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Exclusive Interview: Avenged Sevenfold's Synyster Gates Talks the Revolver Golden Gods

Avenged Sevenfold dominated the 2011 Revolver Golden Gods last month, both onstage and in the fan-voted awards, so it makes sense that they should grace the cover of the new Golden Gods issue of the magazine, which is currently on newsstands and available online here. The band members took home the Best Vocalist, Best Guitarists, and Album of the Year trophies, and their six-song headlining set was the talk of the evening, climaxing in collaborations with Duff McKagan, of Loaded, Velvet Revolver, and Guns N' Roses fame, on GN'R's "It's So Easy," and Vinnie Paul, of Hellyeah and Pantera, on the latter band's "Mouth for War." That crushing performance is being broadcasted as part of VH1 Classic's hour-long Revolver Golden Gods special, which features highlights from the three-hour show and premiered this past Saturday (watch the trailer here). In the new issue, we interview guitarist Synyster Gates about the momentous night. Here's the best of the rest of our chat.

REVOLVER You guys won more trophies than anybody at the Golden Gods. What was going through your mind as you guys won so many awards?
SYNYSTER GATES That it was set up somehow and I don’t know what the reason is for it. But we certainly don’t deserve it. I don’t know, it was very hard to explain. It was very surreal. 'Cause nobody told us, we didn’t have any clue it was going to be like that. So it was pretty surprising, shocking, and awesome. We were really happy that we performed after all that shit, too.

Your fans voted for you guys, that’s why you won. It was your fans voting online.
Was it really? That’s pretty crazy.

So what are you gonna do with all your trophies?
I got a spot for them at my house. They’re going to go next to a couple of other really cool awards that we’ve gotten over the years. Maybe next to a [MTV Video Music Awards] Moon Man or something. How about that?

We were all trying to keep it a secret that Lars and Robert from Metallica were going to be introducing you guys before your headlining performance. When did you find out about that?
Probably an hour before we played. It wasn’t completely confirmed, it was just a rumor. And that’s the thing: Anybody in our camp, if anybody gets wind of anything, they don’t keep shit a secret.

Other than Lars and Rob, who were you excited to hang out with?
Dave Coverdale from Whitesnake and the lesser known Coverdale and Page [the collaboration band between Coverdale and Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page]! A matrimony that occurred for one album, I think. One of the greatest, Jimmy Page. I was a huge fan of that. He was really, really nice. Chris Jericho, he’s a friend of ours. So lots of cool people, you know?

That’s awesome. One of the biggest moments of the night was when you guys played “Mouth for War” with Vinnie Paul. Were you nervous at all about that?
It’s just one of those real fun, brutal songs. So we do a little bit of it, but when you actually delve into that stuff and get your head in there and learn the riffs and lyrics and all that shit, it turns into a different world. Playing that kind of stuff, you just completely transform into a different person for the minutes that you play it. That song is just so shreddy. Just the rhythm alone will destroy your forearms after you’re done playing it. We’ve written some pretty shreddy shit before, but nothing of that caliber. And we really wanted to go out there and shred like we’ve never really done before.

Another special collaboration during your set was when you guys played with Duff. You guys didn’t get to soundcheck with him, so how do you think the performance went?
I thought it was great. I play a little bit of drums, too, and Vinnie is an idol of mine personally, so probably playing with him would’ve been the coolest part of the show for me. But certainly a close second, if not a tie, was listening to Duff sing in my mic. It’s, like, raw as fuck. That guy just has that rock-and-roll punk-rock-esque voice that sounds shitty, and awesome, and just dirty. It’s cool. That was pretty rad.

He was harmonizing with Matt, M. Shadows, perfectly.
Yeah, singing perfectly in tune. He just sounded like a fuckin’ scummy punk rocker. He has that awesome, really soulful dirty voice that’s so, I don’t know, so much a trademark of Guns N’ Roses. I didn’t realize he had done so much of the vocal work, adding so many cool textures.

Matt said onstage that you guys don’t usually play TV shows or awards shows. How come?
Yeah, I probably sound like a douchebag, but it’s more from insecurity. We never played TV-covered events. We don’t play stuff like that. We don’t think we sound good. And we don’t want to—we’re kind of an arena band. We just want to sound fucking big and gigantic and it always just thins out over TV. But because of how good you guys have been to us, and we heard of how cool this thing was going to be—a huge event—we really wanted to do it. And we’re so glad that we did. It was unbelievable.

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