AVENGED SEVENFOLD's M. Shadows spoke to the "Tuna On Toast With Stryker" podcast about the progress of the recording sessions for the band's long-awaited follow-up to 2016's "The Stage" album. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "The songs are done. I still have some vocals to do and we have some strings to record. And the thing with the strings is that in L.A., they're simply not allowing people to be within six feet [of each other]. And we have experience — I'm not gonna name bands, but our producer worked on some records, and he's, like, 'Listen, you put somebody six feet apart and you mic them all, and it does not sound like a group playing together.' He's, like, 'They are hearing the notes off a little bit. There's no unified sound. And we have a bunch of out-of-tune violin players and out-of-tune singers.' And he's, like, 'I'm sitting there fixing it all.' And he's, like, 'I suggest either going to Prague and doing it or just waiting.' And so we're still waiting, 'cause we don't wanna go to Prague and record these things. I mean, there's so many little things, and we're just not willing to compromise on it."
According to M. Shadows, he and his bandmates are in no rush to release their new LP and hit the road to promote it.
"We're really just trying to make sure that everybody mentally wants to go on tour and support a record, that it's gonna make sense to support the record — it's not a stop-and-go situation," he explained.
"We're gonna release it when we wanna release it. That's just the bottom line. People seem to think we work for them.
"At the end of the day, everyone needs to decide, 'I'm ready to go support a record.' … You just have to make sure you're mentally there for it.
"I don't wanna maybe come off like we have all these problems in the band — we don't — but people are also very cognizant of their life and how it is right now and they wanna be happy doing things, and I think the fans want us to be happy doing things.
"We are very much happy into this digital realm we're going into and the NFTs, and we're gonna be happy when the record comes out. And when we do shows, we'll be happy doing them. But just know that if we're on stage, then we're in a good place."
This past February, M. Shadows told the Minneapolis, Minnesota radio station 93X that "70 percent" of the follow-up to "The Stage" was "done." He said: "We're working on stuff. We have some things we can't finish right now 'cause of COVID — string players, et cetera. We know Andy [Wallace, AVENGED SEVENFOLD's longtime mixer] doesn't wanna travel, or his management doesn't want him to travel because of COVID. So there's just a lot of things going on."
As for when fans can expect to see the new AVENGED SEVENFOLD LP released, M. Shadows said: "It doesn't make sense for us right now to put out a record and not be able to tour it. The world has changed. Putting out a record on Spotify without touring for a rock band, it just doesn't make sense to us. So we're gonna wait till everything is back, then we'll come out with the record, finish it up, and all will be good."
Also in February, AVENGED SEVENFOLD guitarist Zacky Vengeance told Detroit's WRIF radio station that he and his bandmates have done "lots and lots of writing — at a lot slower pacer than usual" — during the coronavirus pandemic. "Now that we are a little bit older, we move around a little bit slower, but [we've done] tons of writing," he said. "We've gone to the studio. It was kind of a weird time to do anything in 2020, but that's when we felt like it was a good time to go out there and start tracking all the stuff that we had in us.
"But, like I said, we're doing it at a slow pace, so we're still in the process of recording," he explained. "We're taking it really, really slow, making sure everything is the way we like it. We're not in a big rush to get anything out, mainly 'cause we wanna get on the road, and we wanna be able to bring it to life. We wanna tour, we wanna travel, we wanna play songs that people wanna hear; we wanna expose them to some new stuff. 'Cause I just feel like rushing to put something out right now and letting it dissipate because of the void, while people are worried about where their next meal is coming from or the paycheck, the last thing in the world on people's minds is, 'AVENGED SEVENFOLD's gonna put out a new album, and that's gonna be the saving grace for us all.' And I feel like we'll take it slow, let the world get a little bit back to normal, and when people are ready, we'll know — we have a good sense of that. We'll slowly finish it up, and then unleash it when the world's ready."
Last December, M. Shadows told Kerrang! magazine about the musical direction of the new AVENGED material: "The [new] record sounds nothing like 'The Stage' — it's a completely new direction, and it sounds nothing like anything we've done. That's all I'll say about it: it's over the top, and it's very eclectic and wild."
AVENGED SEVENFOLD kept a low profile during 2019 and will likely not return to the road until early 2022. A blood blister on M. Shadows's vocal cords forced the band to cancel a summer 2018 tour with PROPHETS OF RAGE and THREE DAYS GRACE.
Asked if he is fully healed up now, M. Shadows told 93X: "I feel good, man. I'm just working on a new technique so that I can make sure I don't have any problems anymore. For the last year, that's what I've been doing — is switching up a lot of things, singing from a different place, and just making sure that when I hit the stage again, I don't resort back to old bad habits."
"The Stage" was surprise-released in October 2016. The release of the disc, which was announced the night it went on sale, earned the lowest sales of an AVENGED SEVENFOLD album in 11 years. It sold 76 thousand copies in its first week, 73 thousand of which were physical.
"The Stage", AVENGED's debut for Capitol, sold less than half as many copies in its first week as the group's two previous efforts, 2010's "Nightmare" and 2013's "Hail To The King".
AVENGED SEVENFOLD recently announced the Deathbats Club, a new level of connecting with fans based around non-fungible tokens, or NFTs — digital assets (free tickets for life, free meet-amd-greets for life, airdrops over the course of each year, drum lessons, guitar lessons, golf lessons, giveaways, skip the lines at shows, poker nights, movie nights, etc.) that can't be replicated. After an initial drop of 101 free NFTs to whet fans' appetites, they will release 10,000 at the end of November via avengedsevenfold.io, with everyone who buys one becoming part of the community.