AVENGED SEVENFOLD singer M. Shadows has once again defended the surprise release of the group's latest album, "The Stage", saying that he and his bandmates "were just looking for ways to stimulate" themselves.
The release of the disc, which was announced the night it went on sale twelve months ago, earned the lowest sales of an AVENGED SEVENFOLD album in eleven years. It sold seventy-six thousand copies in its first week, seventy-three thousand of which were physical.
"The Stage", AVENGED's debut for Capitol, sold less than half as many copies in its first week as the group's two previous efforts, 2010's "Nightmare" and 2013's "Hail To The King".
During an October 19 event at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, Shadows and his bandmates spoke about the decision to make the album available at midnight on October 27, 2016 with almost no promotion beforehand, save for the arrival of a new song one week earlier.
"We were just looking for ways to stimulate ourselves," M. Shadows said. "Honestly, putting out a record and doing the full build-up, and going on the typical tours and then doing all the same stuff was extremely daunting to us at the time. We knew we had a very quirky record — it was very different — but to us, we'd rather be disappointed than bored.
"I think when you become complacent and become bored with things, you look for new ideas, new avenues," he continued. "It's not like anyone's out there selling millions of records every week. It's kind of like a lost thing, or a lost art, to selling records, so to us, we just want to go straight to the fans.
"There's a bunch of fans that, this was probably a very exciting time for them. The record comes out of nowhere; it's just like, you wake up one morning, and the record's there. I would have loved that when I was a younger man. I would love that now.
"We're just experimenting, and we're going to continue to experiment with the way we release music," he added. "I think you can't really complain when a band's giving you — well, you can complain, but — a band's giving you free stuff on the streaming services. We're just giving out more and more content, just because we don't want to become complacent with ourselves. So, there's lots of ideas going on; we're trying to get it to work."
Asked if they ever think about "casual fans" when releasing a new album, M. Shadows said: "They're the last people we thought about when we put out 'The Stage'."
Guitarist Synyster Gates concurred, saying: "You can't really consider anyone, unfortunately. You really appreciate things, but the strong proof of concept is that we collectively kind of control the atmosphere, and it's done well for us. At a certain point that may end, and you hope you're riding their own coattails, but hopefully not — but for right now, you stick with what works, and what works is just being true to yourself. There's a ton of other dimensions where you are really, really good to your fans — like, the merch stuff, all that kind of stuff where you really engage and try to do something that's unique, that you can't get from any other band anywhere else, because we share that unique rapport that most bands don't have with their fans."
M. Shadows continued: "The music's ours. Think about 'City Of Evil' — when it came out, we weren't chasing anything. We were just doing what we wanted to do. We were being influenced by Norwegian metal, and all sorts of European stuff — the CHILDREN OF BODOMs of the world — and we were just trying to play faster and crazier, and then it just happens that, for some reason, 'TRL' picked it up, and it's on 'TRL' — like, what? You can't predict those things; you can't write for it, because if you write for it, you get what's played on [SiriusXM's] Octane all day, which is a bunch of songs that all sound like each other. It' s fine, but you're never going to break out of the mold that way… I just don't think you can predict what's going to be next. And sometimes you miss.
"Obviously on 'The Stage', it's a little over the casual fan's head," he added. "You can see it — you can see the fan that's just like, 'Ehh, none of the songs stick with me. There's not big-enough choruses.' But then there's a whole other side that's going, 'I'm so glad they did this. This is more intricate music, this is deeper. If the big choruses were there, it wouldn't really make sense.' That was our mindset going in. And you never know what we're going to do next time. I think that's what's fun about certain bands — you just never know what they're going to put out. Like THE BEATLES, man. I'm not comparing ourselves to THE BEATLES, but you listen to every BEATLES record, it's, like, 'What are they thinking?' And it's so cool."
AVENGED SEVENFOLD will release a "deluxe edition" of "The Stage" on December 15.
The band's 2018 North American arena headlining tour will kick off January 12 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville with special guests BREAKING BENJAMIN and BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE. The trek will be North America's introduction to the electrifying "Stage" spectacle that drew rave reviews in Europe.