Synyster Gates In Jedbangers, "We Want To Be A Fundamental Band, A Classic." - Avenged Sevenfold

Synyster Gates In Jedbangers, "We Want To Be A Fundamental Band, A Classic."

In a the new issue of Argentinean magazine Jedbangers a new interview with Synyster Gates has been published. He talks about their live show, the transition of their sound through each album, his influences, practicing and more. A big thank you goes out to Avenged Sevenfold Argentina for sending in the translated interview so you guys could read it.

-Do you still have goals to achieve? Or are you done?
-Yes we have goals! What we want to achieve, basically, is world domination. Right now we have a lot of contact with our fans from Argentina through the internet and we haven’t even played there yet, but we are aware that in that country that we don’t even know, people know our music. And we want that to happen all over the world. The idea is to be able to play in front of anyone who wants to listen to us, all over the world. We want to be a fundamental band, a classic.

They are young, famous, have money and women. They tour all over the world and have #1 records in the billboard charts. But they are also hated by millions, they suffered the death of their drummer and they are for the first time in Buenos Aires. Definitively we had to talk about Avenged Sevenfold.
By Hugo Garcia; with collaborations from Nico Cabrera.

The phone rings exactly at the expected time. As it was expected, a female voice at the other side of the line introduced herself as a middleman between the musician and the reporter. But first, she wants to ask us something: “how do you pronounce Jedbangers”. Dammit, Irio [Argentinean metal musician] was right, English speaking people won’t get the name! [Jedbangers means Headbangers only written the way we pronounce it in Spanish]. I explain it to her and later she also tells me that I only have “ten to fifteen minutes to do the interview”. Normally with ten to fifteen minutes you find it impossible to get something interesting out of an interview. Do not fear! I might not have had a lot of vision when I chose the name of the magazine, but 49 numbers don’t write themselves, right? [This is issue #50 for the magazine]. The woman is back “Hugo, you’re with Synyster Gates”.

On the other side of the line is the guitarist from Avenged Sevenfold. His band, that in Argentina started gaining adepts not long ago, has 12 years of trajectory, even though our interviewee entered the band back in 2000, when they were just about to record their LP “Sounding the Seventh Trumpet”. With Zacky Vengeance as his guitar partner, M. Shadows in the vocals and Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan in the role of the drummer, the four of them forged a line-up that –with Johnny Christ added as their bass player- would last for years. After the edition of “Nightmare” (2010) in Argentina and a great number of copies sold the group had green light to step into Argentinean soil. “It’s very exciting, we’re all very enthusiastic about playing for the first time in Argentina” answered very quickly Synyster Gates, whom I called Brian during the entire interview (his real name) “Nowadays you can be connected with all your fans through Internet, so we know we have a lot of fans in Argentina, we are aware of that” analyzes the guitarist when I asked him about the debut of the band in our country “We received so many messages and it’s like you can’t wait to play in that country so you can get to meet their people”

-About the setlist, are you gonna change it having in mind that this is your first time here?
-Yeah, sure. In those cases you probably change the setlist a little bit, I would say we’ll do an older setlist, so we can play different songs. We know the guys over there want to listen to their favorite songs and the most popular ones.

-Are you planning on going out while you’re in Buenos Aires?
-I’d love to, but for what I know we don’t have time at all. It’s a sin, I try to go out to a bar to have a drink or something, but I don’t think that’s going to be possible in Buenos Aires.

-How do you approach your live shows? Do you just try to have fun or to make it as perfect as you can?
-I get what you’re asking. Honestly, we have a great stage design and a show that has so much energy going around that we can actually enjoy it and not worry about anything. We just look at the fans, play our songs, we go out with everything we have and give the best that we can.

-“Nightmare” was the first Avenged album edited in Argentina, I don’t know if you know that; how do you fell about, being such a huge band in the States, being in places where you’re just starting.
-We would’ve loved to have our music available before in Argentina, that being the case we would’ve been able to play way sooner there. We’re so exited about going and that our fans are able to find our music there. We’re ready to kick some ass.

With the release of “Waking the Fallen” (2003), Avenged Sevenfold got to our [Jedbangers’] ears and honestly surprised us. Comparing that band –a mixed of Pantera, Power Metal and Melodic Hardcore that came with a huge wave of new American Heavy Metal- with their new sound that has Guns n Roses as their primal inspiration, shows that they had a huge mutation through the years. If would be naïve to assume that the change ‘just happened’. (…)

-The first time I heard Avenged Sevenfold was with “Waking the Fallen” and it sounded as a mix of Blind Guardian and Bad Religion…
-But after that record you changed a lot. My question is, did you do that consciously?
-We kinda wanted it that way, but at the same time it kinda happened. At that time we were more interested in a melodic approach, we were more entertained by that, and that’s the artistic direction we went for. We really like to experiment with different types of music. Basically, as we were progressing, we try different music styles, and we’re a very much eclectic band as a result. I think we’re just starting to define who we really are and that’s why we are more consistent at the moment.

-While we’re talking about that change, that didn’t have to do with M. Shadows having the operation?
-No, because we already decided that we wanted to change our orientation towards something more melodic. We talked about that before he had the news about the operation. Besides he can still scream the way he did before, it’s something that he still does in some of our songs… I don’t really think that if his voice changed, it was for the best. After the operation he improved his vocal range. That is all just a rumor. People used to say that because Shadows couldn’t scream the way he did before we had to make more accessible music.

