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Avenged Sevenfold Frontman M. Shadows Talks New 'Malaguena Salerosa' & Continuing to 'Evolve' Band's 'The Stage' Album

Jeff Forney
Avenged Sevenfold

Avenged Sevenfold set The Stage with a surprise release in October. Now they're continuing to change -- or, in the band's word, "evolve" -- the set. The new track "Malaguena Salerosa" -- being released Friday to streaming services and premiered exclusively below -- is the first track in the band's plan to expand the universe of The Stage to include more new recordings over the coming months.

"We love the idea of putting out music in a non-conventional way," frontman M. Shadows tells Billboard.  "We also love making albums, so this allowed us to do both. This was all put into motion when we made the original recording for The Stage, so it all feels cohesive; We put out The Stage and let it sink in for seven months, and now we can add to that piece of work. This way, throughout the cycle you'll be able to hear new music while going back to the original album."

"The idea of turning an album into a living piece of art and adding new installations is really intriguing," he continues. "It expands the journey."

Shadows says A7X was inspired by the way hip-hop and pop artists have taken to surprise and random releases of new material, sometimes with little or no notice, and sometimes simply releasing individual songs not related to any particular album or other project.

"We told all the kids we were going to evolve the record... It was just a matter of how," Shadows says. "Obviously it works in the (pop) mainstream a little better than it does in rock 'n' roll. You look at what Kendrick Lamar or Drake are doing, or any hip-hop or pop act. Their streaming numbers are through the roof. And you look at rock, and they're just not there. But we want to get new stuff out to people. We don't have the answers to all the big questions in the music industry, but we do have control of keeping ourselves artistically satisfied, and this just seemed fun to us." 

The Spanish language "Malaguena Salerosa," which is being released along with a behind-the-scenes video from the recording session that included two female horn players, is a Huapango-styled song from Mexico of uncertain authorship, and it's been recorded more than 200 times.

"It's always been one of our favorite songs," Shadows says. “It can be done so many ways, and it has a rich history in Mexico. I remember traveling to Mexico with friends and always hearing it and being blown away by the guitar work. It felt like we could make it our own just by the arrangement of the guitars." A7X originally intended to translate the song into English but changed its mind. "I felt (translating) it took away some of the romantic aspects," Shadows explains. "I worked very hard on making sure my Spanish was passable. I didn't want to be the one to screw up the song by sounding like the non -Spanish speaking guy that I am."

A7X has recorded six other songs which Shadows says "will roll out between two and four weeks apart. We'll look at how they're being received and released when we feel the time is right." One song is an original that didn't make it onto The Stage's final track list, while the rest are more cover songs. A7X is keeping the identity of the covers secret, but Shadows says they choices will be surprising.

"We always want to do covers, but we found it kind of boring to do covers of bands in our genre, and we were always asked to do those," Shadows says. "We said, 'What do we love?,' and everyone picked one song each and it came down to those are the songs we felt we wanted to cover." As for a physical compilation of the extra songs, Shadows says that he likes "the idea of this being a streaming only sort of release -- but I can see people wanting to buy the full thing when it's finished. It'll be up to the fans."  

The Stage, a concept album based on Artificial Intelligence, debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 last fall and topped the Top Hard Rock Albums, Top Rock Albums and Top Alternative Albums charts. A7X is currently on the road opening supporting Metallica. Meanwhile, A7X is plotting a headline tour, with dates and ticket sales expected to be announced in September.

"We're still looking at support acts and also splitting the tour up between winter and summer," Shadows says.  "We have a lot of places to hit and we're trying to plan it out in the right way.”