Read the full article
This article was originally published in issue #58
To read the article in its entirety, view the digital magazine
Although Syn is a full-time guitar hero, he is also extremely passionate about educating others and is keen to share the knowledge he has accumulated over the years.
Modern-day guitar heroes appear to be few and far between; however, no one is arguably more suited to that role than Avenged Sevenfold's Synyster Gates. Jonathan Graham sits down with the A7X axeman to discuss his unique approach to guitar soloing, the band's plans for 2018 and his online guitar tuition domain: The Synyster Gates School.
Since bursting onto the scene back in the early 2000s, Synyster Gates has been one of the most exciting and inventive guitar players in contemporary rock music, combining sophisticated chord voicings and harmonies that help to evoke cinematic and even orchestral infused flavours to Avenged's music, not to mention his face-melting solos. Syn manages to achieve what so many players strive for yet few accomplish in emotively painting a picture for the listener through his use of note choice and passionate phrasing. This along with his technical abilities are what sets him apart and have helped build his reputation as well as the bands.
This level of playing didn't appear to Gates by magic of course. He is a lifelong student of the instrument and once studied jazz and classical guitar at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, California, as part of the Guitar Institute of Music program.
Although Syn is a full-time guitar hero, he is also extremely passionate about educating others and is keen to share the knowledge he has accumulated over the years. So much so, that late last year, he and his father, acclaimed session guitarist Brian Haner Sr. (Frank Zappa, Tower of Power) launched The Synyster Gates School. A free to join online guitar school that is a fantastic resource, syngates.com offers interactive playthroughs with synced music notations and tablature, guided step-by-step instructions to better your playing and composition skills as well as, unreleased behind-the-scenes bonus footage from Synyster Gates with advice on how to practice, write, record and perform.
"I wanted to create the thing that I had been looking for. You can go down that YouTube hole, which I've done before, but I found I'd kind of hit a road bump with it because it's just endless. Plus I felt like it wasn't curated, so I thought, I play how I play, my dad's played with everybody, I went to school to be a studio musician, between the two of us we can cover a long list of musical genres and applications. I felt we were pretty suited to curate a really cool system or method of learning guitar." Says Gates.
"This project exceeded both of our expectations. This is beyond a school, this now is a community where everyone can go to learn and participate with great reward. We're creating an army," Gates states. "A legion of fucking shredders!" Head over to syngates.com for more information.
Although The Synyster Gates School is growing fast and will continue to in the future, Gate's primary job remains as part of Avenged Sevenfold writing and recording million-selling albums that look to push the band on stylistically and creatively, and nowhere was that more evident than with the band's 2016 release, 'The Stage.' The critically acclaimed album (the group's seventh to date) is Avenged Sevenfold's first concept album and widely considered by fans to be a modern musical masterpiece. The opening to the record is the title track, and happens to be the perfect example of A7X's evolution in writing that's evident throughout the album, fusing the band's idiosyncrasies with their tried and true hard rock influences and mixing all that together with something a little more progressive in nature and as usual executed to perfection.
As a concept record, 'The Stage' involves a storyline focused on mankind's obsession with artificial intelligence and the self-destruction of society, which seems a little more science fact than science fiction. Although the album clocks in longer than any of Avenged's other albums to date, (nearly 74 minutes) it certainly moves with a rapid pace with no time for a breather and certainly no fillers. That being said, "Paradigm," "Roman Sky," "Higher" and "Creating God" are strong highlights from the album and a showcase of how this band have evolved musically.
A deluxe edition of the record is now available with a bonus disc, containing four unreleased live tracks recorded at The O2 in London, six cover songs and a new track, "Dose", which is almost as intense as the ambitious fifteen-minute-plus album closer, "Exist" and is the perfect addition to the original release.
Avenged Sevenfold - The Stage Deluxe Edition Tracklist
Runaway (feat. Warren Fitzgerald)
As Tears Go By
Wish You Were Here
God Only Knows
The Stage (Live from The O2 London)
Paradigm (Live from The O2 London)
Sunny Disposition (Live from The O2 London)
God Damn (Live from The O2 London)
In support of 'The Stage,' Avenged Sevenfold have been playing arenas and festivals the world over to sold-out crowds, including their phenomenal and triumphant headlining set at this year's Download Festival. The band were scheduled to continue with dates spanning North America; However, the California rockers have unfortunately been forced to cancel the remainder of their summer tour following frontman M. Shadows being struck down by a viral infection that has practically left him voiceless.
In a statement online, Shadows wrote; "After the shows in Europe, I came down with a terrible viral infection that rendered me voiceless. I tried my best to take care of the situation with rest, medication and doctor visits but my voice was only getting worse. After a week of steroids, the swelling went down enough to see the cause of the problem. A blood blister has formed on my vocal folds and is preventing them from vibrating properly. In short, I can’t sing anything at the moment and the more I attempt to the more damage is being done. Unfortunately, this means we will have to cancel all tour dates at the moment.”
Avenged Sevenfold’s End of the World Tour (which also featured Prophets of Rage and Three Days Grace) was due to begin on July 22nd in Mansfield, Massachusetts. However, two days before the trek started, Shadows’ vocal issues didn’t progress enough for the band to embark on what they had labelled the band's “biggest trek yet."
There is currently no word on when or if these shows will be rescheduled, and with the band due start working on its eighth studio LP this fall for a 2019 release, what comes next from the group looks to be arriving a little later rather than sooner. However, if "The Stage," (which had absolutely no promotion before release) has taught us anything, Avenged Sevenfold like surprises and with this band, they are worth waiting for.