AVENGED SEVENFOLD guitarist Zacky Vengeance recently spoke with KROCK's "Raincast" podcast. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the band having to cancel their American summer tour to due singer M. Shadows's vocal problems:
Zacky: "We were on a roll this summer. We were in Europe, playing the biggest festivals in the world, headlining, having a blast, just kicking butt every night. We were so excited. Towards the end of that tour, we could tell that Matt's voice was hurting a little bit. He was struggling, but he was in good spirits, doing his best to power through two-and-a-half-hour sets every night and traveling to different countries every single day. We were, like, 'We're going to go home for a week. Rest your voice, do what you've got to do, because we're going to be heading out in another week, back out on tour. America's going to be unbelievable, having PROPHETS OF RAGE opening up.' When we realized the severity of the problem, every one of us were in full panic mode. It started out having to cancel some shows up in Canada, which we were really sad about because those shows are so fun, and then having to play it day by day. He was going and seeing doctors — multiple doctors — people at UCLA Medical, then he'd drive down the road to all the top vocal doctors in the world. He was seeing them all day, every day, trying to do whatever he could to make it to the show. We did not want to have to cancel a show and then keep all of our fans in suspense and then cancel another one. We were really trying to salvage the tour and the shows, and all of our stress levels were through the roof. We were truly upset, but we knew we had to do what was best for the longevity of our fans and for our band. We took some time off, and all our fans were incredibly supportive — truly, remarkably supportive. Matt's feeling really, really great now — everything's gone fantastic; he's done everything he's supposed to do — and now we're putting this all behind us and [ready to] get back on the road."
On whether there was any upside to having to cancel the tour:
Zacky: "Being home unexpectedly this summer gave us a chance, a little chance, to get our feet planted in the ground and having to sit on the sidelines while you see other bands out on tour, it just makes you uneasy. We want to get back at it. We're rested. Matt's voice is coming back, getting back to 100 percent. It's time to get off the sidelines and get back into the game... We were conditioned and ready to do one of our biggest American summer tours ever. We were coming off of the Europe tour, just flying high — at a high point in our career, playing in front of more people than we've ever played in front of, doing it comfortably, getting along as good as we possibly can, just having fun. Every city, every night, was a new, fun adventure... It was devastating. There's no other way to put it. It's heartbreaking, because you work for 20 years, you work so hard and you've given so much of yourself, blood sweat and tears, to get where you are, and you never want to disappoint your fans, but thankfully, they were so compassionate and understanding about the situation. For us to be at a point in our career where our fans care more about us as a band and as people than themselves seeing one show, they weren't being selfish — they were being a part of the family. For that reason, you want to give them the best album that we've ever given our fans, and we want to give them the best concerts that they've ever seen. It keeps us ultimately more driven than any other bands out there, really."
On their long-running involvement with the "Call Of Duty" video game series:
Zacky: "They've been great. We're huge fans of that entire franchise – I think a lot of people on this planet are as well — so it's been an honor for us to be a part of it. It's always fun to put something out there to give our fans a little taste of something new."
On animated versions of the band's members appearing in "Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2":
Zacky: "Honestly, that's one of the highlights of our band. It's one of the biggest-selling video games in history, and to be immortalized in it — getting to be a bad-ass, getting to be a character in one of the coolest video games that's ever existed — that's just one of those moments that you cannot take lightly. Just talking about it, we all have these goofy grins on our face. We're really proud of that. Even if somebody has never heard of AVENGED SEVENFOLD, you can always bring [up] that one fact — 'You ever heard of 'Black Ops'? If you beat 'Black Ops 2', we're actually in the video game.' All of a sudden, you have instant credibility with about a million people who didn't know who you were to begin with."
On the band's camaraderie:
Zacky: "This is our baby. It's almost coming up on twenty years. Sometimes you want to put it in the back of your mind so you don't burn yourself out, but you always have ideas. You always want to reconnect with the guys in the band, [and] try and move forward with new, exciting events [and] opportunities to give your fans. Times keep changing, and as we keep moving forward, new opportunities present themselves — new ways that people are listening to music and discovering music, whether it's video games or who knows."
Late last month, AVENGED SEVENFOLD released a new version of the song "Mad Hatter" in response to fan complaints over the original version's mix. The track was recorded for the "Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4" video game and was first made available online September 17. The track is included on the band's new EP, "Black Reign", which was issued on September 21.
"Mad Hatter" was recorded in Los Angeles this past March and is the first original new song AVENGED SEVENFOLD has released since last year's "Dose", which originally surfaced in the Gameloft mobile game "Dungeon Hunter 5". It later appeared on last year's "deluxe edition" reissue of "The Stage".