Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Synyster Gates: "This is the most difficult solo that I ever recorded"

Synyster Gates recently sat down with Ultimate Guitar for a brief chat regarding all sorts of guitar stuff. You can check out the interview below.

What's the most difficult solo that you ever recorded?
"I just had to relearn 'M.I.A.' - we're playing that song. It's off [2005's] 'City of Evil' and it's a really, really tough one. It was like learning a different guitar player's techniques.

"I don't even know what the fuck I was thinking there. That's usually kind of how it is because you write from more of like a compositional standpoint. At least I try to with my solos.

"Even the fast ones - I'm trying to evoke some sort of emotion or whatever. So I don't necessarily go to... They're not my go-to licks. My fingers are just in odd places and the pick doesn't seem to work. So yeah, that's definitely a tough one."

Ultimate Guitar is one of the biggest guitar tab databases on the internet. There are 1,600 tabs of A7X songs, which have amassed 55.6 million views. How does this make you feel? So many people around the world are trying to learn your songs...

"It's definitely an honor. It's very, very cool. But I would implore them to work on their own material. I grew up wanting to play other people's stuff, but you get a better sense of accomplishment when you create your own music."

Recently there have been some stories about guitar becoming less popular among younger people. Since you have your own guitar school, do you think this is true?

"Well, I think people are making a lot less money playing guitar. There's not as many old-school rock stars like Eddie Van Halen. But I think people are still playing guitar just as much as ever, if not way more. I really believe that. 

"So it's just finding good opportunities, that's the key. Finding really cool opportunities for people to go out and make a living playing guitar again. I don't know exactly what that is but I know that I'm working on it. I'm starting with the education."

Some time ago Zacky Vengeance said he doesn't consider himself a good guitar player. What's your take on that?

"[Laughs] He just doesn't think it's cool to be a good guitar player. And I would be upsetting him to let him know he is a very, very, very good guitar player. He's not just a great guitar player, he's a great writer and a great rhythm player too. It's not just about the solos and stuff, a lot of his rhythmic ideas are brilliant. So yeah, he's a fucking great guitar player."

You can save one guitar, one pedal, and one amp from a house on fire. What do you choose?

"Jesus Christ... Well, I'm gonna cheat. I'm gonna take the Axe-Fx III. [Laughs] Because I've got all the amps and all the pedals now. And then it's a toss-up between... I'd probably take my '54 Strat."

And no pedals?

"Well, you got all the pedals pretty much in Axe-Fx. But one of my favorite pedals... There's an amazing that nobody knows about. It's made by Mooer, it's EQ pedal, it's this big [not too big]. You put that flat, just flat. You don't EQ anything, put it in front of an amp and it just shines. It's one of those amazing things. I use it all the time in the studio."

If you ever got the chance to replace a legendary guitar player from an older band, who would that be?

"As much as I'd love to be a fly on the wall for The Beatles... Maybe replace George Harrison, even though that's a pretty bad thing to say because he was such a great writer himself... I might go with Steve Vai, just to be able to have worked that closely with Frank Zappa. It could have been pretty fuckin' unreal."

What's the cheapest guitar you ever had?

"Probably a $20, $10 junk think that I got at a garage sale when I was a little kid."

What was is like to work with Mike Portnoy?

"He's a fabulous, fabulous musician and a real genuine dude. And we were all honored to have him come in in our darkest hour. And really, he kind of forged the band back together. He was our strength when we didn't know what the hell we were gonna do."

Avenged Sevenfold started out basically as a group of friends and at one point you just blew up. What's the secret behind that?

"Unfortunately, there are no secrets. I mean, you've got so many brilliant people on Earth that if there was a secret, they would have discovered it by now and exploited the fuck out of it and charged a bunch of money. We're just lucky. We're just really, really lucky. 

 "I mean, yes, I'm in a band with some of the most talented people that I've ever met in my life. And I get that. But to be put in a place and time on this Earth where I live right next door to all those guys... So where does it start? I'm in a band with really talented musicians so it must be that. 

 "But to me, moving to Huntington Beach, CA, being literally-- You know, I could throw a stone at Matt [M. Shadows] and Jimmy's [The Rev] houses when I was growing up. They were my best friends in middle school and high school. I don't know, to me that's luck."


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