Brandon: Who are you and what do you do in the band?
I’m Zacky and I play guitar.
Brandon: How did the band Avenged Sevenfold
Zacky: Basically we were all friends and we just had a vision
to start a band that was kind of unorthodox. We loved punk and heavy metal and we just all got together. We’d all been
playing in other bands and we just came together around senior year of high school with a bunch of ideas and have been playing
Brandon: What’s the meaning behind the name Avenged Sevenfold?
Zacky: It’s a biblical term and sometimes people get us confused for like a religious type of band and
we’re really not. I’m sure we all have our personal beliefs but we just kind of keep it out of the music. But
it basically refers to when Kane killed Abel and the mark that was put on Kane for killing him and it kind of means what goes
around comes around.
Brandon: So like whatever you do, karma will get you back seven-fold?
Yeah, pretty much.
Brandon: Sounding The Seventh Trumpet was originally released on Goodlife Records. What
led to your departure from Goodlife and your signing with Hopeless records?
Zacky: It was really hard to deal with
a label that is like 8000 miles from home and we just really weren’t very happy with what they were doing and they weren’t
really filling us in on what was going on. And since we’re from America we needed to be touring here and we needed support
from the label and the advertising and all that. They just weren’t doing it for us and they really weren’t filling
us in on what was happening overseas. So Hopeless came to us and at first it was weird because we’re such a different
kind of band than most of the Hopeless bands. But we saw Thrice was doing really well and they really liked us and had a lot
of faith in us so we decided to go with them and they kind of rescued us from where we were at with Goodlife.
Would you say that all the rumors that have been going around about Goodlife being a pretty shady label and bands saying they
never received any royalties is pretty accurate?
Zack: Yeah, pretty much. Royalties don’t exist and you’re
pretty much left clueless about how many albums you’ve sold.
Brandon: And it’s all the way in Belgium.
Zacky: Yeah, you’re pretty much stranded. If you want to take any legal action you have to go over there and
their entertainment laws really aren’t anything like America’s. The best thing we could have possibly done was
just get off the label and remain a band. It made a big dent, it held us back for a while because we worked so hard and really
got nothing out of it but being on Hopeless really helped us out pick up where we left off.
Brandon: I read in
another interview that you guys aren’t too fond of your hometown Orange County scene. What lead to this dislike of O.C.?
Zacky: You know, I think it kind of leads to scenes in general all over. I think a lot of kids are in it for the wrong
reasons and they’re just not open minded enough. We started this band for anyone that likes our music, no matter what
your background is or what other kind of bands you like, none of that matters to us. There’s just certain kids that
aren’t as open minded and we’re not really cool with that. But since Orange County is where we are from that’s
where we see the most of it but I see it going on everywhere. I think if you like the music you like the music, you don’t
have to be involved in any kind of scene. Especially since there aren’t really any serious movements taking place right
now. I mean there was a time when punk rock was a movement but today it’s just much more acceptable.
Brandon: People just regurgitating lyrics as their views and talking
a lot but not really doing anything?
Zacky: Exactly. I mean everyone has a cause of some sort, but it seems like
few really get out there and do it. But basically in Orange County a lot of bands kind of get trapped in the orange curtain
and get stuck there. But I’d consider us a national band, I mean we reside in Orange County, CA, but we spend more time
everywhere else in America.
Brandon: It seems pretty common to see kids that are only
into what’s fashionable and not really think for themselves and just like what’s “cool” and dislike
whatever’s “not cool” in the scene but it doesn’t seem like a lot of bands have spoke out like you
guys have and criticized scenes for what they’ve become.
Zacky: And we get a hard time from a lot of kids
because of it. But I think we get respect from a lot of kids as well. Kids that aren’t involved in scenes and they just
want to come out and enjoy the music. No matter what, there are too many kids out there with too many beliefs and why would
you segregate other kids or make fun of them for the way they dress or the bands they like? None of that matters, when it
come down to it you’re all there for the same reason and that’s to have a good time.
Brandon: I read that you guys feel like you get a better response over
on the East Coast than out here in CA. What would you say are the major differences you’ve seen between the East Coast
and West Coast?
Zacky: I think since we’ve been touring we’ve been hitting up a lot of new areas,
especially on the East Coast and its really building. But we came home a few months back and played our first headlining show
back in Orange County and it was amazing. It was by far the most amazing show we’ve ever played in our careers as musicians.
So California is definitely treating us really well, but everywhere is really starting to pick up. But I would say that back
home, the kids that really understand us and come out and support us, they are by far the best.
The Seventh Trumpet is refreshingly diverse and it sounds like you’ve drawn from a lot of different styles and genres.
