Recently Melissa Anderson, head writer at ROCKwell UnScene MUSIC Magazine sat down with members of Five Finger Death Punch to talk about the release of their new site to support Vets and those still serving – http://www.5FDP4Vets.com. The entire video interview can be seen at http://www.ROCKwellUnSceneMagazine.com (Back Stage Pass page). The following is the interview as it appears in the print version of ROCKwell UnScene MUSIC Magazine, issue #4, the “Summer Wrap Up” issue:
Melissa Anderson/ROCKwell UnScene: How and why did 5FDP get involved with supporting the military and Vets dealing with PTSD (and other issues)?
Zoltan Bathory/5FDP: It’s about the mentality. Our lyrics have had a specific sound from the very first record. Even when we weren’t signed, we had songs like “No One Left Behind” and “Death Before Dishonor” – songs about the military. It reflects our way of thinking. We were not born rich. Every single one of us was a blue collar kid, you know. I myself came from a Communist country you would not want to live in… You can’t take a step back, you just push forward. You fight for your rights, you fight for your circumstances. You work harder. You just keep going.
Our connection to the military was kind of organic. They sort of found us. When we would play a show, you would see a couple guys saluting, and then more and more started saluting the songs. Then we realized, most of the people in our audience are active service members or veterans. We would say, “Hey, whoever has served put your hand in the air!” and you look around, and it’s almost everyone. That’s our fanbase. That’s how this whole connection started. It’s been going on for, basically, 8 or 9 years. We’ve heard stories where these guys are blasting our music before a mission or they’re playing it on planes taking off from the aircraft carriers. We’re like, “Wow!”, you know. And then the invitations started to come, and we went. We were sitting at a base in Iraq and every 5 minutes someone yelled, “Incoming!”. I’m not gonna tell you the details but we did a pretty hard combat landing. Jeremy and I were eating in Saddam Hussein’s palace and he is sitting, eating Cocoa Puffs, and the windows and walls are shaking, explosions going off, and he’s like, “Dude…do you think it’s safe sitting here?”. I said, “I’m not dying sweaty, so I’m not running.” He’s like, “Ok” and he just kept eating the Cocoa Puffs. That was pretty funny. We have a lot of stories. We’ve been there several times. We’ve been in Japan, all German bases. So it’s an ongoing thing.
We wanted to do something (for the military & Vets). We wanted to do something that would possibly move the needle. We wanted to help, to lend a hand. We have a pretty big channel of fans and so we wanted to use this channel to help. PTSD is an invisible wound that nobody can really understand. When we started to make this video, and we did the research, the numbers were staggering. More than 5,000 soldiers take their own life every year. The people that you think would be the strongest, that are trained to be our shields, come home and are broken. That’s a problem. If they’re broken, then the rest of society has something to worry about.
Melissa: For you [Chris Kael – Bassist/5FDP], what triggered this?
Chris: Just the sheer amount of suicides. These are the strongest people, representing the nation and going over there. And to have that amount of suicides. We were just talking to a representative of Nellis (Air Force Base) over here and even just on a base like this, the number of suicides they have on one base. Combined with the numbers from around the world, it’s just staggering.
Melissa: I saw the signing line for you guys today and it was a couple hours long and you guys went through everybody and took time with everybody.
Chris: We could’ve done a fun video but when there’s this massive amount of an audience out there behind you, you can use that voice to do and spread good things. I think that’s what we’re all trying to do.
Melissa: You guys have a website set up for this. Can you tell us about that?
Chris: Go to www.5fdp4vets.com. We got a whole bunch of stuff on there.
Zoltan: First, we have to bring public awareness to this. We, a band that was already a part of this community, were shocked by the numbers and the average person just simply does not come across this info. It starts with the people knowing that this is going on. People in the military don’t care about the politics, they just do what they are told but they still have a conscious. They ask themselves, “is what I’m doing right?”. Our job as a society, is to elect people who will use this force for the right reasons, elect people who will send the guys to places for the right reasons.
Melissa: What is the name of the video
Zoltan: “The Wrong Side Of Heaven & The Righteous Side Of Hell”. Originally it was going to be 2 songs but we put it together so you guys have a tongue twister.
Melissa: I liked how you guys didn’t make yourselfs the focal point of the video. You really shined the light on the cause.
Chris: The focal point is the military. We didn’t want anything to distract from that message. There are tons of stats on there that, going into it, even we weren’t aware of. We thought it allowed the story to take place without the distraction of us. We wrote the song, which is just the soundtrack to the video.
Melissa: Whose concept was it?
Zoltan: We were watching TV and we saw what was going on with the VA. This problem is becoming a bigger and bigger problem. We just wanted to do something, we wanted to help. So we went to our label and we said, “Hey guys, we want to do this. We want to shoot a video.” It was really about focusing on the numbers because the numbers are so staggering. We want people to be aware of this problem and the change will start with this awareness. It’s not about throwing people under the bus, people just have to know what’s going on. It doesn’t matter how they got there, what matters is they are there, and they are broken and that has to be fixed. We were very careful with the video and what kind of visuals we were showing. Instead of pointing the finger, we wanted to address the problem. We just wanted you to know the facts.
Melissa: I think you’ve achieved your goal. Thank you guys for doing this.
Zoltan: What we thought when we were talking to these guys is, how do we fix this? We learned a lot of information about the problem in front of us. The veterans themselves don’t really know what to do. They are soldiers, they aren’t gonna ask for help. They aren’t realizing that hundreds of thousands of their brothers and sisters are having the same problem. Our message to the soldiers is if you’re having this problem reach out, get help. There is life after this. You are a soldier, you can’t give up. We also started a fundraising campaign. We created a specific jersey, it’s called No One Left Behind. The money raised is gonna be channeled to these organizations that help veterans and active service members.
Chris: If the public is interested in helping, then go to www.5fdp.com. That’s where we are selling the jerseys. There also a lot of information on there about all this.
Zoltan: There is one more thing that we’re doing that started when we noticed that guys were throwing their dog tags on stage. So we ended up having boxes and boxes of these dog tags. We had the idea, let’s collect them and make a chain link background (for when we perform) and let’s attach these dog tags to it. We’re calling it The Wall Of Heroes. IF you have your dog tag, or your fallen buddies or dog tags from anybody who has served, send it to us. There’s an address where you can find it on our website. There is nothing more honorable than for us to play in front of these guys.
For more pics and the video interview with Five Finger Death Punch, visit us at http://www.ROCKwellUnSceneMagazine.com
Photo’s by ROCKwell UnScene