Avenged Sevenfold’s Syn Gates Names Band’s Best Song, Explains What He Learned From The Beatles

Recently, Avenged Sevenfold guitarist Brian Haner Jr., popularly known as Synyster Gates, visited 93X Radio to discuss his musicianship and work. Among other things, he was asked about evolving as a musician and how it affects the band’s music. He replied (transcript via Killer Guitar Rigs):

“You’ve got to constantly evolve. If I’m trying to write ‘Bat Country’ again, or if I’m trying to write ‘Unholy Confessions’ again, I’ve failed before I’ve even started. That’s not the mindset. So you got to switch things up.”

“And our catalog, I think, is proof of that. You have a song like ‘Unholy Confessions,’ you also have a song like ‘A Little Piece of Heaven’ that’s a fan favorite, that has hardly any guitar in it, It’s just complete devotion to our brother’s [late drummer Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan] unbelievable and unique imagination.”

“And that’s, to me, the most important thing. That’s probably our best song. And it’s very, very little guitar work. So to me, it’s songwriting first and then connecting with your fan base.”

When further asked about inspiration, Gates replied:

“When I was 30, I picked up a gypsy jazz guitar for the first time and I didn’t put it down. And I had people around me that’s that were like, ‘Well, why don’t you put that much time into electric guitar?’ And I was like, ‘Well, this is going to inform my electric guitar how to play.'”

Synyster Gates plays some gypsy jazz and breaks a string! - 04.21.2018

“And I was somewhat right. And they were right as well. And so, four years after that, when I was 34, I went fucking berserk and listened to and downloaded, absorbed, just consumed massive amounts of guitar nerd content.”

“And I did that for a few years. I had a guitar in hand even when I was on the road… A guitar in hand from the minute I woke up, until I went on show, and/or went to bed. I had it for fucking years.”

“That’s why I created my school, subsequent to that because I went down gnarly rabbit holes online just trying to get my hands on every piece of technique, every piece of theory, every piece of songwriting and stuff… It was all very much from songwriting, always very important to me.”

Synyster Gates - Shepherd of Fire Solo

“Like what were the Beatles doing? And why is their harmony so complex, but the sea is so calm above? Maybe it’s bad analogy, but you know what I mean.”

Discussing The Beatles, he also added:

“What’s happening underneath that is so fucking crazy and complex, I just needed to understand that and then understand the complex over the complex, whether it’s fucking Stravinsky or Penderecki or fucking Chopin, wherever it might be. I went fucking nuts.”

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

“And I didn’t stop playing guitar for three years. And since then, I check in… It’s not like I can play all this stuff. I’m not saying I’m technically as good as so and so and so, or I know this, like so and so and so. But when I check in, I don’t see anything that I’m going like, ‘Oh, I’m missing out on this brand-new piece of technical wizardry.’ I’m not seeing that.”

“It could change. But I’m really into tone and textures and songwriting and that’s where I’ve really spent most of my time studying greats like, like Kanye, The Beatles, Elton John, even old school [Dr.] Dre stuff that actually has guitars in there and communicates well to a guitar player because it’s fucking guitar.”

As of this moment, Avenged Sevenfold are preparing the release of their new album. However, there aren’t any details so far about when exactly will it see the light of day. But what we do know is that it features an entire orchestra, as revealed by drummer Brooks Wackerman about a year ago.

Avenged Sevenfold - Live From Hollywood

Discussing the matter, Syn also explained how the band thinks of every detail and how it all revolves around songwriting and arranging. Sure, guitar technical skills are fun and impressive and he’s known for being one of the “shreddier” players. But for now, he’s focused more on the writing side of things. Syn continued:

“We arrange everything as a band. We write everything as a band. And more so in this day and age than ever before. So everything from songwriting to harmonic evolutions and crazy deep harmony, while we’re singing lullabies over it to actually arranging 72-piece orchestras and different things like that ourselves writing every note for every single instrument, or every inflection for every single instrument.”

“All that stuff is very, very important to me and to our band. And that’s what takes up a lot of my time now. It’s not actually going ‘Wow, that crazy two-handed tapping thing is something I got to fucking spend a year on.'”

Synyster Gates Surprises a Fan with a Signed Guitar

“And maybe that’ll change. Maybe I’ll see some great reinvention of the guitar and I’ll go back to work as a technician. But right now, I only care about writing and arranging the most unique music possible.”

Although there’s still no exact date when the record will be out, the band did mention that we’ll see it sometime during 2023. This will mark the band’s first record after 2016’s “The Stage,” making this about full seven years between the two releases.

The news “leaked” through some merch bundles that they’ve been sending to fans last year. There was a card that simply read “2023” and it featured an hourglass and the band’s name, along with a few other details.

One of the fans posted about it on Twitter last November and Avenged Sevenfold vocalist M. Shadows replied with a somewhat cryptic message, deliberately avoiding any direct answers. Nonetheless, it was obvious what they were announcing.

Photos: DimzQuitz (Synyster Gates), Public domain

  • 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 and brands like Sam Ash.