Burrn! Magazine's October '10 Interview With M Shadows. - Avenged Sevenfold

Burrn! Magazine's October '10 Interview With M Shadows.

Japanese publication Burrn! recently published an interview with M Shadows from October 2010. While some information may be a bit outdated there’s also quite a bit of interesting stuff in there too! Check it out thanks to Heather at Deathbat-JP who also translated it.

Is there any possibility you’d play other songs from “Nightmare” in future tour, like “Fiction”?

M: Yeah, I want to play “Save Me” definitely and “Danger Line” for sure. I’ve suggested my band playing “Fiction” and they agreed with me. I’d like to play “Natural Born Killer” too, actually I want to play every song on “Nightmare”. We will write down every set list on the tour and we’d play completely different set list at the places we visit twice. Then you can listen to all songs from “Nightmare”.

Jimmy is not taking A7X to heaven with him but sending inspirations to you from above.

M: Of course! We kiss his drum set every night before we go on to the stage. He gives us his power. He is definitely with us. It feels awesome to have his voice from pro tool. It’s great. I know we have to carry on this band as long as our sound and feeling is in good condition. I know we can see him again someday. Till then, we’d carry on this band and do our best for him who can’t be with us now.

Thank you for giving us time for interview. You must be tired now.
M.Shadows(M): It’s alright. Today I went golfing as the weather was so good here.

I know you are still suffering from Jimmy’s loss and we can’t say even “we know how you feel now” as you must be having such a hard time. But let me thank you for recording “Nightmare” and coming to Japan.

M: We appreciate your praising our album. And we love coming to Japan so it’s really good to be here. We’re glad too.

When “Nightmare” topped the Billboard album chart, where were you hearing the news?

M: We’d been told there was possibility the album land on number one week beforehand. Staffs in record label and our management office had calculated sales volumes and got excited very much. But for us, just releasing the record meant success. Of course, it would be nice if it become number 1 on chart. When I actually heard the news, I was on radio show hosted by Jason Ellis, our manager came in with Champaign and the show itself became mostly about having number 1 album. Zack and I were there and we called other band mates to celebrate. It was cool but a bit sad moment.

How is touring? You’ve on been road with Mike Portnoy for about three months now, how your feeling’s been changing? What do you feel about touring as Avenged Sevenfold? Have you found anything changed?

M: When we first stepped on to the stage, we were very nervous and scared beyond our words. It was Montreal when we played with Mike for the first time. We were worried how we’d feel about this lineup ourselves. After a while, we were able to play like we had before but nonetheless we remember Jimmy every night and miss him. From now on we never play on stage as same as before and never be able to show what we truly are. Still we go on to the stage every night and soak in fan’s energy, have fun ourselves playing shows. It feels good. It’s not same as what we had before but still there’s fun so we enjoy it. It’s same for Mike, too. We’re making the best of our time.

You are using Jimmy’s voice form pro tool and have him on stage on this tour.

M: Yes that’s right!

His voice has character and it’s crucial in songs. There seemed no one else can sing his parts…

M: (laugh) Yes that’s right, no one can sing his parts. He had very high-pitched tone and his voice itself had unique character, you know. We knew fans want to hear his voice every night for sure and so do we.

So basically we play with click during a show and it struck us that we could play Jimmy’s voice with it too. Everyone will be happy by hearing his voice. It’s surely moment to become emotional. Everyone who came to the show got excited. They all wondered how we play that part on stage, so everyone tells us that was awesome idea to re-create his voice that way.

Definitely no one but Jimmy could sing his part, that’s right! Without him we’ll never be able to play songs like “Critical Acclaim” or “A Little Piece of Heaven”! It’s really special for fans to be able to feel his presence. They can remember him during shows by hearing his voice. Many fans are pointing at sky with smile…it’s very cool.

You said there’re smiles but there must be sadness, too…?

M: No, we can see they get excited to hear his voice. It seems like they’re celebrating his life. There’re lot tears with “So Far Away” but fans seem like assured when his voice comes out on “Critical Acclaim” and “Afterlife”, I can see it from stage. It’s rather comforting to hear his voice than having someone else sings it or no one at all. Show is place to celebrate and where we can hear his voice. It’s also where we introduce our new songs for the first time so it can be emotional. The first time you see us without Jimmy is this time, and only this one is the first time. (laugh) Anyway, it’s all about rock and having fun.

