M. SHADOWS Admits AVENGED SEVENFOLD Was Behind Alleged Hack That Falsely Announced Festival Cancelations

May 31, 2023

AVENGED SEVENFOLD singer M. Shadows has admitted that he and his bandmates were behind the alleged hack that falsely announced the cancelation of the group's festival appearances.

In late February, it appeared that a hacker used deepfake AI technology to emulate M. Shadows's voice in an episode of AVENGED SEVENFOLD's "Trax" podcast and reveal that the band would no longer appear at the Welcome To Rockville and Sonic Temple festivals as the band was putting the finishing touches on its new album. The "Trax" podcast was uploaded to Spotify and shared on AVENGED SEVENFOLD's Twitter account. Within minutes, Shadows took to his personal Twitter to shoot down the fake announcement, writing: "Yikes! This is NOT TRUE. We are still playing. Getting to the bottom of this."

A couple of days later, AVENGED SEVENFOLD officially addressed the hack, tweeting: "Our accounts were compromised over the weekend and have now been recovered. Our festival appearances have not been cancelled. For the time being, please go to our Discord for all future communications. Thank you for your patience."

Now, in a new interview with Rock Feed, M. Shadows, whose name is Matt Sanders, acknowledged that he and the rest of the AVENGED SEVENFOLD were in on the fake announcement, partly as a way to promote their new album.

Regarding how the whole thing came together, M. Shadows said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Our management has two guys that run it. There's Mark Wakefield and Beno [David Benveniste]. And we work really closely with this girl Samantha. So Samantha wasn't even gonna tell them, because we knew that everyone would say 'no.' I said, 'Don't tell anyone.' She said, 'We've gotta call Danny [Wimmer, Welcome To Rockville and Sonic Temple promoter].' [I said], 'No. If you call Danny, he's gonna say 'no'.' She said, 'We've gotta tell [Ryan] Harlacher,' who's our booking agent. I'm, like, 'No. Harlacher's gonna say 'no'.' So we kept it secret. And we just did it. And I said, 'Samantha, all you know is we got hacked and we are trying to fix it.' She's, like, 'Are you serious?' And I'm, like, 'That's what we're doing.'"

He continued: "The day that it went down, I was in Mexico and I'm watching this go down. And my phone is blowing up. Harlacher, Wimmer, Beno, Mark… And it's my voice. And people are calling them, going, 'You guys are so lame for letting the band…' And then Mark said, 'What are you talking about?'

"The whole plan all along was I would go on Twitter [and deny it]… And it worked," M. Shadows added. "And then, as people went back, they were, like, 'Oh, it is AI' 'Cause once the knee-jerk reaction [was out of the way], you go back and listen, and you go, 'Oh…'"

According to M. Shadows, the entire announcement was created using AI. "We wanted it to be as authentic as possible," he said. "We said, 'Let's make an overarching comment on society and where it's going with the AI. And then we'll do the Web2 stuff, and then we'll bring them into Web3 and show people how to use this thing."

M. Shadows also addressed the puzzles and clues that were shared via AVENGED SEVENFOLD's Discord channel in the days following the alleged hack. At the end of the alternate reality game, which lasted over a week, fans cracked Internet codes and solved riddles, which led them to actual pieces of evidence in the real world.

"The thing about that whole augmented reality thing, we wrote with ChatGPT," M. Shadows said. "A bunch of the code was written with ChatGPT. All the posts by this guy that was hacking us was all ChatGPT. All we used was DALL·E 2; it was open AI. And the whole thing was, like, 'We don't need to be a real person. You will be fooled. You will feel something. And we can fool you just by some bad actor that's got this in the wrong hands.'"

AVENGED SEVENFOLD's new album "Life Is But A Dream…", is set to arrive on June 2 via Warner. 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.

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. The band's setlist included three songs from < "Life Is But A Dream…": "Game Over", "We Love You" and "Nobody".

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

Last month, 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. Fans will have the opportunity to hear the group's first single in seven years, "Nobody", and their new album "Life Is But A Dream…" for the first time live during the 30-show outing.

The first leg with support from ALEXISONFIRE includes thirteen cities across the U.S. and Canada, such as Mansfield, Québec City, Tinley Park, Calgary, and more. The group kicks off their 2023 solo touring run with two unique one-night-only arena shows in New York and Los Angeles this June.

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