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MusicI'm M. Shadows, vocalist of Avenged Sevenfold. AMA!

Mar 9th 2018 by iammshadows • 15 Questions • 4098 Points

ETA 4:09PMEST - Thanks everyone for tuning in today. This has been a blast. Now it’s time to go soak my fingers in epsom salt and have a nice EC Barrel Proof on the rocks!!!

There's nothing I love more than talking about whiskey. If you have questions, I've got answers. Ask away.

Proof: https://twitter.com/HeavenHill1935/status/969574199772745728

Q:

Hi Matt! What are some of your favourite albums of 2018 so far?

A:

Thanks for doing this. Visited the distillery last summer and had a blast.

1) How closely does HH follow r/bourbon, if at all? Are you aware of how highly regarded Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is there?

2) What is one recent, readily available bourbon or rye (i.e. not secondary market or super $$) from a different distillery that made you say "Damn, that's good"?

If you answer, I commit to 3 fingers of Pikesville tonight in your honor.


Q:

I've heard the new Atreyu and its great... but you haven't. :)

A:

1) How closely does HH follow r/bourbon, if at all? Are you aware of how highly regarded Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is there?

We certainly follow r/bourbon but not at a troll level! I know I check in on occasion because I want to know what the conversations are and what people are currently interested in. And I’m not sure I knew how highly regarded the ECBP was there but I can imagine. People love it and it has become almost fanatical since we won 2017 Whisky Advocate Whiskey of the Year.

2) What is one recent, readily available bourbon or rye (i.e. not secondary market or super $$) from a different distillery that made you say "Damn, that's good"? If you answer, I commit to 3 fingers of Pikesville tonight in your honor.

Well, the Russells Reserve 10yro is pretty damn good. And if you know anything about Jimmy and Eddie it’s that they are pretty good at what they do. I would also say that Eddie has one of the best palates of anyone I’ve ever been around. He is well known for his talent to taste and describe.


Q:

How do you get a crowd “back into it” if they come out and are quiet and not as engaged as your other crowds?

A:

Hi Denny! I'll start us off simply. Based on all factors including price, what's your favorite whiskey? If it's one you make, what's also your favorite that you don't distill?


Q:

Bad Crowds are tough... you just gotta push through it and hope the are listening more than expressing themselves through movement.

A:

There’s not one that is my favorite, just depends on the occasion. If I’m sitting at home watching a movie or going to a football tailgate, it changes and that’s the beauty of what we do! There are a lot of different options at a lot of different price points. For example, if I’m going to a tailgate I’m going to bring Larceny - it’s a crowd pleaser and you can enjoy it anyway you want, like neat, on the rocks, classic cocktail. If I’m sitting at home watching a movie, I’m going to have some Elijah Craig Barrel Proof or Henry McKenna BIB. For options I don’t distill, probably Makers where I worked for seven years and was Assistant Master Distiller.


Q:

What are the chances of Roman Sky being played live?

A:

Hey Denny-

big fan of heaven hill brands. elijah craig barrel proof, in particular. i have a few questions:

  1. do you have any favorite independent or small distilleries you think we should be watching? people who are doing it right and not rushing product to market?

  2. any chance of barrel/high proof offerings of other heaven hill labels?

  3. what is heaven hill doing to stymie the oncoming pop to the bourbon bubble? does heaven hill even think this is a bubble or does hh see the current fervor as a sea change for the whiskey world?


Q:

decent to good

A:

1) do you have any favorite independent or small distilleries you think we should be watching? people who are doing it right and not rushing product to market?

Love what Pat and Shane are doing at Wilderness Trail in Danville KY. Those guys are top notch and true experts. They have not released any of their whiskey yet but it’s coming and it will be good.

2) any chance of barrel/high proof offerings of other heaven hill labels?

Once again, will never say never.

3) what is heaven hill doing to stymie the oncoming pop to the bourbon bubble? does heaven hill even think this is a bubble or does hh see the current fervor as a sea change for the whiskey world?

As I said in a previous answer, everyone has their own perspective on this, but from my position I don’t think Bourbon is going anywhere any time soon. We’re only halfway to where the industry was in its peak in the 1970’s. And we have huge growth potential in the international markets. As the second largest holder of aging American Whiskey, we’re in a better position than most to prepare for the future.


Q:

You all have kids. Surely Disney will be part of their lives. If you had to cover one Disney song, what would it be?

A:

Hi Denny! Thanks for doing the AMA. I had a couple of questions.

1) What's one aspect of the master distiller job that surprised you once you assumed the role? 2) I'm a big fan of the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof releases and the Elijah Craig barrel picks. Do you think that Heaven Hill would ever release a barrel proof store pick Elijah Craig?


