Steven Rosen of Ultimate-Guitar.com recently conducted an interview with AVENGED SEVENFOLD vocalist M. Shadows. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: So “Not Ready to Die” is the first song with your new drummer, Arin Ilejay? And you’ve also been touring with Arin for a while now?
M. Shadows: He’s a shredder; he’s awesome. He’s been playing all the parts great. I think one thing about this new song is we’re really looking forward to getting into the studio with him and seeing how we gel with him and see what he brings to the table as far as writing goes. That was a great experience for us to be able to do that (“Not Ready to Die”) just so we don’t go into the next record completely blind; how he is in the studio.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: It’s been a learning experience for the band?
M. Shadows: It’s the first song that he drums on and he’s been killin’ it on the road — and he’s a really nice guy. He’s one of the nicest guys in the world, which is more than we could ever ask for so we’re really excited about it.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: What were you looking for in a drummer to replace The Rev?
M. Shadows: What we were looking for was someone that was young and someone that was unknown. We wanted to give someone a chance that wasn’t completely jaded; we didn’t want them to feel it was a job. We wanted him to be a fan of the band and a fan of music and wanting to be out on the road and view this as their dream like all of us. One thing we didn’t want was some older session guy or some guy that just saw it as a gig — ’cause it’s not a gig, it’s like our life. It’s what we want to do for a long time. So basically we wanted a nice, young person that could obviously have the chops to play everything that’s been laid down before but also we wanted them to be able to have their own style. It’s gonna take years for our fans and for people to understand what Arin’s style is and we’re still figuring it out ourselves. But he needed to have his own style and be his own drummer but at the same time be able to play everything [Mike] Portnoy and The Rev laid down. So far he’s got two of those down and now we need to work on bringing out his style and what he can bring to the music.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Had you heard Arin play in CONFIDE, which was his band?
M. Shadows: No; I didn’t know who he was. We talked to our producer — Mike Elizondo — and we talked to Mike Fasano who was Jimmy’s in-studio drum tech and we said, “Hey, do you guys have anyone you could suggest?” And they both sent somebody down and we went and jammed with ’em both and they were both great and Arin came in and just killed it. That was the first time I’d ever heard of him or seen him or met him and he came in and he was super skinny and small and he hits the drums like a beast. And it was like, “Whoa.” We were all kind of smiling like, “Wow, this kid’s got every chop down. Not only has he played everything right but he’s also transcribed everything right.” Which is good to us because you have to have an ear — you have to be able to hear what people are doing. He played everything Portnoy and Jimmy were playing to a tee. And we were like, “Wow.” So we had a couple more sessions with him and he was just the perfect fit right off the bat — he just really blew us away and impressed us.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Do you have any feelings about the [GUNS N’ ROSES] “Chinese Democracy” record?
M. Shadows: There are great songs there and Axl is a great singer; he’s an amazing singer. It’s hard because a lot of times it’s that feeling a band gives you when you know they’re a band and you know what it’s about. And there’s so much drama that goes around that camp. I’ve met [GUNS N’ ROSES guitarist] Bumblefoot and a couple of the guys in that band and they’re great guys and great players — it’s just really hard to play in that shadow of what GUNS N’ ROSES was. And I think that kind of takes you away from when you’re listening to a record and what it’s all about. What made “Dark Side Of The Moon” so great is some of the mystique and where it was coming from and just the authenticity of it. And that’s what kinda sucks about the new GUNS N’ ROSES — it’s really hard to put your finger on it but it’s not the same thing. I think for all of us it would be really nice if they could just get it together and do some stuff but that’s probably never gonna happen.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Mike Portnoy [former AVENGED SEVENFOLD recording/touring drummer] won the “Best Drummer” award [at this year’s Revolver Golden Gods Awards], which was presented by Vinnie Paul. Are you still on good terms with Mike?
M. Shadows: Yeah, we’re on good terms — it just got a little out of hand for a while there with us. And the way he runs his camp is a little different than we run ours. It couldn’t co-exist in that way and I’m really happy for him — I’m happy on a bunch of different levels. The Rev wrote those parts, Mike elaborated on them, and the record did really well. To me that’s a success all the way around. Mike helped us out in a time of need and he really stuck true to what Jimmy’s parts were, which we were really thankful for that. ‘Cause he could have come in there and been like, “No, I’m not playing that — why don’t we do this?” So he did exactly what Jimmy had written down and what we wanted him to do and kudos to him for doin’ that.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: AVENGED won four Revolver awards — more than anybody else.
M. Shadows: It was nice that we got to go in there and basically sweep those awards — it was really cool. And I’m sure Mike appreciates it as well. I didn’t get to talk to him afterwards but I know Zack [guitarist Zacky Vengeance] did and they exchanged some nice words. So it was good to see that he won that award.