Avenged Sevenfold: 'Since The Rev's Passing, We've Had To Grow Up'

Joe Matera spoke to Synyster Gates about the new drummer, touring and Avenged Sevenfold's influence on the next generation of up and coming metal bands.

Avenged Sevenfold: 'Since The Rev's Passing, We've Had To Grow Up'
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Avenged Sevenfold most recent studio album, Nightmare the group's fifth to date - is the first from the band without drummer James The Rev Sullivan, who sadly passed away in December of 2009. The album features former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy on the drum stool. The group has been busily touring the album with Arin Ilejay playing drums on all the group's live dates. During a stopover in Australia, Joe Matera spoke to Synyster Gates about the new drummer, touring and Avenged Sevenfold's influence on the next generation of up and coming metal bands. UG: I want to start the interview by asking you how has the dynamic changed within Avenged Sevenfold having added new recruit Arin Ilejay on drums? Synyster Gates: Well it is hard to say. I mean there are a few different things definitely, compared to the dynamic we had with Jimmy and the dynamic we had with Mike Portnoy, so it is different. Also Arin is very young and it is more about us taking him under our wings at this point where as with Jimmy, things were absolute insane and the guy was mad man, very funny and we were all friends, so it was a much crazier time for Avenged Sevenfold. I also think since The Rev's passing, we've had to grow up quite a bit and I think Mike helped us to get through our period of grieving. I mean playing with Arin now is definitely a lot lighter kind of atmosphere than the moments we had with Mike Portnoy at that time. And not because of Mike, but because it was a lot closer towards the passing of the Rev. But now, I think we're into the healing process and it is a breathe of fresh air to have this really young talented kid out with us, that is so humbled by this experience and very deserving of all the things that are going to come to him. So have you begun the writing process for next album yet? We don't have any plans right now, as we are just really focused on touring. A lot of new cool places have opened up and we are really excited to come and see all our fans, both old fans and new fans, and go out and just play for all these kids, that haven't seen us or have seen us in awhile. And that is what is exciting to us right now. When we try and blend the two together, the songwriting and the touring like we did before, it doesn't really work. We tend to become very focused on what we are doing. And we tend to be a little bit one track minded. We're very much perfectionists so when we're putting on a huge show and want to play to the best of ability, we rehearse intensely. And I have a guitar pretty much in my hand for at least five hours before doing a show. I'm just noodling and mucking around and working on some of the songs here and there.
Avenged Sevenfold are still touring behind the group's most recent studio album Nightmare? Yeah and we definitely still have tons of touring coming up for the rest of the year. We are very fortunate to still have a lot of the world opened up to us and that we are further developing. We are continuing to develop a broader fan base across the globe. And it is just cool to be able to come to places like Australia for example, and draw a few thousand kids, it is definitely a dream come true for us. Do you enjoy all the touring involved? Touring is my favorite part of doing all this music stuff. Especially being able to go over to different countries and experiencing different cultures and playing for kids. It is a lot more gratifying being onstage and seeing the kids and all the shit that you worked hard for, right there in the moment. Than as opposed to being in a fuckin' studio, thinking about how it will affect kids when it is done. It is much cooler experiencing the effect first hand. For the current tour, what are you using guitar wise? It is pretty much my Schecter Synyster Gates Signature model for the entire show. It is the custom thing that Schecter did for me. It has got these hot pickups by Seymour Duncan, and it is very conducive to a broader approach to metal and rock. It is a very versatile guitar. We've been playing Schecter pretty much ever since we started working with Mudrock [producer] on Waking The Fallen. I just really like those guitars and I have played them way before we were even endorsed by them. They are a really great company too and when we started doing the endorsement deal with them, they were really quick to make signature guitars as I was really into that at, as I always loved that Dimebag had his own brand of guitar that looked pretty much like no other guitar. And so I wanted my own thing too. But though certain companies are down to making you something, they're not necessarily going to make you a really good quality instrument. Yet these guys definitely spared no expense on what I wanted. On top of that they make other great guitars which make for a great company all round. And they really support you during the album making process. And what about, when it comes to amps? Amp wise it is pretty much Marshall at this point. Is it a specific model in particular? I don't know man. All I know is that it is a multi-channel thingI think it is the only one that has all the Midi stuff, and comes with a couple of different cleans, and a couple of different dirtys. It is a very multi-purpose wide range amp. Would it be the JVM model? Yep, that's it, you've got it.