Q:

Yes... Love Disney with the kids. I'm not sure about what song we would cover... suggestions?

A:

1) What's one aspect of the master distiller job that surprised you once you assumed the role?

Honestly, how much the title actually means to our fans and our customers. The title gives you credibility in the market so that people truly listen to what you have to say and consider you an expert in your field. I never looked at it that way. I just knew that I enjoyed it and had a passion for the operations side but never considered how that impacts others. It’s humbling.

2) I'm a big fan of the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof releases and the Elijah Craig barrel picks. Do you think that Heaven Hill would ever release a barrel proof store pick Elijah Craig?

I would never say never, but right now we are still focusing on building the single barrel program for Elijah Craig Small Batch program at 94 proof. Remember, our barrel program was strong a few years back, before the big bourbon boom. We are still trying to catch back up and see how we can expand this program going forward. So who knows, barrel proof might be a part of that. But at this point we just don’t know. The 94 is the focus for the foreseeable future.


Q:

What’s a new character that you want introduced in the upcoming Super Smash Bros?

A:

How aware and tapped into the secondary/black market are you? Have your recent pricing increases for limited edition bottlings been related to prices you've seen on the secondary? or more from sales increases and market research?

as a consumer, i lament the price increase, but as a fan, it's good to see the higher end bourbon releases starting to get luxury prices more in line with products in the same family (ie, scotch)


Q:

The Deathbat!

A:

I am not a collector so I am not tapped into the secondary market at all. Mainly what we know is what the consumers tell us. That market does not dictate at all what pricing is for our releases. We do try to manage special releases because we truly want people to drink these products and not just collect and/or resell them. However, it’s a market that has been created out of necessity so it is not a bad thing at all. It is filling a niche. I know that some products have seen increases but it is tough for us to control what the price is when it makes the shelf. We suggest pricing but that does not always dictate what it sells for. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is a great example of that. Our suggested pricing is $59.99. Obviously we have seen it listed a lot higher than that. It also still amazes me that we can offer products such as Elijah Craig Small Batch and Henry McKenna 10yr BIB in the $30 price range. Unbelievable products for the price.


Q:

Why are there interstate highways in Hawaii?

A:

We have the same last name. You get a lot of Harry Potter references anytime someone notices your name?


Q:

This keeps me up at night.

A:

Yes, I get that question all the time!


Q:

Matt, you’ve been very open about your experiences with depression and anxiety. I struggle with these issues as well and your music has helped me through so much. How do you manage your mental health while on tour?

A:

Hey Denny! Thanks for opening your doors to Heaven for a little bit.

Can you speak on the Bourbon industry and where you think it's going. Everyone claims the bubble is about to burst.

Also, can you explain the farm to distillery relationship and where you might get your corn, wheat and rye from? I've heard that a lot of distilleries, HH included use GMO products to keep up with demand. Any shift towards organic!


Q:

Meditation - very little drinking - eating healthy - lots of sleep and working out.

I hope that helps... worst feeling ever.

A:

1) Can you speak on the Bourbon industry and where you think it's going. Everyone claims the bubble is about to burst.

Everyone has their own perspective on this, but from my position I don’t think Bourbon is going anywhere any time soon. We’re only halfway to where the industry was in its peak in the 1970’s. And we have huge growth potential in the international markets. As the second largest holder of aging American Whiskey, we’re in a better position than most to prepare for the future.

2) Also, can you explain the farm to distillery relationship and where you might get your corn, wheat and rye from? I've heard that a lot of distilleries, HH included use GMO products to keep up with demand. Any shift towards organic!

All of the corn comes from four local farmers who we have worked with for generations. We typically get our wheat from these same farms since they will grow the wheat on the same property once the corn is harvested. Our rye comes from the Northern US and Canada. We just cannot grow it economically here in KY. As for GMO, we do not dictate to the farmer what they should grow. They know what is best to grow on their land. That being said, no GM material makes it through distillation thus the reason why we do not mandate what the farmer must grow.


Q:

Hey Matt. I missed the last AMA by about an hour so I would be thrilled if you could answer a few questions.

  1. Why haven't you guys played Natural Born Killer live?

  2. Also I have a question about when you guys were starting up. There seems to be rumors and contradictory opinions on whether or not you played guitar for the band before Syn joined. Is that true or false?

  3. .I know you all have moved on to greater musical things but have you ever considered doing a remaster/remix of Sounding The Seventh Trumpet?

