Two years ago, there was good reason to wonder if Five Finger Death Punch was on the ropes as a band.
During a European tour in summer 2017, the band essentially did an intervention, sending singer Ivan Moody home, hoping that this trip to rehab would help the vocalist beat a long-running alcohol addiction that had reached life-threatening proportions. The band brought in Bad Wolves singer Tommy Vext to fill in for the remaining dates on the tour.
To say that was a difficult, stressful and just plain scary time for the band would be a classic understatement.
"It's really heartbreaking. Think about it . This is somebody that we dug the trenches with together. We tried everything, and you come to the conclusion that if we don't do this, he's going to die. He's going to be one of the headlines," guitarist Zoltan Bathory said, recalling the morning he, drummer Jeremy Spencer, guitarist Jason Hook and several other members of the band's inner circle woke up Moody to get him on a plane for the trip to rehab.
The incident that finally forced the band's hand happened onstage the night before. As Moody revealed in a 2018 interview with radio station WZOR in Northeast Wisconsin, he had been drinking throughout the European tour. He got so wasted the previous night that he was woken up by his personal assistant telling him he had 10 minutes before he was due onstage.
If you go
› What: Five Finger Death Punch
› Where: McKenzie Arena, 720 E. Fourth St.
› When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23
› Admission: $87-$27, VIP packages $202 and $502
› For more information: 423-266-6627
By the time Moody arrived, the band had pulled Vext onstage to sing the opening number, "Lift Me Up." Moody walked on, stood behind Vext and announced to the crowd that this would be his last show with Five Finger Death Punch before dropping the microphone and walking off the stage. Facing legal repercussions if the show was cut short, Moody and the other band members resumed and finished the show, but the damage was done. The group had reached the point of no return with Moody.
"So we had to come to this conclusion: we, as a band, have to threaten him that we're going to take away the last thing that he loves: the band," he said. "It's a bluff. We didn't want to do that, but we had to say that. We had to say, 'Listen, if you don't do this now, you're done. You're out.'
"Also there was a fear that if this doesn't work, this is the last card in my hand. If he doesn't care and he's not going to go to rehab, then we're going to lose him. He's going to be gone."
Gone as in dead.
Two years later, Bathory can look back on that time with a sense of relief and gratitude. Moody fought back against his addictions and today is clean and sober (as are the other members of Five Finger Death Punch).
The band has been touring extensively. In addition, Five Finger Death Punch is finishing a new studio album due out next year. It will be the eighth full-length effort from the band, which has become one of the most popular heavy metal/hard rock bands going. All seven previous studio albums have gone either gold or platinum.
Bathory says not only is Moody like a new man, excited about his life and his music, the band as a whole has re-emerged better than ever and is completely hitting on all cylinders.
Not surprisingly, much of the new album finds Moody, who is the band's primary lyricist, chronicling his struggles with alcohol and his journey to recovery and sobriety.
"He came through hell. He came back. And that journey, that message, is there in the lyrics," Bathory said. "A lot of it is about that, his experiences of what happened to him when he was down, how people treated him. He came back, and how people doubted that he could come back. And when he comes back, the world is different and he has a different attitude. He can process what happened as a person. So all of those phases, lyrically, are definitely on the record."
The shows this fall don't figure to include songs from the next album. Instead, the group unintentionally crafted a greatest-hits set list.
"It was pretty funny, actually. Yesterday we were talking, 'How about we just play our hits?'" Bathory said. "And we go into the set (list) and we go 'OK, I guess we're playing one song that wasn't (a hit). It was just funny because it was a conversation and not a plan. Then we realized 'Oh, we're already doing it.' But it's a good problem to have, right?"
And it's a small problem compared to the challenges Moody and Five Finger Death Punch overcame to get to this point.