Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows Talks “Call of Duty” and New Song “Not Ready to Die”
After dominating last month’s Revolver Golden God Awards, both onstage and in the fan-voted awards, Avenged Sevenfold continued their road-warrior ways, departing at 6 the next morning for their Welcome to the Family tour. Despite playing shows pretty much constantly, the hard-rock goliaths managed to write a new song, called “Not Ready to Die,” earlier this year. The song is featured on Call of Duty: Black Ops, the most recent first-person shooter in the classic Call of Duty video-game series, via the latest downloadable map pack, titled “Escalation,” which is available today. As if all this wasn’t badass enough, the song is specifically featured on the pack’s zombie map, “Call of the Dead,” yet another chapter in the game’s ongoing horror storyline. M. Shadows, the band’s frontman and a Call of Duty faithful, fills us in on the song, the new zombie level, and some of his favorite video-game classics.
REVOLVER When was “Not Ready to Die” written?
M. SHADOWS We had a little break between the Nightmare After Christmas tour and the Welcome to the Family tour. So it was written, like, in four days that we had off. So it was pretty rushed. It was pretty incredible, though, because we really wanted to do it. It was written, like, a month or two ago.
What’s the song about?
Oh, well, the song is about the game. There’s a full backstory to what [the makers of Call of Duty] been doing for years with their "Zombies" series. I’m a big fan of the game, I play it all the time, so I got caught up in the story. They sent me over the full storyline, so I made sure it was going along the lines of the zombie story. So that’s what it’s about.
What do you love about Call of Duty?
I don’t know, I just love the competition of being online, and the Call of Duty series, to me, has always been just the one that you can always count on to have a great game coming out next. I love Modern Warfare 2, I loved World at War, I loved all the games. But Black Ops, to me, was so balanced and, not to completely nerd out with you, but there’s so many little things if you’re a video-game player and a first-person-shooter player that you would love about Black Ops that they improved upon from Modern Warfare 2. And if you’re looking at “Zombies,” it’s like a completely separate game. And it’s just as fun to play that as it is to play the multiplayer online. It’s one of those things where you get all this stuff wrapped up into one game. I guess that’s why I’m a big fan of it. I’ve been playing Black Ops since the day it came out, and I still play it to this day online with my clan and stuff. So it’s fun stuff.
Throughout the franchise, is there any mission that sticks out as your favorite?
Oh, man, that’s hard to say. I really have become such a better player by playing Black Ops. So it’s probably my favorite only because I actually do really well at it, multiplayer-wise. I think for a map, my favorite would be firing range. But I’ve been into all of the games when they came out as much as I’m into this one. I’m sure when the next one comes out, I’ll be just as into that and I’ll be talking about that. So it’s really hard for me to say.
Have you always been into video games?
Yeah, I’ve never considered myself too into video games. But now that I look back on it, me and my friends have been into video games for a long, long time. It started off with first-person shooters, it started off with 007 Golden Eye on Nintendo. Then we’d go over to my girlfriend, who now is my wife, we’d go over her house and play four-player. Get drunk all night and play Golden Eye all night. Then we moved on to Halo and Call of Duty and got all into that. But I’ve also been into Zelda and the Mortal Combat series, and all sorts of games. I’ve been into games since Day 1, so yeah, I would consider myself a pretty big gamer.
Do you guys play as a band together?
The guys play different things. I think they have a little bit less, you know, attention to video games. They’ll be like, “This is awesome.” And they’ll play it for, like, a week. I’d always make fun of [guitarist Synyster] Gates, because he’d get games and buy the strategy guide and just go right through it. And I was so anti-strategy guide. Like, why would you buy a game, if you’re being told how to beat it? Then I remember when I was having trouble beating some of the Zeldas and I would go into the store and look at the strategy guide and be like, I can’t peek in there. I can’t peek in there to tell me how to beat that part. But the guys get into stuff, but they’re on and off. Arin, the kid who’s drumming for us right now, he is really into video games. We got Fable together and we were playing that together. So we have a lot of video-game stuff in common. Now we have Mortal Combat 8, I think it is, and we’ve been playing it on the bus. So that’s been pretty cool.
Has your enjoyment of video games ever gotten out of hand?
I would say that Black Ops, to me right now, is pretty out of hand. When I’m home, I literally get on at 9 at night and don’t get off until 8 in the morning. My whole clan is the same way: We’ll just play game levels until there’re no games to be played, and then we’ll jump in the public matches and play and just mess around until 8 in the morning. So that’s pretty out of hand. My schedule is so messed up because of that game. I also built a gaming rig. A 42-inch TV with the Xbox and surround sound. A Logitech headset. I have all this crap on the road. And a lot of times the truck can’t leave because I’m sitting there playing a match. And I’ve got to wait until it’s done. And they’re like, “Really? We’re sitting here waiting on the whole crew because this guy’s playing Black Ops?” But it’s pretty out of hand to me.
What do you think of the new “Zombie” level?
I think it’s awesome. You know, it’s tough to say because I got to be play it on God mode, so I got to run around it, check it out. “Zombies” is weird, because it’s really tough to play it by yourself. A lot of it depends on what weapons you’re getting, and especially from the box. You can get something awesome and just rape, and then you can get a bunch of pistols and come out and be broke. So it’s a weird game and I like playing it with my friends online because a lot of them are better at it than I am because they’ve been playing it for years. And I’m kind of newer to “Zombies.” I’m more into playing the multiplayer maps online, so to me, I love it and it’s crazy. But the new map, it’s hard for me to say exactly what the strategy or whatever is going to be for it, but it looks really cool. There are a bunch of mini-bosses and all sorts of crazy things that I know people are going to be really excited about.
Is the level actually frightening?
It’s jumpy, yeah. I remember Resident Evil was just the scariest thing ever. I didn’t want to be playing that. I remember I was young and I didn’t want to be playing that alone in my house because the dogs would jump out at you and all sorts of crazy stuff. I think “Zombies” is the same way. I was playing with a couple buddies the other day and we got to Level 23 and it was super scary, because you have no idea where they’re coming from and you’re getting them deep down from everywhere. It’s pretty gnarly.
Interview by Cody Thomas