Maybe It’s ‘F8’: Five Finger Death Punch Slugs Its Way Into Pollstar’s Q1 Top 10

Five Finger Death Punch
William Felch
– Five Finger Death Punch
FFDP’s frenetic touring pace sees the band take No. 6 on Pollstar’s Q1 Worldwide Ticket Sales chart, with 257,461 tickets sold over the Nov.-Feb. period.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Five Finger Death Punch, with a slew of rock radio hits, devoted fans and constant touring would factor high in Pollstar’s quarterly tickets sales charts, but it’s still a big deal.

“There are no shortcuts, and everybody has to climb the ladder,” says Zoltan Bathory, a driving creative force behind the band who also creates and oversees all of the band’s visuals from merch to light shows to branding imagery. “We got here by putting out record after record and being on the road relentlessly. Now we’ve gotten to the point where it’s no longer a question mark when the tickets go on sale, we know we’re going to fill the venues. The fanbase is very loyal. It’s kind of our family to us. And they show up.”
Is there more to it than hard work and dedication? Probably.
“I hate to say this because it sounds so cliché, but it was their time,” says Artist Group International’s Peter Pappalardo, who represents the band Stateside. “They have arrived as a bonafide arena-headlining artist. It just took some thoughtful planning, as well as the right timing and showing people that we are a headline artist, we can do this. It was there, it was just identifying it and marketing it correctly.”
Five Finger Death Punch
– Five Finger Death Punch
While Five Finger Death Punch has played some of the biggest stages, including everything from topping festivals to co-headlining arena tours, the Las Vegas-formed band has truly stepped into its own, on multiple continents. 
“They’ve been on an upward trajectory for some years now, but it’s still a surprise to some when they see the kind of numbers they’re doing,” says 10th Street Management president Chris Nilsson. “The music business has a fascination with pop artists, or hip-hop or whatever the current flavor of the month is. So there is that kind of surprise element when people realize, whether it’s tickets this band sells or the number of T-shirts, the streaming that they do, to the actual album sales, it’s pretty staggering.” Staggering may be the best word to describe it, when learning the band is third in the hard rock space in total consumption (digital sales added to digital streams converted to sales), behind only Metallica and AC/DC, according to management. 
Five Finger Death Punch
William Felch
– Five Finger Death Punch
Five Finger Sellout: The masses gather at SSE Wembley arena in London Jan. 31, which sold 11,006 tickets and grossed $592,305.
The band just wrapped a European tour leg that saw 10,000+ tickets sold in markets as varied as Sofia (Bulgaria), Helsinki (Finland), London and multiple nights in Germany. The totals for Q1, which include a strong U.S. winter tour leg as well, put the band at No. 6 on Pollstar’s worldwide ticket sales chart at 257,461 tickets sold, in company with Elton John, Celine Dion, Jonas Brothers and Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
“The planning of the recently completed Euro run started over 15 months ago and we discussed timing, markets, potential acts for the package, etc., with management, who are very experienced and a delight to work with,” says International Talent Booking’s Mike Dewdney, who along with Rod MacSween represents the band overseas. “I always like Jan/Feb touring and when we had secured Megadeth as special guest it made even more sense. Sales increased in all markets and the band will be back in 2021 for major events, and they well deserve this.” 
ITB and AGI worked closely together to figure out the tour cycle, which more and more becomes a multi-year rather than multi-leg affair. 
Pappalardo explains, “Although they are road warriors, we are sure not to repeat them in the same markets too quickly, and really space out how they tour, making not only a thoughtful tour leg but a thoughtful tour cycle, which could really be up to three years.”
Five Finger’s work ethic is a big part of their recent touring ramp-up, with near constant touring since its debut LP release in 2007.
An example: When 10th Street took over the band’s management around 2012, it noticed the money being left on table in the European market. 
Although Five Finger was living and traveling comfortably in the U.S., they were ready to put in the work and give up some of the creature comforts on the road to grow their worldwide appeal. 
“We went out with Avenged Sevenfold, they played almost every territory in Europe, like 17-18 [markets],” says 10th Street’s Konstanze Louden, who manages the band along with Jackie Kajzer who discovered them on MySpace in 2007. “That put them in front of a lot of people to cut through the clutter, to put them in position to raise their profile in Europe a bit.” That led to a proper club underplay tour that got the attention of promoters and festival buyers on the continent, continuing to grow the headline touring to the point of this recent leg that had thrash legends Megadeth as support, “which is kind of crazy, as everyone in the band grew up admiring Megadeth.”
“They went to Europe on shitty flights, toured in basic buses,” Louden continues. “OK, this is not going to be necessarily as comfortable as usual, but we’re going to do the right thing, go there and build it so later we have that fanbase, and we’re not afraid to do that. Even when they were pretty established in the U.S., they did what it took to get to that place overseas.” 
They also insisted that international tour legs get the same full-scale production as the U.S. legs, which also helped grow the band worldwide. While hard work alone won’t make an artist’s music, aesthetic and fan connection stick – the band is a longtime supporter of first responders and local police, which Bathory jokes makes their shows probably the safest place on Earth –  they always knew they’d have to work harder than their peers to get where they wanted to be, and always knew they could be.
“Not everybody gets to that point, it’s very difficult,” he says. “You have to have vision, an idea of who you are. You have to to understand the fans, and have to be one of them in some way, otherwise you won’t understand them. All of those things come together, then you have to go to work. 
“We recorded eight albums in basically 12 years and were on the road 200-plus days every year. You cannot skip that. We basically look at it this way: We have to outwork everyone. If you outwork everyone you have to be focused. And then you have to believe. It maybe sounds tree-huggery, but I’ve never had a question in my mind that we can achieve this.”
Five Finger Death Punch
William Felch
– Five Finger Death Punch
guitarist and creative force Zoltan Bathory