What bands or artists did you listen to growing up or listen to now would you say have had a direct influence on the music
that Avenged Sevenfold makes?
Zacky: I know personally I grew up listening to a lot of punk. I love bands like The
Misfits and even Green Day, just anything with attitude and catchy. I know we were all raised on Guns N Roses and Iron Maiden
and Pantera and we also love stuff like Elvis Costello and Billy Joel and just real good song writers. I think that's really
important and I think my whole band agrees that we want to write music that we love which is Metal and Punk and everything
in between but there's also great song writers that write different styles of music. It's great to look at their song structures
and see what amazing song writers they are, there's a reason they've sold millions upon millions of albums and it's just great
song writing. We try to incorporate that into a genre that's kind of our own basically, but we're trying to incorporate more
song writing into the heavier music scene. Like something Guns N Roses would do but we try to add our own edge to it.
When I first heard your album I thought it sounded like there were some elements of European Black Metal mixed in there. Do
you guys draw any influence from those types of bands?
Zacky: Well we love bands like At The Gates and In Flames and
Cradle Of Filth and lots of Black Metal and even Power Metal. A lot of the guys in the band are huge fans of Blind Guardian
and kind of like theme metal which I'm not really into too much but they all like it and they are good musicians in those
bands so I'd say we definitely draw from that type of stuff.
Brandon: You mentioned The Misfits and Guns N Roses as influences,
what do you think of the current editions of those bands right now?
Zacky: Oh wow. I think Axel is amazing and
he chose amazing musicians but I don't think it's Guns N Roses, it's more like Axel and friends.
Brandon: And Buckethead.
Zacky: Yeah, and Buckethead. He's a phenomenal guitarist but Slash has something about him no one has and I don't
think Axel by himself is the greatest and I don't think Slash by himself is the greatest guitar player, but together they
had something and I think being able to click together with the rest of your band is more important than being the best musician.
Brandon: And what about the Danzig-less Misfits?
Zacky: You know, I wasn’t
even going to give them a chance but I was watching Much Music and I saw a video for the song "Scream" from the Famous
Monsters album and I loved it. So I actually picked up the CD and really liked it. It’s not the same because Danzig’s
lyrics alone, he so twisted but he’s such an intelligent guy. And I love Danzig and I love Danzig’s first album
but I think he’s kind of lacking on all the other albums. As far as the very newest Misfits go, I’m not a big
fan of the Jerry’s friends punk rock karaoke thing. We played with them at Hellfest and they were a three piece and
Dez from Black Flag looked like Dani from Cradle Of Filth and they were just all over the place covering Ramones songs and
it’s really not the same.
Brandon: I bet that everyone that had gone and gotten a Misfits tattoo was a kind of
pissed when they reformed and put out stuff that wasn’t really worthy of being called Misfits.
not the Misfits, that is the one thing I’ll agree with. Once you’ve heard the original Misfits like the stuff
from Walk Among Us and Legacy Of Brutality and Evilive and stuff it’s just like…
Zacky: Classic, exactly. And at the time they weren’t that big and their image and what they did got
the attention it needed and it’s been a legacy for so many years. I think there’s an entire group of people that
don’t even acknowledge the new Misfits. I like that album but it’s definitely not on the same level as the old
Brandon: I like that Saturday Night song from that album, I think that song is super good.
I love it and the whole band, we all love it. It’s a great song but it’s just not the same and it doesn’t
have the edge that they had with Danzig.
Brandon: How does your guys writing process
Zacky: When we wrote Sounding The Seventh Trumpet me and Matt….
Brandon: How long ago
was that album written?
Zacky: We began writing it about three years ago when we were seniors in high school, just
in guitar class getting together riffs that we liked. Me and our singer would sit there and write for the most part stuff
that we liked. Since the album came out we've added a second guitarist and he's a great guitarist and for the new stuff we've
been writing he's really adding a lot. What we do is come up with riffs and then bring them together and let other people
add to what we've created and everyone gives their input. When I come up with a riff, the drum beat I have in mind never ends
up the same way our drummer wants to play it, but I'm happy because the way he ends up playing it is much better than anything
I could have planned on. It's the same with adding melodies to guitar work, like pieces I write and the vocal harmonies our
singer adds to it are something much better then I would have been able to do, so we all add our own piece. It's pretty much
just a collective effort of song writing.
Brandon: Do you guys have a good amount of
new stuff written?
Zacky: Right now we have about three songs and a ton of riffs that we
really like and we're just trying to work on ways to put them together. It's really hard to write on the road also, so after
this tour we're going to take a couple months off and finish our songs and demo them and get comfortable with them and then
take them into a studio and record them for our next album.
