What are bands like Avenged Sevenfold?
About five who set out to become metalheads
It's interesting to see how musical trends are playing out in the US and England. In both regions bands that are still relatively unknown on the European mainland are often at the center of public events. One such case are AVENGED SEVENFOLD, which have long been playing in 10,000 halls in the USA and only appear in slightly smaller establishments in Great Britain. In both countries there is massive hype about the band from California, but I still love the sound of the quintet. Your 2005 album "City Of Evil" seems to me like the almost perfect synthesis of slutty rock à la GUNS'N'ROSES, METALLICA-heavy songs and energetic Caly-Punk. In addition, the band has earned its fame in my eyes, because with "Sounding The Seventh Trumpet" and especially "Waking The Fallen" AVENGED SEVENFOLD have already released very convincing albums before "City Of Evil". In addition, there were countless tours the band played before they became a media dominating band. Fortunately, there was the opportunity to speak to AVENGED SEVENFOLD bassist Johnny Christ. Nice aspects of the interview were that he was a laid-back, easy-going guy who didn't show any rock star flair. However, the unpleasant aspect was that he expressed a hardly satisfactory opinion on a war that was to be rejected in any case and did not give himself the opportunity to continue the conversation because the next interview was due for him.
After you have become an enormously well-known band in the USA with "City Of Evil", how did your European tour, which you completed in March, go?
You have to differentiate between mainland Europe and Great Britain, because we are as well known there as in the USA, so we play in big clubs and concert halls. On the mainland we played in small clubs and the shows were a bit, if not much better than our first mainland dates in 2005. We still have to build a fan base here. And I think it will gradually emerge. Still, it is a mixed feeling to play in these small clubs.
Don't get me wrong, we don't dislike playing in small clubs. These intimate concerts are cool because we can build a family atmosphere between us and our fans every evening. Nonetheless, we felt like we were in the States years ago when it came to building AVENGED SEVENFOLD and moving from one small club to the next. That feeling of being set back a few years was weird but not negative. The mixture of cool club concerts and that feeling, that's what I meant.
One aspect that I particularly like about "City Of Evil" is that almost all of the songs are exciting in the sense that the sequence of the song parts is surprising. For example, you integrate a solo or a mid-tempo part in places where you don't expect it.
Since many of our songs are six to seven minutes long, it would be fatal to play a repetitive sequence of parts. That would make a song incredibly boring. That's why we've always tried to make surprising changes between the parts so that the listeners enjoy the pieces and, above all, are not bored.
A second thing I like about "City Of Evil" is your almost shameless mix of metal, cheesy rock and punk rock elements. Which do you prefer to listen to, metal or punk rock?
Hard to say, I come from metal and as a teenager I was very much influenced by METALLICA and GUNS'N'ROSES before I got into punk rock. Basically, I like to listen to both, although I have a particular preference for METALLICA because I think they are timeless. As a band we always wanted to unite both sides - punk rock and metal - musically. "City Of Evil" now carries more than elements from METALLICA and GUNS'N'ROSES and not as many punk rock elements as our previous albums "Sounding The Seventh Trumpet" and "Waking The Fallen". The fact that METALLICA and GUNS'N'ROSES influences are strongly present on the album, but still mix with certain punk rock tracks, results in the mixture you mentioned. In my opinion you shouldn't be so shy about mixing metal with punk rock. Because both are styles of music that can be combined.
In some places, even though I like your metal-punk-rock mix, I have the feeling that it seems a bit overdone, too cheesy.
Haha i know what you mean It is perfectly clear to me that the mixture of clichéd metal solos with punk rock seems exaggerated in some places. And hey, that's exactly what we wanted to keep on the album because we as a band can laugh at them. Take the chorus from "Beast and the harlot", we break up a hard verse into an over-melodic, almost sweet-looking chorus. Of course, we take such songs ourselves with a wink.
Does irony play a role on "City Of Evil"?
Irony is the wrong word. Parts like the one I just described are supposed to show that we're having fun, but the songs shouldn't come across as ironic. We took our nine months to write and record the album. Because we dealt intensively with the pieces, we went into more and more detail when writing the songs. We kept adding parts that made us laugh ourselves. On the one hand to entertain us, on the other hand to entertain the fans. In my eyes this is not ironic, we are just not always very serious.
There is an America flag on one of your t-shirts, why?
The fact that we integrated the American flag into the t-shirt design has no political background. In addition to the flag, our band name is of course also printed on the t-shirt and both together symbolize that we have realized our personal American dream with AVENGED SEVENFOLD. This band has become more famous than we ever dared dream, and our ideal that we would all play in a rock band one day has finally come true through years of hard work. The flag is therefore not a pro-Bush statement or anything like that.
What is your opinion on Bush and his politics?
I'm not a Republican or a Liberal. And I will not take sides here to defend or attack the war in Iraq. Many friends of ours are or were stationed in Iraq. What they are going through there is tough and I think that regardless of whether you are for or against this war, you should appreciate that these people are giving their lives there. That's why we gave them the song "M.I.A." Dedicated to "City Of Evil". In my opinion, they cannot be blamed for this war.
Why not take a concrete position? Are you for or against the Iraq war?
I dont know. Many things speak against, some for, this war.
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