M. Shadows spoke with NME about Avenged Sevenfold headlining Download Festival again, what he thinks it takes for bands to step up to the level of headlining festivals, which bands he thinks have what it takes to do so, why he thinks Avenged Sevenfold inspire their fans, if he thinks the world finally ‘understands’ the band, if he thinks politics and music should be kept separate, if the current political situation will inspire their next album and more.
You’re headlining Download for the second time. What does it mean to be asked to do it again?
“I guess that means we didn’t mess up too bad on our first time! I’m happy about it. Every time we go back to the UK we have to prove ourselves again and I love that. The UK is a hub. It’s such a great thing for us. Last time we were in the UK we did the London pop-up store which was a total success, and then doing the O2 two nights in a row felt really good. We’re just really honoured to do it, especially with the line up that’s going to be there. Ozzy and Guns N’ Roses – you know it’s a really killer line up. I’m just excited to get out on Friday.”
Donington is considered the hallowed home of rock. Do you feel the weight of that legacy?
“Yeah definitely. We’re at the point now where we’ve done a lot of festivals multiple times, and none of them feel like Donington. To us it’s the biggest thing in our world of rock n’ roll. It’s like a completely different conversation for Download, and we don’t do that for any other show.”
You have a very devoted type of fan, what do you think it is about what you do that inspires that in them?
“I really don’t know. There are a few things I could point to. One thing is we didn’t use social media a lot when it first started. I think that maybe created a bit of mystery around the members and what we were doing. We’ve always gone against the grain a bit and we would just do what we thought was right in our hearts. It was a bit of a step outside the box when everyone had polarising opinions about us every time we put out a new record. That makes the fan base because they get an opinion and then they defend it with all their heart. People are either with us or they’re against us, and it definitely solidifies the fan base. They’re like our true personal friends. It’s crazy in such a wonderful way.”
Do you think politics and music should just be kept as two separate things?
“No, I think that musicians should speak up on what they believe in because they’re a citizen of the world just like anybody else. I somebody who goes online and says how they hate the thing that you’re talking about. It’s just a different platform, so there’s no reason why intelligent people can’t listen to them and make their own opinion. The problem is a lot of people think that artists and musicians and athletes try to shove their opinions down other peoples’ throats, but they’re allowed to have their opinion.”