Five Finger Death Punch's Ivan Moody on pouring his passion into his music

Categories: Profiles
Five Finger Death Punch frontman Ivan Moody.
Ivan Moody may live in Vegas these days, but Denver will always be the place he considers home. Before moving to L.A. and fronting Motograter and then Five Finger Death Punch, Moody grew up here. At one time or another, he was a student at Alameda and Chatfield high schools and Drake and Oberon middle schools, among others. It really wasn't all that long ago that Moody, now 31, played one of his first shows ever at the Iliff Park Saloon and was asked to leave when he was finished because he was underage.

Needless to say, he's come quite a long way since then. When he returns home this weekend for KBPI's Fall Brawl, he'll be headlining 1STBANK Center with his band, bringing a show that requires thirty crew members, in support of a brand-new album, American Capitalist, that just debuted at number three on the Billboard Top 200.

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We recently caught up with Moody and talked about his approach to playing shows and the passion he pours into performing, the vitriol informing his lyrics on songs like "Under It and Over It," growing up in Denver and playing in the scene, and the status of Rock and Rods, the club he plans on opening with Willie B from KBPI.

Westword: I saw this quote that you gave in one interview that I thought was just awesome, and I kind of wanted to get some insight on it: The way you put it was that you "slap yourself in the face before a show and drive it like you stole it..."

Ivan Moody: [laughs] Absolutely. Every time.

I love that quote. What frame of mind do you get in when you're playing?

Well, for me, I was always attracted to frontmen -- or artists in general -- who were really passionate about what they did. And, you know, these kids are paying hard-earned money for these tickets, and for me - I have to put myself pretty much in the same place I was at when I wrote the material. That way the fans know that they're getting 110 percent of myself and my project every time we're on stage. It always kind of pissed me off to see, you know, just musicians or artists who just didn't take it as serious. So yeah, no, I still vomit before every show, slap the shit out of myself and just make sure that whatever I have to do to get myself in the state of mind that I need to be in to get up there, I do it.

Vomiting from nerves?

A lot of it is anxiety, yeah. You know, I just - I have a really hard time still today. I've never really been a social butterfly, so to speak. I'm pretty [much a] recluse. And to get myself, like I said, to get myself in that headspace, it takes a lot.

In terms of getting yourself back in that headspace, thematically, your lyrics with the first album, they started off kind of angry. It seemed you were using your lyrics for catharisis. By the third album, they're still equally angry. Can you tell me a little about that? From a lyric standpoint, is it cathartic for you?

It is. Absolutely. You know, I mean, we're all made to wear this face, you know, of what we think society would want us... There's just a general sense of - I don't know - a lack of passion, I think. For me, I feed off everything, from bad politics to religion to relationships -- I mean, just life in general. And, yeah, I'm not necessarily happy with the state of things. And I think that I get to use music as a release.

On the first record, the lyrics kind of seem like you were working out personal angst, like you were dealing with some things from the past. On this record, it seems like you're kind of taking on -- I'm not sure really who it is -- but it's like the people who are talking shit, maybe your detractors?

You know, it's funny you mention that, because I've never been one to write in the third party sense or from an outsider's point of view. I've always really tried to put my day-to-day situations in my lyrical content, like you said on the first album. But as I've grown, it's kind of like an eye-opener. You see most of the world, and you start becoming part of it. I also tried to be a little more tactful on this album. I tried to put a little more wit into it instead of just being so straightforward abrasive. So hopefully that came out, as well.

Five Finger Death Punch - "The Devil's Own"

On songs like "The Devil's Own," you're clearly dealing with some personal issues that you had in the past. On the new album, there are songs where you're basically talking about how you're not going to be taken for a sucker, you know what I mean? Where's that coming from? Do you have a lot of detractors?

Being in this industry, I pretty much have to wear all of my emotions on my sleeve constantly. The guys and I have talked about it before. They kind of get to hide their personalities and whatnot. The world sees me for exactly who I am. So I don't really get to wear that mask. So, yeah, I mean...and it's hard not to want to lash back out.

Like the song "Under It and Over It," I'm reading on the Internet -- and again, my band, they're so light about anything, they just blow it off; to them, it's fucking hilarious. To me, I'm a sponge. It's insulting to think that there's somebody 20,000 miles away from me sitting in his grandmother's basement mocking me and my life and the things that I've worked so hard to succeed at or achieve. To me, it was just a matter of time before I was going to say, "You know what? I've had enough of this shit. I'm going to say something back."

What are some of the things that have struck a chord with you?

Well, you know, it's basically the rumors, you know? Because I do have a daughter that lives out there in Denver, and it makes it really hard for her to live her life. You know, when people are approaching me constantly with these shit rumors. You know what I mean? There was one that I committed suicide -- I was like, "Really? I don't feel dead." There was a rumor on the Internet that I was in rehab for heroin addiction, which is just fucking hilarious. So, I mean, it's just stuff like that. And then, you know, I've got my little girl, who has to go to school and deal with these rumors with people approaching her about it. And for me, it's just unacceptable, man.

