Synyster Gates was interviewed by Ultimate Guitar and talked about the most difficult solo he’s ever recorded, how it feels knowing millions of people around the world are trying to learn how to play Avenged Sevenfold songs, if he thinks guitar playing is becoming less popular, what he would chose if he could save one guitar/pedal/amp, which legendary guitar player from an older band he would replace if he could chose, the cheapest guitar he’s ever had, what it was like to work with Mike Portnoy and more.
What’s the most difficult solo that you ever recorded?
“I just had to relearn ‘M.I.A.’ – we’re playing that song. It’s off [2005’s] ‘City of Evil’ and it’s a really, really tough one. It was like learning a different guitar player’s techniques.
“I don’t even know what the fuck I was thinking there. That’s usually kind of how it is because you write from more of like a compositional standpoint. At least I try to with my solos.
“Even the fast ones – I’m trying to evoke some sort of emotion or whatever. So I don’t necessarily go to… They’re not my go-to licks. My fingers are just in odd places and the pick doesn’t seem to work. So yeah, that’s definitely a tough one.”
Some time ago Zacky [Vengeance] said he doesn’t consider himself a good guitar player. What’s your take on that?
“[Laughs] He just doesn’t think it’s cool to be a good guitar player. And I would be upsetting him to let him know he is a very, very, very good guitar player. He’s not just a great guitar player, he’s a great writer and a great rhythm player too. It’s not just about the solos and stuff, a lot of his rhythmic ideas are brilliant. So yeah, he’s a fucking great guitar player.”
If you ever got the chance to replace a legendary guitar player from an older band, who would that be?
“As much as I’d love to be a fly on the wall for The Beatles… Maybe replace George Harrison, even though that’s a pretty bad thing to say because he was such a great writer himself… I might go with Steve Vai, just to be able to have worked that closely with Frank Zappa. It could have been pretty fuckin’ unreal.”
Avenged Sevenfold started out basically as a group of friends and at one point you just blew up. What’s the secret behind that?
“Unfortunately, there are no secrets. I mean, you’ve got so many brilliant people on Earth that if there was a secret, they would have discovered it by now and exploited the fuck out of it and charged a bunch of money. We’re just lucky. We’re just really, really lucky.
“I mean, yes, I’m in a band with some of the most talented people that I’ve ever met in my life. And I get that. But to be put in a place and time on this Earth where I live right next door to all those guys… So where does it start? I’m in a band with really talented musicians so it must be that.
“But to me, moving to Huntington Beach, CA, being literally– You know, I could throw a stone at Matt [M. Sadows] and Jimmy’s [The Rev] houses when I was growing up. They were my best friends in middle school and high school. I don’t know, to me that’s luck.”