We had the great opportunity to arrange an interview with M.Shadows in december 2023. We decided to wait to the holidays to pass and to publish it in january. And here it is!
A7X are finally back! How was it to be back on stage after 5 years (and a pandemic)? You haven’t come to Europe for a long time and we missed you so much…
Are you excited about coming back here next summer? What we should expect for 2024/2025?
M.Shadows: Yes, I was very nervous coming back… basically it was scary to get on stage and sing again. I was not worried about the album or the music.. just simply
being able to run around and sing in front of an audience. I think the first show was not great but it was a needed first step. I learned a lot and was able to better prepare for the tour. We look forward to Europe and I am glad you are getting to see us after we have quit a few shows under our belt. That means it will be a better experience for all of you. You should expect a show that’s focusing more on a message and emotion rather than a typical rock show.
In june you reached another important landmark of your career: playing at the Madison Square Garden. Are there others “historic” location you would love to play in, once in a lifetime? (Who knows, maybe at the Verona Arena)
M.Shadows: I can’t say I think about that too much at this point. I just want the band to feel healthy in terms of creativity. Where we play doesn’t matter much to me.
How do you choose the songs for the setlist? What do you think is the secret of the perfect setlist?
M.Shadows: I think there are MANY perfect setlists. Meaning, everyone likes something different and prefers different songs. If you can find a balance of the band being energized and happy as well as the fans getting something out of the show… then you have won. If you play only hits then you back yourself into a corner. If you play only deep cuts then you bore 70% of the audience.. it needs to make sense on many different levels.
Did you ever consider doing a show with an orchestra in a fabulous scenario like the Royal Albert Hall in London or the Olympic Stadium in Rome? It would be the perfect occasion for recording a new live dvd/bluray!
M.Shadows: We are looking at doing something in a couple years when this album has run its course. Before I hurt myself we were looking at the Hollywood Bowl for a full album and orchestra performance of “The Stage”. We are interested in doing something like that with LIBAD.
If you had the chance to go back in time and change something in your discography or in your career, what would you change and why?
M.Shadows: I wouldn’t release Diamonds in the Rough. I don’t think it’s great and sometimes it’s better when people don’t see how the sauce is made.
A7X has many really affectionate fans. Can you tell us the strangest thing a fan did/say in your presence?
M.Shadows: I’ve had a few different people tell me they are “mediums” and talk to Jimmy often and that he wants to talk to me. I think that’s pretty unique.
In these last years of global changes and challenges, even at personal level as you often talked about it, have you ever thought you had reached the pinnacle of your musical career while thinking of dedicating yourself to something else and new? And if so what would you like to do and pursue?
M.Shadows: I think when people come to those epiphanies they are usually overthinking it. We are here with one life… you can pursue many things and not have to necessarily give up others. As long as the band is fun we will keep doing it but I also like to play sports, chess, build with blockchain, follow finance, etc… you can do many things in this one life. When music becomes boring I’ll quit.
Would you like it if your children chose to work in the entertainment industry like you?
M.Shadows: They can do whatever they want. I will def warn them of the entertainment business though.
Let’s talk a little about Life is but a Dream, your latest album… What’s your favourite song from the album and which one do you think best represents the
M.Shadows: “Nobody” represents the album best. It’s unique and full of depth lyrically. I think it drives the point home of what we are trying to say. It’s a centerpiece.
The whole Life is but a Dream is more an experience, a trip, than just an album. Each song is special but there’s one that became a fan favourite immediately: Cosmic. Can you tell us how it came to life and what inspired you for the lyrics?
M.Shadows: My wife and I did a bunch of mushrooms and were convinced that we had lived many many past lives before and that we keep finding each other like magnets over and over through reincarnation. Sober and pragmatic me, does not believe in these things as easily… but it sure felt real and compelled me enough to wanna write the ultimate love story. The song was actually going to open the album. It was gonna be track 1 and then as other songs were created that idea sorta disappeared. Musically, it’s a very interesting journey for us. It only has a few parts but is put together in a way that feels like an epic.
Every time a new A7X record comes out, you always tell us which books inspired you. We went from Carl Sagan for The Stage to Albert Camus for LIBAD. Which other books have you read recently? Do you have an author or a book that literally “changed your life”?
M.Shadows: I’m onto a lot more podcasts at the moment or classic books. I really enjoy Brian Greene, and the book ‘until the end of time” really helped me while I was going through an existential crisis. Highly recommended.
Now the most common question ever: when The Stage came out you said that it was your fave A7X album, followed by Waking The Fallen. I remember Sounding the Seventh Trumpet was the last on your list. Has your personal album ranking changed now?
M.Shadows: I think The Stage and Libad stand head and shoulders above our discography for my personal taste. Usually after an album comes out I get over it. I have not “gotten over” The Stage. I am really proud of that one. LIBAD is too early to tell but I’m enjoying it and I do believe it’s a must for our discography.
Two years of Deathbats Club! In these past two years we have seen tons of people using the perks of their bats. We haven’t been able to join your events but we’re curious to know if you had a good response from Europe as well and if we’ll be able to use some of the perks here as well in the future (we know that different states have different laws for shows and events and this may not help).
M.Shadows: We think the Season Pass we will be releasing will help with perks in Europe. This is something we think about a lot… adding value to places that we are not close to. Not much I can say yet but we are getting closer to having some solutions.
You recently announced that Deathbats’ perks will be prorogate until 2025, do you have other plans for DBC (raffles, giveaways, new events) or will you focus on the project “season pass”?
M.Shadows: We have a plan but cant share it just yet.
Last but not least…How do you imagine Avenged Sevenfold in 5/10 years from now? After 24 years of honorable career, which are the goals you still want to reach?
M.Shadows: I just want to be inspired and put out cool music… not because we are supposed to but because we WANT to. There is no goal other than to just exist and push the boundaries.
Thank you so much to M.Shadows for being so nice and took some of his time to answers our questions.