Ahead of the release of their forthcoming studio album Hail To The King, Avenged Sevenfold‘s beloved bassist Johnny Christ caught up with Music Feeds to chat about the band’s new opus and the influences and processes that shaped the release.
Manning the phone from his hometown of Huntington Beach, California, Johnny Christ was in the middle of some well-earned down time, but still keeping the motor running before the new album cycle hits top gear. “We have a couple of things we’re rehearsing up here at the moment,” he explains, “then we have a couple of US shows coming up. Things are just moving along now, getting more press and getting more excited about the record, the whole thing, you know?”
By the sounds of it, the band is itching to get out on the road in support of the release. As Christ puts it, the new tracks are coming along “awesomely” in rehearsal. “Everyone’s really excited,” he says, “They feel really good. We had a bit of a different group-based record for this one and we can’t wait for everyone to hear it and play it live.”
Avenged Sevenfold – Hail To The King
Getting down to the nitty gritty, Christ recalled the sequence of events that led to the creation of Hail To The King. The album comes in the wake of 2010’s Nightmare, which saw the band recording and touring for the first time since the death of original drummer The Rev. The band are now in uncharted waters, and the release of Hail To The King will pull back the curtain on the band’s new take on the classic A7X sound.
“We started working on this one in September of 2012, so we took some time off after we were done touring for ‘Nightmare’. We were pretty emotionally and mentally drained after doing that record. We needed to take a bit of time to recharge the batteries; then, at the same time, we all started to realise the record we wanted to make. We were reading each others’ minds or something; we all came in and had the same idea for direction and started cranking out the tracks!”
“We wanted to stick with one theme [per song], whereas in the past we’d go between three or four themes in the same track. We wanted this one to sound like a more mature, classic-sounding record for the next evolution of Avenged Sevenfold, if you will.”
In order to achieve this, the band found themselves looking to places they never had in the past.
“It’s a different process for every record. We went back and looked at what makes a classic track classic. We wanted every riff to be strong enough so that we didn’t need to put a bunch of vocals or tools over the top of it…
“Writing wise, I was, believe it or not, listening to a lot of classical music… We were listening to some of the ways the great composers did transitions back in the day; see how it was done in a different sense, not a rock ‘n’ roll sense. It really helped with the songwriting. We were listening to classics and thought, ‘What makes these so good?’
“This is the first time we’ve done this. We’ve always written the way we write, you know, and not too much has changed… We wanted to accomplish something we’ve never really done before, and in order to do so we thought we really have to think outside of our writing box. And I think we accomplished what we set out to do. Whether people love it as much as we do is yet to be see but, yeah, as far as it goes we accomplished what we wanted to do. We hope everyone’s excited about it as we are.”
Avenged Sevenfold – Hail To The King animated series trailer
Avenged Sevenfold have become renowned for their showmanship, with even their stage names adding an element of mystery and theatricality. Come new album time, the band found themselves in the delicate position of maintaining that mystique while informing fans of their recent goings on; hence a series of cryptic hints began to appear.
“The whole idea is to show fans that we’re working on getting something to them, get them excited, get them ready for it and give them a little taste of the differences we’re doing on the record. We’re not giving too much away. We want people to experience the record as a whole. When you hear it, we don’t want you to have too much in mind from before, we like that mysterious factor but we also need to let the fans know in our own way that we’re working.
“The whole point of that to us is, really, we think about how we were growing up listening to bands, and what type of bands we were truly fans of and wanted to emulate as kids, these bands with mystique still to them. We as people like to “Just keep giving to them, keep giving, keep giving,” but we [also] like to stand back and rattle the cage a bit, and it’s really been an asset to us going about it that way. We’re just into making music and having a good time, man.”
Perhaps the best part of the band’s dedication to the fans is their commitment to their live shows, with dates starting to pop up left, right and centre for the band. Though nothing has been confirmed so far for Australia, Christ says that we won’t be waiting much longer. “We’ll be there definitely sometime in 2014,” says Christ. “Whether it’ll be a festival or headlining show, I can’t really say just yet – I don’t really have enough information but I can promise that we’ll be coming back.”
‘Hail To The King’ is out this Friday, 23rd August through Warner.
Avenged Sevenfold – #tease13