Back when they were 17, they dreamed of headlining festivals and playing alongside Metallica.
Eighteen years later, Avenged Sevenfold are now friends with Metallica and in 2014 headlined Download Festival – two things lead singer Matt ‘M’ Shadows says were career highlights; and to this day remain ‘really surreal’.
The Californian rock giants play the Genting Arena in Birmingham on Friday, January 13, supported by heavy metal icons Disturbed. They first performed in the UK back in 2004.
“Ever since then, the UK has been a special place for us,” said Matt.
“There’s a reason we’re coming to the UK first on this next tour.”
Though he says that first tour – which saw the group play the O2 Academy in Birmingham – was ‘amazing’, he also describes it as ‘the most harsh ever’.
“We had a little Sprinter van, in which we would spent nine or 10 hour drives just staring at each other. Then we’d hop out and play a show,” he said. Despite the fact the band have performed alongside the likes of Iron Maiden and Stone Sour – and had conversations with Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler – Matt remains totally humble.
“I think success takes a lot of people who get along and have a vision. But it also relies on luck and the right things do have to happen at the right time. The location is important too. A lot of bands aren’t close to LA like we are. It can be a lot harder for bands in Oklahoma, say, or in the middle of Europe, to be discovered,” said Matt.
Though Matt may look like a hardened rocker, with his toned muscular figure and tattooed body, he came across as sweet, chatty and courteous and clearly very devoted to his two children; with whom he was having breakfast as we spoke.
“I’ve got a two year old and a four year old. The four year old comes with us to shows, but the two year old’s a maniac – he’s come out with us before, but he’s just nuts,” laughed Matt.
“The children both like music. The four year old runs around the house singing ‘f***ing nightmare’ and God Damn… I’m just like ‘of course’; he only likes the sweary songs.”
Though he is one of modern rock’s greatest live vocalists, Matt lost five notes from his range after having to undergo vocal surgery back in 2002.
“It’s only after 10 years of work following my operation that I’ve regained my full range,” he added. When asked who he would like to duet with, Matt’s answer was Elton John and David Bowie.
“It’s not very metal, but I love their style,” said Matt.
“It was terrible when Bowie died, but at the same time he left us Blackstar. The most incredible parting gift for the world. Part of life is dying. And he did it so gracefully, kept it quiet and passed away with his family.”
Looking ahead to the band’s Birmingham show, Matt said the band have come up with something ‘completely different’.
“This time we’ve worked on something using space and artificial intelligence. And we’re super excited because the UK is going to be the first place to experience it. We’ll be locked and loaded and ready for the show.”
By Kirsten RawlinsSubscribe to our Newsletter