Avenged Sevenfold Frontman Reveals Why They Initially Refused to Open for Metallica, Explains Why They Ended Up Doing It Anyway

While patiently waiting to release their highly-anticipated new album in early June this year, Avenged Sevenfold frontman M. Shadows caught up with Audacy for a chat to discuss the band’s new material and a few other topics, including their initial refusal to open for Metallica back in 2017.

One of the things they touched upon was the band’s new song “Nobody” which came out in March 2023. Reflecting on the piece, the vocalist said:

“It’s very lyric-driven because it really is an existential crisis sort of thing that we all deal with, which is — death looming. It goes into a lot of mindfulness, almost Buddhist teaching — when death is always looming there are two ways you can go about it.”

“If you find life meaningless, then what purpose are you going to attach to your life to make it somewhat bearable?”

Avenged Sevenfold - Nobody (Official Video)

What made the song stand out is its very specific style with most of the fanbase reflecting on how different it sounded to their previous material. Additionally, the song sounds very tense and Shadows even confirms that by adding that they deliberately wanted to achieve that. He added:

“But, to talk about that, you need the music to have tension, and you need the music to almost feel uncomfortable. That’s why the song was really driven around this… ‘Well, why are you not going back to the chorus here?'”

“Because we’re trying to make it feel uneasy. The things we’re talking about feel uneasy; they don’t feel pleasurable or release-driven – until we want you to get there. I think there’s a method to the madness, but it takes a second to get there.”

“It’s not three-and-a-half minutes of ‘verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus’. It’s just different.”

Oh Sh*t. I Was NOT Expecting This From Avenged Sevenfold.

During the chat, M. Shadows also recalled the band getting an offer to open for Metallica back in 2017. Although the band eventually did agree to that, they were initially against the idea. He explains:

“Well, that was definitely a little more uncomfortable, because you’re not in your setting and you’re in the daylight and you don’t have your toys with you and you’re playing a quick set. And you’re the opening band. So it’s a different thing. Because when you’re headlining, everybody’s in the palm of your hand before it even happens.

“When you’re opening for Metallica and the place is sort of like slowly filling up, half the venue’s full, you’re in the daylight getting hit by the sun, so you almost have to go to war.

Avenged Sevenfold - Full Show, Live at M&T Bank Stadium, on 5/10/17 Opening for Metallica

“You might have some people in the pit that are into this, but there’s a lot of skeptical arms crossed, like, ‘I don’t like these new bands. I don’t want anything to do with this. I’m waiting for the real metal gods to show up.’ And so it’s really a lot more feeling like you’re going to war.”

When asked how the conversation with Lars Ulrich went, he explained that the band was so used to headlining and that going on the stage before Metallica is a whole different challenge on its own and that, ultimately, it won’t do the band any good. Shadows replied:

We have only headlined for so long. And one of the things that we heard early in our career, and one thing we respected immensely about certain bands, is if you headline, people think of you as a headliner, and if you go and open for people constantly, they’ll always think of you as second fiddle.

Avenged Sevenfold Live (Remastered 1080p HD)

“So the idea of opening and taking all the toys away, everything everyone had ever seen — my question to [Lars Ulrich] was, ‘I don’t think this is the right look for new people getting into Avenged Sevenfold. This isn’t where we’re at.’

On the other hand, refusing such an offer wouldn’t be the best idea. Not only would Metallica find another band (probably even at a lower cost), but one would miss out on an opportunity to expand their audience. The singer continued:

“But to a lot of mainstream people, it was, ‘Oh, you’re the band that opened for Metallica,’ which put us on a higher pedestal, which was weird to me. And so the conversation just went, ‘We’re not gonna do that.’ Then they would call [our agent] and offer more money, and we were, like, ‘We’re not gonna do that.’

Avenged sevenfold afterlife live at GRASPOP 2021

“Then it eventually became, like, ‘Okay, we’re gonna do that because we’d be idiots not to.’ But I still walked away from that tour extremely grateful but extremely, I think, right about taking that tour. It did put us in that weird position of, ‘You’re second fiddle to this.'”

Be that as it may, the hype surrounding the band’s new album is still going strong. And it seems that everyone is talking about how different the new song “Nobody” sounds. In a podcast appearance last month, Avenged Sevenfold guitarist Synyster Gates said of it:

“For me, it checked all the boxes. It’s a huge massive-sounding song. It kind of epitomizes… Maybe not in the exact tone and texture, but it epitomizes the new evolution of us. But it also bridges the big rock ‘n’ roll arena to stadium vibe.”

Avenged Sevenfold - Live In The LBC (AI Upscaled to 1080p 48fps)

“That groove — it’s a timeless groove from [Led] Zeppelin to AC/DC to Metallica. And to kind of reinvent that groove, we felt was like pretty massive. It definitely intrigued us. From progressive types of guys, thrashier types of guys, or even like artsy avant-garde things like myself, it still satisfied those boxes.”

He also added:

“I also feel like the chorus is hooky. And, to be honest, it was always kind of going to be the single but it got more cemented as Matt’s [M. Shadows] vocal approach kind of evolved.”

NEW!! Synyster Gates live Solo 2018 🎸🎸🎸🎸🎸🎸

“Because initially, we had the riff and I thought… [sings the main melody] And I hate writing melodies that fucking follow guitar riffs. It’s like a pet peeve of mine. But I just thought that it was baked in, I just thought it had that hookiness. But I didn’t think that Matt could sing that over and over. “

“So I thought maybe we’d try to redo… You know, make it right for a really shitty take of ‘Unbound (The Wild Ride)’ [from the 2007 self-titled album] where we end with kids singing.”

“Maybe if we tried to redo that Jay-Z ‘Hard Knock Life,’ let’s just crush it, let’s get the right kids on it, have this sort of group vocal that’s like Jay-Z ‘Hard Knock Life’ meets ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ [by Pink Floyd] or something like that.”

“And as he started singing that thing and writing lyrics and doing all that stuff, he came up with this lyric that… After so many songs, the lyrics were finished, I thought, as weird and crazy and unapologetic as the rest of the stuff was, I was a little taken aback at ‘I’m a God.’ It’s like ‘Damn, dude, that’s fucking crazy.’”

Photos: DimzQuitz (M. Shadows), Ralph Arvesen (Lars Ulrich 2017)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.