Usually, when you're putting out a record, you have reviews from people a week before, and you have a vibe 'cause everyone's heard it - you've heard feedback from everyone, and they've listened to your single for a couple of months. Radio's playing it.
The 'Black Album' was my real first introduction to Metallica. I was, like, 12 or 13 at the time. We were just getting into music, and I liked that album a lot, but it didn't necessarily change my life. But when I started picking up all the other Metallica records, 'Master of Puppets' was the one to me that stuck out with its songwriting.
I feel like our whole discography up through 'Hail to the King' was young, fun, and exciting. It was aggressively driven. 'The Stage' was the first step in the band becoming a more mature musical entity.
One thing I loved when I was growing up, you maybe saw one review from a magazine like 'Rolling Stone,' but now there are 150 reviews before an album even comes out. There are so many opinions out there, but the only one that really matters is your own.
I'm kind of a geek when it comes to talking about chord structures or melody, so I always loved in-depth conversations with musicians about things. I also enjoy when a fan can just put something on, and they really know nothing about music other than they like it and it touches them in some way.
The world is changing, and the way we consume music is obviously changing. I was one of the biggest CD advocates you will find, but when Apple music and digital options came out, like for everyone else, it was more conducive to my lifestyle.
I've said the Grammys messed up metal because it's not on TV. What I'm saying is when you're in a metal category, it's not televised, and it doesn't move the needle forward for metal artists, and I wish they had more respect for the genre.
We grew up with every type of band from Primus to Mr. Bungle to Elton John to pop music to metal, and we try to throw it all in a blender. And whatever comes out of that is more Avenged Sevenfold than metal or metalcore.
We do a lot of things that kind of annoy people and our fan base. We try not to get overloaded on it. For us, that means we don't do social media stuff - we have an Avenged Sevenfold social media, but none of the band members have Facebooks or any sort of Twitter.
One thing that was frustrating to us, always, was having to do so much press building up an album, and you're asked so many questions about, you know, is it more melodic, is it heavier, are you doing your old stuff, is it new?
Games helped me a lot when The Rev died. It was something I able to go do and stay in the house and not have to be outside and deal with people. But I also found a community online that I was able to escape the feeling I was having of losing a best friend.
When you think of rock and roll and metal, a lot of it is based around the riff. If you can sing over the riff and what the arrangements are going to be like, you have to leave space for what most people consider one of the most key essential parts, which is the vocalist.
We have this yearning to know the answers to the big questions about space and why we're here; we can't evolve fast enough to figure these answers out on our own, but we can do it through artificial intelligence. But there's also some very scary downsides that could come if we don't put the right safety precautions in there.
The first Maiden record I ever got was 'Piece of Mind,' and I only got it because I thought the artwork was cool, and everyone talked about Iron Maiden. But they weren't necessarily the most popular metal band in America for a 12-year-old kid when I discovered them.
Honestly, I never thought we'd get a nomination for a Grammy, period. To be honest, we felt that if we were ever going to get one, we thought we had 'City of Evil' and 'Nightmare' and 'Hail to the King,' and those were all big records, and they never even sniffed at us.
The song 'Paradigm' talks about nanobots - and how they can potentially be used to cure diseases and help you live forever. But how much of a human being would you be at that point? If you're 70 percent machine and 30 percent human, are you going to lose yourself?