Tommy Vext talks ‘Zombie,’ addiction at Five Finger Death Punch show

‘I want to encourage that dialogue with our audience,’ the lead singer of Bad Wolves told The Prospector


Anette Baca

Ivan Moody, Lead Vocalist. Five Finger Death Punch. Thursday, November 7, 2019. Don Haskins Center, UTEP.

Jaqueline Martinez, Staff Reporter

Staff Reporter Jaqueline Martinez caught up with Tommy Vext, lead singer of Bad Wolves, at the electrifying Five Finger Death Punch (FFDP) showcase featuring Three Days Grace, Bad Wolves and Fire from the Gods, Thursday, Nov. 7 at the Don Haskins.   

FFDP’s last performance in the city was at Speaking Rock in October 2011. The band’s North American fall tour kicked off with two hometown shows in Las Vegas, making El Paso the third stop of the tour.   

Rock fans waited outside UTEP’s Don Haskins Center as early as 4 p.m. until doors opened at 6 p.m. The concert opened with the Austin-based rock band, Fire from the Gods, known for blending hip-hop and metal in their music.   

Following Fire from the God’s performance, the heavy metal band, Bad Wolves, rocked the stage at 7 p.m. with hits “Killing Me Slowly,” “Remember When” and its 2018 breakout single “Zombie.”  

Vext explained in an exclusive interview with The Prospector that the band recorded “Zombie” as a tribute to the iconic Irish rock band, The Cranberries, when Dolores O’Riordan was still alive. 

The band sent the recording to the singer with no intention of releasing it to the public, but rather for her to listen.   

“She loved it so much that she wanted to sing on it. There was this emotional roller coaster when she passed away, so we decided to donate the money to her kids by releasing it and to also do something nice. Then it went viral,” Vext said.   

Now a global hit, the band’s tribute has been certified platinum in the both the United States and Canada, certified gold in Australia and is also accompanied by a music video.  

Bad Wolves consists of five members: singer Vext, drummer John Boecklin, guitarists Doc Coyle and Chris Can, and bassist Kyle Konkiel. 

“A lot of bands throughout our history, especially the grunge or metal scene, talk about their addiction and how much they are suffering. No one really talks about how addiction affects everybody in your family, your friends, coworkers, employees or employers,” Vext said on the meaning of the song “Sober.”   

“It’s really a bigger issue than just the person that is going through it. It’s a disease. It is fucked up because everyone can understand and feel bad, but if you have alcoholism, people are just pissed off at you,” he said.    

The singer then reflected on his own addiction and the struggle to overcome it.    

“It’s a disease (and part of that is) understanding what it means to love someone who is an addict and (to) set healthy boundaries,” Vext said. “It’s a really important conversation that I think people are starting to have more and I want to encourage that dialogue with our audience and just anyone in general.” 

The audience raised their phones as the stage lights dimmed. Cell phone flashlights lit the Don Haskins during Bad Wolves’ closing song, “Zombie.” The crowd continued to cheer excitedly as the curtains dropped and the backstage crew began to set up for the next performance: Three Days Grace. 

The Canadian alternative metal band formed in 1997 consisting of lead singer Adam Gontier, drummer Neil Sanderson, lead guitarist Barry Stock and bassist Brad Walst. 

Gontier left the band in 2013 and was replaced by vocalist Matt Walst, the younger brother of bassist Brad Walst. The band is known for holding the record for most #1 singles at Active Rock Radio and Billboard.  

Three Days Grace performed various hits from albums throughout their discography like “One X” and “Life Starts Now.”  

Closing the show with “Riot” from the “One X” album, Three Days Grace walked off the stage as the backstage crew began to set up for FFDP.   

Consisting of lead singer Ivan Moody, guitarists Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook, bassist Chris Kael and Jeremy Spencer on drums, the band announced the North American tour early this year, following the release of its seventh studio album “And Justice for None,” in 2018.  

FFDP released its newest single “Blue on Black” in collaboration with legendary Brian May of Queen and two of the most well-known names in country and blues rock, Brantley Gilbert and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. 

The stage curtains rose once the clock hit 10 p.m., revealing a giant skull from the band’s logo, displayed in the center of the stage with intercrossing drumsticks within its jaw.  

The crowd cheered wildly as the band opened with the song, “Lift Me Up.” The band performed hits like its cover of Bad Company’s self-titled song, “Never Enough,” “Burn MF” and latest single “Blue on Black.” 

In the middle of the show, Moody shared an emotional story to the audience about an El Paso police officer dubbed “Big Mike” who had been shot at in El Paso’s Lower Valley in 2004.  

Moody explained that during the incident, which was recorded by the patrol car’s camera, FFDP played in the background through the radio station 95.5 KLAQ.  

Big Mike, also a FFDP fan, met the band the day of the concert and shared the story, according to KLAQ.  

Moody dedicated “Wrong Side of Heaven” to Big Mike and ended the concert with “The Bleeding.”  

The tour will continue until Dec. 15, ending at Des Moines, Iowa. FFDP recently announced a 2020 winter tour in Europe with special guests, Megadeth and supporting band, Bad Wolves. Tickets for the 2020 tour are on sale now. Tickets for the Fall 2019 tour are still also available online. 


Jaqueline Martinez may be reached at [email protected].