FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH drummer Charlie "The Engine" Engen says that he has seen a "crazy change" in singer Ivan Moody since he was named the replacement for FIVE FINGER's original drummer, Jeremy Spencer, in the fall of 2018.
Moody became sober in March 2018 after publicly struggling with alcohol addiction and nearly dying at one point from an alcohol-related seizure. Ivan went through several onstage meltdowns, was sent home from tour twice and tried rehab five times before the last time finally stuck.
Asked in a new interview with Minnesota Drummer if he has seen a change in Moody since he first played with the group two years ago, Engen said: "[I've seen a] crazy change in Ivan since the first time I met him till now… When I went down and started the [fall 2018] tour, our only rehearsals were four days before the tour started. And so we were at S.I.R. in [Las] Vegas, and in those days, Ivan, he was more… I think there was just so much turmoil in general, I don't think he was really focused on me as a person, I guess you would say. I don't think he gave a crap whether he liked me or didn't like me — it was all irrelevant. [It was just about] 'Can you get up there and play the drums and do the gig?' But that changed. And so we became really close, actually, and we're really close now.
"Ivan then — and I would tell him this, too; I'm not speaking out of turn here when I say this — he was living things in life that he would ignore," Charlie continued. "His booze was his vice, [and] he would use the booze to escape certain, maybe, thoughts, I'm just going to assume — processes of life. And, obviously, you're a megastar, too, so there's that aspect of it. But he would ignore that with booze, while I could tell he was learning new ways about himself in that era. And the difference from that-era Ivan to now, even like last-summer Ivan, which was the second tour I did with DEATH PUNCH, [in] 2019, that was a major shift, where I was, like, 'Oh, wow!' Like, crazy difference. Just overall demeanor — happier, if you wanna call it happy. Just more himself; you could just tell he was settled in with himself. And then the last tours we did, the two, it was even the next level of it. You can just tell he came into his own sober self in a really good way. So it made the transition a lot easier, because if the lead singer's pissed off, everybody's pissed off. And Ivan is an emotional guy — that's Ivan; that's what makes him so good too. So if you have him in a bad mood… Nobody wants anybody who is boisterous — not in a bad way boisterous, but you know what I mean, just the personality. If he was in a bad mood, you felt it.
"Man, the fun we've had on the last two tours in particular, just 'cause they're fresh in my memory — especially Europe; we had a blast," he added. "We all hung out. We did things, which was pretty new, since I've been in the band, 'cause I was the new guy too. So, it's been such a change. It's been awesome. And we talk almost every day, too, on the phone — like, texting."
Spencer, who co-founded FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH with guitarist Zoltan Bathory, underwent back surgery in the fall of 2018 that required a significant recovery period. In announcing his exit from the group, he said: "The rigorous physical wear and tear has worn down my body to the point where I feel I can no longer deliver a performance you great fans deserve and one that brings me satisfaction and joy."
Bathory previously described Charlie as "an unbelievable drummer," adding that: "The funny thing was that Jeremy kind of found him, but I followed him, so when he said who it is, I'm, like, 'Oh, yeah! That kid is fucking amazing.' So I already knew about him. So that was pretty cool. So I guess you can say that Jeremy handed down the torch."
The 35-year-old Engen, who was previously identified only as "a drum prodigy" called "The Engine", played his first show with FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH on November 6, 2018 in Wichita, Kansas.
The Saint Paul, Minnesota-based Engen had been teaching drums for more than 15 years and offered private and Skype lessons at his home studio, along with playing in the bands SCALE THE SUMMIT and IDEOLOGY.
Engen made his recording debut with FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH on the band's latest album, "F8", which came out in February.