Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows on fan reactions to new music and the art of headlining

'It was really fun to kind of get slapped in the face with the reality of how people were gonna take this right off the bat'
Audacy Check In: Avenged Sevenfold
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Joining us for an Audacy Check In today is frontman M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold discussing with host Jason Bailey at 98 Rock in Sacramento the band’s forthcoming album, Life Is But a Dream… which is set to arrive on June 2, planned North American tour dates this summer, and more.

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Just last month, Avenged Sevenfold unveiled their epic and out-of-their-ordinary sounding lead single, "Nobody," from the upcoming 2023 album Life Is But A Dream… -- their first new music since 2016. "I remember when we first wrote it, there was definitely a 'this is... different,'" kind of vibe Shadows explains. "But we were quickly reminded, day one when this thing released watching some of the 'YouTube reacts' sort of things, and people were like, 'Alright, ready for this banger,' and they put it on and you see their face kind of drop like, 'What is this? What's going on here?'"

"We were actually sending those around to each other just cracking up," he admits, "like, 'Give it a couple of days, people are gonna understand it.' But it was really fun to kind of get slapped in the face with the reality of how people were gonna take this right off the bat."

"One thing," Shadows adds, "it's very lyric-driven because it really is this existential crisis with this sort of thing we all deal with, which is death looming. It goes into a lot of mindfulness, a lot of almost Buddhist teachings where, when death is always looming, there's two ways to go about it. If you find life is meaningless, then what purpose are you going to attach to your life to make it somewhat bearable? But to talk about that, you need the music to have tension, and you need the music to almost feel uncomfortable... The things we're talking about are uneasy, and they don't feel pleasurable or release-driven -- until we want you to get there. So, I think there's a method to the madness, but it takes a second to kind of readjust and go, 'OK this is what we're dealing with here.' It's not three and a half minutes, verse / chorus / verse / chorus / bridge / chorus... it's just different."

Speaking of being uncomfortable, A7X got a chance to open for Metallica a few years back, an experience Shadows says was difficult simply because they were out of their normal setting, performing in daylight and without all of their usual toys. Being the opening band is different, mainly because "when you're headlining," he explains, "everybody's in the palm of your hand before it even happens. When you're opening for Metallica and the place is slowly filling up... you almost have to go to war. You might have some people in the pit that are into this, but there's a lot of sceptical, arms crossed, 'I don;t like these new bands... I'm waiting for the real Metal Gods to show up.'"

Avenged Sevenfold had turned down the offer to tour with Metallica numerous times before finally agreeing. The reasoning behind that decision, Shadows says, was because "we have only headlined for so long. One of the things we heard early in our career, and one thing we respected immensely about certain bands is if you headline, people think of you as a headliner -- and if you go and open for people constantly, they'll always think of you as second fiddle. The idea of opening and taking all the toys away, everything everyone had ever seen -- my question to [Metallica's Lars Ulrich] was, 'I don't think this is the right look for new people getting into Avenged Sevenfold. This isn't where we're at.' But to a lot of mainstream people, it was 'Oh, you're the band that opened for Metallica,' which put us on a higher pedestal, which was weird to me."

Eventually, he says the band chose to go ahead after agreeing they would be "stupid not to." However, Shadows says he walked away from those shows, "extremely grateful, but extremely right about taking that tour. It did put us in that weird position of 'you're second fiddle to this.'"

Along with the new album, A7X will be kicking off a headlining tour in July with Alexisonfire providing opening duties on Leg 1 and Falling In Reverse opening up on Leg 2 which begins in September, hitting major cities in the U.S. and Canada in celebration of the release. Tickets for both Legs 1 and 2 are available now via Live Nation.

WATCH NOW: Audacy Check In with Avenged Sevenfold


Check out our full Audacy Check In with Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows above, and stay tuned for even more conversations with your favorite artists on Audacy.com/Live.

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