M. Shadows was interviewed by Kerrang! for their My Year 2020 special and talked about how his year has been, how he would describe 2020, what basically becoming a full-time dad and family man this year taught him, how he felt about the world ‘shutting down’ in the way that it did, the statement Avenged Sevenfold released about not releasing an album until touring is back, how they’re going in “a completely new direction” on the new record, his biggest hero(es) of 2020, voicing his support for the Black Lives Matter movement, feeling hopeful about the future, and more. Read the full interview here.
Has basically becoming a full-time dad and family man this year taught you anything?
“It has – although I don’t know if it’s anything in a quick soundbite! Really, it’s just made me grateful that I have the time, but it’s also made me realise that the band thing isn’t that important; it’s all about your family. Being forced to stay at home was actually really good for all of us because moving forwards it’s going to make us think about how we book tours, how long we’re going to be gone, how we’re going to incorporate the family… I think that’s been really good for us just on a human level to put things in perspective about what’s important.”
How did you feel about the idea of the world shutting down in the way it did?
“Well, I think in America especially we should have done a better job! The reality is that if we had done a better job earlier on then we might be in a better position now. It’s just unfortunate, but there’s different political views, and different ideologies, and for me it’s really [all about] just listening to the scientists and doing what you have to do: wearing a mask, and doing the best with what we’ve got.”
You mentioned string sections that haven’t been done yet. Does that imply that things are going along the lines of The Stage, and there’s some quite grand material in the works?
“Well, we’ve had strings on every record, but the [new] record sounds nothing like The Stage – it’s a completely new direction, and it sounds nothing like anything we’ve done. That’s all I’ll say about it: it’s over the top, and it’s very eclectic and wild!”
Who is your biggest hero of 2020?
“Well, I lost my biggest hero, who was Kobe, but I think LeBron James has been pretty cool; I like that he has been very socially active, and he’s really dug into his cause. And not only that but he won a championship for the Lakers! But more than that, on just a social level, he’s really put himself out there and voiced his side of what he believes in, and I think that’s been really cool. And, also, this is very vague, but I would say all the school teachers [are heroes, too] – my kids’ teachers have all switched over to Zoom, and are trying to teach kids and continuing to bring our youth up into something positive… I mean, they’re incredible, because I know it’s miserable for them.”
You voiced your beliefs this year in an op-ed piece about Black Lives Matter. What was that like for you?
“It was good. We were very antagonistic when we were coming up as a band. I’m really good friends with Fat Mike now and we always laugh about it, but we were like the anti-NOFX message – they would go out there and try to get kids to vote, and we’d be like, ‘Why are you trying to get 16-year-olds on Warped Tour to vote? Fuck this!’ We were just very antagonistic, and we realise that now. We still have people in the band that have differing opinions, but I couldn’t sit there and watch that all go down, especially when people think of us as like a right-wing band – we’re not, and that would drive me nuts under my skin, and at night I couldn’t sleep with that. So many of my friends and even family members are of different races, and I see how they get treated, and I just had to say something. I got permission from the band and said, ‘You know, I’ve got to write this, guys.’ And they were totally cool with it. You want to put your stake in the ground and be on the right side of history, and to me it was like: ‘We should care about this because we’re all humans.’ And that’s why I really wanted to put that out there. I think we lost a massive amount of Instagram followers that day, which was pretty funny to see how crazy the world is, right? Just by saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ people will cancel you, and that’s hilarious. But I thought it was interesting, and it was good to be what I feel is on the right side of history.”
Going into 2021 – and especially after the U.S. election – are you feeling hopeful about the future?
“I feel great! As a planet we have so much to work on, and there’s debates on all of this stuff but the reality is we have to work on everything together – from globalism to poverty to global warming. These are world problems that we have to work out. I’m happy that as a country we’re going to be there soon I hope, and we’ll see what happens. We all have to do our part, and in America it’s just so divided right now: you can’t even talk to anyone about anything. There’s a political divide that’s just insane, you know? Like, ‘Oh, you’re wearing a mask? You’re a sheep.’ ‘Oh, you’re doing this? You’re that.’ It’s crazy. It’s a difficult time, for sure, but hopefully we can pull together. I feel good – I’m a hopeful person, I guess!”