You had a show on 17th of September at Irvine, the nearest stop to your hometown. How was it?

M: Well…it was messed up…compared to other place.(bitter laugh) Many friends and families said they wanted to see the show…it’s little bit annoying…many friends don’t understand we’re doing this every night. So they asked us to have a party or hanging out after shows as we come home after long time…but for us tour will continue and we have lot things to do, like seeing press and such, so we can’t go out and get wasted after shows. We have to prepare for day after that show. So, show in hometown was crazy. Our old best friends who have no idea how busy we are came out…but Jimmy’s parents and family came out too and it was the special night as Mike had met Jimmy’s family for the first time. Our family and friends who knew Jimmy very well had come out and got emotional as it was the first time they saw us playing without Jimmy. I think they were reminded of the reality again by seeing our show without Jimmy.

How was Jimmy’s family’s reaction?

M: They enjoyed it. At the same time, it was very sad but they told us over and over that they wish us to be happy. Everyone knows there’s no one who can replace Jimmy. Our friend, Jimmy’s friends and my parents were reminded of the bitter reality that we are going on to the stage without Jimmy every night. They were with Jimmy as long as we did, so it’s hard on them as much as on us. My parents who raised me were seeing Jimmy for 18 years. Stage without Jimmy looks somewhat strange for them or for anyone.

By the way the news Mike Portnoy left DREAM THEATER(DT) should be a big surprise to you too…or did you know that before?

M: Not at all! (laugh) I had heard he was becoming not very happy at DT before. He was questioning whether to keep cycle going on forever without rest, cycle like writing and making records, going on tour, making record again….What Mike likes most about being with this band is that we, band members are best friends. It seems that he likes our attitudes, that we stop making music if it stops being fun. We’ll never have dressing rooms for each of us and hang out separately. If we were in such mood, we won’t go on touring. He likes our family like relationship. And we share some feeling as we made album together. He realized he wanted to get away from the cycle that he had to make record or go on touring because of having responsibility.

So he told other members in DT that he wanted to have time to play with A7X and give DT a rest for a while but they answered they had no intention to do so. I knew he’d call them and he’d suggest give DT a little break and start it again after summer when A7X’s tour would end. But they said no and he quit DT right then(bitter laugh), he announced him leaving his band, but we obviously didn’t know that. Mike told us in backstage like “I quit my band and put that on my Facebook too”. We were like “what??” We were really taken aback. It’s something heavy, you know. It’s really weird. But he had made his decision and it lead to that conclusion.

Does Mike play following Jimmy’s original pattern? Or does he play as himself?

M: Mike does play Jimmy’s part by the way only he could play though drumming on popular songs which audience is expecting, like “Beast And The Harlot”, is almost same as what Jimmy was doing. On some new songs Mike plays as himself and that’s much fun. Mike had watched our Live DVD and other videos to study how Jimmy played or what his style was and recreates it with adding his own taste.

Do you ever give Mike any instruction on drumming?

M: Yes. Certain songs have particular play we want so we tell him that, if it not, we’d ask him to play freely and he’d do whatever he wants. We have no intention to hold him like telling “you must play this or that”, but if his drumming is different from what we need then we tell him that clearly. If he wants to play ad hoc on not so important part of song we’ll let him. But if that particular part has important meaning to us, we’d tell him what to do clearly.

I think you won’t let anyone to fill Jimmy’s place easily as you guys share strong bonds but Mike will be unemployed after touring with A7X(laugh).

M: Yeah. (laugh) We talked about it with him. Seriously. We told him we are not ready to have anyone new as permanent member to our band, regardless of how great that person is. We love Mike and appreciate what he has done for us, it’s fun to play with him on stage. But we can’t think of that far, coping with what’s going on right now is enough for us. We’re not ready to let someone in and step forward at all.

So for now, plan is to continue touring promoting Nightmare with Mike on drum as long as you can?

M: We’ll be on road for 2 years I think. We need 2 years to visit everywhere in the world as A7X is becoming big globally and we’re planning to go some places twice. We’d go to Japan, Australia, UK, EU twice and go around North America twice as well. And we have ambition to go out to South American market this time. So we’ll be touring for 2 years. It’s fun to go on road with Mike right now but we don’t know what will happen next. He should have his own plan… For us, it’s enough if four of us stand together and our album’s doing well. We are to enjoy today and not to make big decision. It’s not right timing yet.

