who influenced your musical upbringing and everything you do today. It's like, even he loves the band that I'm playing guitar in, the band that I started. It's indescribable, you know? And we became friends and we began touring left and right, everywhere.
There's not a lot of a goals. These are the kind of things that you don't plan, so you don't put it as a goal, like, "Oh, when I grow up I'll be friends with Vinnie Paul." These are things that when you look back and it's like, "Oh my god I can't believe this happened. I can't believe that, you know, we impact each other and we find that."
This is something that doesn't validate you as a musician but it's something that is one of the coolest perks that comes with it -- that you got to know these guys that were there before you, and they're your friends. And especially when they give you that back pat. I mean from somebody like Vinnie ...Vinnie told me that, "Man I love your f---ing band, you guys are f---ing badass." You know when it comes to someone like Vinnie telling you that, it's like, "Holy s--t."
Five Finger Death Punch will have a chance to catch up with Vinnie Paul when their tour launches Sept. 16 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The entire bill features FFDP, Volbeat, Hellyeah and Nothing More. To see the itinerary, click here.