Billboard chatted with M. Shadows about Avenged Sevenfold’s decision to do a surprise release, if it makes the music fresher and more exciting, if it feels like a new beginning now that they’re signed to Capitol Records, what songs from “The Stage” they’re excited to play live, artists he admires for the way they’ve evolved creatively and more.
Capitol has so much history. Does it feel like a new beginning with the label switch?
The newness started well before Capitol. We decided to make a change and we got [former Bad Religion drummer] Brooks Wackerman to be the drummer in the band. We’ve been working on this record for two years with him, jamming, doing things, doing it all behind the scenes. And we already knew this was a restart for this band, and we wanted to change the way we do merchandise, touring, the way we write songs… Brooks is a big part of that.
Now we’re changing the way we release records. So we recorded the record with no label, we self-funded it and we were gonna release it ourselves unless we found a great partner. And Capitol came around and they happened to be that great partner. Going into Capitol, we did our strings there, we did all the horn-section stuff there. That place is pure history. We got to see a new Frank Sinatra track being mixed, that they pulled out of the vault while we were in there doing our strings, which was unbelievable.
Are there artists you admire for the way they evolved creatively and as artists?
I think Metallica did a good job, they’re always doing the deeper cuts and looking to push boundaries. I think Kanye West is brilliant at what he does, he’s got a different live show, different merch for every tour, different vibes and he just puts out great records. Then there are a bunch of bands I love musically: I love Tool, Faith No More, System Of A Down, [artists who are] just different, and play by their own rules, and whether people get it or not, it doesn’t really matter to them at all.
And I think that comes with age, and that’s where Avenged Sevenfold is at this point. We’re five dudes in our mid-30s now, and we want to write the music we want to write. We’re gonna put it out the way we want to put it out, and if people like it, cool. And if they don’t, that’s understandable.