Entrevista con Synyster Gates

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Back with a vengeance
Singer's health scare can't silence Avenged Sevenfold

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Journal Star

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The members of Avenged Sevenfold were barely out of high school when they recorded their debut album, 'Sounding the Seventh Trumpet,' in July 2001. And the Orange County, Calif., quintet has been producing consistently ever since, as shown by their steady stream of albums - 2003's 'Waking the Fallen,' followed by 2005's 'City of Evil' and a self-titled album in 2007.

But Avenged Sevenfold's busy touring schedule caught up with them earlier this fall when the band was forced to cancel a handful of tour dates because of lead singer M. Shadows' vocal problems.

After a short period of rest, however, the band - made up of Shadows, lead guitarist Synyster Gates, guitarist Zacky Vengeance, bassist Johnny Christ and drummer The Rev - has returned to knocking out the dates on their tour schedule, including a Tuesday concert at Bloomington's U.S. Cellular Coliseum, which also includes sets by Buckcherry, Shinedown and Saving Abel.

Ahead of the show, we caught up with Synyster Gates by telephone from his tour stop in Montana.

- Danielle Hatch


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• Q • Your dad is Guitar Guy, who recently came through the Peoria Civic Center as the opening act for comedian Jeff Dunham. I assume that means you grew up in a musical family.

• A • Yeah, absolutely. Before he was Guitar Guy, he was Brian Haner (laughs), and he used to play with a lot of crazy (people) like Tower of Power, a lot of '70s R&B bands like Rose Royce, a bunch of different people. So he was always gone, and when he was home he was playing guitar.

• Q • How old were you when you started playing?

• A • I don't know. I think I was maybe 9 or something like that, but didn't get serious until I was about 11.

• Q • And you were just about out of high school when you recorded your first album with Avenged Sevenfold. How has your life changed since those garage band days?

• A • It's very much the same. Well, actually, it's very much different, but it feels the same. I really pride myself that my band has not changed. We're still the same group of guys that goes home and has dinner together and gets drunk together and does the same stuff. When we bought houses, our nice, big houses, we still moved them close to Mom's house. Mentally, we're the same, it's just what we do for a living.

• Q • How do your first couple of albums differ from what you have out right now? I understand that for your current album, you incorporated elements that you liked from country music and even hip-hop.

• A • We just got way better. (Laughs). And we decided we didn't want to pigeonhole ourselves. If you regurgitate the same stuff ... you can't keep cloning something and expect it to be as good. So when you get to explore different types of music, the crazier, the better.

I think all of our personalities in the band are pretty, I don't know, maybe eccentric, in a way - just a little bit out there. So I really like everybody's take on different genres. When we do hip-hop, it's not going to sound like hip-hop, it's going to sound like a really screwed-up version of it. But I'm definitely in love with our approach to writing country and hip-hop, whatever it is.

• Q • Are you working on any new projects right now?

• A • We're just focusing on the tour. We do our best when we're just 110 percent focused on the task at hand. And right now we're just excited about getting back to the U.S. and focusing on these shows.

• Q • You had to postpone a few shows earlier this fall because M. Shadows had some vocal problems. Is he doing better now?

• A • Yeah, he's doing wonderfully. We were just traveling a lot; it was really tough on everybody. But you can prop (other band members) up with a stick if we're too hung over or we're missing a limb or something. But it's not the same with him; he has to be in really good health. He just got a little tired - we were doing 20-hour flights with three days in between all of them, so it was very, very tough on everybody. And it really affected him.

I've never heard the man not be able to talk. We actually flew out to do the gig knowing there were some underlying problems. He made it through the first show and was a bad (expletive) about it, but woke up the next morning and couldn't physically talk. So he pushed himself way too far and went home and he was really, really rough for a couple of days. And his vocal coach and his doctors and different people prescribed him four weeks of vocal rest, so he walked around with a chalkboard - couldn't talk and couldn't do anything - and he would write letters to us.

• Q • Anything you want to say about your upcoming show?

• A • Can't wait to see everybody; it'll be fun. And we hope everybody has a good time.

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