Log onto the Internet and you’ll see plenty of comment section vitriol for bands like Five Finger Death Punch, Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, and that whole section of metal. Go to one of their shows and you’ll see a whole lotta asses in seats, all of whom are having fun. Or check their sales numbers – pretty good, right?

In an interview with Summa Inferno, Five Finger Death Punch guitarist Zoltan Bathory was asked about the band’s recent posthumous collaboration with DMX on the song “This Is The Way” and the close-mindedness of some fans.

“There’s definitely that, there’s definitely the closed-mindedness, there’s definitely this idea… It’s almost like it’s funny because the more extreme stuff you listen to, the more of a gatekeeping is happening, like, ‘This is our music.’ And if anybody [who is] not into extreme metal likes a band, then that close circle will abandon the band,” said Bathory as transcribed by Blabbermouth. “This is what you see where any metal bands start to get popular, the original hardcore fans or that closed-minded circle will fall off because they cannot like a band that their parents also like or general people that are not completely metal would like a band.

“So then you see that how this is this is falling off. So, yeah, there’s a little bit of that, but I think in the same time, these collaborations are great because it’s opening the door. People who don’t listen to metal, a lot of people who don’t listen to metal now, because of this song will listen to this song, at least, and possibly a percentage of them will look up who the hell Five Finger Death Punch is, and they will start to get familiar with some songs and some of them, some percentage of [them], will like what they hear.”

Bathory continued, noting that gatekeeping really only kills bands that are trying to make a living. Which is fair – if fans are gonna start abandoning artists the second they drop a slightly different track than what they normally do, it really doesn’t foster the arts.

“This is what I would say to these metalheads. It’s, like, man, for your band that you love, especially the more underground the band is, for them to create art that you like, they have to survive. And if you want them to survive, that means they have to sell records, and they have to be able to sell concert tickets. And because it’s such a subgenre, they’re not gonna be able to do that. So you see these great, great artists who are in bands but also have a job or two [on the side], and they can’t tour sometimes. So what you’re getting is, like, if you’re fan of those extreme bands, they’re not making the money, [and] they can’t survive from this.

“So the only way they can do that is if the audience broadens — that’s the only way. And so what has to happen, metal in general has to be bigger, has to have more fans and more attention. So that way it trickles down, so the subgenres also get bigger, so your favorite artists can survive. So bands like Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, Five Finger Death Punch, these are what you guys call the gatekeeper bands, they absolutely need to exist. Because without us, you’re not gonna be able to recruit people to the genre. We are the kind of band where people are into metal listen to us, but people are not necessarily into metal, they might listen to us or we bring in a lot of people who are not [into metal].

“And when we do these collaborations — this song is out there now in radio channels and in other Spotify listings and just other avenues where it wouldn’t be normally. So with this, we’re recruiting people to listen to hard rock, heavy metal, and that helps the entire genre. And if the genre is big and the subgenres are big… So by hating on the bands that are stepping out and collaborating with other genres or hating on the bands that you guys consider gatekeepers, you’re actually shooting yourself in the foot.”

Bathory later mentioned a few bands he thinks deserve to be taken to the next level, including upcoming Five Finger Death Punch tourmates Slaughter To Prevail.

“Here’s the deal: [I could say] I don’t give a shit. We are doing fine. We love our fans. We’re fine. So I don’t have to care. I actually do care, because I love a lot of these underground bands and we take bands on the road, bands that… Fire From The Gods, very different kind of band. I love the band. For a moment, I have managed the band. We took them out on the road. There were so many of these bands that we gave a platform to, because we love them because we think they deserve the attention. I mean, look, the tours we’re looking at right now.

“We’re taking out bands again that… Slaughter To Prevail — that’s a heavy, heavy band. I love that band. They need to be exposed to more people, in my opinion. And so we’re doing our part in this. And I think it’s really counterproductive when metal fans sort of in-fight inside this genre. To me, it’s actually ridiculous, and you’re just shooting yourself in the foot. I think it’s a massive misunderstanding or a massive — well, not a misunderstanding; a massive lack of understanding how this whole thing works, if you have a problem with that bands are collaborating or exposing this genre to general fans.”

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