Five Finger Death Punch are undoubtedly one of the biggest acts in the hard rock/metal scene today and the proof is in their latest single, Under and Over It. The track was number one on iTunes and when news of its release came out, the FFDP server crashed due to the overwhelming number of listeners and supporters. Already, it’s making its way to becoming the most requested rock song on radio stations all over the country.
So when I was given the opportunity to talk with guitarist Zoltan Bathory about the upcoming album, American Capitalist, I knew I had to jump on it! The new album comes out October 11th, but we’re giving you some first hand exclusive news about it right here! Check after the jump for the exclusive one on one interview.
Jonny B.: Hey Zoltan!
Zoltan Bathory: Hey Jonathan! How are you doing brother?
JB: I’m doing awesome! How are you doing?
ZB: Pretty good! I always wanted to be on Bloody-Disgusting! I feel at home there! [laughs]
JB: [laughs] Fantastic! I’m glad to hear that! I wanted to quickly say that a mutual friend, Rick Florino, says “Hi.”
ZB: Oh yeah, Rick! Right on!
JB: Let’s jump right into the new album, American Capitalist, and, specifically, the title. What does it mean and how does it relate to the music?
ZB: First of all, we always liked the idea that the title could push a couple of buttons on top of being just a title. And I mean “pushing a button” as in we have something to say. Though it’s definitely not a concept album, there is a definite theme that runs across the songs.
I don’t want to jump into analyzing the economy and politics and the various fields of social sciences, but it’s kind of connected to the songs in a way that America adopted a form of capitalism that is very close to nature. Nature is pretty cool in that the way it works is that the strong kills the weak and it’s a circle of life and we dig that theme. We placed that in today’s society. We’re living in a concrete jungle, you know what I mean? You have to go and “hunt” so that you can make money. Even though the process changed, the fundamentals are still the same. So if the fundamentals are still the same, you pretty much, humans especially due to the intelligence we acquired, have to make conscious of whether you’re going to be the zebra or whether you’re going to join the lion pride and go out there a maul a motherfucker! [laughs]
ZB: It’s just what it is! You know! And we get a lot of flak from people who say “This is bro metal” or “This is tough guy music” and you know what? Yeah! It’s like, “Fuck you! I don’t play music for the pussies. It IS tough guy music!” I like that we play to an audience that share this idea of survivalism. And this connects to the spirit of the champion. You get the fuck up and fight one more round, no matter what!
And that’s what American Capitalist is about. I can definitely speak about this because I came to this country with my guitar on my back and nothing in my pocket. I came from absolute zero and kind of made it! I look at my singer who was a foster child. My guitarist was adopted after being found in the streets in some garbage. Every single member of this band came and fought for it.
JB: You won the Best Shredder at the 2010 Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards. Did this make you feel any kind of pressure when writing and recording for American Capitalist?
ZB: No, it’s more that I want to give a shout-out to Yngwie Malmsteen and all those guys: Thank you for not running that year! [laughs]
ZB: You know what I mean? There is no way you beat Yngwie, right? Or Steve Vai. No, but it’s definitely an honor and I feel like something like that, an award like that, it is a milestone, it is an honor. It is not an open door for someone to become an asshole. It just means that at that moment you were bringing something interesting to the table that is both technically interesting for the people that play and was also digestible enough for the fans so that they will vote for you.
Look, I’m sure there are guitarists that can play our eyes out but maybe they didn’t bring anything to the table. Music in an interesting thing because there are songwriters and there are noodlers. The noodlers can sit at home and play your eyes out but they’re never going to go anywhere because they just fucking noodle. You have to understand that there is another part of music, which is songwriting. Much more difficult to connect to millions of people with a song than to write a song that has weird time signatures and a million notes per second. Yeah, we can all do that but that’s not the idea. So an award like that, that’s what it means.
As for pressure? Not really. The pressure is more self-inflicted if anything because we are a people that can’t fail. We do not expect and do not accept failure and if we would do a record that is not really strong or just thrown together, that would be unacceptable to us first and foremost. So if the pressure comes from anywhere, it comes from ourselves and from our band mates. You have five guys in a band that has a really strong “shit meter”. We are really critical and we get on each other if somebody sees something that is not right or that could be better.
JB: Knucklehead has been on the cover of both The Way of the Fist and War Is The Answer. Will he be gracing us with another sexy pose on American Capitalist?
ZB: You know, it really wasn’t planned. It wasn’t something we decided, it just kind of happened. Now, it’s part of the whole world, our world. I guess we can’t leave him off, he’ll always be present.
I remember we did the Dos Equis things where we had Knucklehead and some Chuck Norris quotes over top, like “You can piss your name in snow. Knucklehead can piss his name into concrete.” Stupid shit like that. We put it together like the Dos Equis “Most Interesting Guy In The World” commercials and put it on national television. It was fucking hilarious! [laughs]
ZB: But yeah, he’s become a mascot now. Sometimes I get emails with things like, “Hey dude, if Eddie [Iron Maiden] and Knucklehead fought, who would win?” and I’m like, “Well dude, Eddie is Eddie. You don’t fuck with Eddie. However, he is getting kinda old now” [laughs]. But yeah, he’s going to be around for a while. People like it, so why get rid of it?
JB: Your song, Dying Breed, was in the video game Splatterhouse, which is basically a horror beat ‘em up. Do you find that FFDP is influenced at all by horror?
ZB: My drummer is one of the biggest horror fans you’ll probably every encounter. He has a sick, sick collection of all the stuff you can imagine. You know, like $7 budget C-grade…shit, not even C-grade but Z-grade horror movies! He has everything. He’s a huge horror movie fan. So is Ivan [Moody]! Ivan actually acted in a horror movie. Both of these guys have aspirations to act in horror movies. Not that they want the acting career, but just the fact that they are such big horror fans that they want to be in them.
Lyrically, Ivan usually writes stuff that is realistic. We don’t usually have fictitious lyrics. If anything, our lyrics are about the horror of life. Actually, this new record has one song that sounds to me, the moment you hear it, like it belongs on a horror movie soundtrack. It has a really eerie, weird vibe and we mixed these faint screams in the background. It sounds like a horror movie soundtrack. It’s really different but really cool.
JB: Are you into horror? What are some of your favorites?
ZB: You know, I like smart movies. One of my favorite movies is The Game with Michael Douglas. I like movies that have a lot of twists and are not really predictable. But I watch anything. Horror movie-wise, I know this might not be the most popular with the horror movie buffs, but for some reason Event Horizon, even though it’s a space/horror/thriller, that movie was really disturbing for me. And if you take that sci-fi/horror vibe, then there is obviously Alien. The second part of Alien, the soundtrack of that movie had this sound of wind under almost the entire second half and after a half hour, it started to get really disturbing. I really like how they did the soundtrack to that movie. You don’t always have to have horror with visuals. Sometimes you can do it very well with subtle audio hints.
JB: Zoltan, thank you so much for your time and I’m really looking forward to the new album and your tour this fall!
ZB: Thank you so much brother! You take good care!