Ivan Moody thought about quitting the music business after his previous band, Motograter, found its record label had folded and its future dimmed in 2005. He was still skeptical when former U.P.O. guitarist Zoltan Bathory approached him with an intriguing opportunity.
“I was so jaded by the industry I really didn’t think I was going to sing again. I was ready to just go back to college, spend time with my family and try to be a human being for once,” Moody told Pollstar. “Zoltan contacted me through MySpace three or four times and talked me into checking out some of his material. Long story short, I fell in love with it.
“The first thing he [said] was, ‘I’m building a tank and I want you to drive it.’ That was the best metaphor I’d ever heard in my life.”
The lineup of Moody, Bathory, former W.A.S.P. guitarist Darrell Roberts and drummer Jeremy Spencer and former Anubis Rising/Deadsett bassist Matt Snell solidified Five Finger Death Punch and the band promptly set up some gigs. Shows with DragonForce, Twisted Sister and All That Remains really got the buzz going.
The Firm’s Jackie Kajzer got wind of the band in spring 2007 through her metal show, “Chaos,” which she hosts as Full Metal Jackie on Los Angeles radio station Indie 103.1 FM. Kajzer followed up on listener requests to play 5FDP. Industry friends also mentioned the band.
“I went to their MySpace page and was immediately drawn to the song ‘The Bleeding.’ Once I heard that song, that was it,” Kajzer told Pollstar. “I saw they were playing a show at the Whisky [A Go Go] that Friday, so I went down.
“There was hardly anyone there ... but there was so much energy that I hadn’t seen in a very long time for a metal band. I was just drawn by the live performance.”
Things happened fast for 5FDP. The band signed with The Firm for management and its label, Firm Music, then hit the road hard behind its current album, The Way of the Fist. Moody said the band’s slot on the 2007 Family Values Tour with Korn was an eye-opening experience.
“That first Family Values tour was radical. I’ve been on Ozzfest [with Motograter] ... but this was like boot camp, “ Moody said. “It was getting out there, earning our stripes and proving to the world we were going to be here for a while.
“Being a little bit older and in the industry now, we know that there is no such thing as entitlement – you earn your keep. We’d be out there flyering, throwing stickers out and meeting with our fan base. We knew it was a gift to be in that position.”
The Agency Group’s Tim Borror and Nick Storch heard about the band through Kajzer but saw 5FDP’s passion and drive first hand.
“Having seen them once on Family Values and once in New Jersey at the Starline Ballroom, I was just really impressed with how they were able to lead a crowd,” Borror told Pollstar. “Early on, before people were taking notice, they were [gaining] fans under the radar.”
“By the time I saw them at the Starline Ballroom ... that was the first time I saw a difference from the little band on the Family Values stage that was starting to get noticed. It was clearly arriving by the time fall came around.”
Despite the band’s live success, securing radio play for 5FDP wasn’t a slam-dunk so Kajzer persevered.
“Metal, although I feel like it’s never gone away, is not really at the forefront of what’s selling records other than Metallica – they’re a phenomenon,” she explained. “So you’ve got a band called Five Finger Death Punch. Of course, [programmers] are going to have preconceived ideas about them without even listening.
“Never before have I felt so strongly about a band that I was willing to put it all on the line and shove the CD in everybody’s face.”
Tour slots with Korn and Hellyeah, Disturbed and the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Tour have also given the band exposure to new audiences and a growing fan base.
“All summer at Mayhem ... in some of the markets, we weren’t on the radio and hadn’t been there before,” Kajzer said. “[When] the techs were putting up the Five Finger Death Punch scrim, the kids would rush the stage, chanting ‘Five Finger Death Punch.’
“You don’t feel that energy level with every single band. This band takes you from start to finish, and you are exhausted at the end.”
The band is on a headlining tour of the States through Dec. 4 and a trek to the U.K. is scheduled in February.
The members of 5FDP are more than ready.
“This tour is a little bit different because the focus is on us and we’re headlining a production. We’re used to having a case of water and towels,” Moody said. “This is the point where we see our fan base after the last two years of touring.
“We’re coming out swinging.”