How do the guitar parts break down between you and Zacky? I guess it depends on who wrote it. If I wrote something, then I will probably be the one playing it. But usually Zacky plays the lead lines, all the melodies regardless, be it my idea or his idea. I usually kind of orchestrate the harmonies and stuff like that. But I am usually playing the harmony parts most times. So that's how that works with the band frame work. So whoever comes up with something, we will always work around that and that it from there. Do you think your guitar technique and approach has remained consistent over the course of your career with Avenged Sevenfold? I don't know, I just try and always approach my solos and guitar playing from a harmony songwriters' standpoint, where I will always try and make it melodic number one and fun, number two. It has to always be fun and never too fuckin' serious. I never do technique for the sake of technique. I much prefer a kid to laugh at my solo than to fuckin' have his jaw drop. I much prefer to inspire different emotions than just, oh shit that guy shreds' I definitely always try and keep up with the times too and what the kids are doing, the little whippersnappers. I like to see what shit they know that I don't know. It is cool because you can go onto the internet now and pretty much all the mystery is revealed to you which is a cool thing. It is definitely going to be inspirational for kids to take it to the next level. Your father Brian Haner Sr, who is also a well known guitarist in his right, contributed guitar on a couple tracks on Nightmare. How much of an influence was your father on your own playing growing up? He influenced me a lot. I grew up in a household that had a lot of classic rock and jazz and fusion around. But I always had an insatiable itch for metal techniques and stuff like that, so I later went off in a heavy music kind of direction and got into bands such as Pantera, Dream Theatrer and Guns & Roses. My influences go from The Beatles and Led Zeppelin for the rock stuff to The Yellowjackets as far as the fusion influences go.
Any plans for a solo album or maybe being a guest soloist on some other person's album, along the lines that M Shadows did with Slash for his solo record? I don't have any plans right now, like I sad, we kind of get pretty busy and self absorbed when it comes to the task at hand. I wish I was like where I could just go out and fuckin' do a million different things all at once. But if I am not doing Avenged stuff, I tend to be a fuckin' couch potato and drink too much beer at multiple times during the day. But who knows? Maybe I will grow out of that stage and start drinking a lot of fuckin' coffee instead and go and fuckin' do a collaboration and write some awesome stuff. A lot of new bands are taking a leaf out of Avenged Sevenfold's book and copying some of the elements, how do you feel about that? Well we certainly weren't the first band to do it. There have been many before us and there will be many after us, so I certainly don't think we pioneered anything. If anything I give ourselves credit for maybe bringing some of those elements back and kind of doing our own thing with it. But it is definitely cool to hear bands focusing on songwriting and musicianship these days, those are my two favorite things and in that order. We are a band that focuses on writing good music, melodies, dynamics and songs that go places. Songs that don't fuckin' just throw in something when it comes time to write the bridge. Musicians are becoming more focused on all aspects of the music now, and then they go out and play their asses off. It is really cool shit to listen to. What do you think of bands such as Black Veil Brides who are taking the whole 80s glam thing and putting a modern twist to it all? It is definitely a cool thing. The first time I saw those guys, I hadn't heard anything about them previously, and we were just doing festivals, and I was like, oh wow this is pretty crazy, I have got to definitely check them out' purely based on their look. I was pretty much expecting it to be a scream-y hardcore or a popp-ier sounding band trying to be like Motley Crue. But they're extremely talented dudes and I love the image and I think they are really a great band. Last question, the turning point both musically and commercially for Avenged Sevenfold came with 2005's City Of Evil. How do you look back on that album today? We pretty much had decided on that record that we were going to pretty forget about any guidelines or rules or regulations, and that we would create any form or type of music that we wanted, and so pretty much we threw out the rule book and went in and wrote an album that we were and are very, very proud of. It is a very musically adventurous album and it saw us delving into different types of music, music that we hadn't previously done. And it was a cool time to explore all this type of music. Interview by Joe Matera Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2011

155 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    Xelested
    ryandevison wrote: This band blows. Nuff said
    Everyone is entitled to have an opinion. Yours happens to be ignorant and pointless.
    hereticfive
    Why is every band getting asked about black veil brides? Its almost like they're being bribed. black veil brides are garbage.
