Avenged Sevenfold

Photos: Ashley Osbourn Words: Marc Burrows

After two decades, bands are supposed to shut up and play the hits–and hate each other. Yet Avenged Sevenfold are best friends making the boldest music of their career. Lead singer M. Shadows and bassist Johnny Christ tell us how life really can be a dream. “I was kind of a snotty kid. I loved bands when they were unheard of and kind of more underground,” says M. Shadows, lead singer of Avenged Sevenfold since 1999. He’s standing in the present, looking back at the start of his career, tiny at the wrong end of the telescope. Way, way back. In the last century. Never mind Spotify, this was a time before iPods. Another century. Another universe. Another M. Shadows.

“When bands got really popular, I was the first to call them a ‘sell-out’,” he says. “I remember really being into Green Day and The Offspring, and then, as soon as they got massive, I hated Green Day and The Offspring. Just typical kid stuff,” he sighs, “where you don’t understand.”

Which means, of course, M. Shadows, the snotty teenage punk from Huntington Beach, California,would probably hate M. Shadows, aka Matt Sanders,the comfortable, forty-something father of two and lead singer of a world-conquering, multi-Billboard number-one-having, super ambitious, super popular, major label metal band. Particularly if he heard Life Is but a Dream…the band’s eighth record, a gonzo art piece about absurdism and existentialism released after a six-year hiatus. Or The Stage, its pre-pandemic predecessor, a concept album about AI and simulation theory, with its 15-minute, mostly instrumental progtastic closing track. “We were punk rock kids,” he says. “Our music was influenced by the local scene we were part of. I think there are a lot of things that play into music you’re making when you’re a kid you’re making stuff that resembles the kind of shows you’re going to, and the sort of scene that’s happening. And we were punk rock kids or hardcore kids or whatever and we were going to local shows.”


In truth, rather than hating it, M. Shadows-the-old-er reckons M. Shadows-the-younger would actually be kind of impressed with the type of music that was waiting for him two decades into his future. “I was listening to really different bands back then – [utterly batshit Louisiana band] The Residents, [Mike Patton’s weirdo side project] Mr. Bungle, and [famously out-there art-pop duo] Sparks and really different music but that just seemed outside of the realm of what we could ever make ourselves. If you were to tell me that this was us …”

Continued in the print issue of Marvin. Click HERE to get your copy