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Five Finger Death Punch balances sobriety with levity

The Las Vegas-based heavy metal band Five Finger

The Las Vegas-based heavy metal band Five Finger Death Punch, with guitarist Zoltan Bathory, will play the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater. Credit: Invision/AP/Robert E. Klein

Over the current stage set for Five Finger Death Punch looms a giant skull and baseball bat crossbones that could come straight out of rock mockumentary "This Is Spinal Tap." Guitarist Zoltán Báthory embraces that comparison. He also offers the notion that his band’s wild touring experiences “could easily outdo” that fictional group.  The band brings its rock and roll circus with co-headliners Breaking Benjamin to Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater on Thursday, Sept. 6.

While the chart-topping  FFDP — one of the few modern metal bands to consistently headlines arenas and amphitheaters — tackles somber personal issues on aggressive tunes such as “Fake” and “I Refuse” from its latest album, "And Justice for None," the band likes to bring levity to its concerts. Followers even sing along to Barney’s “I Love You Song” (with an added expletive) every night before the band makes its entrance. “The fans themselves are in on it,” says Báthory. “We are making fun of everything. It’s a running joke.”

The recent video for “Sham Pain” finds frontman Ivan Moody doing his best Fred Durst impersonation as he pokes fun at rock star griping and his own penchant for heavy prose. Life has certainly been tumultuous for the intense singer. “He’s been completely sober now for seven months,” reports Báthory. “Even before that he had about a six-month run but fell off the wagon once or twice. He’s better than he’s ever been, so he's laughing and looking back like, ‘I can't believe the buffoonery I was doing.’ "

Despite the band’s shenanigans, Báthory insists that there must be balance in their lives. “You have to have a level of self-deprecation and some humor,” he notes. “But at the same time, you can’t make the whole thing into a joke because this is your art. You have to have a spine to say, ‘This is my art, I’m going put it out there, and I don’t really care what you think of it.’ ”

Five Finger’s music marries Moody’s lyrical ruminations with the aggro guitar crunch of nü-metal and the melodic grandeur of classic ‘80s metal with those quintessential guitar solos. Báthory says he believes this combination has endeared them to a diverse fanbase on both sides of the Atlantic. It turns out that, like Iron Maiden, they have some fans that follow them from country to country. “At the last couple of shows, I saw a couple of girls from Russia and a couple of guys from Germany,” he reports. “I saw an Austrian flag that has been with us for the last three or four shows. It's pretty amazing.”

The guitarist says he  believes his multimillion selling metal juggernaut has a special bond with their fans. “I can see the faces,” he says. “I can see the reactions. I can see that it does something. It is becoming the soundtrack to some people’s lives and it matters to them. We understand that it has power.”

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