    Kwyjibo2006
    I have a question. I've been a casual listener of this band for a few years now. Maybe it's just me, but every comment I see about how much Avenged Sevenfold suck seems to revolve around their fans or the band members themselves. I mean, I know not all music is for everyone, but could someone explain why the band gets so much flak for their fans and their haircuts rather than for their musicianship or their songwriting which, in my opinion, should be the main critique of a band.
    pat_kenn93
    Kreuger wrote: How does he not know what amp he uses?
    because he smokes more weed than i do.
    $hithappen$16
    I FUCKIN LOVE THIS BAND!!!! Synyster Gates is such a huge influence on my guitar playing. I know a lot of people have their reasons for disliking them and i'm cool with that because everyone is entitled to their opinion but i just love this band. i have all of their albums. this band really means a lot to me. everyone on UG has at least one band that just means the world to them. for some people its the beatles, others its kiss, but for me its A7X. LOVE these guys. they need to come to my town again. i missed them last time they came here
    Xelested
    Zeletros wrote: Xelested wrote: ryandevison wrote: This band blows. Nuff said Everyone is entitled to have an opinion. Yours happens to be ignorant and pointless. What he said was not ignorant actually. He didn't compare anything, he simply called them a good band, and if you checked their live concerts, you'd have to agree.
    You do know what "blows" means? It's an insult. I'm a a fan of A7X for life.
    Char2000
    You can make fun of A7X all you want but they continuously out sell whatever gay screamo band you like
    SynesterSeX
    alexanderjames7 wrote: one would think that if they had grown up they would stop going by their ridiculous middle school hot topic-goth monikers, like "synyster," "shadows," and "spooky skeleton man" or whatever the hell they are. especially given the fact that one of them just died and he's still referring to him as "the rev."
    You act as if they are the only ones with stage names. /facepalm
    Lakshana
    I love Avenged Sevenfold. I think they are so brave and talented. Besides, I can't think of any band out there that has their sound. People just dislike them because they are EVERYWHERE now in the metal community - in festivals, in magazines- and I can understand people who aren't fans of them, who will get frustrated hearing about them. But it sucks when people constantly state their negative opinions about them. Anyway, I love them and Synyster Gates is awesome! ^_^
    SynesterSeX
    Kwyjibo2006 wrote: I have a question. I've been a casual listener of this band for a few years now. Maybe it's just me, but every comment I see about how much Avenged Sevenfold suck seems to revolve around their fans or the band members themselves. I mean, I know not all music is for everyone, but could someone explain why the band gets so much flak for their fans and their haircuts rather than for their musicianship or their songwriting which, in my opinion, should be the main critique of a band.
    Quoted for truth. Some people just love to talk out of their ass.
    darkdevout
    Avenged sevenfold is a great band and Syn does a good interview, by his image you expect him to be carefree "live life as if it was your last day" kind of guy, but he's down to earth and serious when you get down to it, he actually gives two shits about putting on a good show and being professional and the whole band sounds amazing live, it's bands like these that deserve recognition unlike band like disturbed(just my opinion I think disturbed is a bit too generic,It's your opinion if you like them) March on A7X, can't wait to see you at Bristow Va Uproar
    bigpancakeguy
    irishboy17 wrote: They are so up themselves, think they are incredible and great, and were extremely arrogant at Soundwave. Yeah except if you live in Western Australia where they cancelled the shows with no explanation or **** all. They were kicked out cuz they kept changing what time they wanted to be on, and eventually told the organisers that either they play at night and Iron Maiden, the headliner, switches time to the early afternoon so that Avenged 7X, who is more important etc (in their own opinion) than Iron Maiden, can play when they want and get as many people as possible, or else they will leave. So the organisers kicked them out. They then had the arrogance to post on their FB page that they chose to withdraw themselves, because they wouldn't have the opportunity to give such a good performance to their fans, because Iron Miaden were on at the same time.
    I'm pretty sure if they got kicked off that festival for essentially trying to upstage Iron Maiden, they probably wouldn't have settled for an opening spot for Disturbed at Uproar Tour last year. I've met the guys before and was blown away by how down to earth they were. And as far as the band goes, it's fine if you don't care for their music. Shadows' voice isn't for everybody and there's never gonna be a band that everybody likes. But you can't insult their instrumental talent and their songwriting ability. Give credit where credit is due.
    Killdowner
    Synyster Gates is a genius. Whatever you say, his riffs are in a perfect harmony and he is the one who made A7X successful.
    [The Hunt]
    People only hate this band because they're famous then go to the internet to complain. Don't worry A7X-loving internetees, there's tons of people in the real world who enjoy this band.
    ghost23
    Im a big fan but they are not heavy metal/metal, Im tired of hearing people rip them because shadows doesnt scream constantly and they dont play into the "machine gun guitar." They play what they play and have fun and according to the interviews they care about their fans more than anything(which I think is the most important aspect of being a successful band.) I listen to alot of All that Remains, Darkest Hour, ABR, Children of Bodom but also alot of non metal bands. And personally I think listening to a wide range of music is great. Just dont bash bands that have talent and love pleasing their fans. On another note though Gates seems like a good guy, Id love to meet this band and bullsh*t and have a few beers. and im looking forward to seeing them in Pittsburgh on the 16th. Also Huntington Beach is in the Little World Series sooooo....USA USA USA haha
    HectorBznRg
    alexanderjames7 wrote: one would think that if they had grown up they would stop going by their ridiculous middle school hot topic-goth monikers, like "synyster," "shadows," and "spooky skeleton man" or whatever the hell they are. especially given the fact that one of them just died and he's still referring to him as "the rev."
    Slash? Ozzy? man... One must stick to those things
    Xelested
    feathers632 wrote: Xelested wrote: ryandevison wrote: This band blows. Nuff said Everyone is entitled to have an opinion. Yours happens to be ignorant and pointless. Ummm, but isn't it a compliment to blow? You know it's the opposite of sucking. You suck I blow kind of thing?
    Urban Dictionary is your friend, use it.
    jordo246
    SynesterSeX wrote: alexanderjames7 wrote: one would think that if they had grown up they would stop going by their ridiculous middle school hot topic-goth monikers, like "synyster," "shadows," and "spooky skeleton man" or whatever the hell they are. especially given the fact that one of them just died and he's still referring to him as "the rev." You act as if they are the only ones with stage names. /facepalm
    Although i disagree and they should use their stage names cause its just for the show and its kinda cool but spooky skeleton man made me laugh
    drug.me.2.hell
    rkroxpunk wrote: seems like a pretty cool/humble guy. I found it weird how he said Zacky does most of the lead lines, I always thought Syn was the lead guitarist, but I don't listen to much a7x.
    Zacky does a lot of the lead lines, that isnt the main solo's. Syn does most/all of the main solos (:
    slaveskinJACKET
    MegaFilth90 wrote: He seems like a cool down to earth kinda guy, and performs very well on stage . I can't wait to see them again. And who the hell types up these interviews? I saw like 15 spelling errors. Spell check UG, SPELL CHECK.
    I saw them in Nashville in '09, and Synyster Gates did the opposite of what I would call 'performing well on stage'. His guitar work was kind of sloppy through the show, but not really any worse than I expected. But then when it came time for his 'guitar solo', he kind of just wandered around stage occasionally hitting a stray cluster of notes, with no real structure or melody to any of it. Then he ended it by walking up to the microphone, and said something along the lines of, "Well, I hope you guys liked that, because I don't care if you didn't. I'm ****in' drunk, and it sounded great to me." It seemed like he was purposefully trying to alienate his fans, la Kurt Cobain, on top of the fact that it was just ****ing awful.
    Guitar Z
    SynesterSeX wrote: Kwyjibo2006 wrote: I have a question. I've been a casual listener of this band for a few years now. Maybe it's just me, but every comment I see about how much Avenged Sevenfold suck seems to revolve around their fans or the band members themselves. I mean, I know not all music is for everyone, but could someone explain why the band gets so much flak for their fans and their haircuts rather than for their musicianship or their songwriting which, in my opinion, should be the main critique of a band. Quoted for truth. Some people just love to talk out of their ass.