On "100 Ways to Hate," the vitriol is very palpable. Is it possible that at some point that you're no longer going to be angry ?

I mean, I hope so [chuckles]. It's not even necessarily that I walk around on a day-to-day basis and I'm just pissed off at the world -- I mean, that's not who I am. I'm just like anyone else; I'm made to hold stuff in. There are certain things that are unacceptable in society. And I can't walk around and just vent anger all the time. So I don't necessarily ever see myself not being, quote-unquote, angry. But at the same time, I'm not going to take it with a lighthearted approach, either.

I've heard it said before by various other people who play aggressive music that if they didn't have this outlet, who knows where they'd be...

Absolutely. I'd be in prison or dead.

So how much of a release is it for you to be able to vent this stuff?

It's everything and more to me. To me, it's basically as close as some people going to church. To me, it's my chapel. When I'm on stage or when I'm in that zone, it's everything and more to me, man. I mean, like I said, I didn't grow up in the best situation, and I probably...if I didn't have music, I couldn't even begin to tell you where I'd be at.

I kind of got that impression. There was an interview you gave where you were talking about how, when you were growing up, that was your outlet: You had your diary and your music, and that's kind of all you had...

That's all I ever had.

Was it making music, listening to music, or both that was your outlet?

All of the above. I'm still a fan of music. There's a new band, Middle Class Rut, who I've just gotten hooked into. Or Hugo. I went out and bought both albums the second I heard them. I've always been a fan of music. Without it, my God, man. There were days when I just didn't get out of my room, and a song would come on the radio, and that piece of music would get me through whatever shenanigans led up to it. You know what I mean?

From what I understand, you moved to L.A. when you were 22. Up to that point, you were living in Denver. What part of Denver were you living in?

Actually, Arvada, most of my life. I lived in Castle Rock for a while. I was into a lot of group homes out there. I was in Mountain View detention center for a while. I jumped around from group home to group home. So I changed schools a lot. I went to Alameda. I went to Chatfield. I went to Castle Rock junior high. I went to Drake and Oberon.

You were all over the place.

Yeah, absolutely. You know when I moved back there -- after my original band Motograter got signed, I moved back to Colorado, and I lived there up until, let's see, about six months ago. I just recently bought a house in Vegas. But Denver's still my home, man. Vegas is where I dwell, but Denver's still my place of residency in my head.

So in terms of moving around from group home to group home and judging from songs like "The Devil's Own," it sounds like you had kind of a difficult childhood. What was the one constant in your childhood, other than music, the one constant that kept you focused and kept you grounded?

I wanted to break the cycle that had been given to me. Nobody in my family really made anything spectacular of themselves. They were always content with just being nine-to-five blue-collar workers, which is not a bad thing, you know what I mean? But for me, I just wanted something more for myself. I wanted to know what the world was really like. And I knew there was more out there to offer. So for me, it was just the hope that I could grow into something that wasn't necessarily... I didn't have to be somebody because of my genetic relay, because of my bloodline.

I grew up in a situation where I never met my real father. He was sent to prison when I was three or four years old for manslaughter, and he'll be there until the day I pass. So, you know, my mother was raising three kids basically on her own. She got remarried at a point, and, you know, by that time, it was a little too late for me, man. I was already so far down that path. All I had was a hope to myself.

There's a sensitivity to your lyrics, as well. They're not just angry and vitriolic.

Thank you.

Where does that come from?

I have a heart. I mean, I still have feelings. I'm a human being. I'm passionate about everything I do, whether it be sex or music. I think anybody who isn't is kind of lying to themselves. There's more emotion than just anger.

I think that actually is what gives your music more dimensions than a lot of the music that's out there today.

Well, and you know that's something that when my band and I first got together, we discussed. On an upper level, it's just...I want to be as human as possible, man. I don't ever want to be in a frame of mind where I can't express myself for who I am. I mean, no matter how fucking painful it is, at the end of the day, that's what it requires.

That's kind of what it -- when the music comes across - that's kind of what it sounds like, that it's made of bones and sweat and blood and flesh. It feels like a living, breathing...

It's absolutely its own entity, for sure.

And I think the sensitivity that you've imbued into it makes it a little more powerful. It feels more multi-dimensional.

Thank you. We pride ourselves on that, because, at the end of the day, like I said earlier, we're all fans of music. You know, without it, we wouldn't be anywhere near where we are. So if the song requires it to be passionate and softer, than so be it. If the song requires an element of anger and pissiness, then I'll be the first one to jump on it.

Location Info


1STBANK Center

11450 Broomfield Lane, Broomfield, CO

Category: Music

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Darcy Heavenisofaraway Collett
Darcy Heavenisofaraway Collett

all of these truths now goin viral, heard loud and and clear- touching, encouraging, and empowering.. have always been available , spoken, written we listened ~ now we HEAR!  paraphrased wisdom, the song remains the same and speaks loudest from the ones teaching not to fear hardship or strife  ~ trust love. Living what they believed untill the last breath, to most a blessing , to some a threat. we all pay for this life with the same value, our own life.  how do we give? No Fear? can we still transition with peace with all of the instability here..?

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