AMH Newtork recently conducted an interview with AVENGED SEVENFOLD bassist Johnny Christ. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
AMH Newtork: AVENGED SEVENFOLD have officially welcomed in Arin Ilejay as a full-time member quite recently. How has he grown to fit in over the last two years?
Christ: He’s been doing good, man. He came in a little wet behind the ears, to be honest. He was somewhat of a shy little kid but he’s been working out great. He’s a hell of a drummer and a great person. He still has some moves to learn, but he’s been doing well. He can play the hell out of the drums. He killed it on this new record. We had a vision and came in with him. We told him that vision — “This is what we need out of you from these drums — a laidback groove in the pocket, and then you’re going to need to bang out some fills. Make sure that everything is perfect but also in getting the feel right and banging the shit out of the drum as hard as you can.” That’s what we asked him to do and after a couple days of getting it into him, he understood and he just absolutely killed it on this record. I’m very proud of him.
AMH Newtork: How would you say the writing process was different [for your upcoming sixth album, “Hail To The King”]?
Christ: It was a bit more difficult. We went in and figured out what we wanted to do and where we were trying to go right from the very beginning. We’re always trying to do something better than the last record; to do something different and evolve as a band. We really wanted to make an eclectic hard rock record that slams sonically. It’s kind of like bare bones — with a guitar, a vocal and some drums all up in your face. Huge. We really studied some of the bands that had done it before, their ways and what it takes to sound sonically huge. Listening to stuff like LED ZEPPELIN and AC/DC, we were just listening to see just how they achieve that. We noticed that a lot of it was the space. You really have to play with the space in a riff so it can be allowed to breathe. We wanted everyone that when listening to this record to almost zombie-like headbang through it. For us, it was something that we knew was going to take a little maturity. Any time that we wanted to put a whole layer of stuff on top of a riff that we worked on, it was gone. If a riff couldn’t stand alone, it wasn’t allowed to be on the song. Every riff had to be perfect and heavy, collectively what we wanted it to be. If there was one person in the room who went, “Heh, I don’t think it is there yet guys,” we’d scrap the whole song. I think that took a little bit of song writing maturity for us. That made it take a little bit longer. We took it song by song. We weren’t writing four or five songs at once and jumping around. We focused in on each song until it was done and then we’d go onto another one. It took a little effort and it took a little longer, probably six to nine months for just the writing process before we even recorded it.
AMH Newtork: You recorded with [producer] Mike Elizondo again. What was he like to record with the second time around now being more familiar with each other?
Christ: He was great. We already knew how each other worked. He’s very into metal and he comes from a lot of different types of music, much like us. We all listen to a lot of eclectic things. He’s an incredible musician and songwriter, and we have such a respect for him. When he gave his opinion, we really listened. When we were writing the songs, we’d send them straight off to him, saying, “Hey, are we on the right path? Do you think this is a good idea or should we scrap it?” He was honest. He’s another guy that we get sound ideas from. We know that we can trust that he’ll be honest. He gets what we are trying to do. Working with him again was kind of a no-brainer. We knew what record we wanted to make and we told him. He said, “Here’s some stuff to listen to. Here’s some ideas that might get you inspired and get you started.” We were looking into some classical music actually. We listened to “The Planets” [1914-1914 seven-piece orchestral suite by Gustav Holt] and all that stuff. We listened to it for how those composers are able to paint a picture without even having lyrics on it. We had a lot of that and we also listened to a lot of records that we had listened to a lot before. “Back In Black” [AC/DC], “Paranoid” [BLACK SABBATH], those classic hard rock albums that we all know — everyone knows — those records but we never tried to delve in to understand why those records are so awesome. What makes those songs stand out through the test of time? That is something that we wanted to achieve in our own way.
Read the entire interview at AMH Newtork.