In 2020, during the height of the pandemic’s initial safety measures, Five Finger Death Punch released their “Living the Dream” video that included some political statements on the state of the world at the time, stirring up plenty of controversy in the process. In a new issue of Metal Hammer, singer Ivan Moody reveals that it also caused some tension within the band, adding that he “didn’t agree” with the video and vowing to have more say on the message being presented in the future.
Among other things, the video featured zombies pushing shopping carts full of stocked up toilet paper, a gluttonous, coked out Captain America, mask-wearing citizens receiving “compliant” buttons with a communist sickle emblem by an authority figure and a chain gang of workers donning a Peoples Republic of America work uniforms. Eventually the events of the video are all revealed to be a bad dream had by our forefathers.
After the video was released, guitarist Zoltan Bathory issued a lengthy statement clarifying the intent for the clip and stating that “the mask segments are about hypocrisy on the highest level,” rather than the video providing an anti-masking message that some viewers took from the clip. The video can be seen below.
Now a couple years removed from the video’s release, Moody tells Metal Hammer he feels the clip “went down like a fart in a church,” and vows “it won’t ever be done in my name again.”
Moody says that Bathory oversaw the video, recalling, “I showed up for two days and Zo told me to run across the grass, screaming and holding the American flag, so I was curious to see it. Then when he released it, I called him, like, ‘You implemented your own platform into Five Finger Death Punch, and now I’m gonna have to answer for it, because I’m the singer.’ And it ended up going down like a fart in church!”
He continued, “There was the mask thing and the awkwardness of the whole thing. That’s what he visualized, but it’s not what I had in mind when I wrote [the song]. For those who understood it, great. And for those who didn’t, I’m sorry, I didn’t agree with it either. I love Zoltan to death, that’s his opinion, but it won’t ever be done with my name on it again.”
Bathory also contributed to the interview, commenting to Metal Hammer, “Obviously, that video created a lot of dust, and I really don’t want to kick up another shit storm about it. But it was about the blatant hypocrisy of what was happening. You can do this, but the population can’t! As a band, we sort of withdrew from politics and that was the last political commentary, but it flew over people’s heads and we were accused of the craziest shit.”
He continued, “It’s crazy, because music was a cultural weapon. And now punk music and rock music is the soundtrack to the establishment all of a sudden? But it’s like, ‘OK, we’ll just play music and create concerts.’ People are educated by clickbait headlines, but there’s so much else to talk about.”
Any backlash from the video didn’t seem to harm the song’s popularity, as “Living the Dream” continued the band’s string of hits. The track topped the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, making it the second of four No. 1 songs to come from the band’s F8 album, which itself enjoyed a Top 10 debut at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart.
These days, Five Finger Death Punch are ramping up to a new album. Afterlife will arrive on Aug. 19 via Better Noise music, and pre-orders are being taken here. So far, the band has released the title track, plus “IOU,” “Welcome to the Circus” and “Times Like These” off the forthcoming release.