That momentum, like everyone’s, was somewhat put on hold with the coronavirus outbreak, although the April-May arena tour of major U.S. markets, which was on pace to sell upwards of 10,000 tickets per night according to Pappalardo, was fully rescheduled early into the fall.
“We were lucky to start the conversation early. There’s a lot that goes into making those kinds of moves,” Nilsson says, mentioning the availability of the other bands on the package, in Papa Roach, I Prevail, and Ice Nine Kills. “Every tour on planet Earth is looking to move to late summer or fall time period. As it looked like the dominos might start to fall, we started to think if this really goes the way it’s looking we better be prepared before everybody else.
“I wouldn’t call it lucky because there was a lot of planning, but I’m glad the conversations started early and we were able to jump on it.” 
The quick reschedule also shows the importance of the band to promoters, with the team mentioning (now Live Nation partner) Frank Productions’ Charlie Goldstone and Larry Frank as well as Live Nation’s Rick Franks as key partners in helping the band reach its touring potential. 
Another hurdle the band has overcome is one many can relate to – addiction – as frontman Ivan Moody abruptly checked himself into rehab missing the end of a tour leg in late 2017, where Tommy Vext from Bad Wolves was brought in to sing instead. 
“It was a choice, we knew we can’t continue this way because it’s becoming dangerous to him and his life,” Bathory says. “Interestingly, the fans reacted very positively. These are not just regular fans. They said, ‘OK good, Ivan in rehab, he’s safe and going to get better.’ There were no returns on the tickets whatsoever. Everybody was just happy. When he came back sober, it was a huge celebration.” 
The band has, to some degree, broken into the mainstream, with a hard edge sonically and visually but catchy hooks, anthemic choruses and even ballads of sorts, leading to worldwide appeal despite being firmly in what many would consider a male-dominated lifestyle genre. A big part of the appeal is within the armed services, to which the band donates heavily, supporting causes including PTSD treatment and suicide prevention.
“This happens worldwide, in Russia, Sweden, and Germany. Those guys are coming to our shows, bringing their badges and somehow we created this worldwide brotherhood that has spilled over borders and social ideas and political ideologies,” Bathory says, mentioning a red pen given to Moody by a fan who said he wrote his own suicide note with, before having his mind changed after watching the band’s video ”Coming Down.” 
“That’s the stuff that matters,” Bathory says. “We’re not just a bunch of guys making noise and setting off laser lights and fires, do you have a legacy and make a change in peoples lives?” 
The celebration has continued as the band supports its most recent album, F8, which dropped in February, the first where all the members were recording sober and focused, and what the band says may be its best yet. 
“Things are going really well right now, and it was always the idea that the band, the entity, is bigger than any individual. I look at it as, if we got this far with all the crazy stuff, the addiction and the crazy shit on the road, what can we accomplish when we are sharp and focused? Even that situation gave me hope and more ambition. Look how far we got just limping! Think what we can do when we run!”
Five Finger Death Punch
William Felch
– Five Finger Death Punch
Bassist Chris Kael.

All agree the band has the potential to continue growing, with new music that pleases both hardcore fans and has crossover appeal. And, with many heavy rock and metal touring headliners retiring, the time may be right for further growth.
“They do something that is truly unique,” Nilsson says, suggesting the band could be following in the footsteps of legends like Metallica, Iron Maiden and Ozzy Osbourne. “At the end of the day, they are very authentic. Ivan is a tremendous frontman with a tremendous voice. Pretty much all the elements that make for a superstar band, I think they have.” 
“Their rise to this status is only going to continue to grow,” AGI’s Pappalardo says. “They are going to be a force in the touring world, worldwide, for a very long time. Five Finger will be a mainstay touring artist for many, many years.” 
ITB’s Rod MacSween, who represents the band overseas, agrees, adding, “5FDP are emerging as a massive act in Europe and the rest of the world, huge sales, particularly loyal fan base and consistently upward movement on all fronts.” Although the U.S. tour has been moved to fall and there is still uncertainty as to how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the fall and winter of 2020, Bathory remains resilient.
“We don’t cancel,” he says. “We were in Europe when the Paris attacks happened. Everyone went home, but we didn’t. We finished the tour, with the only places we couldn’t play because we weren’t allowed to. 
“We sold out Wembley Arena. Regardless of the mood and how crazy it was, we did it. Every time anybody fell or something in the band fell, we continued. We finished it. 
“This particular situation, this is a little bit different because it’s putting fans at risk. In this time, obviously there will be unfortunate economic fallout, so we’ll see what we can get involved with as a band as far as charity. But life will return to normal.  
“In the meantime, we are basically catching up on things that were difficult to get to, because we were always on the road,” he adds, saying he was up til 5 a.m. the previous night working on whole new merch and visuals for the band’s upcoming tour to go along with the new album, “Five Finger Death Punch 3.0,” he calls it. 
“It’s hard to turn it into a positive, but I could lay on the couch and do nothing. This is when you can make a list of things you couldn’t do because you didn’t have time. Now you have the time.”