Brandon: Was there a reason
you guys re-recorded the first song on the album, "To End The Rapture", for the re-release on Hopeless?
Zacky: We really weren't that happy with the sound quality, and we actually re-did "Warmness On The Soul" when
we re-did the intro also. We let Synyster, our new guitarist, solo on the intro because we felt that he needed to be on the
album because he was such an important part of our band at that point and we wanted to show off his skills. Originally, just
the sound quality of the intro didn't do what we had in mind justice and our budget to record was smaller so we kind of got
rushed and we wanted to go back and do it. Especially re-releasing it on Hopeless we wanted to give something a little bit
new, nothing much but we definitely wanted to improve upon it because it had been out for around a year and after listening
to it and just not being happy with it you really want to make it the way you intended.
You guys all go by aliases. What's the purpose behind that?
Zacky: We wanted to put emphasis on the music, not
so much us individually and it kind of hasn't worked that way. I mean it has put emphasis on the music and our music takes
care of that but the stage names have also caused a lot of attention too. We wanted to do it just to be different because
at the time it's not cool.
Brandon: That was one of the things that I thought may have been influenced by European
Black Metal bands like Cradle Of Filth that have also done that.
Zacky: It is definitely because they had the guts
to do it. When you look at like Guns N Roses even, when you see Axel you would never think to call him anything except Axel
and no one hesitates to call Slash, Slash. I mean how many people even know Slash's real name?
Brandon: I've never
even wondered what it was.
Zacky: Exactly. He's Slash. And it's not the name that matters, but once you make the name
it's the music that does it. We figured we're confident enough that someday we hoped people can call us by these names, and
it's happening. People don't know us by other names and that's fine with us, that's what we intended.
You mentioned that you felt like you got criticism for the name thing, have you felt any other criticisms for doing something
different and being diverse.
Zacky: We have. A lot of kids don't know how to deal with stuff like us having a ballad.
Brandon: I think it's rad that you throw in stuff
Zacky: There's so many great bands out there, so many great metal bands who's talent is just unmatchable.
There are so many great punk bands and there are so many great hardcore bands and every other type of music too. We didn't
want to be just mediocre and we wanted to take everything that we'd grown up on and we just wanted to do what we wanted to
do. When we started this band that's exactly what we wanted, we didn't have any intentions of selling albums. I mean it would
be great and we wanted to but we had no intentions of doing anything besides making music that we wanted to make. We were
scared to put the song on the album because we knew it was going to be a tough situation but we're very happy we did and I
think a lot of kids respect us for it.
Brandon: What do you guys think of San Diego? Have you played her before?
Zacky: Since we've been touring nonstop we haven't been to San Diego and we haven't been to too much of the west coast
at all, we played home one time and that was the extent of the west coast since June. But we had played San Diego about two
years ago at the Che' Cafe and one other time at the Che' and at the first show we just really weren't all together and we
were just starting out and it wasn’t a pretty situation. So it’s good to see kids here tonight and I’m amazed
how it’s grown because we really haven’t been down here so they’ve been hearing good things and stuff which
is really cool.
Brandon: Who are some of the bands out there right now that you guys are really into and think
everyone should check out?
Zacky: Right now I think Thrice is amazing. I love Thrice and I love AFI, and Death By
Brandon: Have you heard those two new AFI songs?
Brandon: I was kind of worried
about what kind of direction they were going to take their new stuff in with Davey listening to all that crazy goth and industrial
stuff but I was so stoked when I heard those songs.
Zacky: Oh definitely. I have plenty of faith because if you heard
some of the stuff we listen to you wouldn’t believe we sound the way we do. But I think that’s where you draw
the best influences, from stuff that’s not similar to you.
Brandon: That’s when you kind of begin to break
new ground, taking elements from other places and incorporating them into a genre you wouldn’t think would mix and making
it your own.
Brandon: I don’t think enough bands do that.
Zacky: Yeah, I think
too many bands are scarred. They’re too many great musicians out there, you’ve got to get influences from anywhere
Brandon: You guys just pretty much consider yourselves a metal band don’t you?
Brandon: Is that to kind of escape the close mindedness of hardcore?
Zacky: Definitely, and there really is
a lot. But we’re trying to open up people’s minds and I think it’s really helping and kids are really starting
understand us and the way we think and appreciate a lot of great things.
Brandon: Who else needs to be mentioned?