-Metal fans never accepted their favorite band changing, even more when that change involves the group getting softer. How was the reaction of your fans in your case?
-The reaction was incredible. At the beginning there were a lot of people complaining, because it’s true that it is a very important change. But at this point, considering that we changed in the last 3 records, it’s kinda like they are used to our music being always at the search of different styles. I think that our fans accept the changes that we do and expect that with every album.

-I read that you were a Power Metal fan. Are you still?
-Yes, I listen to everything. We still listen to the music we loved years ago but also added a lot of new stuff… we’re not afraid to put a Britney Spears’ record on.
(I laughed. He didn’t)
It’s like that, what are you gonna do? She’s good at what she does. That doesn’t change the fact that Sonata Arctica is still one of my favorite bands of all time.

28th of December 2009 the drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan died at 28 years of age. The first news said that it was a natural death, but after the autopsy they would say that is was a result of intoxication with different drugs that Jimmy’s heart couldn’t take.
After the loss of his friend, Avenged Sevenfold, decided to turn the page and move on with their plan to take over the world.

-Was it difficult to continue with Avenged Sevenfold without Jimmy?
-Yes, of course it was. But when we saw that everyone –included Jimmy’s family and our fans- agreed that we should continue with the band, it was something easy to do. But as I was saying, the first step was hard to take. It was a very complicated situation for us. Nowadays we are very happy with the decision that we took, we feel very strong.

-Jimmy died of an overdose, were you aware of his relationship with drugs?
-Eh… well… I mean… yes, I guess we did. I don’t consider that Jimmy had a particular problem with drugs. Probably if he would’ve died another day the substance that they would’ve found in his body was another one or maybe nothing, because he wasn’t a guy that would take drugs every day. The thing is, Jimmy liked to party, he would get together with some friends and did all kinds of things. It was a misfortune what happened to him.

-Do you think that this changed your views on drugs?
-No, I think you can do whatever you want as long as you do it with moderation. Especially in Jimmy’s case, because what not a lot of people know is that he had a cardiac disease and that was a decisive factor to his death. Of course, for the press is easier to talk about an overdose and just ignore the fact that Jimmy had a heart problem. Drugs are bad (he laughs), I use them, I have a good time with them, but I always do it in moderation. I don’t condemn its use, but if you’re gonna do it, do it in moderation.

An even if their music changed Avenged Sevenfold is still a band formed by members who can and know how to play their instruments and their songs to show their abilities (…)

-What are your influences as a guitarist nowadays?
-Of the new musicians I would say John 5 (ex Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie) is incredible. But I’m also listening to some weird stuff, like Allan Holdsworth. The guy is a Jazz genius; it helps me a lot to learn new techniques. And well, Dimebag Darrel from Pantera is one of my favorite guitarists of all times.

-Do you still practice a lot?
-Yeah, absolutely. It all depends if I’m touring or not. When I’m on the road I play a lot, at home I try to write new material. Besides, we spend so little time at home that when we’re back we try to be with our families and spend time with them and our friends. But when we’re touring I can practice like 5 or 6 hours a day.

-What? That’s a lot!

Maybe that dedication is why Mike Portnoy, the ex? Dream Theater, offered himself to record the drums for “Nightmare” when Avenged Sevenfold was going through their darkest hours. Portnoy’s role in A7X lasted until the end of 2010, ending the rumors that he was gonna stay as a replacement for Jimmy Sullivan.

-What happened with Portnoy?
-Basically we decided that we wanted to do our thing and he would do his. We really appreciate all the help that Mike gave us, I have no idea what happens between him and Dream Theater, but we didn’t want to steal no one from Dream Theater. Anyways, I’m not saying that we even could’ve done that. I think that what I’m saying is that what happened between Mike and DT was something that has more to do with Mike’s vision. We didn’t want to have anything to do with that rupture or something. While he was with us, he helped us a lot, he kicked ass. We’ll be forever thankful for that.

-Did you decide already if Arin Ilejay is gonna stay permanently in the band?
-You never know. Personally, I love the guy (he laughs). If I had to choose right now I would like it for him to stay. I think that the best thing is to spend time with him to see if it works, to see what kind of guy he is and how well we get along. Arin is extremely talented, friendly and he’s very thankful for this opportunity.

-How do you manage Jimmy’s voices on stage?
-Well, in some certain parts of some songs we use a tape that reproduces Jimmy’s voice. We do this because the fans want to listen to his voice and for us, it means he’s still there (…)

Avenged Sevenfold is a huge band in the states and their popularity in the old continent keeps growing (…) with this in mind it makes sense that, in the future, heavy music is gonna have a change of names in the big leaders list. Would Mr. Gates agree with that? “You never know” he answers “The fact that someone thinks that we can actually be in that list is an honor to me. If we get to carry the torch we’ll do it with pride. I wish that something like that happened”

-Do you still have goals to achieve? Or are you done?
-Yes we have goals! What we want to achieve, basically, is world domination. Right now we have a lot of contact with our fans from Argentina through the internet and we haven’t even played there yet, but we are aware that in that country that we don’t even know, people know our music. And we want that to happen all over the world. The idea is to be able to play in front of anyone who wants to listen to us, all over the world. We want to be a fundamental band, a classic.

-Do you see Avenged Sevenfold playing a lot in the future?
-Yes, absolutely. Actually, to answer to your previous question, that’s our goal: to play for a lot of years, we want to continue with Avenged Sevenfold for as long as we can play instruments. We are best friends, we don’t fight, we have a great time together, we grew up together and we want to play together forever.