Five Finger Death Punch’s Ivan Moody Opens Up About Alcohol Addiction and Recovery
Five Finger Death Punch frontman Ivan Moody’s on-stage meltdowns have been frequent fodder for the metal press in recent years, with the singer finally admitting his alcohol problem and heading to rehab last year.
Now, for the first time, Moody has spoken at length about what led him to accept his condition and seek help. In a new interview with Kaytie for WZOR 94.7 FM [transcribed by The PRP], Moody speaks about having an alcohol-related seizure and waking up surrounded by EMTs with his daughter holding him, his various stints in rehab facilities, what it was like to watch Phil Labonte and Tommy Vext front the band, a 65-year-old “metal icon” that’s been his sponsor throughout the recovery process, and more.
The PRP has done a killer job transcribing the interview, so rather than summarize I’m just gonna drop it all below. We may not be FFDP here at MetalSucks, but we certainly wish Ivan all the best in his recovery.
Speaking about his struggles with addiction in general, he offered [transcribed by theprp.com]:
“Anyone in recovery knows that isolation is the biggest enemy. And being in the industry that we are, I had to isolate myself. I lived on the bus or a hotel room, an airplane. No girlfriends, no family. My kids are everything to me and I never got to see ’em—I missed tons of moments and years. And so the bottle sang back to me, so to speak. It was the one thing that I could guarantee.
And I was telling somebody a few weeks ago actually. When I was drunk, I knew how my life was gonna end. I planned on it. I was not gonna wake up one day or go into seizure and die. It’s just I was comfortable because I knew what was gonna happen. And now being sober, I don’t know how I’m gonna go and that’s a scary fucking thing. And I’ve met a lot of addicts that feel the same way.”
Moody also opened on this latest attempt at kicking his addiction issues, with his current being his fifth time in recovery. On why he feels it will stick this time around, he stated:
“I knew I was done during my detox. It took me seven and a half days just to detox. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t go to the bathroom by myself, I couldn’t smoke a cigarette. I had a staff member actually sleep in the room with me for the first 38 hours just to make sure I didn’t go under.
I blew a .36 when I went in, which anyone who knows anything knows means that was basically death. And I didn’t want to come out of it. I woke up the next day and I pissed that I was still alive.”
When asked why he felt that way, he explained:
“I don’t know, I really don’t. There was just so many things—minor things—that just accumulated into this one big fucking thing. I truly don’t know. I mean think about it, I’ve got everything I ever hoped for. I’ve got beautiful children. I’ve taken care of my mother, I set her up.
I’ve got a couple.. nieces and nephew, my brother’s getting married, I’ve nice cars, I’ve got a beautiful house, I love my dog… There’s all this shit. Imagine you got everything you ever wanted, everything. And then what? What do you do?”
He later continued:
“Any time that I had gotten out of recovery/rehabilitation before I didn’t do anything about it [his mental state.] I was like yeah I’ve been clean for 30 days, my body is great, my head’s in order—my spirit was fucked.
So this time I made sure I got on Vivitrol, um, Antabuse. I’ve never done any of that before. Anybody who knows anything about Antabuse, if I even use rubbing alcohol on my hands, I get deathly ill.”
On wanting to be known for more than a substance abuse related death:
“I just don’t want my legacy to be that [dying from substance abuse.]… Chester[Bennington] and Chris [Cornell] and Scott [Weiland] and Layne [Staley], Lynn [Strait]—Lynn was like my older brother from Snot. All these guys are forgotten. You hear ’em on the radio… I listen to a Linkin Park song now and I can hear him crying for help. That’s the difference. Why did it take us so long to hear that? I want people to hear my lyrics or my melodies and say ‘that dude’s in pain.’ Or ‘that guy’s victorious over something—he overcame that substance.’ Just life in general, so I just want to give hope back.”
Addressing the onstage meltdown that took place in Europe last summer, he provided his account regarding it and how it eventually opened his eyes:
“So the last meltdown, is what I’m gonna call it, we were in Europe, I was drinking basically every day. The night prior to that show I had gotten waaaasted. Just fucked up beyond all belief.
And I woke up—I had slept almost eleven hours—and I woke up and my personal assistant at the time told me ‘dude, you got ten minutes before you go onstage.’ And I was hungover, I was bitchy, as anyone would be. I was like ‘fuck!’ I started stressing out, I got my stage clothes on, I tried to prep a little bit, do my face paint.
And I run outside and I can hear the vibe… the vibration from the set through the wall. And I’m going ‘fuck, I’m missing the intro, what’s going on?’ So I’m running to stage and I go out there and Tommy Vext is sitting there singing my song and I’m went ‘what the living fuck is going on right now?’ I’m furious at this point. I didn’t want to ruin the set. I knew what I was getting into. And I’m very temperamental when it comes to certain things—I take pride in what I do so it fucking pissed me off to no degree.
