ZOLTAN BATHORY Discusses New 5FDP Track Featuring The Late DMX – "'He's The Metalhead Of Hip-Hop"

April 23, 2024, a month ago

By Greg Prato

feature heavy metal five finger death punch dmx

ZOLTAN BATHORY Discusses New 5FDP Track Featuring The Late DMX – "'He's The Metalhead Of Hip-Hop"

Five Finger Death Punch's ninth studio album overall, AfterLife, was originally released in August 2022, and as with their previous albums, was a sizeable worldwide hit. But just one small thing – a song that the band had their hearts on including on the album was not fully prepared in time, which featured vocal contributions from the late rapper, DMX. 

Now that the band has been granted full permission to release the track, entitled “This Is the Way,” it is now included on a newly expanded digital deluxe version of AfterLife, out now.

The group's rhythm guitarist, Zoltan Bathory, spoke with BraveWords correspondent Greg Prato about the newly expanded edition, the DMX track, and also the group's upcoming tour, which will see them touring the US this summer on a bill also featuring Marilyn Manson and Slaughter to Prevail. 

BraveWords: How did the decision come to release a deluxe version of AfterLife, and what is on it?

Zoltan Bathory: "We finished this record now a couple of years ago. And when we finished the record, we had this track that now everybody's talking about – the DMX track, 'This Is the Way.' And the song was done and ready to go on the record. However, because it's a collaboration and because he sadly passed, there is a lot of red tape, a lot of approval processes we have to go through. And we were not sure that we would have all the ducks in a row by the time the record was coming out, so we elected to not to put it on the record. Which, when you make a record, there's a flow to every record, every song has a reason to be there. And the position the song is in on the record, to create that flow, it was like, ‘Man that song was supposed to be there.' So, while it's one of my favorite records of our catalogue, still it missed this element. And then it took us maybe a little bit over a year – we had to talk to every single producer, every single publisher, everybody involved. And then show them this song and get the green light on it. So, this is a serious approval process. And then financially, the big publishers had to sign off on it. And once we got that and we're like, 'OK, now we can release the record the way it was meant to be.' And then we wanted to throw on some goodies, so we had some acoustic versions of some of the songs. So, we put that on, so there are some extra really cool things. In some cases the acoustic version has a different vibe. I'm not going to say I prefer it, but some cases, between the original acoustic version there's such a shift in in vibe that it's hard to for me to decide which one I like better. So, these are songs that sound really cool in the new version, as well. That's basically the deluxe and that's why it's coming out."

BraveWords: What is the story behind the song that features DMX, “This Is The Way”?

Zoltan Bathory: "The conversation started years and years ago – like maybe 5-6 years ago – and we were trying to work with DMX. We always thought, 'He's the metalhead of hip-hop.' Like, his delivery, he has kind of the gruff voice, the dog bark. Everything about him was kind of like, This guy's metal.' So, when this became a reality and the conversation kind of became a possibility that this is actually going to happen, then he passed. So, we got masters from his team that we were allowed to use. There were songs and then bits and pieces of music that some of them came out on a mix tape before. And then we had tapes that nobody ever heard of, because it wasn't a master. So we got the master with the multitracks that nobody heard before. So we kind of had to put it together and write the song around it. The original verses that you might have heard in a mix tape, they don't even sound the same because some of them are different takes. And again, the music is completely different because we had to rewrite that. So, it was a very interesting collaboration from a sense of like we had to reverse engineer a lot of this. Obviously, unfortunately he wasn't here to hear this song, either. So the best feedback basically is that we ran it by all the greats from Run-DMC to Jurassic 5 – iconic rappers and hip-hop artists and producers were listening to the song, and everybody reacted like, 'Man, this is special.' And this is from their words. Daryl from Run-DMC was like, 'Man, this is a game changer.' I'm hearing it from the guys that are doing it their whole lives. We have a high expectation – I really can't wait for the fans to hear it, because that's the point really."

BraveWords: Now that it's been two years since the album was released, what are your thoughts on the album now?

Zoltan Bathory: "It's still one of my favorite records. There are definitely signs of the evolution. Every band starts at somewhere and that's the hardest part. You have to keep your sound. You can't just say, 'We're going to be a jazz band now.' So, you have fans and people who love you for a specific reason. Like, AC/DC will always sound like AC/DC, and Iron Maiden will always sound like Iron Maiden. But then you also have to progress. And that's the test: how do I keep the sound but also progress and bring in different elements. Our musical taste is very eclectic, so there are other influences we want to bring in, but we have to be careful of how much of that comes in. And that last record to me was a perfect concoction of these various influences. It does sound like Death Punch to me – it doesn't stick out from the rest of the albums, so it's a continuation of what we have done before. But there are different influences and vibes on that record. That was always the goal with every record – one more step, one more push, a little evolution, a little something new. And it's in there."

BraveWords: What were some of your favorite rap-metal collaborations from other artists?

Zoltan Bathory: "Everyone is aware of the Run-DMC collabs. And that stuff was cool – when hip-hop and heavy metal collaborated. But if you think about what happened in the nu metal era, to me that whole nu metal era was a collaboration in some way. Because even if you didn’t collaborate with a specific artist, that sound and the groove was in nu metal. So, the Limp Bizkits and the Linkin Parks of the world, they had a massive influence derived from that hip-hop scene. To me, that was a cultural collaboration to begin with. And then later on we did one – we did LL Cool J's 'Mama Said Knock You Out' and we had Tech N9ne come in as a guest on that. And then we got to perform that live with Tech N9ne."

BraveWords: What can fans expect from the upcoming tour?

Zoltan Bathory: "We were always a band who understood that you can listen to an album, and when you listen to the album, you get your best stereo system or headphones and you listen to an album. But when you go to a show, it's a different environment. It's supposed to be an experience – you're not there to listen, you're there to rock out, connect and feel the togetherness of the crowd. It's a tribal experience. We always understood that different. So, we modified things – some songs are played differently for that reason. And when it comes to the stage show, we always push that envelope. And for the next tour…we always wanted to do big shows. Because look, whether you like or don't like KISS or whether you like or don't like Rammstein, you're going to go and see those bands – because of the show. We always wanted to be one of those bands. And for this next tour, we have Brian Hartley who is a production designer, and we finally got to work with him - who is responsible for Trans-Siberian Orchestra and for some of the KISS shows. So, he does giant shows. And designing this new show with him…man, it's out of control. It's insane. It was a pretty big show to begin with, but this is really out there. So, you're going to have to come see this show, because it's not just the music – it's the experience."

(Photo - Hristo Shindov)



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