“We’ve always, always been fearless.”
Guitarist Zacky Vengeance joined Loudwire Nights on Friday, June 2, to dive into Avenged Sevenfold’s new album, Life Is But a Dream, and the conversation revolved around that one idea: Fearlessness.
As Vengeance explained to host Chuck Armstrong, “We have families, we have mouths to feed, we have bills to pay. I feel like a lot of bands go, ‘Okay, let’s make a record that’s going to make everyone happy. Let’s get back on the road, the pandemic’s over, we gotta jump back out there and cash our paycheck.’ We were like, no. We gotta be willing to lose everything that we’ve built in the last 20-something years, we have to be willing to risk all of it for the excitement that brought us to do this in the first place.”
That excitement in the early days, as Vengeance recalled, was getting tattoos on his forearms when he was 17 years old and jumping into a van knowing that he was never going to get a normal job. Decades later, he’s still taking those risks.
“Take the risk at 40 years old. Write the album that you want to do, put the art out the way you want to do it. Be willing to lose your house. Be willing to start over to do something you love. And if you’re not willing to do that, you’re not going to be able to create something that’s true to yourself and true in your heart. You’re just running through the motions.”
Avenged Sevenfold’s Comfort Zone
When making any Avenged Sevenfold album, Vengeance told Chuck that the band has always treated each record like it was the most important thing in the world—which means they constantly fight against outside pressures and expectations from record labels and fans.
“We’ve done that on every album,” he said. “You have to fight harder to stay out of your comfort zone.”
There’s no question that Life Is But a Dream exists outside of the band’s comfort zone, which is a good thing as far as Vengeance was concerned because that’s exactly what they were trying to do.
“It’s shocking—some people that don’t get it today will come around later on, some people maybe will never come around,” Vengeance said about the new record. “It doesn’t matter. It’s what we wanted to do … I’m so proud of my band because we’ve always had the same mentality to be the band that put out the Warmness on the Soul EP as 17-year-olds. Me and [M. Shadows] put a piano ballad on top of a black metal punk rock screamy album and at that moment, everyone in the Orange County hardcore scene hated us and didn’t understand it and wanted to fight us because we were obliterating the sanctity of hardcore. We showed up wearing makeup to the concerts, ready to get into a fight to do what we love to do.”
Hearing that, Chuck asked Vengeance if, during the creation of Life Is But a Dream, he ever heard an idea for the album that felt like it was actually too hard to embrace—too far outside of their comfort zone.
Vengeance was confident in saying that even though there were shocking ideas, everything was on the table.
“There were moments that I said, ‘Wow, I don’t know if we can get away with that,’ and instantly that’s what made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up,” he told Chuck.
“The natural instinct is to play it safe and make sure you’re going to have a spot on the amphitheater festival. That’s where human nature steps in and says, ‘I don’t know if we can do that. That takes me out of my comfort zone.’ But that’s where we feel the most alive. That’s never changed—that’s me putting on makeup at 22 years old and walking out in front of Pantera fans at Ozzfest to a chorus of boos. That’s what got my heart racing. That’s what made me fall in love with what I do.”
Zacky Vengeance Names the Most Intriguing Moment on Life Is But a Dream
Vengeance considers one of the most shocking—and intriguing—moments in the making of Life Is But a Dream to be when “G-O-D” came together; the three-song progression is made up of “G,” “(O)rdinary” and “(D)eath.”
“Every song is a complete left turn from the previous song, but they’re all meant to work together,” Vengeance explained. “I’ve never heard anything done quite like how we were able to pull it off and it’s different from anything we’ve done, but musically it’s so interesting.”
READ MORE: 5 Things We Love About Avenged Sevenfold’s New Album, Life Is But a Dream
For Vengeance, it isn’t just the music of “G-O-D” that got him excited, but the work of Shadows, too.
“Lyrically, I mean, it’s just [M. Shadows] at his finest when it comes to what’s going on in his head and being able to articulate everything that he’s feeling.”
It was the fearlessness of Shadows—and truly, every member—that not only brought “G-O-D” together, but led to the cohesive chaos of the whole album. Vengeance said that chaos was inspired by “the absolute madness that all of us, the five collective members of Avenged Sevenfold, are experiencing—without outside influence.”
“I don’t know that everyone’s going to love this album,” Vengeance admitted, “in fact, I do know that everyone’s not going to love this album and that’s okay. Even if we tried to write an album with a “Hail to the King,” a “Bat Country,” a “Nightmare,” an “Afterlife” and all of our hits and we smushed it all into this album and called it Nightmare Part Two, people still wouldn’t like it. There’s no way to win everyone over, so who are you appealing to? Are you trying to write an album solely to get a pat on the back?”
Vengeance asked and answered that question.
“The answer is no—you’re writing the album based on everything you feel in your heart and your soul and all the experiences that led you there … Nothing great exists until you’re able to get outside of your comfort zone.”
What Else Did Zacky Vengeance Discuss on Loudwire Nights?
- The collaborative process of creating Life is but a Dream: “Everything we do is done with a purpose”
- Why Vengeance takes as much pride in writing one great riff as he does in throwing away 100 great riffs
- Other “outside of the box” albums that inspire him, like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Murder Ballads
- PODCAST EXCLUSIVE: Vengeance talks artificial intelligence and Avenged Sevenfold’s ticketing system: “I can’t close the door on any new technologies”
Listen to the Full Interview in the Podcast Player Below
Zacky Vengeance joined Loudwire Nights on Friday, June 2; the show replays online here, and you can tune in live every weeknight at 7PM ET or on the Loudwire app; you can also see if the show is available on your local radio station and listen to interviews on-demand. Stream Life Is But a Dream at this location.
The 32 Songs Avenged Sevenfold Have Never Played Live
Avenged Sevenfold have never performed these songs live.