Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows Talks Touring With Prophets of Rage, Drawing an Angry Trump Tweet & More

Avenged Sevenfold
Jeff Forney

Avenged Sevenfold

Avenged Sevenfold's upcoming End of the World Tour this summer -- with Prophets of Rage, Three Days Grace and, on some dates, Ho99o9 -- is a case of "it's about time" for most of the heavy rockers' North American fans.

A7X hit the road on these shores last summer but in a limited fashion, playing stadium dates with Metallica that put a more full-scale trek on hold. So it's no surprise when frontman M. Shadows says this tour, which kicks off July 22 in Mansfield, Mass., for 22 dates, will be "a relief...after the hammering we got from the fans online about 'Where's our tour?! You promised us our tour!'"

With the outing and itinerary just announced this week, Shadows (nee Matt Sanders) chatted with Billboard about what we can expect -- at least before the world ends.

The prospect of doing your own full-length show back in North America must be nice.

It's gonna be great. We get to do the full shebang, and to be able to bring Prophets of Rage and do this festival sort of atmosphere that we're trying to put out there...I'm just excited to finally come back and get to put on our show and finally make some things right, especially when we had some difficulties in certain markets on the Metallica tour, whether it was weather or just pure heat where people are just dying out there or just the shortened set list. I'm just ready to put it all out there.

The staging of your European shows to promote The Stage album was pretty spectacular. Is that what we're going to get here?

It's going to be like that, but I like to think we've kind of upgraded it. We had a cube that was moving over the audience in the arenas over there, and obviously you can’t do that in amphitheaters. So we're doing an inverted cube that gives a different dimension, a kind of warp speed feeling with some of the content we have, and we're adding a bunch of inflatables. We're just gonna bring everything and try to put together a cohesive rock show.

And the set list?

I think it's going to be a nice even mix, I think four or five songs from The Stage, probably an 18-song set list with a nice blend of hits and new stuff. We might throw in [Pink Floyd's] "Wish You Were Here" some nights, and we're going to have some rotators from older stuff like Waking The Fallen, City Of Evil, some older things that people have wanted to hear. I think there's room for a couple of things that are a little deeper in terms of getting the fans excited, instead of the same songs.

Have you pitched Neil deGrasse Tyson about coming out to do his part on "Exist"?

Dude, I have a feeling Neil would charge more to do his part than we'd charge for a show, so I don't think he's gonna come on a tour bus with us and do his part live, but it would be pretty funny. If we ever did a cool thing at the Hollywood Bowl or something for one night or did some sort of special show, I would definitely hit him up and see if he would be down to do it.

Prophets of Rage is an interesting tour partner for you.

We just met those guys for the first time, and they seem like the best dudes. And their energy is pretty unbelievable. I'm excited about getting on the road with them. I'm excited about the two audiences coming together, 'cause I feel like there's some crossover but we don't have the same audience, so there's gonna be two different worlds and generations of fans coming together. Part of the agreement of this tour is we're not going to make a cookie-cutter tour that veers too far their way or our way. They don't want to go out with "radio rock" bands or certain types of rock bands, and we don't want to go with something too far left-field, where are fans are going to be completely turned off. We're just trying to put together something very eclectic, where people can go there and say, "Hey, I heard something I'm not necessarily comfortable with" or "I heard something that's gonna open my mind a bit." I think it's going to be a cool environment.

Are you on the same page with Prophets politically?

I think they're a little further left than I am. I like to stay down the middle on a lot of things, but I definitely lean in their direction. I think when we were younger we didn't, and a lot of that was just us being antagonistic towards the political bands on Warped Tour. I find myself as I get older agreeing with a lot of their stances, but sometimes they go a little farther than I would. But I am a true believer that everybody should speak their mind in this country.

And who knows, maybe you can get the president to tweet about the tour?

Oh my god, how good would that be? That'd be amazing. The best press you can get these days is when you piss off the president and he gives you a nice little tweet condemning your tour.

Any talk about some onstage collaborations during the tour?

It's a great idea. I think Tom [Morello] and our guitar players are gonna get along just fine, so I wouldn't be surprised if we do something, and it would be a total honor to get up there with them or have them come up with us, maybe trade off every couple of nights. But we haven’t even thought about it yet. I think we're all feeling each other out right now, and so far it feels good.

Will you document the tour? Record or film it?

We record everything, but in terms of getting a real crew out there, it would be smart for us to do it 'cause, y'know, December will come around and, "Oh, I wish we had some content to put out...We should've recorded that big tour we just did." I'm sure we'll bring up the idea and then we’ll have to look at what we want to do. It's just so hard to justify, though. You have YouTube and it sounds shitty, but a lot of people just don't care. They'd rather go look at it for free like that. I would love to do something with Netflix, but they don’t do that much stuff with music right now unless it's documentary-style stuff. But I think that's the way to go. That's where people are watching their content.

You mentioned the Warped Tour earlier. There have been rumors you guys might drop in on it this year since it's the last one.

Man, we're bummed 'cause when it's going to be in L.A. we're gonna be in Europe. We really wanted to play. Kevin Lyman gave us a chance when no one else would, when we were a beginning band, and we have so much respect for him. When we found out it was going to be the last year we really wanted to play it, so I'm extremely bummed we're not gonna be around for it.

Any thoughts yet about what the next A7X project is going to be?

We have a couple things we're looking at, but right now we're still dealing with the label situation, the lawsuit [with Warner Bros.], so we've still got a couple of things we have to clean up before we move on to the next record. For us right now we're going to do this tour and by the time we get to September we're either going to South America or we're not, and if we don't then we'll start thinking about the next record.