IN THE PIPELINE: Popular metal band bred in HB
By CHRIS EPTING
Joe and Barbara Sullivan proudly display a poster of their son.
Jim, "The Rev" Sullivan - drummer in Avenged Sevenfold.
On the back window of a vehicle parked on a well-kept street in a neighborhood near Central Library, there is a sticker for the band Avenged Sevenfold. While you’d be right in assuming that the vehicle belongs to a big fan, which fan might surprise you. It’s not one of the millions of high school or college kids who have helped make this innovative, intense metal band one of the hottest in the world right now. Rather, the vehicle belongs to Joe Sullivan, the drummer’s dad.
Joe and Barbara Sullivan, who have lived in the same comfortable Huntington Beach house since 1977, may not look like rock ’n’ roll parents. Spend some time with them, though, and you’ll realize how deceptive looks can be. Since their son Jim (a.k.a. “The Rev”) hit it big (literally and figuratively) with Avenged Sevenfold, they’ve become industry experts.
“When his teacher found out he’d been figuring out the parts on a little toy set, she was amazed,” says Barbara.
Supposedly, the band’s name refers to the book of “Genesis” in the Bible and the story of Cain and Abel, where Cain is punished to live in exile, alone and miserable. Anyone who relieved Cain of his misery by killing him would be “avenged in sevenfold,” or punished in a way that is seven times worse than Cain’s punishment. However, M. Shadows, the driving force and de facto band leader, has stated in interviews that the band is not “not really religious at all.”
After forming, they released the album “Sounding the Seventh Trumpet.” Their follow-up album, “Waking the Fallen,” broadened their fan base quickly, and critical acclaim was swift: Rolling Stone: “These guys excel at the complex, pummeling Eighties-metal moves that first came into circulation when they were in diapers.”
Blender: “Avenged Sevenfold transcended the headbanger heartland with 2005’s ‘Bat Country.’ Its mixture of campy goth and ’80s Sunset Strip debauchery was matched with a refreshing sound that fused florid guitar solos with frenzied nail-gun drumming, while M. Shadows shifted effortlessly between a snarl and a croon.”
Joe and Barbara have watched their son learn to live on his own, as a member of an up-and-coming band that would soon be touring the world.
Barbara scrapbooks many of her son’s musical moments and also collects much of the band’s memorabilia, including lunch boxes, watches and coasters. She also remembers what it was like when all three kids were home.
Mom’s favorite show to date? “A long time ago, right as they started catching on, up at the Ford Theater in Los Angeles. Jimmy still says that they weren’t that good yet, but watching the kids in the crowd sing along to every song — you knew something special was happening.” She pulls out the MTV “spaceman” statue that the band won as Best New Artist at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards as proof of how right she was.
“I look at him up there under the lights, and I think back to the little kid in the tub; that little boy hitting those toys together. It’s incredible to think about what he has done and where he’s been. But you know, it doesn’t just happen. He worked so hard — all these guys work so hard, and that’s that thing I think people should realize. They’re great because of the time they put in. How can you not be proud of that?”
For more on Huntington Beach’s own Avenged Sevenfold, visit www.avengedsevenfold.com.