Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The secret history of Avenged Sevenfold - Part Two

Below you will find an excerpt from the article of Metal Hammer about the secrets of Avenged Sevenfold:

Indeed growing up has played a monumental role in the journey of Avenged Sevenfold. From those early days of Goonies-esque mischief to the excess, decadence and controversy of the City Of Evil era (more of that later), this is a band that has hardly shied away from creating a spot of bother every now and again. As Hammer is joined by the band ahead of a history-making Download appearance to take a mightily entertaining trip down memory lane, taking stock of their amazing journey and the road that has led them to this point in their career, it becomes abundantly clear that once you tap through that media-trained coolness that greets many of their interviews, there is a warmth and shared history running through the quintet that consolidates the 'band of brothers' tag that they have worn proudly right from the start. And, if there is one common line that seems to run through a lot of these early tales, it's that one member in particular seemed to often be at the hearth of it all...

"The first time I met Jimmy, I was at basketball camp during the summer," remembers Shadows. "I Knew Jimmy was trouble because he had a reputation that he was a bit of an out-of-control kid. We hooked up, and he was like, 'Hey, I'm riding my bike out, you wanna jump on the handlebars?'
So I jumped on, and the whole way home I knocked over every trash can. I thought, 'I love this guy!', and I found out he lived five houses away from me, so I got my bike and that was it. We were best buds."

"The first day I met Jimmy, I punched him," counters Synyster Gates. "It was in eighth grade. I remember that we were in line sending in our woodshop projects, and he turned his head and looked at me like I was shit. He tapped me in the chest, so I hit him and we got send outside. We started talking about music and were friends by the end of our time out!" 

There seems to be no doubt at all that Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan, was a chief instigator in much of the madness that crowded both Avenged's early years as cheeky, high jinx-baiting Cali scamps and the headline-grabbing escapades that would come later. As we know and still feel all too well, his journey would come to a tragic and frustratingly early end on that fateful day in December 2009, but his contribution to the band's history remains immeasurable. In fact, in those early days, as the millenium settled in and the rowdy young gang (now a band with a few shows under their belts) had actually managed to haul themselves into a studio to record an album, both The Rev's unbelievable talent and his somewhat...unusual approach to things became even more apparent.

"Jimmy recorded all of those drums in one take," explains Shadows of their 2001 debut album, Sounding The Seventh Trumpet. "There was a bunch of mistakes but he was like, 'It's one take, it's gonna be cool!' Ha Ha Ha! But it was a learning process."

"It was completely raw," offers Zacky on the band's promising but flawed debut. "We didn't know what we were doing! We went there with a million ideas and laid them down with a tiny budget. Listening to it, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but the ideas were there."

"We were 17, and we were writing that record on acoustic guitars in class," Shadows adds.

"We just wrote a bunch of songs but we didn't know anything about recording or click tracks or production, so we just wrote songs that a bunch of 17-year-olds would write."

Even at that early point in their career, Avenged's ascendance was not without its fair share of turbulence. One notable early incident involved the attempted suicide of their bass player at the time, Justin Sane - "He tried to drink a couple of bottles of cough medicine. He was an unbelievable musician but he had issues" - but still, the band's star continued to rise, and so, soon, would their notoriety. After the modest success of ...Seventh Trumpet came, of course, the album that cemented Avenged as the hottest property in metal, and with it, their first taste of the chaos and the controversy that comes with owning such a title.

Although, as Hammer discovered during this particular chat, not everyone was able to cotton on to the future classic status that Waking the Fallen would quickly earn.
"We sent our original record to Andy Sneap (Megadeth and Killswitch Engage producer/mixer/genius), and he wrote back an email saying, 'I will never work with you guys'," laughs Shadows. "Ha! It's funny, because after City Of Evil, we saw Andy in London, and we laughing about the whole thing. He was like, 'Dude, I didn't know it was gonna turn into this! I feel so bad!"

Luckily, the band found their man in the form of Andy 'Mudrock' Murdock, and though the resulting production job fell short of perfection, the songs spoke for themselves. Waking The Fallen landed in the summer of 2003 to moss critical acclaim, still to this day standing as one of the greatest metalcore albums ever recorded and a testament to the immense talents that Avenged Sevenfold possessed at a criminally young age. As the quintet suddenly found themselves in demand across the globe, it wasn't long before they also found themselves knee-deep in the kind of excess and booze-fuelled madness that can only come on the road.

"The first time we ever played abroad was in the UK, opening for Lostprophets and The Bronx," recalls Zacky. "Dude, we were in a six-passenger van, and we were out of our minds. We were drinking as much as we possibly could. We'd play as hard as we could, then we'd go walk over to the bar, have fans buy us shots, and by the end of the night we were pretty belligerent. We'd get up hungover, get in the van and the pull over to let Johnny puke up on the side of the road. That was our first real taste of going out on tour, and we took every advantage of it that we could."

"It was everything you would imagine it to be: pure debauchery," muses Shadows.
"You're out there, going crazy, partying it up every night."

Predictably, a bunch of lairy kids from California getting thrown into this kids of environment led to some rather, shall we say, tense situations. Most famously, one such situation led to the alleged arrest of The Rev outside London's own infamous drinking haunt, The Crobar, shortly after Avenged's debut London show on that very aforementioned toui in February 2004. The band released a purposefully ridiculous statement at the time to dispel any lasting controversy, but now, we can finally set the record straight. Happily, we can confirm that the truth is as ludicrous as we'd hoped.

"What happened was, we were at The Crobar, which is the place to be, you know," Shadows slyly reveals.
"We were all there, and I go to the bathroom, where there's just one stall, and I had to pee so bad. This person wasn't coming out, I think they were taking a shit or whatever, so I was like, ' Fuck, dude', and I started peeing in the sink. This guy walks out and starts flipping out and yelling at me, and I'm like, 'Fuck off'. I ignore him, and when I walk out front, he's there waiting for me!
He's like, 'Yo, you're the dude that was pissing in the sink! What's wrong with you?!'
So I punched him, and this huge fight broke out. Everybody started fighting, people were fighting in the streets, getting thrown through car windows, no joke, it was insane. So the cops come, and Jimmy starts making fun of them because they don't have guns in the UK. He started mocking them and runningin circles, and we're all just laughing, and finally, they start macing him and arrested him, and he went to jail that night!"

"The funny thing is, when the cops turned up, this guy that wasn't doing anything before got really mouthy, so Jimmy punched him right in front of the cop," adds Syn. "He got arrested, and thet's where our manager comes in. He spent the whole night and day getting Jimmy out of jail so he could go to this show."

"We had to play Rock Am Ring (In Germany) or something the next day," remembers Shadows with a chortle, "but Jimmy didn't take a shower. He had mace all over him when he played the show next day. It was a complete decable."

It might make for a funny story now, but the fact of the matter is that things were getting pretty out of hand for a band still barely into their 20s.

"It's unbelievable that we survived that tour," admits Syn. "Really, any night could just escalate, not just because of us, but because of being in a foreign place, being out too late. There were people around you that just wouldn't stop buying you shots. One time i Had 10 shots of Aftershock in my hand, and next to me was my Snakebite and black. I should've died of alcohol poisoning! By the end of that first Uk tour, we were 10 pounds heavier and pretty fucked."

To buy the new issue of Metal Hammer click here.

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