Friday, April 18, 2014

Synyster Gates interview with Crave Online

Synyster Gates was interviewed by Crave Online, you can read below:

If you could do one Master Class with any guitar player when you were learning, who would you want it to be?
Probably Dimebag Darrell. That was my guy.

When you were learning guitar and theory, did you learn it on your own or when you were at the Musician’s Institute?
M.I. is incredible, absolutely incredible. If you’re going to go there, go there and do it right. I took the Encore Program, which I’m not not saying is the wrong program, it’s just the one where you can walk in do a bunch of shit—anything you want. You can walk in at 12:00 and leave at 12:30, and I kind of liked that. I went in there and I studied a lot of jazz [and]I was reading a lot of books. I was reading a lot of weird shit at that time. I was just really trying to be all things at once. So, figure out what your passion is and when you go to a school like that, definitely buckle down and do that. 
Having said that, I learned my theory from a very eclectic group of individuals. My father helped me learn a lot of cool songs. My cousin helped me with the Greek modes. And then MI definitely helped me a lot with listening to music and understanding what arpeggios do, and basically the importance of writing licks and listening to your ear. 

What were you hoping to accomplish with the Master Class?
I just want to be the vessel for those kids. I had a loosely based curriculum I was going in with and I just wanted to answer their questions.

What were you looking for in the winners?
Creativity and technique. I wanted them to be far enough along so l could say all of this Greek horseshit and have them somewhat understand it. But I like the fact they actually did what I requested of them, which was to take an Avenged song and do something a little different. 

When Avenged was starting out, were there any inklings that the sound would be so guitar driven or that you and Zacky Vengeance would become such an integral part of the band?
I don’t know if that type of perspective was there at that time, but definitely, it was a guitar driven band. When Matt writes a song, he’s writing on guitar. When Jimmy was alive he was writing for Avenged on the guitar, mainly. We borrowed elements from our old band Pinkly Smooth. We have songs like “Fiction” or “Little Piece of Heaven” are very much him on the piano doing his thing, but songs like “Brompton Cocktail” and  “Afterlife” — those are very much Jimmy sitting down on the guitar. Everybody comes from a punk rock band, everybody’s had a guitar in their hand at a certain point [either] leading a band or their own entity. So it made sense. I knew it was going to be guitar oriented. 

And you knew it was going to be a dual-guitar oriented band?
Not at very first, when we started writing we all liked the dueling guitars. Everything had to be harmonized. Layers and layers. I mean, if you listen to City of Evil, it’s fucking layers and layers of harmonies at all fucking times. Whether its vocals or guitar or just strings — everything was filled to the brim with harmony. So we’ve smoothed that out and filtered it out. But yeah, we always liked it whether it was Queen doing it, or Mr. Bungle, Matt’s a big Bad Religion fan, NOFX— stuff like that. It was all harmony-based. My favorite punk rock song is “Linoleum” by NOFX. That’s pure harmony, the coolest chord changes… That type of shit was completely awe-inspiring and monumental in the development of Avenged. 

What about Iron Maiden or Judas Priest?
We didn’t really know about… We’re starting to get more into Priest at this point but certainly Iron Maiden. Mainly, that was Matt’s thing, which is kind of ironic because we do the whole dual thing. I came from Boston, Queen type of stuff. More punk rock-emulating vocalists and his was very much Iron Maiden, especially when we started getting more metal and especially more melodic metal as opposed to punk or hardcore.

Did you go back even further? Aerosmith, the Stones.
Absolutely. Rolling Stones came later for me. I was a Beatles guy. All of us were pretty much more along the lines of Beatles guys than we were Stones or Elvis. And if we didn’t know it we learned it, and we studied it because we thought it would be best to know of it and hopefully love it, if it was possible. The [more you know] the less your head’s up your own ass and you become less elitist, and you’re just into everything—which is how music should be listened to. It shouldn’t be listened to with disdain, you should embrace it. If it’s not your cup of tea, go somewhere else, listen to something else, but try it because you can find something that pissed you off your whole life but you can come to embrace it and love it. It’s life changing so don’t deny yourself that. 

Have you always been so calm and controlled on stage?
I don’t feel like I exude that confidence, but thank you—that’s good to know. I have no clue. I mean, I look back on different performances, especially more intimate ones where I think that I look like a fucking wreck. I guess it was a good day.

How did you get from studying Jazz guitar at MI to the “dark side” of Avenged Sevenfold?
Bad friends, man. Guilty by association [laughs].  I listened to a lot of Danny Elfman. The Pinkly Smooth thing was definitely Jimmy’s brainchild, but I gravitated towards it right away and felt really comfortable writing for it and arranging it—it was just so much fun. We were fucking psycho kids getting into too much trouble and this kind of got us behind a guitar, a pad of paper, and a piano, really exhausting out passions together. Just two best friends.

Mayhem Festival was announced a little while back. What does it feel to be touring with Korn?
It’s going to be really exciting. I love all the bands. Korn is great friends of ours, so to be on tour with friends is usually our number one. We’ve been very blessed to meet a lot of great bands, successful bands, that we can go tour with. Bottom line on the other side of it is that they have to sell tickets. It’s fortunate when you have great friends that can sell tickets as well because you get to fucking hang out with them every day. I mean, I grew up listening to Korn, Korn was one of my favorite bands. More so for the bass playing and vocals, but they’re extremely innovative guitar-wise. I’m just a huge, huge fan. 

After touring so extensively the past year, how is Avenged going to mix up the set for Mayhem?
This may sound sarcastic, and I don’t mean it like that, but we’re probably just going to play different songs and just try to switch it up. It’s as basic as that. We definitely have other things that we can’t divulge yet but as far as the set, we’re definitely going to put on a bigger, better show so-to-speak. Hopefully a little big longer because I know we get complaints about that. Longer, better, bigger…

And you’re headlining at Download Festival…
Fuck, it’s the coolest thing ever. We haven’t headlined a big overseas festival. It’s definitely the biggest show that we’ve headlined. To have it be such a legendary and historical thing. I mean ACDC headlined it and the last time I saw it they had System of a Down—those two bands couldn’t be more instrumental in how I view music today or the days of yesteryear. I mean, it’s legendary. 

Do you have a chance to swap guitar licks with any of the guys?
Definitely. I find that drummers are the coolest people in the world. I play a little bit of drums. I mean, Jim Root (Slipknot/Stone Sour) is a good friend of mine and we’ve played a lot of stuff together—great guy. Jake [Pitts] from Black Veil Brides, I mean Vinnie Paul…there’s definitely jamming out and a lot of fun to be had. And as fun as the jam sessions are, talking to like-minded people that have done it and hearing their experiences, it’s just cool. It’s that elite club.

Would you ever think about going back to playing the smaller hometown venues?
We do stuff like that once in a while, sometimes for album releases like the last one at the Palladium (Hail to the King). Our good friend Jeremy Popoff from Lit owns the Slidebar in Anaheim, and we did a couple things over there, which was a lot of fun. It’s more about the hang. That shit’s really fun.