Five Finger Death Punch: Fight Club
Originally published in Guitar World, January 2010
Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook team up for heavy metal glory on the new Five Finger Death Punch album, War Is the Answer. Got any questions?
Zoltan Bathory prefers not to think of himself as the leader of L.A.’s Five Finger Death Punch, even though he formed the power metal band and, by his own admission, retains creative veto power. To hear Bathory describe himself, he’s more the Moses type, guiding rather than commanding. “I would say I provide the overall vision of where we’re heading, and then shepherd my bandmates in that direction,” the Hungarian-born guitarist explains. “But I’m not driven by ego—it’s about what’s good for the band. If someone says they don’t like something I’m writing, I drop it. It doesn’t really matter anyway. I write a million riffs per second, so I’ll just grab another one.”
Listening to 5FDP’s recently released sophomore effort, you might be tempted to take Bathory’s million-riff boast at face value. On War Is the Answer, he and the band rampage through an hour of fret-sweating changes and fist-pumping choruses like the product of an unholy threesome between Anthrax, Iron Maiden and Badmotorfinger-era Soundgarden. The follow-up to 2007’s hit The Way of the Fist—which sold more then 350,000 copies and earned the band opening slots on treks with Korn and Slipknot—War also introduces the latest addition to the Five Finger fold: lead guitarist Jason Hook, whose extensive résumé includes stints playing with Alice Cooper and Vince Neil. Hook had been working with 5FDP as a session guitarist prior to becoming a full-fledged member of the group, which also includes singer Ivan Moody, bassist Matt Snell and drummer Jeremy Spencer.
“His personality was an immediate match for ours,” Bathory says. “And even if it hadn’t been, I know he would have adapted instantly.” Apparently, Hook’s professionalism also earned him Bathory’s blessing. “When you’re working as a hired gun [as Hook had been], there’s no such thing as fucking up,” Bathory says. “If you fuck up, you’re fired.”
Spoken like a true leader.
GUITAR WORLD Did you have any specific goals when you went in to make War Is the Answer?
ZOLTAN BATHORY We all wanted to make a record that was a progression from The Way of the Fist. We have an established sound, and we definitely wanted to keep that, but we also wanted to broaden our horizons. The Way of the Fist was very metal; this one is more hard rock. But the most important thing is always the song. I love shredding and all that stuff, but the song comes first.
JASON HOOK I think War Is the Answer is more mature. The first record is basically all face-peeler metal, and I love it, but I’m more of a song guy. The one thing I often find missing in metal is structure and payoff. A lot of times it just sounds like random aggression.
GW Jason, how did you come to replace Darrell Roberts as 5FDP’s lead guitarist?
HOOK Jeremy [Spencer] was one of the first friends I made when I moved to L.A. in the mid Nineties. We were in several projects that fizzled, and eventually he worked on my solo album, Safety Dunce. When Zoltan and Jeremy were developing Death Punch, I was listening to their very first recordings. I remember telling him, “This is really cool. You should stick with Zoltan.” As they started to develop, it became an issue to find a second guitar player. They went through several guys, and then Darrell wasn’t working out for whatever reason. So they asked Jeremy if I would be interested. Turns out they were playing around with that idea all along.