Five Finger Death Punch didn't go into the studio last year planning to make more than one new album. But a genuine creative tear yielded two volumes of "The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell," the first of which comes out July 30 with the second due in the fall.
"It was sort of a perfect storm," guitarist Zoltan Bathory tells Billboard. "We travel with a portable studio, so this time we already had a jump-start, and everybody was just in a mindset of, 'Let's do this shit!' We just started to pound out song after song and things were getting better and better. Before we knew it, we had 20-something songs, all of them great."
It was 24, to be exact, but FFDP's initial plan to release a double album didn't curry much favor with its label, Prospect Park.
"We went to them and said, 'OK guys, we have a good problem. We have 20-something songs, and we want to release them all," Bathory recalls. "The label was like, 'Ah, no, you're gonna put out 12.' So we said, 'We'll make you a deal; we'll send you the 24 songs and you fuckin' pick what's good.' So they called back a week or so later, 'OK, we see your point. You can have your two records. Originally we were going to put it all out the same day, but we decided 24 songs is a lot of material to give fans to digest, so it became Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 and we're staggering the releases so people get to spend some time with the first record before they get the second one."
Bathory says that FFDP briefly considered putting the heaviest material on one volume and the more melodic tracks on the other but opted instead to mix them all together on both sets.
"To tell you the truth, some of my favorite songs are actually on the second volume," he says. "It was very important that if you give someone record one and record two, they can't decide which one is better. That was kind of the goal when we were putting these together."
And like Vol. 1, which features guest appearances by Judas Priest's Rob Halford (on the first single, "Lift Me Up," Soulfly's Max Cavalera, Hatebreed's Jamey Jasta and In This Moment's Maria Brink, Vol. 2 will also feature collaborations with some of FFDP's famous friends.
"We did the song with (Halford) first, and it was such a fun thing that we got this itch to do more," Bathory says. "So, yeah, definitely we have some very, very good fans and friends on the second record that will be just as interesting."
FFDP is already on the road as part of the Mayhem Festival; it's currently playing "Lift Me Up" and is looking forward to adding more of the new songs once the first "The Wrong Side of Heaven..." comes out. The group will break for a month after that tour wraps, then start a North American headlining run on Sept. 15 at the Aftershock Festival in Sacramento, Calif., with five weeks of dates announced so far.
"With two records, I'm probably looking at a solid two years of touring," Bathory says. "But that's OK. We've done that before. We love playing live more than anything, you know?"