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Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows Talks Writing With Brooks Wackerman, Opening for Metallica + More

Avenged Sevenfold M Shadows
Kathy Flynn, WickedGoddessPhotography.com

Avenged Sevenfold frontman M. Shadows was a guest on the ‘Loudwire Nights‘ radio show hosted by Toni Gonzalez. The singer discussed touring around festival appearances, writing and jamming with new drummer Brooks Wackerman before publicly announcing him as their new stickman, the status of the ‘This is Bat Country’ DVD and the band’s estranged relationship with Warner Bros. Records. Check out the chat below.

Avenged Sevenfold are hitting the road with Volbeat, Killswitch Engage and Avatar, kicking off Sept. 12 in Kansas with stops in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee. Not really a lot of stops. Why did you guys keep it so short given that the demand is so high and the upcoming European tour with Disturbed and Chevelle is so much longer?

That’s a lot to get into there. We got called months ago. I don’t know how many people know this but when people are, Danny Wimmer and them, when they are booking these festivals, they call, like, a year in advance. When we said we were going to do these festivals, about a year ago, we didn’t know where we were going to be in the writing process and where we were going to be terms to how everyone felt.

So, once we got to this point and we don’t have a record yet, we are still working on that and doing all these things, so we said let’s do a couple of dates in between the festival so that we don’t have to keep flying home and flying back out. Then hopefully by the time we get to Europe everything will be back in order. That is the reason why there are not so many shows right now. We are just kind of doing stuff in between festivals and called up our friends in Volbeat and asked if they wanted to do it with us and Killswitch and they said yeah. So we are doing a few dates just to see how it goes.

You do have many festivals lined up within the next few months. I saw that at Rock Allegiance and Houston Open Air you’re partnering with LTD Tweets. Can you tell us a little bit about what they do? Where does the band fit into all of that?

For us everything from Living the Dream to all the sort of things with F Cancer that we have done, for us it is just about meeting fans that can’t necessarily come to shows or are sick with illnesses. [They] can’t necessarily get to see an experience that a lot of our fans can have. We try to go meet those kids and try to do as much as we can for them. We donate, we try to donate our time as much as possible and it’s one that is really important to us.

We have been doing that for years and years. The more kids that we can meet or kids that are terminally ill, we try to do it because it’s really important and you can see the hope in their eyes and in their families and their parents. Usually for things like that, they fly out the best friend and they fly out the family members and they get to come sit onstage and they get to hang out with the band. We try to take a couple hours out of our day to definitely make, hopefully, a life-changing experience for them.

Do you anticipate that there will something new for fans to hear in 2016? Or is 2017 more realistic?

I really have no clue at this point. Nothing. I am sure every magazine is mad at us right now and every radio station is mad at us, but the reality is when there is something to be heard, then it will be heard. Right now we are working our butts off and we want to make sure everything is right, when something does come out and just kind of giving people little tidbits right now doesn’t seem like the right thing to do.

Is there anything you can say on how the creative process has been different from when you guys were in this point when working on Hail to the King?

We got Brooks Wackerman playing with us now, so for the last couple of years we have been jamming with him. So, obviously that is going to bring a new element. The thing about this band is if someone new is going to enter, there is a reason why we really wanted Brooks in this band. We are not going to sit there and put him on the sideline and say, ‘Well just go do your drum parts.’ One thing that was really important to us, was to be working with him for a good year before we announced anything because we wanted to make sure that everything about him fit into the style of where we wanted to go.

The newest thing I can say is that having Brooks in the band, we are definitely utilizing him, we are not just saying, ‘Hey dude you’re a hired guy,’ because he’s not. He is part of the band and we wanted to write it with him, we wanted to feel him out and that is what we have done. It’s going to be exciting and I think a lot of people are wondering if the band’s going to write a record and make Brooks play on it. It’s not the case. We are writing everything together which has been really fun.

Speaking of Brooks, did he share with you what was going on in his head right before playing his second show with the band? Metallica performing, 50,000 people in the crowd, a new $1 billion stadium. That’s a lot to take in. Did he say anything with you or share his thoughts?

I know he was nervous. We were all nervous. We had played three shows last year and hadn’t been on a proper tour in two years. A lot has happened in two years, you get older and fatter. [laughs] You just can’t prepare enough for something like that. There’s no way you can prepare to stand in front of 60,000 people in a stadium, and have to open. We haven’t opened in a long time and to open for Metallica, it’s really good but it’s also a hostile environment. At any moment it can turn on you because people are there to see Metallica. For us, we were all nervous. We were nervous about the First Avenue show as well because we haven’t been up there. It’s not like riding a bike, necessarily. It kind of is once you get onstage. Backstage you’re like, “Oh my god, can we do this again?” Once you get out there you can, but it’s definitely nerve wracking.

Back in May of 2015 we all got the glimpse of the This is Bat Country DVD. The band put out the teaser. Is the DVD done yet? Will it see the light of day? Is there any sort of timeline update you can give?

The reality is the DVD just never got there. I know some fans don’t want to hear this, but for us when we’re looking at something and deciding on whether to put it out or not, it’s gotta go through some sort of process or, “Is this good enough to come out?” You get asked a question a million times of “You got a DVD?” It starts leaking out that there’s a DVD and you go “Okay yeah, we have a DVD.” Then when it doesn’t get there and there’s no reason for us to put it out and the DVD was never quite good enough to come out in our opinion.

So, I don’t know what’s happening with it right now. I know it’s still on the cutting floor. We’re still trying to make tweaks to it, but then there’s also the Warner Bros. thing. We’re not with Warner Bros. anymore and they own the rights to that footage. So, I don’t know what’s going to happen with that DVD. The real answer is just that it wasn’t up to par with what we wanted to be releasing.

That was my next question, you announced earlier this year that the band was attempting to sever its contract with Warner Bros records. Has there been any resolution? Apparently not.

There hasn’t been a resolution with that. I saw a thing on, I think it was another website was saying that what we had said was not true about the reason we left. That report is not true. We left because every single person at the label, not every single person, the radio department is still intact. But the people that signed us, the A&R people, all the people that had to do with the high up at the company didn’t know who Avenged Sevenfold was or cared at this point. So we had to leave.

It had nothing to do with anything other than if you’re at a place where they don’t care about your band, then you have to do somewhere where they do care about your band. So, as labels start morphing and changing over time, you have to do what’s best for you and that’s the main reason we left. For us, it’s about finding a home that care about rock music and they care about Avenged Sevenfold and want to further our career as we try to push through this thing.

Lastly, what is the best compliment you’ve ever received musically that means the most to you?

Ah man. Musically, I just like when people are knowledgeable about music and they can talk to you about it. I’m kind of a geek when it comes to talking about chord structures or melody, so I always loved in depth conversations with musicians about things. I also enjoy when a fan can just put something on and they really know nothing about music other than they like it and it touches them in some way.

So, there are so many cool things. I find that a lot of times you go to shows and you hear all these stories from fans, and it’s always touching and it’s always awesome. Every once in awhile we can touch somebody’s life in a way just by writing a melody or writing some music, which is always really special.

Thanks to M. Shadows for the interviewCatch Avenged Sevenfold on the road in September and view a full list of dates at our 2016 Guide to Rock + Metal ToursDon’t forget to catch Toni Gonzalez on ‘Loudwire Nights,’ airing Monday through Friday from 7PM to midnight. To see a listing of stations that air ‘Loudwire Nights,’ click here.

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