M. Shadows spoke to Loudwire about how hard it was keeping “The Stage” a secret, how they came up with the artificial intelligence theme, what the biggest surprise was to him when researching the topic, not having time constraints on songs, coming up with the idea behind the title track’s music video, getting Fishbone on “Sunny Disposition,” Neil deGrasse Tyson’s cameo on “Exist,” how he hopes Avenged Sevenfold pushing boundaries inspires other bands to do the same, playing new songs live, his personal favorite song from the album, what Brooks Wackerman has brought to Avenged Sevenfold, upcoming plans for the band and more.
The 3D, 360 degree live performance thing that you guys did was cool. Avenged always seem to be at the forefront of pushing things, and trying out new stuff. Now that you’ve done this and gotten this out there for people to view, where do you think it’s going from here? Do you think this is something that more bands will take on and do? And what is the future of presenting shows?
Well, you know, I think, I hope other bands take this and they do their own thing with it, and they do push further into boundaries. I think, there’s a lot of pop artists, and R&B artists, that are doing these sorts of things. I wouldn’t say that exactly, but they push the boundaries, and a lot of rock fans want to just ignore them because it’s not the music they listen to. But I feel like as a rock band, and as a metal band, we need to really push into those boundaries as well. Everything from streaming music, to how we consume and listen to our music, are all things that rock bands do, it’s just that we need more bands that are willing to take that step and actually present things. And so, virtual reality wise, we’re working with some VR companies now to try to bring some new content live. I think there’s so much technology out there that we can … I mean hopefully get stuff to people’s phones, and if you’re in the live experience maybe your phone gives you another experience, and you aim it towards the stage. Just all these things because there’s no point of sitting there and berating your fans, or arguing with people about how they want to consume stuff.
The reality is you either step into the future or you become a dinosaur. And I feel like there’s some things that we like to keep, like for us it’s how we record our music, or the dynamic range on the records, and not doing too much in the way of technology, but at the same time, things with streaming, and how you get your music, how you see a live show, how you are presented with your merchandise, how everything works at a show, it’s changing. And rock bands need to wake up to that because that’s how people are consuming music now.
Do you have a personal favorite song on the album that particularly stands out to you?
I think one of the biggest sleepers that people are going to be able to dig into later is “Fermi Paradox,” it’s the song before “Exist.” To me it’s got the coolest, it’s just so bizarre because it’s got one of the most melodic vocal melodies, but we put it over a black metal blast beats. So all the verses have black metal drumming and black metal guitar work over something very melodic. And I think it really takes you into outer space, which is the whole vibe of that thing. And it’s got my favorite bridge, the chord progression, and the key changes in the bridge, and Brooks [Wackerman] sounds amazing with it, and we also did like a very ’80’s phase on it, with a real tape machine, not using a plugin or anything. We really phased it after the mastering to get that swooping feel on it. So that song to me just always has felt so cool to me, but I can completely understand how it’s a little more “out there” for some people, but I think it’s gonna be a sleeper where people are going to maybe appreciate it more a little more down the line.