Dark attire, sleeves of ink, menacing imagery and a hard rocking sound that is often misclassified; Avenged Sevenfold bring more to the music scene than first meets the eye and ear. COED jumped on the horn with A7X bassist Johnny Christ to talk success, survival, tragic loss and just how deep and dark of a path their latest album Nightmare will take listeners.
Is the new album as dark as the first single and title would seem?
Yeah, it’s a darker album. We set out musically, before the lyrics were written out, to make a very dark record. And then the passing of our brother (drummer James “The Rev” Sullivan), it became even darker. The lyrics and title are reference to the state of mind we were in.
Was the band already working on this material prior to “The Rev” passing and how did you adapt to continue on?
Oh yeah. We were ready to go into the studio and he was on every note before his passing. That was the hardest thing we ever had to do and we hope it remains the hardest thing we ever have to do. You take baby steps and you have good days and bad days, hoping the bad are few and far between. It’s something that people go through every day in life, and with us, we were so close over ten years, so like everybody else going through something like this – you take it one day at a time.
How do you feel about the end result of Nightmare?
I think its great. We wanted it to go back to our roots of earlier albums, like City of Evil, with colorful riffs mixed in with darker, heavier riffs. But, it’s not those records – it’s Nightmare. It’s The Rev’s legacy, the last piece of music he will ever be on. Overall, his hand is in every song and I think he’d be proud of it. It’s a very cool, very dark record. The end product came out very good and in the way that Jimmy would have wanted it.
A few years after you joined the band, things really blew up with video and radio play. Did you or the band ever anticipate the rush of commercial popularity?
We’ve always had the plan the be the biggest metal band in the world. From day one that’s been the idea. We’ve had some cockiness in the idea of accomplishing that and we always felt we had the potential. But, it takes more than potential to get there, so it’s been pretty exciting and special. When we number one on TRL, that was quite a shock and very different to cross over. Very cool I think, and launched our career out there so other metal fans could hear us. The hard work has been very rewarding.
Will you be touring in support of Nightmare and who will step in on drum?
We are going to tour starting in July. The idea of going out on tour is pretty hard right now, but we have to get it out there.The idea is to get out and have people hear the work of Jimmy, and we’re going to have Mike Portnoy, who worked on the record with us, come out on tour.
The band comes with the image, sound and cocky swagger that may frighten senior citizens, but you are really a tight bunch of cool guys. How much does the image matter for Avenged Sevenfold?
I guess it does somewhat. Image is a good thing to have for making a certain mystique about the band. We want our fans to have a spectacle to look at, and make it exciting. That’s outside the show, and on stage we want to entertain. As far as a conscious effort for image, it’s not so much that as it is confidence in ourselves and through hard work.
Avenged Sevenfold’s 5th studio album Nightmare will be released on July 27th. Here’s a preview: