AVENGED SEVENFOLD's ZACKY VENGEANCE: 'I Never Wanna Feel Like I'm Phoning It In'

September 20, 2023

In a new interview with Blackcraft, AVENGED SEVENFOLD guitarist Zacky Vengeance discussed the experimental nature of the band's latest album, "Life Is But A Dream…" Written and recorded over the span of four years, it was produced by Joe Barresi and AVENGED SEVENFOLD in Los Angeles and mixed by Andy Wallace in the Poconos, Pennsylvania. The album is a journey through an existential crisis; a very personal exploration into the meaning, purpose and value of human existence with the anxiety of death always looming.

The 41-year-old Zacky, whose real name is Zachary Baker, said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Having the time off gave us a chance to look at ourselves and really reflect. You get to that point in life when your life changes. We have families now, we have obligations, and the easy road is make the next 'Hail To The King' album or do 'Nightmare Part Two', go package up with the same bands you've always played with, sell the same amount of tickets, get a paycheck, [and] you'll be comfortable. And that just never really sat well with any of us. And it wasn't like an internal discussion, like, 'Hey, what are we gonna do to reinvent ourselves?' I didn't fucking care. It was, 'What are we gonna do to not want to not do this?' Because I never wanna feel like I'm phoning it in. And I never wanna feel like I'm just putting on the heavy metal vest and trying to grow my hair and trying to fit in, in hopes of being the next METALLICA. It just doesn't feel right. We didn't start the band to do that. We wanted to be insane. We wanted to dress crazy. We wanted to write crazy music. And I think we all collectively, at the same moment, realized you either have to go all in on what you love and be completely fearless, which is what we've always lived and died by, and if you try and get pulled into the realm of playing it safe, which so many people do, because it's easy to do when you have mouths to feed, and go up there and just go through the motions, that's career suicide. And we collectively just said, 'Let's have fun with this. No matter, do what we want to do. Bounce off each other's ideas, and let's be happy as a band, the five of us. And if anybody else likes it, great. If they don't, fuck it. At least we went down with the ship the way that we should.'"

He continued: "A lot of that came from watching my band members and myself just step outside their comfort zones and dive into the world of mind-enhancing drugs and stuff. And seeing people like Matt [singer M. Shadows] and Syn [guitarist Synyster Gates] come out of their experiences with an entirely different perspective on life was intriguing to me, because I felt like those guys were getting stuck in a rut and I felt like I was getting stuck in a rut. And all of a sudden, you realize if you take care of yourself mentally and spiritually and physically as best you can, you become the best version of yourself. And what does that mean? It means every single day is all you have to work with. And that day is gonna give you ups and downs. You could wake up feeling great and throughout the day, it could start dragging you down. And it happens to all of us. But what you need to do is try and make every single day as best as you can. And I think that there's just certain small things — self-medicating — that can pick up your mood and let you end that day on a better note or just take you out of the mundane cycle of life, just trying to beat you up, throw you through the washing machine on a daily basis and just succumbing to that. There's ways to take yourself out of that and bring joy back into life and bring joy into the little things. Your family, sometimes your kids are acting crazy, whatever. There's ways to, like, say, 'This is fucking awesome. This is all I have to work with. And what do I need to do to get mentally in the space where every day is a fucking win?"

"Life Is But A Dream…" sold 36,000 equivalent album units in the U.S. in its first week of release to land at position No. 13 on the Billboard 200 chart. AVENGED SEVENFOLD's previous LP, "The Stage", debuted at No. 4 on The Billboard 200 album chart in November 2016. The surprise release of "The Stage" earned the lowest sales of an AVENGED SEVENFOLD album in eleven years. It sold 76,000 copies in its first week, less than half the tally of its previous two efforts.

AVENGED SEVENFOLD made its first festival appearance in five years on May 19 at Welcome To Rockville at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida.

AVENGED SEVENFOLD's first concert since June 2018 took place on May 12 at AREA15 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In April, AVENGED SEVENFOLD announced the second leg of its extensive "Life is But A Dream…" North American tour featuring support from FALLING IN REVERSE. Produced by Live Nation, leg two includes stops in Nashville, Denver, Austin, and more before concluding at Fort Worth's Dickies Arena on October 15.

The first leg with support from ALEXISONFIRE and KIM DRACULA included thirteen cities across the U.S. and Canada, such as Mansfield, Québec City, Tinley Park, Calgary, and more.

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