Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows Talks ‘Hail to the King: Deathbat’ Video Game + More
Avenged Sevenfold's 'Hail to the King' album has done incredibly well for the band, but their current focus is on branching out with the release of the 'Hail to the King: Deathbat' video game. Frontman M. Shadows, who was highly involved in the creation of the game, spoke with 'Loudwire Nights' co-host Full Metal Jackie about the game and the band's music plans. Read the interview below and be sure to enter our incredible 'Hail to the King: Deathbat' contest by clicking the red button at the bottom of this post.
What makes a metal band, particularly Avenged Sevenfold perfect for characters in a video game?
[Laughs] That's a question I haven't really thought about, but I'd say the imagery of Avenged Sevenfold and how we approach our artwork and how we approach the moods in our songs is perfect for a video game. The characters are -- we have lots of artwork where we've done the character's heads being cut off or our band members heads being cut off where we're all death bats, our own personalized one. So there's a lot of imagery there that work well in a video game. In terms of Avenged Sevenfold, I think we're the perfect candidates for a video game.
The music on 'Hail to the King: Death Bat' is geared toward the game specifically created for that. Creatively, what's the biggest difference between writing music for an album and writing vintage video game music?
The biggest one is that there are no lyrics. When you think of rock and roll and metal, a lot of it is based around the riff. If you can sing over the riff, and what the arrangements are going to be like, you have to leave space for what most people consider one of the most key essential parts, which is the vocalist. What's he saying? Where is the space for the vocalist? How does everything work around what the singer is saying? In terms of doing video game music you really -- it's more musical. So you're sitting there thinking, "OK, well this guitar or lead line is going to be the main focal point that everyone needs to listen to when you're playing the game." You need to remember a melody of a guitar line or a synth, or whatever, as opposed to a vocalist. So, the direction and the overall vibe is more musically geared. I'd say, for us, trying to get good vibes out of stuff without vocals is a challenge all in itself.
Some video games are actually episodic. 'Madden NFL' is on its 15th version. Is 'Hail to the King: Death Bat' and its characters the start of a gaming franchise?
That would be entirely up to the fans. I have a feeling that this game will probably garner some kind of cult following. If it grows outside of that then we'd love to make more. We'd love to make more anyway. I think doing a second one, regardless of what the reaction is, is probably in the cards. If the second one comes out and everyone loves the game then there's no reason for us not to make them.
Considering how much I've enjoyed making it, and how much the band enjoyed making the music and just being a part of the process. We'll do it until it doesn't make us happy anymore. Right now, we have this cycle where we go on tour for a year, two years at a time. Then we get sick of touring and we want to write a new record then we go and write a record, then you just want to get out of the studio and tour again. There's no reason why we can't throw making games into that mix as well, we like to work and we like being creative in that way.
Now that the video game is coming out, when will the band collectively turn its attention to new music and the next album and touring cycle?
We have a couple of places that we never hit on the 'Hail to the King' world tour and we're going to take care of those places first. Right now we're really in a recalibration mode where we're throwing around ideas and getting excited again, but there's really no point of trying to write a record just to write a record. There's no point of starting too soon, because you just burn out quickly again.
For us, what we want to do is, get ourselves to the point where we can't stand it any longer and we have to write a record just to get it out. We just started hanging out with our families and being home, doing things we've been wanting to do. The next record and the future of what's going to happen is so much in the infant stage, I really have no clue. But I do know that when the fire is burning again, which I know it will, because it's already starting. We like to wait to a point where we have to get in there and write a record because we're just so built up.
Gene Simmons' recent statement that rock is dead really stirred up a lot of passionate reactions from other musicians. What's your take on his statement? Especially since your band is at the forefront of keeping heavy music alive.
Quotes like that are just click bait for people. People that are in bands that want to play music for the love of music are going to do it regardless of what his quote was. I read his quote, I think some of it is taken out of context. I understand what he's saying, but rock music will never die. We all know that. It doesn't mean it's in the forefront of all entertainment and music right now, it's obviously not. But I understand what he's saying and I understand everybody and their responses to it. To me it's just all drama online and I could care less.
You grew up liking classic bands like Guns N' Roses, Maiden, Metallica. What's the most surreal aspect about the realization that you and your band now inspiring kids to musically express themselves too, just like your favorite bands did?
It feels good, because there's nothing quite like picking up a guitar or getting a drum set or sitting down and creating music with your friends for the first time. You can never replace that now. I can sit there and say I love walking on stage and playing music with my best friend, which I still get to do. But nothing was quite like the early days when you got to that garage and the first time the power cord seems to be in tune and you're locked in with Jimmy playing the drums and Zack is over there and we're making music for the first time and you're actually learning your way around instruments. There's nothing quite like it.
I think that if we can inspire kids to do that and pick up instruments and better themselves and help them be good at something. Whether that's playing guitar or piano, or drums and being good at music. It's really cool because it makes you feel good about yourself, it's a healthy thing. To practice really hard and become accomplished at something. If we can inspire a kid to pick up a guitar, and less and less kids are doing so these days, it'd be really cool because I know how it felt growing up and how special that was for me.
When you first discover music, it's such a powerful presence in your life. It's pure passion. But, once it becomes a career there's a real danger that your love of music can change. How do you make sure that music never loses the mystique that captured you in the first place?
We do a lot of things that kind of annoy people and our fan base. We try not to get overloaded on it. For us, that means we don't do social media stuff -- we have an Avenged Sevenfold social media but none of the band members have Facebooks or any sort of Twitter. It's not because we don't want to be around the fans, but it's a constant hounding of this is your job, this is what you do, this is what you're known for, talk to us all day about music. It gets away from the music and starts getting into other things like we were talking about earlier. It has no interest to me.
For what we do, we take time off, we re-calibrate. People go surfing, I like to golf. We like to do other things, just get away from it. We don't completely immerse our life in it so much to where the things that aren't important become important to us. We try to keep it - when we're going to write a record, we get into the studio together, we have a great time and we try to write the best songs we possibly can without any other outside influence. Whether it be what fans want or what the label wants, this or that. That's the way you keep it fresh because as soon as you get bored with what you're doing or not proud of what you're doing or you put out a record or go on tour when you didn't want to, that's when it becomes a job. Our mission since day one was to make sure this never felt like a job. We just keep ourselves sane before we try to please anybody else.
Thanks to Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows for the interview. You can find out where to pick up the 'Hail to the King: Deathbat' video game at this location. Tune in to Loudwire Nights With Full Metal Jackie and Tony LaBrie’ Monday through Friday 7PM through midnight online or on the radio. To see which stations and websites air ‘Loudwire Nights,’ click here.
Also, if you've got some music skills, check out our amazing Avenged Sevenfold contest by clicking the red button below: