Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows Talks ‘Hail to the King’
During a recent broadcast of ‘Loudwire Nights,’ Full Metal Jackie spoke with Avenged Sevenfold singer M. Shadows. The two covered a wide range of topics including Avenged’s new album ‘Hail to the King,’ the state of the music industry, golfing while on tour + much more.
Avenged Sevenfold fans ate up ‘Hail to the King’ after it was released last year. Shadows discusses the album and his current perspective on it before talking album sales now compared to the golden days of metal releases. Shadows also speaks about Avenged’s upcoming tour with Hellyeah + Adrenaline Mob before debating whether or not Avenged Sevenfold is a “metal” band in Shadows’ eyes.
In case you missed the interview, here’s the full transcript.
‘Loudwire Nights’ — It’s Full Metal Jackie. On the show with us this evening, we’ve got Avenged Sevenfold singer M. Shadows. How are you?
I’m doing good, how are you doing?
Great, thanks so much for taking the time to be on the show with us. Of course, Avenged Sevenfold’s sixth and latest album, ‘Hail to the King,’ — second straight CD to debut at No. 1. Congratulations on all the success.
Thank you, I appreciate it.
A lot of bands get so immersed in the creative process of making an album and it takes them six months to a year to step back and really hear it objectively. Now that you’ve had that time, what stands out most to you about ‘Hail to the King’?
I love it. It’s still the record, production wise, that I love listening to, by us. The songs translate better live than anything we’ve done before because of the space and the simplicity of everything, and that was kind of the goal going into it. Every record we do, we kind of get a goal of what we want to accomplish and this one was more of a classic rock / classic metal vibe and I think we accomplished that. I can’t wait to get the ‘itch’ and try to figure out what the next record is going to sound like.
Musically, following ‘Hail to the King,’ how would you like to see Avenged Sevenfold and rock and metal as a whole evolve and develop?
Oh, I don’t know. I think it’s hard to say with rock and metal because a lot of the stuff I listen to is older stuff. To me, a lot people really get wrapped up in the technical side of metal and what’s metal and what’s not and more double-kick and more blast beats and more technicality, but for me, I’m a song person. So I think you can write good songs in any type of style of rock and any type of style of metal and that’s kind of what I’m a fan of.
Personally, I just want to hear good songs. I want to hear bands and people that want to write good songs in the metal and rock genres and I think right now, that gets lost sometimes. A lot of times, people just want to be more extreme than the next band or the next person and that’s all they focus on. That’s kind of lost on me.
What kind of stuff are you listening to?
The same stuff I’ve always listened to. Right before I called you, I was listening to some Pink Floyd. I listen to a lot of Pink Floyd, the Doors, Elton John, Sabbath, Metallica, GN’R, Megadeth… just classic rock, classic metal stuff.
How do you feel about the resurgence of a lot of those bands? Black Sabbath, obviously, still around, putting out records and touring. Megadeth, still out there…
Those are my favorite bands, so it’s great that they put out records still and that they tour. They’re monsters — you look at Sabbath, you look at Metallica, Maiden, around the world and those bands never went away, they just kind of went away in America. The rest of the world — they’ve been selling out stadiums for the last 10 years now, the last 10-15 years.
We just actually flew out of Sao Paulo and the Metallica guys were flying in to Sao Paulo and they’re doing a stadium there and it sells out instantly. It’s insane how big those bands are still and it’s a really cool thing to see around the world and internationally. Metal and rock is just so massive.
Do you feel that your hope for Avenged Sevenfold is to be one of those bands that stand the test of time and are still doing this 20 years from now, as well?
That’s always a hope, but things have changed so much. We’re dealing with a completely different generation. Just the technology and the amount of music that’s getting thrown at everybody everyday. It’s very sporadic. With Spotify, you buy a record now and you don’t even really have to listen to it, you’re paying for a subscription a lot of the time.
Obviously, I’m a younger guy, but even when I was growing up, you went and bought a CD and you had to get into it. Those bands became massive because it was the CD to get. I remember when the first Korn record came out or when [Pantera‘s] ‘Far Beyond Driven’ came out, there was no way I wasn’t gonna listen to those things to death because I paid money for it. Now, with subscriptions, I see people downloading songs and they don’t even listen to it. They just listen to one song, they don’t really care about the band. It’s gonna be a lot harder for bands like us and a Five Finger Death Punch or a Bullet for My Valentine — bands that are coming up now — to become that big because people are kind of scattered with all the things that are being thrown at them.
Obviously, that would be a hope: that we could reach that point someday, but it’s gonna be tough.
I’ve got to imagine too, it’s hard when you get compared to, nowadays, bands that have been around longer than Avenged has, it’s impossible to even touch the amount of album sales for the historic bands that have been around and were there when the music business was doing better.
