M Shadows: "We wanted to bring some recognition to bands that we respected"
2017 was the year M Shadows took Avenged Sevenfold from arenas into stadiums
2017 has been quite the year for Avenged Sevenfold. Following the surprise release of The Stage at the tail-end of 2016, they have toured arenas across the UK, destroyed stadiums across North America, released a load of covers, released a deluxe version of The Stage and frontman M Shadows performed at the Chester Bennington tribute concert. Next year ain't shaping up too bad either with the Orange County heavyweights headlining the Friday night of Download festival.
To get an insight into the past 12 months at camp A7X, we sat down with M Shadows to talk about winning over Metallica fans, ten years of their self-titled album and more!
Casting your mind back to January, How was the UK tour?
"Man, I'm just so glad we got to do that tour. As you know, right after that Metallica called us and we kind of had to put everything on hold for a while and go do that. So if we hadn't have had that UK and Europe tour booked, then we probably wouldn't have built all the stage stuff that we did. And now it's there ready for us to jump back in for this United States run that we've got planned – I'm ready to get back on that horse. But the UK was amazing to me, because the last time we were there, with the exception of Download, we were doing Wembley, and only getting to do three big gigs. This time we got to do 11 and they all sold really well. That gave us a lot of confidence that we were on the right track, and to do two nights at the O2 was so fun – fun to play the same city twice and mix the set up and try some new things and... make you feel like a real band again."
How was the Metallica stadium tour?
"There were so many different aspects to it. As a fan, I was enjoying standing there every night, and to be in a stadium seeing 60-70,000 people going crazy every night was awe-inspiring. But the challenge for us is to get up in front of those people and try and win them over – people who didn't know you, didn't wanna like you, you not really being able to fire on all cylinders, out in the middle of the daylight, a one-hour set, just get out there and do it. And a lot of our fans were annoyed that you don't bring all your props with you, they don't understand you just can't, they want to hear songs you don't have time to play, they paid a lot of money for their ticket and they want two hours from every band, but it got us in front of a lot of people that would never have seen us before. So, it's a double-edged sword. Hopefully we turned some heads and won some people over, I guess we'll see when we next go out."
What were the most varied responses you've had from the covers you released this year?
"Well when we put out Malaguena Salerosa, it was very cool, because people couldn't believe what they were hearing, this Spanish folk song, and I think they respected us doing something different. With the covers, because they were released so under the radar, it didn't really affect people unless they were really following us, unless you were really in the know. That was kind of the point; the cool factor in it was to just release these songs and not promote them too much, and so it's hard to say what the real reaction was. Malaguena… got a good reaction because the Spanish radio stations picked it up, and some people were like, 'What are you doing?'. Pink Floyd got a good reaction, I think most of them got a good reaction – we just wanted to bring some recognition to bands that we respected.
"A band like Mr. Bungle, it's cool that a whole new generation are going to find out about them. Even though you might get a bunch of Mr. Bungle purists that are pissed about us even touching their song, you also get all these new people who would never have even heard them before. So, I think that really cool. It's been a good reaction, but we'll have a better idea once the deluxe record comes out and you can buy them all."
It was the 10th anniversary of the self-titled Avenged album. What memories does that bring back?
"You know, I didn't even know about it until yesterday, when one of our social media team were like, ‘Hey, it’s been 10 years.' I feel like if you're a band and you release enough records, then eventually there will be an anniversary for something every year, you know? Whether it's City Of Evil or Waking The Fallen or whatever... but what I remember from The White Album is that they asked if we wanted to release a bunch of stuff we had recorded back then. But what I really remember was the polarising reaction from people off the back of City Of Evil to that record. I also remember self-producing for the first time, it was the first time we never had anyone looking over our shoulder, and the first time we never had any sort of safety net.
"I remember going in and doing the strings for A Little Piece Of Heaven and working with the Oingo Boingo guys, just a lot of creativity, it's not our best-sounding album, but there were lots of crazy ideas being thrown around and I love bands with crazy ideas. So, I like the record for that aspect. There's a lot of people that don't like it and I get that, but there's also a lot of people who had it as their first Avenged Sevenfold record and they don't understand Waking The Fallen or City Of Evil. That's the thing with being a band with lots of ideas, you're always going to disappoint someone when you release something new. That's fun in a lot of ways."
How was it for you performing at the Chester Bennington tribute show?
"It was an honour to be there, it was a really heavy night, really emotional, I feel bad for a lot of the singers because I watched it back and I don't think the stream did justice to the crowd on the night. It was so loud and so emotional, really a celebration of his life, being there was a celebration of his life, and you saw just how many crazy fans Linkin Park have. I've always watched them from afar, you know being at the shows and stuff, but being part of the camp for the last two weeks and seeing the fans in the build-up to the show, seeing how much Chester meant to people and how much Mike Shinoda means to people... it was overwhelming.
"It was an honour to be there and do a service to them. There was not one artist there that night that wasn't nervous about performing those songs. They threw a song on me last-minute, asked if I could do Burn It Down, and I was like, 'Are you kidding me?!'. It was very stressful, but everyone was really happy at the afterparty. It was heavy and it was emotional though."
The fans seemed really wired that night as well.
"When I met the people there, there were people from Mexico and Brazil, the most hardcore fans you could imagine. It was pretty awesome that they were able to build something so awesome."
You can read exclusive interviews with all the bands that made 2017 – from Myrkur to Satyricon to While She Sleeps – in the latest issue of Metal Hammer. Buy it directly here or become a TeamRock+ member to read it right now.