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Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows: The Gigs That Changed My Life

M. Shadows takes us into the pit at the gigs that shaped himself and Avenged Sevenfold…

From tiny venues in their native California to the world’s biggest stages, Avenged Sevenfold have experienced the highs, lows and everything in-between that comes with hitting the road (including the early thrill of being paid with pizza). Here, frontman M. Shadows remembers his most life-changing experiences – both as a youngster watching his favourite bands, and now as festival and arena-conquering metal titan…

The first show I ever went to as a fan…

The first big’ band I ever saw was Reel Big Fish. Me and [late A7X drummer] The Rev went when we were kids – Jimmy’s dad took us, and he’d bring a book and sit in the corner. And we would mosh while everyone else was skanking, because we thought that was what you were supposed to do (laughs). We went to a ton of punk-rock shows growing up – it totally influenced us. We were little metalheads already playing music at that point, and if you listen to our music there’s so much stuff we throw in there – it’s obviously because we grew up in Southern California, where the ska scene was very close to the metal scene… All that stuff was welcomed under the same umbrella.” 

The first show that we ever played together as Avenged Sevenfold…

There was, like, 10 friends there and they watched us and then left, and then some other band played afterwards and 10 of their friends watched them. The second or third show we ever played was at Chain Reaction, and we were playing to a hardcore scene and none of the kids would walk to the front of the stage – they’d watch you from the back with their arms crossed (laughs). Our first big shows were with bands like Twelve Tribes, Eighteen Visions, Poison The Well and Shai Hulud… It would be just a bunch of hardcore bands but it felt big for us – it was awesome. We had a three-song demo out at the time!”

The gig when I first felt like Avenged were onto something special…

We were playing the Showcase Theater [in Corona, California, in December 2001], and it was sold out. At the time, if you had asked me how many people were there at that show, I probably would have said 900 – but it only holds, like, 300 people! But it just felt so huge; that’s where I grew up going to shows. When we were able to play there a few years later, it was like, This is going to be fucking awesome!’ But we didn’t even get paid – we sold the place out and the guy gave us pizza as a payment (laughs). But we were just like, Cool, we’ve got pizza and beer – we’re going to be huge, man!’ ”

The worst show Avenged ever played…

We were in San Antonio, playing for a radio station. I remember we had a breakdown! We had sold a lot of records with City Of Evil at that point, and there was all these bands that we should have been playing after and we were already bitter about it – we were being total pricks. People were setting up our stage backwards and we had feedback the whole time, and I could see the crowd plugging their ears after, like, 30 seconds. So I just flipped out and threw my microphone down, Jimmy kicked over his drums and the guys threw their guitars and we got in the van and left. For, like, six years afterwards, that radio station would play 30 seconds of our songs and then turn it off (laughs).”

The first time Avenged Sevenfold ever headlined Download Festival…

We had a week off before the show [in 2014], so we had a whole week to think about all the press building it up as, Oh, if these guys fail then all the young bands have no chance!’ I remember giving myself enough time to be nervous, but as soon as we walked onstage it was all gone – I’m glad it went off without a hitch. It was the same feeling when we playing Rock In Rio [in 2013] to 250,000 people, after Slayer but before Iron Maiden – that was nerve-wracking. I remember it happening real quick. Sometimes you just need to take your time up there and just let it come to you, and it’s a better result!”

Posted on July 31st 2020, 12:00p.m.
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