AVENGED SEVENFOLD guitarists Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates were interviewed for the September 2011 issue of Guitar World magazine (see cover below). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Guitar World: Do you believe it was Mike's [Portnoy, ex-DREAM THEATER drummer who played on AVENGED SEVENFOLD's 2010 album "Nightmare" and toured with the band for the latter part of last year] intention to stay on with [AVENGED SEVENFOLD]?
Gates: I think he definitely wanted to. And it would have been really nice. He's a great guy and a great drummer, and we consider him family. But it's just He's "Mike Portnoy." He's established. He makes a lot of money. More than we can really dish out, especially at this point. And my whole thing after Jimmy ["The Rev" Sullivan, AVENGED SEVENFOLD's late drummer] died was if we were ever going to do this, I wanted to give a young kid a chance. That would have been a dream come true, to breathe some new life from a death. And so this feels right. And unfortunately, Mike made some decisions that I don't know if he's super happy with at this point, and that weren't very conducive to his well being.
Vengeance: When Mike first came on for "Nightmare", he was sincerely genuine in the fact that he was there to help us fulfill Jimmy's legacy, and for that we'll always be so thankful and appreciative. And, truthfully, he was really the only man for the job. But I think he was also searching for new things to do, music-wise. I know for a fact he was starting to lose the romance of DREAM THEATER a little bit. That had been going on from before he knew us. And then "Nightmare" came out and it was a Number One album, and the tours were huge, and I think it was exciting for him. I think his intentions were pretty clear that he wanted to be a member of AVENGED SEVENFOLD. But we weren't ready to have a new member. And truthfully, he's not the right fit anyway. When he went and quit DREAM THEATER, that was something we had no say in, because he's a grown man and he makes his own decisions. But we had urged against it, fully knowing we weren't ready to commit to him. But it's his life.
Guitar World: He enjoyed being a part of AVENGED SEVENFOLD.
Gates: Yeah, we had a blast. I think he liked the young energy. Mike's an outgoing, rock-star type of dude, so he was definitely enjoying the party. Because it's a different atmosphere than DREAM THEATER. When those guys play, it's a very intense thing that requires a lot of concentration. It's a different vibe with us.
Guitar World: How did [the current AVENGED SEVENFOLD touring drummer] Arin [Ilejay] come into the picture?
Vengeance: We decided to take one day to try out some different guys, knowing there was a chance that things wouldn't continue with Mike. We weren't willing to do open auditions or any of that shit, but what we did was we asked our producer, Mike Elizondo, if he knew of anyone young and up and coming, and we asked Jimmy's drum tech, Mike Fasano, if he knew anyone. Then we also auditioned one kid we saw on YouTube playing some of our songs who we thought was awesome. Arin was Mike Fasano's guy, and he was the second guy we tried out. He came in and was probably the skinniest, most nervous kid I've ever seen. We'd never heard of any of the bands he had played in, knew nothing about him, but he sat down and just started wailing. It reminded me of John Bonham or something. We all had these huge smiles on our faces.
Gates: Arin just absolutely fucking nailed it. He came in and played so fucking tight and knew Jimmy's parts perfectly, all the little nuances and grooves and techniques. It was amazing.
Guitar World's entire interview with Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates can be found in the magazine's September 2011 issue, available on newsstands now.