Sure they’ve been criticized and picked on for their larger than life attitudes, but the five guys that make up one of the biggest bands out of California right now couldn’t care less. Avenged Sevenfold are currently at the top of their game and that was evident last Thursday when they performed in front of a packed house at the Metropolis. I chatted with Synyster Gates, the band’s lead guitarist earlier that day to talk about the band’s recent success.
The Concordian: Your record’s been doing incredibly well here. You have been getting a lot of video play and have been winning a bunch of contests. Is that something you expected?
Gates: No, it definitely wasn’t something that we expected. We definitely wanted it but we just wanted to take our time and have it come to us slowly but surely. It’s just taken over, but it’s really neat.
The Concordian: Do you see all this video and airplay as a positive thing because a lot of bands try to stay more underground…
Gates: Totally! I think that the only thing we want to do is write the music that we want to write and wherever it takes us, it will take us. We are not going to fight anything; that has always been our philosophy. We want as many kids to hear it as possible but we are not going to force it down anybody’s throat. This is just what happened. We didn’t go to any of these places and say “play our video”; they just naturally did it, which is a lot more gratifying.
The Concordian: The fact that things progressed slowly, is that something you guys like?
Gates: Yah, it’s been a slow process. You build up your fan base slowly but surely. Every single person that comes to the show, I guarantee will come to the next show. They are very die-hard, hardcore fans.
The Concordian: Talking about your fans, I noticed a lot of them already have your band logo tattooed on them. How does that make you feel?
Gates: I love it! It just solidifies the fact that we have the best fan base in the world. They are always going to be there for you.
The Concordian: Is it important for you guys to make time for them?
Gates: Yah, absolutely! You have your good days and bad days. Sometimes we are out there for one or two hours hanging out with as many people as we can. Sometimes we are just dead from a big drive or from the show or even just a long day of press. You try and do your best. We definitely love our fans but it’s hard to give the equal love.
The Concordian: City of Evil is a lot more diverse than anything you’ve done in the past. What changed in Avenged Sevenfold between the last record and this one?
Gates: This album is a departure from not being fearless. We just wanted to do our own thing. We just want to write the music that we want to write and we decided that since we don’t really listen to any screaming stuff we wouldn’t be screaming anymore. It’s just how the band evolved.
The Concordian: In the documentary on the making of your video for “Bat Country”, you were hanging out with your dad. I know that he’s been a big influence on you…What’s your earliest musical memory?
Gates: Wow! Seeing my dad play when I was four or five. He bought me these leather pants and I went out to dance with all these old ladies.
The Concordian: How did that influence what you are doing now? Was your dad always supportive?
Gates: Totally! All of our parents have been supportive, since day one. That definitely helps a lot because you have to have a place to play and an instrument to play. When you are 12 or 13 years old you don’t have any money to do that, it’s all from your parents, anything that they are willing to sacrifice for you. All of our parents sacrificed a lot.
The Concordian: People like putting labels on bands. Tons of people have been trying to put a label on your sound calling you punk, metalcore and so on. Do you think you fit in those labels? How would you label Avenged’s sound?
Gates: I think there are similarities but I think that we keep changing every time and throwing them some curve balls. People have to say what you sound like so when you start naming bands that people think you sound like, then you start thinking of what type of bands those are. A lot of things that used to bother us are going away. People are finding out that we are a little bit more eclectic and diverse than just one type of music. Call it what you will.
The Concordian: You guys put on a very interesting show. You all have make-up, you are dressed pretty extravagantly, you have stage names, you have big backdrops, and lights; it’s almost theatrical. How important is that for you?
Gates: It’s very important! We strive to be larger than life. When we grew up, we wanted to go see a real rock show and we wanted to
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see rock stars. We wanted to think; how did they get there? Why do they look like that? How come nobody can look like that? And so we definitely try to do that to the best of our ability and just give kids a real show. Something that you can’t just find on the album, a separate entity of the band.
The Concordian: Do you think that separates you guys from other like-bands?
Gates: Definitely! Sorry to sound cocky, but it’s definitely one of the many things that makes us a little bit different; it’s definitely our live show. I think it’s incomparable.
The Concordian: A good live show or a good tour for Avenged Sevenfold consists of what?
Gates: Just having as much fun as we possibly can. I think that’s what’s gotten us to this point and that’s what has created our live show and music, is just having fun and laughing about it. When we write a song we’ll laugh our asses off because the drums are so out of control or the vocals are so insane. The same thing goes with our live show. When Zacky V. dresses up like the craziest bastard you’ve ever seen and all of a sudden he’s like “hey!” and you see him for the first time, you start busting up and that’s just what it’s all about. We just laugh at each other and love it. We have a fantastic time with it and I think it shows.
The Concordian: The press talks a lot about how much you guys like to party and do all sorts of crazy things. Why do you think people make such a big deal out of it?
Gates: Yah, I think they used to. I think it might be dying down a little bit. It started with the English press. We got arrested over there for a big fight, then all of a sudden all of the press wanted to follow us around and watch us drink and saw a couple of more insane nights and then they tried to call us the next Motley Cr