You are not making big change on set list for this tour , are you?

M: Unfortunately almost all of our previous shows were for festival so we put more songs from “Nightmare” and some popular old song but that’s it. When we come back to Japan, we’d have finished headlining tour in Europe and should have added more songs and made many changes. We’ll change our set list completely this January. If it’s for festivals, time is limited and it’s difficult to play more songs. If we could play for 2 hours we can have more cool songs but for now sadly 10 is the most. We’ve played in the front of 60,000 people at the festival in Brazil recently and we were given just 55 minutes so we played only 9 songs!(laugh) We traveled 20 hours to get to Brazil and played just 9 songs!(laugh) That’s the best we could do for festival sadly. It’s all because of us writing such a long song.

Is there any possibility you’d play other songs from “Nightmare” in future tour, like “Fiction”?

M: Yeah, I want to play “Save Me” definitely and “Danger Line” for sure. I’ve suggested my band playing “Fiction” and they agreed with me. I’d like to play “Natural Born Killer” too, actually I want to play every song on “Nightmare”. We will write down every set list on the tour and we’d play completely different set list at the places we visit twice. Then you can listen to all songs from “Nightmare”.

I’ve been to Metallica’s show in Japan for the first time, which was just 2 month after death of Cliff Burton in tour bus accident on September, 1986, where they played with Jason Newsted for the first time. There was bizarre and devastating sympathy to the band from the audience in the air before the show started, I felt it directly and still remember it. I think you would feel similar or even more sympathy to you at your show in Japan this time.

M: Yeah. I’ve felt such vibe in Montreal, particularly strongly in Brazil. In Brazil, we shared stage at the festival with big bands such as Rage Against The Machine, Linkin Park and Incubas but our fans were in front of stage from the morning and keep shouting our name! They called A7X from 10 in morning till evening when we played. Crews in other bands said they’d never seen such a scene. The place was filled with such a love I can’t even explain with words when we went on to stage. We’re shown such feeling from fans everywhere and it’s so moving. I’m expecting we’d be welcomed here in Japan with same air. Some of the most passionate fans are Japanese. I met some fans in a bar last night and they said same thing. They said it means lot to them that we come back to Japan and go on to stage. We do appreciate our fans very much too.

Jimmy is not taking A7X to heaven with him but sending inspirations to you from above.

M: Of course! We kiss his drum set every night before we go on to the stage. He gives us his power. He is definitely with us. It feels awesome to have his voice from pro tool. It’s great. I know we have to carry on this band as long as our sound and feeling is in good condition. I know we can see him again someday. Till then, we’d carry on this band and do our best for him who can’t be with us now.

I have huge expectation for your next shows in Japan already as you’ve made such a great record, “Nightmare”, which has open up fresh possibilities for the future of metal.

M: I can’t wait, neither. We are thinking of great set for headlining tour with some emotional scene which can’t be described by words. We’ll definitely carry that set to Japan too. We want Japanese fans to enjoy same set as audience of US or EU see. I want to play big and best show in Japan when we come here next time. I’m excited to coming back here again.

You said you would keep touring for 2 years but does it become easier for you to think of the future of A7X? You said you’re taking step by step coping with the reality…

M: We are taking baby step and our future means touring with this record which has special meaning. We’d go to place we never been with this emotional record and play in front of fans who have waited for us so long. There’s people who have waited for 11 years! We want to do the best we can for this album. We’d never make such an album for rest of our life. It’s impossible to make such an emotional and meaningful album again. So we want share it with all fans in the world.

And we are looking forward to see what would come as new album following this one.

M: We’ve been making records for long time. Fire within us will never fade away. We’d just find new inspiration. It’d be a challenge to make new record. Till now, we wrote songs, Jimmy wrote songs, we put them together and made records. We have to fulfill this great elements which is now lost. We don’t have Jimmy anymore and there is huge challenge ahead of us for sure. Whatever next album will become, people around us will surely be on our ass. In that sense it’d be challenge too, but We’re ready to fight with that.

Thank you for giving us time for interview. You must be tired now.

M.Shadows(M): It’s alright. Today I went golfing as the weather was so good here.