Oh, totally. We were in right when the decline started happening. ‘City of Evil’ came out and people were like, ‘Oh, your record is only doing 30,000 a week. That’s pretty weak compared to what these records were doing.’ Now I look at 30,000 record a week and any band would die to do that, including us. It just doesn’t happen anymore. Now you’re Top 20 if you have 14,000 records a week. The whole CD-buying thing is gone. It’s a lot harder because you look at these bands who sold 200 million records and it’s like, that’s never gonna happen again. There’s not gonna be a band that does that. So we just have to make our own way. We’re not really worried about following those band’s footsteps, we’re just worried about playing to our fans and writing good songs.
Years ago, there were Ted Nugent and KISS pinball machines and animated movies like ‘Heavy Metal and ‘Yellow Submarine.’ Now, your animated series and ‘Deathbat’ video game gives your fans their own mix of music, animation and gaming. How much were you thinking about the songs as animation and video games throughout the process of recording ‘Hail to the King’?
We weren’t thinking about that at all, but the whole time we were developing a video game — it hasn’t come out yet, it comes out in a couple of months — but for us, that’s kind of a passion. We play video games, it’s our generation. We were talking to the people at Apple, we said, ‘We think this is something Pink Floyd or the Beatles may have done while they were coming up if it was available to them.’ Music videos don’t really mean much anymore, we all know CD sales don’t really mean much, so we’re just looking for creative ways to have an outlet.
For the last two years, we’ve been developing a mobile video game that we think is pretty cool and I’m sure the younger generation will get it and the older generation will scoff at it, but for us, it’s just another way to be creative and we want to be the first to really do it and do it well. ‘Hail to the King’ was completely separate and we’re actually doing eight different songs for our video game.
Can you tell us a little more about ‘Deathbat’? When is it coming out? What can you tell us about the game itself?
It’s in QA right now, which is testing for games like that and we’re hoping to get it out by the summer, but it’s like with everything — when it’s done, it’s done. I’m really cautious of giving a date because as soon as you give a date, you get past that date and everyone yells at you. For us, when it’s done, it’s done. Hopefully by summer and when it comes out, hopefully it’ll be right so there’s not a bunch of bugs and things happening with it.
So those people who have jobs of doing nothing but playing video games day and night are now playing ‘Deathbat’?
The ‘Shepherd of Fire’ tour kicks off April 12. It’s gonna run through mid-May. What makes taking Hellyeah and Adrenaline Mob on tour exciting to you and how closely do you work with the folks that put together your tours?
We work really closely with them, but it’s a combination of us and the promoters and we try to put together a package we think people are gonna like. We also try to put our friends on shows with us. We also try to put out bands who have new records or records that are coming out. Vinnie [Paul] sent me some songs off the new record and I loved it and I wanted to take them out. Originally the tour was gonna be us and Motorhead and Hellyeah, but there are some issues with Lemmy‘s health and I don’t think they want to tour the States that extensively. We said let’s go out and bring Hellyeah in the direct support slot and then called up our friends in Adrenaline Mob, who also have a brand new record out. We just like to take out our friends.
When you guys are out on the road, do you find yourselves spending time with the other bands on the bill?
Yeah, definitely. People are into different things. Some of our guys, obviously, like to drink a lot or they like to do mixed martial arts. For me, I golf a lot on days off and the Hellyeah guys golf. So does Russell from Adrenaline Mob, so I’m sure that’s all we’re going to be doing on off days. Then hanging out backstage, obviously we’re going to see a lot of each other. Vinnie, he’s been a friend for years. Every time I’m in Vegas or Texas we’re meeting up and hanging out. I’ll probably see him in a couple weeks when I go out there for a buddy’s bachelor party. They’re just buddies and of course we’re gonna hang out with them a lot.
I’m just sort of picturing all of you guys taking a day off and going to golf. I’d love to be a fly on the wall. [Laughs]
[Laughs] Especially Chad [Gray] out there with his mohawk. We look like quite the motley crew rolling up, but it’s good times.
I feel like the history of Avenged Sevenfold started in metal. How do you feel about where the band is today? Are you proud of your metal roots and how do you feel about the metal fans today and how they’ve embraced the band?
There’s obviously mixed feelings about Avenged Sevenfold and metal, but that’d just because of where metal has gone, not where metal has been. I feel like ‘Hail to the King’ is more of a traditional metal album than anything else we’ve put out. Obviously, ‘City of Evil’ was more of a call to arms in a way. It was like more of a melodic minor type of more crazy European-influenced metal.
Metal back in the ’80s doesn’t sound like metal sounds today — the triggered drums, the blast beats and all the screaming — that’s not really what we’re interested in and if people want to say we’re not metal because of that, that’s fine, we’ll take the hard rock approach. We have songs like ‘Little Piece of Heaven’ or ‘Dear God,’ which are Oingo Boingo influenced and country influenced and ‘Critical Acclaim’ is even hip-hop influenced. We’re all over the place and we’re proud of that too. Do I think we’re a metal band? Yeah, and we’re totally proud of that word and we’re proud of that scene, but when people say we’re not, that’s fine too. It’s up to everybody’s discretion, I guess.