AVENGED SEVENFOLD Guitarist Looks Back On 'The Stage' Surprise Release: 'We Could Have Done Things Differently'

September 25, 2018

Earlier this week, Jave Patterson of the "Two Doods Reviews" podcast conducted an interview with AVENGED SEVENFOLD guitarist Synyster Gates. You can now listen to the chat below. A couple of excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On whether he feels AVENGED SEVENFOLD's latest album, "The Stage", accomplished what the band set out to do:

Synyster: "I absolutely [do]. I feel like it's one of our greatest accomplishments musically, and certainly our greatest accomplishment without [late AVENGED drummer] The Rev. There's definitely ways to quantify success, so album sales [laughs], not the greatest, but the thing is it did much better than a lot of the big releases at the time; it just got flak for not getting No. 1 again. But it beat out all the — I'm not gonna name names to sound like a catty child — but it did super well, and it was our most highly rated record of all time. I mean, yeah, it was probably the most polarizing, but I think that goes to the territory of records like that. So I am super proud of it. I think that it definitely took us into that realm or atmosphere of basically kind of garnering more respect from our contemporaries. They just kind of thought we were these dudes putting on makeup and playing the part, but I think that they realized — if they didn't already — that we are kind of the real deal. And I've always believed that about us — I've always thought that, not just alone, but together, I've never witnessed such talent from friends and other people, let alone my best friends, and I've always been so proud of this band. But we've always kind of worked within certain parameters — you know, 'We're this,' or, 'We're that' — and this one, we didn't. We were, like, [let's write a] a 15-minute song, and not only is it gonna be too long, let's make it 99 percent instrumental. And I'm proud of us for making those decisions at the height of our career."

On following their gut instincts when making a polarizing album like "The Stage":

Synyster: "I think that we've been super lucky that all four of five of us have been in the same mindset since Day One, and that's to follow our gameplan. You don't abandon ship when things go wrong in the third quarter — you stick to your gameplan. And you're only as good as your best performance. If you start watering things down or doing anything a little bit different than what's coming from a pure passionate place, then you're gonna just be a regurgitation of inauthenticity. So we never wanted to do anything like that — we always just wanted to be ourselves. And if you got a prog record last time, chances are you'll get something a little bit more groove-oriented the next time. And we rubberband back and forth, because we exhaust all of the ideas and all of the passion and all of the work ethic. We're drained after something like that. I mean, we explore what we're into to the very fullest, and it's not until we're crawling on glass, begging for a drop of water that we stop. And so that's where we're at. And I'm sure this new record's gonna be completely different."

On the surprise release of "The Stage", which earned the lowest sales of an AVENGED SEVENFOLD album in 11 years (it sold 76,000 copies in its first week, 73,000 of which were physical):

Synyster: "I think the main thing to do, if we learned a lesson, is to trust the people in your camp a little bit more and let them do what [they] do. If their job is to market the record, listen to their ideas, listen to what they think is innovative. We don't have to wear every hat, and I think we really tried to do that on the last record. I'm only talking about such a transient moment such as the release of the last record. I haven't had a chance to digest the entirety of the record cycle quite yet… But certainly [with] the release of the record, we could have done things differently and trusted our partners a little bit more. But it was a new place, and they got excited about our passion as well, and thought, 'Yeah. Surprise release? Fuck yeah! That's just crazy enough to maybe work.' 'How do you feel about that?' 'Sure. Let's do it.' Those were kind of the discussions, and I think we should have maybe asked more questions. I love asking stupid questions of smart people — it's my favorite thing to do in the world right now —and we definitely didn't do much of that then. And so that's pretty much what I'd change after having thought about it for a moment."

"The Stage", AVENGED's debut for Capitol, sold less than half as many copies in its first week as the group's two previous efforts, 2010's "Nightmare" and 2013's "Hail To The King".

The group made the album available at midnight on October 27, 2016 with almost no promotion beforehand, save for the arrival of a new song one week earlier.

AVENGED SEVENFOLD has just released a new song called "Mad Hatter". The track is included on AVENGED SEVENFOLD's "Black Reign" EP, which was made available on September 21. The effort contains all four songs the band has written and recorded for the "Call Of Duty: Black Ops" franchise.

"Mad Hatter" was recorded in Los Angeles this past March and co-produced by the band and Joe Barresi, who helmed "The Stage", including its Grammy-nominated title track.

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