    I think some people just like to talk, full stop It's the internet, where people can bash on anything they want without being physically harmed
    Gibson_SG_uzr55
    rkroxpunk wrote: seems like a pretty cool/humble guy. I found it weird how he said Zacky does most of the lead lines, I always thought Syn was the lead guitarist, but I don't listen to much a7x.
    He meant Zacky plays the lead melodies, and Syn plays the harmonies over them. I read in Guitar World years ago that the reason for that is Synyster has better theory knowledge. Anyway, great interview. I was a little surprised that he didn't know much about his gear, but it doesn't matter at the end of the day, he knows what it sounds like and it is what he likes. And I love his tone so much that I can't complain.
    James_Het_Rules
    BeerMan5000 wrote: hahaha they made mike portnoy a pussy. now he cries cause dream theater is playing without him. hahaha maybe he shouldnt of left such a talented band to play with some high school girls who wear too much make up. i still think avaneged crap fart should go back to their old name, n'sync
    You do a great job of trolling. I'm half impressed. The immense stupidity of that entire comment is astonishing.
    voodoochild23
    You know what... I can see what critics are saying, and there's a point to be seen there. The lyrics aren't great. Their style is a bit softer than I expected it to be by this stage. They've been drawn away from metal altogether, in a way. BUT... they blow most other bands out of the water. Say what you like about their demographic, they're an absolutely incredible live band, Shadows' voice is flawless, Gates' guitar work makes the anti-A7X guitar playing community cry themselves to sleep, and they put an album out after the death of the Rev which, as far as I'm concerned, is one of their best albums to date. They'll be around for a while, and I for one am F***ing glad.
    mattg24
    The fact is, they could just go in and pump out albums and hire Portnoy, and be in it for the money. But they don't, They've stayed true to themselves and their late drummer (Rev R.I.P.). These guys are very humble and very talented musicians, and they're latest album is great, sure it's no City Of Evil but what do you expect they've grown up as musicians and have moved on to the next part of their careers. Keep the hate to yourselves haters, your not up there selling out arenas lol.
    SavageSyn
    alexanderjames7 wrote: one would think that if they had grown up they would stop going by their ridiculous middle school hot topic-goth monikers, like "synyster," "shadows," and "spooky skeleton man" or whatever the hell they are. especially given the fact that one of them just died and he's still referring to him as "the rev."
    Does that mean that Slash should grow up and stop using his stage name? Who cares what they go by? It's a name. For those of you who hate their new material because it's not heavy enough, metal enough, etc., here's a tip: You don't have to listen to it. Avenged are some fantastic musicians who just play music. That's what they love to do. They don't claim to be a metal band, a heavy band, or a hardcore band. They just claim to be themselves and do what they love to do. I understand not liking some, most, or even all of there stuff but you don't have to be a dick about it. I get tired of reading through comments on an article about any band, whether I like them or not, and seeing comments like "this band blows." If you don't like them, then don't. You can still express your opinion about them. Just try to be a bit more grown up about it. That's all. Sorry if I came off as a dick. I wasn't trying to in the slightest.
    Downfault
    I'm not a big fan of A7X's music, but what I do like is how humble the band is and how they are excellent musicians. I think they should definately be proud of what they have accomplished with their music.
    rkroxpunk
    seems like a pretty cool/humble guy. I found it weird how he said Zacky does most of the lead lines, I always thought Syn was the lead guitarist, but I don't listen to much a7x.
    rtdgamefan
    ColdHeartedHero wrote: Do you hear that? thats the sound of Avenged fizzling out..... love them but.. come on..
    Really? I don't hear a damn thing, considering that Nightmare has brought them more success.
    Maggot66
    There are so many typos in this article..
    espal wrote: Kreuger wrote: How does he not know what amp he uses? Simple. He's a douche.
    And Nono, more so he isn't an amp fanatic.. He plays what sounds good and what he likes and doesn't memorize the specs of it all, like 55% of people, dare they admit it or not.
    Xelested
    jac254 wrote: Xelested wrote: ryandevison wrote: This band blows. Nuff said Everyone is entitled to have an opinion. Yours happens to be ignorant and pointless. same could be said for your opinion buddy,
    I didn't come to an article of a band I do not like to insult it. That guy did. You see my point?
