FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH will release its eighth album, "F8", on February 28 via Better Noise Music. It is the band's first album to be completed after singer Ivan Moody's very public struggle with substance abuse took him to rehab several times.
Guitarist Zoltan Bathory told "Whiplash", the KLOS radio show hosted by Full Metal Jackie, that he initially had a hard time comprehending why some individuals are prone to develop drinking problems, while others are not.
"For the longest time, I didn't understand alcoholism," Zoltan admitted. "And for anyone who's not drinking or is not around people who are alcoholic or have this problem, I had the reaction that probably most people [have]: 'Why can't you just stop? Goddamn! Just stop drinking.' And I had to learn, I had to understand that it's not that simple. And I actually had to make that conscious decision that this is like my little brother, Ivan. And he's struggling. And so many times, I wanted to choke him, but it's my little brother. And it's a really weird emotional state seeing somebody that you care about destroying their lives. And they destroy everything else and everybody's lives around them. It's pretty bad when you have to witness that, especially when you have to live with somebody. And I wanted to understand, and I wanted to help. And I realized, actually, I [needed] to get a quick education in what I'm dealing with, how do I make a difference here? And so really quickly I learned it's actually not as simple as 'just stop.'"
Bathory continued: "What makes somebody an alcoholic [is] that their body breaks down alcohol differently than others. And if you put alcohol in somebody's body like that, automatically they're gonna have cravings and it's just a chemical process — they just can't stop. So I had to actually learn that it is a disease in some way. And I had to learn and I had to understand and I had to sort of adopt and figure out a behavior how I can deal with this. And there is this thing where I can't force him, or anyone, to do anything. He had to come to the conclusion and he had to make this decision himself, to get sober and get off the juice, and you can't really make this decision for anyone. The education part was that, 'Okay, then I have to become a chess player here and somehow and Jedi mind trick him somewhere or someway make him see that life can be better on the other side.' It's a lot of that. And in the end, we succeeded — he went to rehab many, many times and finally he succeeded. He didn't give up, and I think it's one of the best things that ever happened."
According to Zoltan, FIVE FINGER's newfound stability has had a dramatic effect on the band's ability to develop long-term goals as opposed to merely living in the moment.
"The focus changes," he explained. "Before, our focus was on survival. The focus was just making another day, surviving another day. All of a sudden, you have a longer runway — you can plan much, much further out, and you can probably keep that plan. So I think one of the most important things, besides that we are friends and we are a family again and we don't have any immediate issues and immediate problems, is that we can really sit down and make plans and talk about, what do we want? What are we gonna do? And how we wanna do it. And what's the next step? And this time, all those things are actually realistic — realistic, because we can accomplish them, because now everybody's focused.
"Ivan is the singer — he's the key part of this whole thing, Bathory continued. "Without him, I just don't really see this would work. I can't plan something without him, without his input or without knowing where he's gonna be or what he's gonna be doing. Now that changed. He's part of that process as well, and we can see that and actually plan out things and talk about things of the future. We can actually operate as a real band versus [how it was before when] it was just a daily balancing on the wire, like, 'Holy cow!' [Laughs] Like, 'Where is Ivan?' 'Ah, he just burned down the tour bus.' 'Oh, okay. Then I guess we have to get another one.' This daily crazy stuff that was happening."
He added: "A lot of people ask me this, actually: 'Ivan got sober. And is that taking his edge away?' I'm, like, 'Make no mistake: he's as crazy as he's always been. He's just sober. So now he's planning to burn down a tour bus. Before, it was an accident.'"
FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH's new disc was once again helmed by Kevin Churko, the Canadian record producer/engineer and songwriter who currently lives in Las Vegas, where he works out of his private studio, The Hideout Recording Studio.
The drums on the LP were laid down by Charlie "The Engine" Engen, who made his live debut with the group during its fall 2018 tour with BREAKING BENJAMIN. He stepped in for original drummer Jeremy Spencer, who left the band in December 2018 due to a back injury.
FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH recently announced the dates for a new spring North American tour. The trek kicks off on April 8 in Sunrise, Florida, winding down on May 20 in St. Paul, Minnesota. PAPA ROACH, I PREVAIL and ICE NINE KILLS will join FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH on the upcoming road trip.
"Whiplash" airs Mondays and Tuesday nights from 12:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. on the Los Angeles radio station 95.5 KLOS. The show can be heard on the KLOS web site at 955klos.com or you can listen in on the KLOS channel on iHeartRadio.