Avenged Sevenfold are a band that have never failed to court controversy and have gained as many detractors as they have plaudits. Hugh Platt talks to the extravagantly named Johhny Christ to find out why.
“I’d much rather all those people were hating us than just being ‘oh, they’re okay I guess’,” spits Johnny Christ (pictured, second from left), bassist with Orange County hell-raisers Avenged Sevenfold. “I want people to either love us or hate us – if you’re in the middle then we’re doing something wrong.”
Since rising to prominence with 2005’s City of Evil, Avenged Sevenfold – completed by M. Shadows (vocals), Zacky Vengeance (guitar/vocals), The Rev (drums) and Synyster Gates (guitar) – haven’t so much split opinion as they’ve strapped opinion to two intercontinental missiles, and blasted it into separate hemispheres as two bloody and squealing chunks.
Depending on your point of view, they’re either feeding their fans riff-dripping bargain buckets of Guitar Hero glory, or they’re a gang of Californian chancers who got lucky rifling through the pockets of greats for cast-off guitar solos and have been chasing the fickle tail of fashion metal ever since.
Watch the previously banned video to ‘A Little Piece Of Heaven’ by Avenged Sevenfold
“Confidence,” is Christ’s explanation. “People might take our confidence in the wrong way, and think we’re a bunch of pompous asses. But we’re just confident in what we’ve worked our whole lives to do.”
That confidence has certainly paid off – the band has just blasted back into Europe for a raft of festivals and a support slot on the Iron Maiden tour. “When we heard that they were offering us a tour, and our only questions were ‘when?’ and ‘where?’” laughs Christ.
“A few years ago we got to witness what they do live – for the first time, for some of us,” he admits. “It was just awe-inspiring”. And what are Avenged Sevenfold going to do to try to match that Maiden live show? “Not drink as much?” he jokingly suggests.
Watch ‘Afterlife’ by Avenged Sevenfold
Avenged Sevenfold do have that reputation for off-stage carnage after all. Singer M. Shadows is as vocal off-stage as he is on, describing the rest of the bands on the 2005 Warped Tour as “not only anti-war, they’re anti-everything our country stands for”, to saying Dillinger Escape Plan “make shitty noises and try to pass it off as music.”
So have their tempers cooled off during the recording of last year’s self-titled Avenged Sevenfold album then? “We hear something from an interviewer that’s trying to get under our skin… whether or not the statements are true or not, we were just quick to jump back,” Christ says of past controversies.
So they’re not trying to be the new Mötley Crüe then? “No,” says Christ, stifling a laugh at the suggestion. “We’re just trying to be Avenged Sevenfold.”
Avenged Sevenfold support Iron Maiden at London Twickenham Stadium on 5 July 2008