I think Shadows Fall is amazing. Oh and Mushroomhead. We just got off tour with those guys and a lot of people give them flak
Brandon: I’ve always thought they were like a Slipknot rip off but I’ve never listened
Zacky: Naw, their CD doesn’t do them justice because they recorded it on a shoe string budget many
years ago and it just got re-released on Universal and it sold a ton of copies. But live they are such a great band, and maybe
not everyone’s cup of tea as far as music goes but they’re the coolest dudes.
Brandon: I just think it’s
rad they take so many hardcore bands out on tour with them.
Brandon: Like Eighteen Visions
toured with them and I think From Autumn To Ashes recently toured with them…
Zacky: Yeah they were on the tour
with us but they actually dropped off after the first day.
Brandon: But how many bigger bands like that take hardcore
bands out? Andrew WK does and Kittie took out Poison The Well and stuff but there’s not a lot of support like that.
Zacky: Right now I’d say Kittie has been really cool about taking out bands and Andrew WK especially and then
Mushroomhead. Those are the three bands that are really taking out underground bands that deserve exposure but aren’t
on major labels that can dish up thousands of dollars to put a band on a tour.
Brandon: With Thrice, Poison The
Well, and AFI all moving to majors, what are your views on major labels and how do you feel about them?
Zacky: I think
major labels are very scary. But from a band's perspective, an underground or independent label can only do so much. When
you’re in band and it’s what you want to do for the rest of your life your goal isn’t necessarily to sell
a thousand albums but you want kids to hear your music and to be able to get it easily. I think that’s the thing a major
label can really help. It’s to promote which is wonderful…..
Brandon: And distribute.
distribution is amazing. When you get on a major label they get your CD into every store and from there it’s up to kids
to buy it. I think they force feed some of these bands upon kids and put so much money into them but the reason you have bands
like Puddle Of Mudd and stuff, it’s people’s fault those bands are huge, it’s not the major label’s
Brandon: Well they have MTV shove it down your throat and they have all the control over what gets heard and
Zacky: They do, and especially in the Midwest they’re not exposed and that’s all they
hear and all they have and they don’t have too many underground shows so it’s unfortunate. But its good major
labels are being able to help out bands like Thrice and AFI. I love Thrice and I think every kid deserves a chance to hear
Thrice whether they love it or not, and the same with AFI.
Brandon: Do you also think there’s a big difference
between being a brand new band releasing your debut album on a major and a band that have already released a few on an indie
and proved they can sell records when negotiating for things like artistic freedom?
Zacky: I definitely believe that
whatever you want to do as a band you should be able to do and I think for the most part the underground bands that are being
picked up like Thrice and AFI are definitely expanding and I like them more. But I definitely believe that from knowing and
talking to the guys in Thrice and AFI that they have their heads on their shoulders. They have the same attitude they had
when they were playing in front of ten kids. I couldn’t believe it when we got a chance to meet Davey and he was one
the coolest guys we’ve ever met and he’s so true and he came out to the show. All those guys are amazing and they’re
amazing musicians and they do something that just captivates you and the reason I’m doing what I’m doing right
now is because they’ve played a huge influence. The way they were doing their punk thing and just evolved, bands like
that just open up the flood gates. But I think sometimes whether it was because of being on a major label or not some bands
get picked up by a major and their sound changes and it’s not the same and kids just don’t like it. Kids like
bands for what they are and I’m not saying every band gets on a major and intends to sell out their sound and try to
sell 10 million albums.
Brandon: Usually I’d be pretty bummed if a band I liked signed to a major label but
for some reason I’m not worried about Thrice and AFI and feel like they know what they are doing and wouldn’t
be doing it if it wasn’t in their complete best interests.
Zacky: Exactly, and they’re still donating
Brandon: I think that’s rad too. It’s another one of those things where lots of bands and lots
of people talk about causes they say they support but don’t ever doing anything but Thrice is out there actually making
Zacky: Definitely, those kids are the most modest kids and I think it’s a great thing. Hopefully
they’ll be able to make music as their career forever if that’s what they want to do. I’d love to hear albums
come out by Thrice and AFI for as long as I’m alive. So as long as they have the opportunity to make new fans and keep
making great albums I think by any means necessary as long as they stay true to themselves and I’m certain from talking
to those guys that they are.
Brandon: All right man, do you have any last words or shout outs for San Diego?
Definitely, I’m amazed and very much looking forward to playing in front of San Diego tonight and I’m really happy
just being out here before the show and seeing how the scene has grown and kids coming out to support bands. It’s just
really amazing and thank you for the interview. I hope that everyone will definitely check us out if they get the chance or
go to www.AvengendSevenfold.com and sign our guest book and tell us how much you hate us.