So I grabbed a mic from our sound guy, I walked out onstage, if you watched the footage, and I stood behind him while he’s singing. And the crowd started going bonkers. And I was like ‘you fuck, who the fuck do you think you are?’
I was three minutes late. This is what happened I was three minutes late to stage so they said ‘fuck it, roll the tape, let’s go.’ Three minutes. Fucking Axl Rose is three hours late and nobody says a goddamned thing. So my boys didn’t know. They thought I was onstage somewhere, so they started rolling the tape.
So “Lift Me Up” is playing and immediately the sound guy goes ‘Tommy you’re here, take the mic, you know the material.’ And Tommy ran out there, unbeknownst to him, all of a sudden he’s thrown into this position—and he and I go fifteen years back. I’ve known him for a long fucking time. L.A. years. So I walked out and I stood behind him and he turned around and was in shock, acted like I was dead or something.
And he gave me the mic and that’s when I said it. I said ‘this will be my last show with Five Finger Death Punch‘ and Jason threw his guitar down and walked offstage. Immediately everybody was like ‘Oh, he’s drunk.’ I was fucking sober as I’ve ever been. I was just infuriated. So I threw the mic down, I walked offstage, promoter came out and told us if we didn’t finish part of the set that we were gonna get sued. That’s the way this shit works.
So I walked out, we finished a little bit. Got on the bus, the next day I hope—we didn’t talk to each other that whole night. The next day I woke up to Jason, Zoltan, Jeremy, my bodyguard at the time who is now gone and a couple other people, crew wise. They all got up there and surrounded me, woke me up and told me I was going home. No bullshit. They were packing my stuff when I woke up. I was like ‘what the fuck is going on here?’ That was also the last time I saw Chester [Bennington] because they were headlining that night.
So, long story long, I got sent home. The guys looked at me and said ‘dude if you don’t do something about this, you’re gonna die. There’s no ifs, ands or buts anymore, you’re waking up, you’re not taking this seriously. You have such power out there and you’re wasting it.’
And it didn’t click until I hit the plane, because I flew from Norway to London, which is Heathrow, the worst airport of all-time, and then I had a nine-hour flight back to Denver which is where I was living. And I just got shiftaced on there, I was fucking pissed off at the world.
And when I landed I went home to an empty house, no phone calls, no nothing, everybody was blacking me out. And that was the wake up call…
The first time that that had happened when I was in recovery, Phil [Labonte] from All That Remains, who again is one of my oldest friends, I personally asked him to fill-in for me. He was fucking awesome, he nailed it. I love that kid man.
With Tommy [Vext,] when they kept rolling with Tommy I had figured they were gonna cancel the tour. I had no idea.
So I wake up one morning and I’m on Blabbermouth and TMZ starts talking about it, and that’s where “Sham Pain‘… And Tommy‘s finishing the entire fucking tour. How would you feel?
I was insulted dude, I fucking broke down a hundred times. Tears. Dude I took golf clubs to my fucking walls, I was a mess. I went to a bar just to get into a fist fight with a dude twice my size. Just to do it. I fucking whooped his ass. Straight up…
When asked about how he looks back at how it went down, he responded:
“Now being clear headed, the guys did what they had to do. I mean you can’t just not play. This industry is so wicked when it comes to that and people don’t see the underbelly of it.
If the guys would’ve just cancelled the tour and not gone on with Tommy. We would’ve been sued for millions of dollars. The promoters would’ve never played us again. The radio stations, the media, in general would have fucked us in the ass. It would have all been my fault.
So I am really proud of Tommy for taking on those shoes. He did a good job, he did alright. The worst pain for me was, out of that whole thing was, I got in a car in Vegas and I’m going to the studio to finish up one of these tracks the Uber guy… he goes ‘what do you do for a living?’ and I go ‘I play in a band.’ And he goes ‘oh, that’s cool, I just gave a ride to the lead singer of Five Finger Death Punch a few days ago.’
I was like ‘excuse me?’ And he was like ‘yeah this Tommy guy’ And I went ‘he told you he was the lead singer?’ ‘Yeah, he said he was going to Europe to fucking finish out his shows’ and I just fucking almost broke a goddamned window in the cab. So that’s when I had a sitdown with Tommy and I was like ‘this has to change. You’re in Bad Wolves, be in Bad Wolves. Don’t fucking take it for granted.’ So we ironed all that out, but again, long story long.
That was the first step for me to go to recovery and to start to realizing how my body was. How my spirit was and my mind. There’s a difference to being religious and spiritual, I had lost my spirit, I’ve never been really religious.
So I went through the first stage. The guys even put me on a probationary period from that last European tour—that’s why I got it all tattooed on me, so I could remember the dates, just in case it was my last tour.
And so that guys put me on a probationary tour and I made it through, we got home for Christmas, took about a month off from each other. And I started getting phone calls like ‘you did great, let’s try this again, the new album is finally finished, let’s get out there and show them that there’s a different side of you.’ And I was so overwhelmed with the love I got from my boys, from my bandmates.”