  4. What is the weirdest influence that Brooks brought to you guys that ultimately stuck on and influenced your music?

A:

Hi Denny,

Any chance we’ll see a brand extension of Larceny? Maybe a barrel proof someday? Older age stated ones like Elijah Craig 18 year? Thank you for such an amazing portfolio of whiskey.


Q:

most of the band members are not huge fans of that song... feels a little generic.

I've always written on guitar for the band... but never played the guitar in the band

I like the mix on sounding... if anything could use a remix is WTF.

he has a strange mind... and I love that

A:

I’ve been on record saying that I feel Larceny is our next Evan Williams. Evan Williams is the #2 bourbon in the world and Larceny has all the tools to be right there some day. We released Larceny in 2012 in very select markets. This time last year we were only in 19 markets across the U.S. We wanted to grow the brand the right way which was making sure we had enough Wheated Bourbon to support true organic growth. By the end of 2017 we were finally to the point that we could fully distribute nationally. Right now that is our focus. Once we are comfortable with where we are as far as supporting the growth of Larceny we might take a look at some of the things you mentioned. And lets also not forget our announcement of Old Fitz BIB just last month, which is the genesis of Larceny http://blog.heavenhilldistillery.com/old-fitzgerald-bottled-bond-series/


Q:

Hey Matt!

  1. A lot of us at r/avengedsevenfold and r/trivium would kill to see a tour of the 2 bands together. Is this a tour you can see happening in the future?

  2. Any up and coming bands you've been listening to that are worth checking out?

Thanks in advance!

A:

Thanks for this AMA! I have a question specifically about the discontinued NAS Old Heaven Hill BiB (red, gold, black label). What was the approximate age of whiskey going into these bottles? I find it quite extraordinary for the price and tastes (certainly noses) well above four years. When I find these I make sure to buy them, as they’re nearly unbeatable for the value. Thanks again!


Q:

I'd love to go out with Trivium at some point... their new album is great. very proud of them.

A:

Old Heaven Hill BIB was 4 year old whiskey. Today, I drink our Evan Williams White label when I’m looking for a 4YO BIB.


Q:

If you could instantly go on tour with ANY band, past or present, who would it be?

A:

Do you see the future of American Brandy exploding in popularity much like Bourbon has in the last decade? If so, does Heaven Hill have any plans for this?


Q:

We’re pretty excited for this summer with Prophets of Rage. Past though... Pantera.

A:

With the popularity of Bourbon, we continue to see people trying other brown spirits like Brandy. Heaven Hill currently owns the number-two selling Brandy with Christian Brothers. We just launched the first Bottled-In-Bond American Brandy two years ago, Christian Brothers Sacred Bond. I get to work with our distilling partners in California, O’Neill, which is an interesting collaboration as they are managing a different production process using grapes and copper pot stills.


Q:

What's one song from before The Stage that you've never played live, but would like to?

A:

My SO has taught me a considerable amount about wine and I've taught her a lot about bourbon. I've really grown to appreciate wine and I feel like my experience with tasting bourbon has made it easier to pick up tasting wine.

Do you find that bourbon has expanded your palate while tasting other things? Other than bourbon, what other types of alcohol do you enjoy in your down time?


Q:

Sidewinder or And All Things Will End

A:

Yes, tasting American Whiskey over the years has certainly helped expand my palate, or at least improved my ability to explain what I’m tasting. As for other types of alcohol, I love aged rum. I actually ran a rum distillery in the Caribbean for 3 years and fell in love with the rum making process and the people that make it happen.


Q:

Since you guys are going out on tour with Prophets of Rage, will we be seeing you guys sharing the same stage at the same time at all? I'd love to see Tom's guitar take on some of your songs or see how you guys would do with a classic Rage song. Could be some cool potential on stage collaborations.

A:

What is your absolute favorite part of your job?

What about your favorite part of a day at work?


Q:

Interesting... what would people want to see?

A:

1) What is your absolute favorite part of your job?

The relationships. Relationships with co-workers, suppliers, consumers…..you name it. The people tied to this industry are fantastic and make this work a ton of fun.

2) What about your favorite part of a day at work?

Hmmm…...I always enjoy the first hour at work. Our distillery runs 24/7 so when I come in in the morning there is usually someone near the coffee pot that can give me the scoop on how things ran during the night and how things are currently going. And that conversation can easily move into discussions about college basketball, crappy winter weather, upcoming vacations, etc. Just love that first hour.


Q:

Would love to see you and Tom crush Bulls on Parade

A:

With finished port/wine whiskeys becoming extremely popular (angels envy, midwinter's night dram, whistle pig old world) do you guys at HH have any plans to create a unique finished whiskey?


