Avenged Sevenfold's Zacky Vengeance Talks 'Waking the Fallen' Reissue

Clay Patrick McBride

Avenged Sevenfold

''Waking the Fallen' truly encompasses everything that Avenged Sevenfold was at that time,' he tells Billboard.

Avenged Sevenfold's Zacky Vengeance promises, with a laugh, that it wasn't bad math that led to Waking the Fallen: Resurrected, a deluxe reissue of the group's breakthrough 2003 sophomore album, coming out 11 years later rather than in time for its 10th anniversary.

"To be honest, it was one of those things where it was most important that we had the right quality item to give to our fans," the guitarist tells Billboard about the two-CD/DVD set, which comes out Aug. 26. "We were tracking down footage, and it's a difficult task because we've been on tour nonstop. But between me and Matt (Sanders, aka M. Shadows), our singer digging deep into everything we have, getting on the phone with my family members, scouring the attic of my parents' house and looking at all this stuff, we really made it special. It just took a little bit of time. We were rushing to get it out on the anniversary, but the quality was more important."

Avenged Sevenfold: The Billboard Cover Story

Waking the Fallen: Resurrected fleshes out the original 12-track album with the previously unreleased title track and an alternate version of "Second Heartbeat," as well as four demos and seven live tracks. The DVD includes a documentary, live footage and two versions of the music video for the album's hit "Unholy Confessions."

"Waking the Fallen truly encompasses everything that Avenged Sevenfold was at that time," notes Vengeance. "It was us being fearless, us showing our roots in heavy metal, punk, rock 'n' roll and not being afraid to try everything under the sun when it comes to writing music. We had a real producer (Andrew Murdock). We wanted to take it to a different level rather than keep it in the garage. We really tried to make the album sound good. We tried to learn how to play our instruments better. We wanted to be professional. We learned that bands learn how to play in time and how to sing in key, and we had to work our ass off."

It was also A7X's first release with lead guitarist Synyster Gates, and Vengeance does remember locking horns with Murdock over his role in the group. "Me and him f---in' nearly hated each other, 'cause I'm hard-headed and he was hard-headed," Vengeance recalls. "I think he even tried to get me kicked out of the band at that point -- the band I'd f---in' started -- 'cause producers could be f---in' retards."

Mostly, Vengeance says he and his bandmates feel that Waking the Fallen: Resurrected depicts A7X as a little band that could -- and eventually did -- become a big, platinum concern whose last two albums debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. "Even when we were at that point when we had very few fans, we never felt like a small band. We always felt like we had a big purpose," says Vengeance. "When we wrote Waking the Fallen, it was important. Listening back to it now, it's really not the best-produced album, but at the time, we were involved in every aspect of it and we were so proud of it."

A7X is currently on the road with the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival until Aug. 10 and having a ball. "We haven't been on an American festival, a true summer festival, since Ozzfest," Vengeance says. "It's great to see all the bands out. It's like a traveling circus, being out in the sunshine, going. There's something happening all day, every day. At any point of the day, you're surrounded by friends, other bands. You can go check out other bands. Any time you get this many people stuck in buses and vendors and traveling around, you're gonna hear some funny stories. It's never a dull moment." A7X is planning "a real quick trip to Japan" after Mayhem and then plans to come off the road in order to start working on a follow-up to 2013's Hail to the King.

"I think once we get home, the ideas are going to start brewing," Vengeance predicts. "I know Syn's been writing a ton purely for fun, trying different styles, recording backstage, keeping himself busy. I've been thinking of all sorts of ideas, listening to tons of different music to get inspiration -- as have all of us. And being on tour, I'm so inspired. Seeing bands like Body Count with Ice-T out there, they're so old-school and riff-based and over the top and slightly offensive and it's f---in' awesome. So there's tons of inspiration that I know we'll be drawing from."