Five minutes alone with Avenged Sevenfold's M Shadows

A photograph of M Shadows smiling
(Image: © Travis Shinn)

What did you learn by releasing the new record the way you did?

“I feel like you go through Groundhog Day every time you make a record if you don’t push the limit. For us, we loved what Radiohead did, what Kanye did, and what Beyoncé did. To try it in heavy metal was tough but I can’t see us going back to the old way. Even Metallica are trying new things, like having a video for all the songs, and that’s a Beyoncé thing. I hope people keep trying new things because it’ll push our genre forward rather than being the grumpy old guys stuck in the dust.”

You’ve mentioned the kind of artists that are inspiring you, and they’re not metal acts – do you think it’s important for heavy bands and the genre as a whole to look outside of its box?

“I think Kanye’s one of the greatest artists of the last 15 years. It’s like designer-rap. Beyoncé’s unbelievable as well. But on this record, musically we’re looking at avant-garde 90s grunge stuff like Mr Bungle and Faith No More, and also the Kanyes and people outside of our genre, and I think that’s healthy. You get a record that’s completely fresh for the genre when you do stuff like that.”

How are your 2017 plans looking?

“We’ve been thinking of that stuff since August! We’ve got a crazy live show that’ll debut here, and really cool merch ideas that aren’t just heavy metal shirts with ‘insert skull here’ – we want to do lines of clothing that are seasonal, so when you go to the tour it’s the only time you can get those clothes. We’ve got some cool games we’re going to be presenting that we don’t want to tell people about, we want them to figure it out; they’re things you can do at the show. Then the record will be evolving; there’s a bunch of songs that will be coming out when we feel like it. Once that process starts you’ll see new songs on Spotify and Apple Music. There are a lot of things that no one in our genre has really done.”

Any more clues as to what the live show will hold?

“It’s probably the polar opposite of what our live show used to hold. Instead of taking things from the 80s like props and pyro, we’re going to take this into the next era and do things that people haven’t necessarily seen at a rock show. The companies we’re working with do stuff for Cirque du Soleil.”

What about playing festivals? Are you going to take the big production onto the festival circuit?

“Yeah, I hate to bring the guy up so much as he seems to be hated in metal, but what Kanye did on his last arena tour – he doesn’t play at places that don’t allow for that. A show like this could go to Download or Reading and Leeds, but it’s built for arenas. It won’t work in outdoor amphitheatres. It’s all about being in control of your vision and saying, ‘We don’t care how much you’ll pay us to do it, it’s not the look.’”

Have you ever thought about putting on your own festival?

“We’ve talked to people about it. It seems like a big responsibility. You can get a promoter and put your name on it, so the responsibility’s off you, or you can do it where you put the money in and try to build something and take major losses. It’s hard in America, people are so into their genres. In Europe, there’s much more open-mindedness.”

THE STAGE IS OUT NOW VIA CAPITOL.

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