M. Shadows spoke with the Los Angeles Times about surprise releasing “The Stage,” why it was risky for them to do so, what he thinks about it affecting Avenged Sevenfold’s chance at a third #1 album, his interest in business, helping educate people about artifical intelligence through the album, Neil deGrasse Tyson being on the record and more.
Why a surprise drop?
A lot of different reasons, and one was our boredom with the way records have been released. You get a single three months in advance, then by the time the record comes out, the judgment’s already been made. It’s just a boring process. But when Radiohead dropped their record [with little warning], when Kanye dropped his record, when Beyoncé dropped her record, we felt this excitement. People around us who weren’t necessarily fans of those artists were checking out the records because of the excitement factor. We know the analytics don’t look good for a rock band doing this, but we don’t care.
What makes it a riskier move for a rock band than for a rapper or a pop star?
The fact that the rock audience still buys a lot of physical copies, and a lot of the rock bands get padded with big presale numbers. But the biggest difference is that when Beyoncé comes out with something, she puts one Instagram photo out and she has 85 million people looking at that — whereas Avenged Sevenfold has 1 million. So the compromise we made with Capitol, which has never been done before, is that we’ve actually snuck the record into stores. On Day One there’ll be a physical release as well as a digital — unlike Radiohead, where it took them six weeks, or Kanye, where he never released a physical.
Where does your interest in business come from? You pay more attention to it than many musicians do.
Man, I don’t know. For some reason I really enjoy the business side. I like talking to friends about investments and technology; I like to get up and read the paper and see what’s going on in politics. And I don’t like the idea of someone screwing us over. If someone knows more than we do — if we don’t have our eye on the prize — then somebody’s going to make money, and it’s not going to be us.
The stuff about artificial intelligence — do you see yourself as sounding an alarm?
What I really want people to do is educate themselves and maybe find a little bit of interest in there. “Oh, ‘Creating God’ — I can understand that. You’re making something that’s going to be so much more powerful than you. Maybe I’ll read an article or pick up a book.” I don’t want to tell people how to think, because I don’t think artificial intelligence is the end of the word. But I think it’s a possibility.