    AxemanRob
    "Dimebag had his own brand of guitar that looked pretty much like no other guitar"
    Wasn't it basically a Dean ML made by Washburn?
    jac254
    Xelested wrote: ryandevison wrote: This band blows. Nuff said Everyone is entitled to have an opinion. Yours happens to be ignorant and pointless.
    same could be said for your opinion buddy,
    EpiExplorer
    iCarebear wrote: well...still waiting for them to grow up and write music for the tough guys like five finger death punch.
    Tough guys? You mean fellow babies-at-arms? Honestly dont see anything coming from this band anymore, another album seems like a routine exercise for them, but there'll still be 20 year olds who bought their stuff in '06 (when everyone gave a damn) who might get it for nostalgias sake.
    guitarman1992
    Holy shit A7X articles get alot of coomments! Good interview, Syn gates seems like a cool guy. I hope they get back to their City of Evil sound though, Nightmare just didn't have much goin for it.
    fenderfrenzy101
    I just saw them this past weekend. Fucking great show, but I could barely hear Syn's guitar at all. They put on a great show, and I was very pleased. I'm astonished that Syn thinks the Black Veil Brides are cool though... o.O
    5hahv1r1
    Roflpwn wrote: "We had to grow up but we still have to dress like 14 year olds."
    Haha, I'm an A7X fan, but that was funny. They do dress homosexual with their eyeliner and whatnot, but they're not a bad band. A7X was a gateway band for getting me into metal, and now I'm huge fan of bands that other fans that rip on A7X are. BTBAM, PTH, Periphery, TesseracT. Prog metal and djent is awesome!
    syn4ever
    I will always be a fan of Avenged Sevenfold. If it weren't for listening to them when I was a young teen, I wouldn't have started playing guitar. And for that, they've had a huge impact on my life. I know that a lot of people don't like Avenged Sevenfold for whatever reason, but I think they're brilliant. And it always seems to me that people online either love or hate A7X. There's no in-between.[/quote] same here bro, I wasn't too into the whole rock/metal sound until I heard them and it wasn't until their self titled album that I even heard any song by them or even heard of them all. All their albums have great songs and have some songs that are eh but either way, they've had success with what they've done. Everyone is titled to their own opinion but some people take it too far with what they say about them. I'm not a big fan of Metallica but I don't deny that they've influenced many bands that are playing today, but I don't get online to trash them. Give avenged credit for what they've done tho, they've stayed consistent which is hard to do in an ever changing music scene. I'll always love avenged so call me biased or whatever. Couldn't care less to be honest...
    Apocalypse4162
    pat_kenn93 wrote: Kreuger wrote: How does he not know what amp he uses? because he smokes more weed than i do.
    Simple Syn for the win
    Apocalypse4162
    john5666 wrote: nothing against there old drummer because they must have been sad to lose him but i personally think he was a very mediocre drummer
    To me I saw him as the Ringo in a way. Not the best or most technical drummer in the world, but amazing in his own right with a very unique drumming style that suits their music.
    Mcers
    Char2000 wrote: You can make fun of A7X all you want but they continuously out sell whatever gay screamo band you like
    actually i always considered them that gay screamo band that's outselling anything i could like...
    goon316
    Separate imagine from the equation and they are a very talented band. I look forward to more music from them.
    jordo246
    iTz WiNTeRs wrote: Diek321 wrote: I dont believe people here hate them because theyre famous, but just because there are better/more talented/more complex things out there that deserve recognition, but sadly dont get it ): (BTBAM % PTH for example) And most of their fans cant accept that fact, because this band is what introduced them to metal and they cant let go. Like Slipknot: New kinda metal band which became very famous and were considered "rude" and "heavy" so a lot of young people who wanted to explore the "rude" and "heavy" world started listening to them and it grew on them. Now they cant let go. I mean, you werent born loving metal, you grew into it, right? Anyone of us can look back and find ourselves saying that "X" band is the best band ever, but time passed and we discovered better things. We now laugh at how wrong we were back then. Its just a phase... Anyway, I personally dont like them a lot but bashing/hating is never good, GROW UP PEOPLE! Oh, and my favorite band is Protest The Hero (right now), just wanted to throw that in there... If you know a band you think is better, please let me know! (Because Ive been looking for one). The first heavy band I listened to was Metallica when I was 8. I'm pretty sure they are and will be the best band ever.
    Not really