Five Finger Death Punch was founded by Hungarian-born guitarist Zoltan Bathory in 2005, and the band’s kick-ass-and-take-names approach has endeared it to not only fans of heavy music across the globe, but also to soldiers stationed in the Middle East. U.S. Navy fliers started playing 5FDP’s “No One Gets Left Behind” as they zoomed off aircraft carriers, and the group was soon invited to perform for the troops in Iraq and Kuwait.
“In Baghdad, there were 300 armed soldiers in the mosh pit,” remembers Bathory. “I said, ‘Oh, my God—I hope they have their safeties on!’”
On the 2010 Mayhem Festival, 5FDP added co-guitarist Jason Hook—a former hired gun who has played with Hillary Duff, Mandy Moore, Vince Neil, and Alice Cooper.
What are the differences between European, American, and military metal crowds?
Bathory: I don’t think there are any differences. The fans are out of their f**king minds everywhere we go—even in Japan, where we witnessed the most vicious mosh pit we’ve ever seen. Our music is aggressive, it inspires people, and it’s fun. But we are always very conscious of what’s happening with the crowd. If things get out of hand, we stop playing until things calm down.
What kind of gear are you currently using?
Bathory: I have my own B.C. Rich signature model, and I use Diamond amps because they deliver a lot of low-end clarity. I control the amp overdrive with how heavily I pick. We both use Dunlop strings, and I also have a Dunlop speed pick with a twisted tip. It helps me play the guitar when it is slung low, because I don’t have to twist my hand. My effects are from a TC Electronic G-System.
Hook: For this music, I need something heavy, so I have a fleet of custom Gibson Explorers. I use Marshall amps, but they’ve been souped up by Voodoo Amps in New York. I love the intelligent pitch shifter on the TC Electronic G-Major 2.
How would you describe your style of playing?
Bathory: A lot of staccato plucking and fast picking.
Hook: Percussive. I pretty much stab at the strings.
Which players influenced you?
Bathory: I saw Pantera when I was a teenager back in Hungary, and Dimebag Darrell blew me away. I went home and told my band mates, “We’re doing it all wrong!”
What advice would you give to a wide-eyed teenager in a garage band?
Hook: Find a role model, and then do what they do, but do it better. Anger does not belong in music, and ego needs to be hidden. There is absolutely no substitute for hard work. If you don’t go to the mountain everyday and dig for gold, you’re not going to find gold.
Bathory: If someone tells you that you suck, don’t give up. There are no rules, so what does “suck” mean, anyway?