Avenged Sevenfold made quite a splash the first time it landed a coveted slot at Chain Reaction in Anaheim, Calif., with friends Eighteen Visions and Poison The Well. Frontman M. Shadows said the promoter banned them "for life" from the all-ages venue.
"The promoter got pissed at us because we played about five minutes over our time and we were the opening band. He said ‘You guys suck! and ‘They’re cocky!’ But we were just excited to play a show," Shadows told Pollstar. "Then Avenged Sevenfold started getting bigger and we played shows at the Showcase Theatre.
"The guy actually called me and we made up and were cool again. The next show we played at Chain Reaction sold out."
From that inauspicious debut, Avenged Sevenfold (aka A7X) has since landed slots on the Warped Tour and Ozzfest, opened for Metallica and Guns N’ Roses as well as headlined in its many months on the road. The band’s self-titled release on Warner Bros. Records recently debuted at No. 4 on the Nielsen SoundScan Top 200 album chart and landed spots on various singles charts.
And it keeps getting better for these five friends from Huntington Beach, Calif.
Shadows, guitarists Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance, bassist Johnny Christ and drummer The Rev have forged their own path since forming the band in high school.
Coming from the punk and hardcore scene that spawned Atreyu, From Autumn to Ashes and others, A7X developed its own blend of rock influenced by Rancid, Metallica, Megadeth and Pantera. That gave the band a sound that was considered "out there," even by underground standards.
"We wanted to start a band that mixed both genres because we loved them so much, so there really wasn’t a fit for us," Shadows said. "The hardcore bands are like ‘Why are you singing half the time and screaming half the time? You’ve got to do one or the other.’ We didn’t want to do that."
The plethora of talent in the area also made it tough to get in at Chain Reaction or the Showcase Theatre in Corona, the places to play for up-and-coming bands.
"It was really hard for us because we didn’t know anybody. We were just kids in high school with – looking back on it – a really shitty demo. Atreyu, us and a few other bands were younger than everybody and there were bands that kind of had a lock down," he explained. "No one had booking agents or anything, so we would hand out demos. People would usually just throw them away.
"If you weren’t constantly hounding people then you probably weren’t going to get a show."
Tour dates with From Autumn to Ashes eventually put A7X on cross-country trips to Texas, Arizona and other markets to get in front of audiences and develop the arena-style show the band is now known for.
Meanwhile, interest in the band was growing following the release of two independent albums in 2001 and 2003.
A7X’s manager, Larry Jacobson of World Audience Media Group, said it was a phone call to a financial rep five years ago that led him to manage "five of the best human beings you could ever meet in your life."
"I had just left Capitol Records, where I’d been senior vice president, and I called my investment banker to tell him I was starting my own business," Jacobson told Pollstar. "He said, ‘My brother has his own independent label. Would you mind taking a meeting with him and giving him some advice?’
"So I went and had lunch with [the label rep] and he hands me a bag of CDs that they’d put out. There was this one song that was 1:26 long and like nothing I’d ever heard. I was blown away by it and immediately called about talking to this band."
Jacobson said he was intrigued by A7X and after meeting the band members, signed on without even seeing a live show. But when he saw them perform a couple of months later, he was again blown away.
"They’re all rock stars, every one of them, and they remember you can be an entertainer and still make meaningful music. There’s nothing like an Avenged Sevenfold show. You’ll walk out of there with goose bumps."
A7X’s varied musical influences are also attracting fans of all ages, which the band saw firsthand prior to a recent show in Philadelphia.
"We were driving to the gym and went by the line in Philly. We saw everything from 12-year-old girls with their parents to 50-year-old dudes with leather jackets and long hair to hardcore kids," Shadows said. "We have such a diverse, crazy fan base and that’s really cool."
A7X is touring the States through mid-December. After the holiday break, the band will tour Japan and the U.K. through the end of January.