Zoltan of Five Finger Death Punch – Rock on the Range 2012
I had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with Zoltan Bathory of Five Finger Death Punch at Rock on the Range. He's presumably one of the nicest and funny performers I've ever been able to sit and talk with, not to mention his Hungarian accent is badass. He's currently one of FFDP's guitarists, and opened up about the band's influence on the military, performing for SEAL Team 6, protecting their fans and the energy fans bring to all of their shows.
How is it being in Five Finger Death Punch and having such a strong military support with the band?
You know, this whole thing comes from the lyrics. This band, the way this band started: You have five angry guys trying to succeed their entire life. Then this band came together and we were really driven and it was all about you fight for yourself, and this comes through the lyrics. Obviously the guys who have a similar mentality will sort of connect with those lyrics. So, eventually we were getting more military men at our shows, and it has to come to point where we regularly go to military bases, military hospitals, and we go over to Kuwait, Iraq and play a lot of shows that nobody knows about because they are secret shows. We go to military bases in Germany and everywhere in the world. It became a relationship practically where these guys really appreciate what we do and it's really fun to play for them because we get to see how much they appreciate it.
Have you met anyone in the military that has had a great influence on your life?
Yes, absolutely. I have a lot of friends in the special forces. I train Jiu-Jitsu and all kinds of combat arts, and these guys actually come on the road with me, and they train me with all kinds of martial arts and what-not. Just a couple of days ago we had SEAL Team 6, the SEAL Team 6, the real SEAL Team 6 on the stage with us. Like 8 of those guys. These are the badasses of the world. The same day I had a couple of Navy SEALS training me with their gun defense, knife defense. So these guys became my friends, and I actually make it to the point where I travel to the bases solo, on my own in my downtime and train with them.
You guys are amazing for having this connection with so many our heroes. So, how many Rock on the Range festivals have you performed at?
It's maybe our third. We perform at so many shows. If you look how saturated the pit is today, and how many people are in it, it's because of Five Finger Death Punch. Two or three years ago we had a show here where all hell broke loose and they couldn't control the crowd. The crowd surfers, I mean thousands of people were crowd surfing. Even at a festival, not every band is heavy. There are a lot of metalheads. So what happened was the first time when Ivan came onto the stage and said "Ok, all the metalheads in the pit now," nobody expected all the people to run from the sides of the arena. It was just an instant, massive mosh pit in the middle. Crowd surfing started. It was really out of control.
Second time we came, that's when they called extra security. Every time we play here or Kansas City, security is out of control. It's four times the regular because our fans are absolutely out of their minds.
With the fans being so active and so into your music, I think it's great you guys have taken the initiative to take the smaller people [like me] out of the crowd, and even pull them onto the stage or off to the side. When did you guys start doing this and do you think other heavy bands are picking up on this to protect the fans?
Well as I said, our crowd gets really out of control and huge mosh pits start. We can see everything. So, if you fall and we see, we will stop the show to see if you're ok. And so many times we see little kids in the first row, and I'm like "Oh my god, it's a six year old," in the first row with the crowd pushing. So we started getting them out and pulling them up on stage and we put them on the side of the stage. It has become sort of a ritual, that we pick out the little kids and get them out of harm's way.