Deathbat News reader Katja was kind enough to translate and type up an interview with Synyster Gates that appears in Germany’s “Rock Hard” magazine this month to share with all of you. Check it out below.
Click “MORE” At The Bottom To Read The Entire Interview
At the first go Avenged Sevenfold’s new album “Nightmare” hit number one at the American Billboard- Charts. However the band doesn’t only have a reason to celebrate, because drummer The Rev died of an overdose of prescription drugs in Dezember 2009. In Dream- Theater- drummer Mike Portnoy the Californians found a temporary replacement.
Number One, a terrific chart entry ,wasn’t something guitarist Synyster Gates would have expected, how he tells us in our call.
SG: We expected that not at all. We’ve always been this little heavy- metal- band from the underground. We are very happy right now, that we‘ve been at the right time in the right place. It is an honor to sell so many copies in the first week.
Let’s move to a less joy full event: The development of this album was overshadowed by the death of your drummer James ‘Jimmy’ Owen Sullivan aka. The Rev.
SG: Absolutely. His death was really hard on all of us.
Jimmy died of an overdose of prescription drugs. Did you know about his drug consumption?
SG: Yes, I knew that he was experimenting with different substances. Though the amount was never alarming high. It was more one of those crazy Freak- thing, he did from time to time. He loved partying. If he would have died in an different night, you would have found other substances in his blood. He wasn’t an addict; at the most he was addicted to life. He was celebrating this evening with his friends, so he did not lock himself in a room and took the overdose on purpose. It is very unfortunate that he died.
Did his death change your view on drugs?
SG: The rest of the band drinks a lot, but we’ve never touched some deadly drugs, which some other bands use on a regular base. We drink and smoke a little pot, but that’s it. No opiate, no speed, no amphetamine.
At least Jimmy was able to immortalize himself on ‘Nightmare’.
SG: You can hear him sing on ‘Fiction’ besides M. Shadows. ‘Fiction’ was the last song Jimmy wrote for the album. But the drums are completely done by Mike Portnoy. Jimmy played the drum-tracks just once. He didn’t have the time to refine them, because he was so occupied by the songwriting. We didn’t want to publish these basic- tracks, because they didn’t justice to his talent. He always was an huge perfectionist and these recordings wouldn’t have been good enough for publishing.
Apart from that we discarded or change all lyrics, expect for ‘Nightmare’ and ‘Danger Line’, after Jimmy’s death. Actually ‘Nightmare’ was planned to be a concept- album about today’s problems of kids. The government, war, the military, religion, relationships- all of this should be important.
How did the collaboration with Mike Portnoy started)?
SG: Immediately after Jimmy’s death, Mike contacted us and offered us his condolences. He called us almost every day to support and comfort us. He is one of the best drummers in the world and he is mainly Jimmy’s idol. Hence there wasn’t an other choice for us.
‘Nightmare’ was produced by Dr.- Dre/Eminem- Producer Mike Elizondo. Was is a challenge for the HipHop- producer to make a metal- album?
SG: No, not at all. We also listen to a lot of different music genres like Country and HipHop and love his work. Finally he assured us with being a metalhead. At our first meeting we talked about bands like Pantera, Iron Maiden and Metallica for about two hours. Already during this first talk we cancelled all appointments with other potential producers.
Where do you see the differences to your predecessor- album?
SG: I think ‘Nightmare’ is a lot more adventurous than our last album- at which I want to exclude ‘ A little piece of heaven’. The journey leads us back to the songwriting from ‘City of Evil’. We wanted to make a long, varied, crazy record. Certainly the songwriting is a lot better than by ‘City of Evil’. Meanwhile we matured as songwriters. Compared to ‘City of Evil’ we eliminated the overlength. You can write an eleven- minute- song easily; but it’s an art to create the whole thing interesting.
Good Keyword: The thing that differs you from many current metal- acts, is your focusing on strong, catchy songwriting and good singing. These days most bands just want to be faster, harder and louder.
SG: I absolutely second your opinion; you observed it very good. Many bands just want to be the fastes and hardest. But we have a different background. We are huge fans of the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Queen. Bands, which didn’t stand for metal, but which wrote cool and catchy songs and experimented with elements from different genres. That’s our corset ; over that we put our metalsound. But primarily it’s all about the songwriting.
What about German bands? Do you still like to listen to Blind Guardian?
SG: Yes absolutely. I Love this band. I’m a big fan of the Finnish band Sonata Arctica too. These are my two favorites.
Did you already listen to the new Blind- Guardian- album?
SG: No. Since when is it available on the market?
Since the beginning of august.
SG: Wow, cool, I have to tell my band mates about it. We all are huge fans of the band. I’m dying to listen to it.