Q:

You sure you want to hear me rap?

A:

We’ve released a Parker’s Heritage cognac finish, as well as some Bourbon Heritage Center releases with unique finishes. With certain brands focused on innovation, there are always opportunities to experiment.


Q:

Matt!! I've seen you live three times and have been listening to you for over a decade now!

My question is this: as your old muses fade or go Grey, how do you keep pushing yourself to be inspired, create new music, and really dig deep with your vocals?

A:

I love the special releases from HH. I have heard that Parker’s heritage collection may be ending. Is there any truth to that?


Q:

we continue to just make music that makes us happy and only put out records when we are inspired... so that makes it easy

A:

Absolutely false. This has been a rumor that has circulated, but it did not originate with us. Even though Parker is no longer with us, he has had a direct impact on many things that are currently aging and might become a Parkers release. This collection will continue because of that and also because we need to continue to honor him for years to come for what he has done for Heaven Hill and also our industry. It is also important to point out that the Parkers release every year donates a significant amount of proceeds to ALS research and patient care. That is reason enough to keep things going in the future.


Q:

What’s up Matt? How’s it going? What are your workout plans? And what’s your workout playlist?

A:

What's your favorite flavor Gatorade?


Q:

weird one... weezer - make believe

A:

I don't drink a lot of Gatorade anymore, but Lemon-Lime is my go-to.


Q:

Longtime fan here! It seems that a lot of bands that started their careers in the late 90s-early 2000s are now touring their early albums, playing them in their entirety. Can nostalgics like me hope to see A7X do a City of Evil tour one day?

A:

Probably not. At least not anytime soon. I don't have much interest in revisiting old albums in full when we are continuing to tell our story through new music.


Q:

Hi, Matt! How are you doing? :)

Would you guys ever consider doing a "by request" kind of tour? with any song, no exceptions. I always wonder how amazing it would be to hear Save Me in person, or any other "lengthy" song that I've never heard live or heard of you guys playing live.

Thanks for doing this AMA, love you guys! ♡

A:

We have given people choices on tours and they choose the hits. I love save me as well and maybe at some point it will be added back in.


Q:

Hey Matt, I’m a huge fan! Can’t wait to see you guys in Holmdel this summer! A couple of questions for you:

Are you planning to compose any music or have any part in the soundtrack for Black Ops 4?

Also, can we expect to hear any songs in this summer’s set list that you guys don’t normally play? Like maybe something from Waking the Fallen or even Sounding the Seventh Trumpet?

A:

Black Ops 4 is gonna rock. Hopefully they ask us to do something and we can find the time. Who knows? Haven't gotten into the setlist with the guys yet. STST is pushing it though.


Q:

Hi Matt!

  1. Are there any classical composers that inspire you?
  2. If so, who and what song of them would you recommend?

Thanks a lot for doing this AMA!

A:

Gustav Holst - Planets


Q:

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?

A:

oh man.. w synyster gates and Tal Cooperman in vegas last weekend... details withheld


Q:

I just really wanna know what happened to the audio at lunatic luau last year. It was so awful. Also, are you guys coming back to va beach like you said you would in 2018?

What’s it like for all of you to be fathers now? What has changed the most?

What song do you wish you didn’t have to play every night on tour? (The big hits everyone loves.)

What’s your least favorite song from your discography in general?

A:

As most of you know our long time sound guy (shirt) died of cancer and we had to scramble to fill the spot. We have it situated now but it was a bad situation for us not only losing a friend but an essential part of the crew. From the Luau thru Metallica we were not dial in like we usually are.

Being a father is the best


Q:

Hey Matt! I know you’re a big gamer. Have you been playing any Fortnite?

Also, any word on playing Sidewinder this upcoming tour? ;)

A:

Not a Fortnite player... My son plays that though... dad plays PubG!


Q:

Hi Matt, I have 3 questions so without further ado,

1) Do you have experience with meditation, or maybe with other less legal ways of changing conscious experience :)

2) Are you aware of Symphonic metal and rock and do you see Avenged Sevenfold experimenting with that kind of music on the future albums?

3) On which things have your views changed in the last few years, be it scientific, political, musical or any other topic?

A:

Yes - I meditate and have done plenty of LSD growing up. I recommend both... ( LSD at your own discretion )

We've always added that element to our music in a more subtle way.

I'm ever evolving in my stances. I follow were the science leads us. Im not a conspiracy theorist and I love changing my opinion on issues because it means I'm learning more. One example of me changing my stance is when I was younger I was quoted as saying I didnt think gays should be allowed to get married.. Totally uneducated prick stance from me which I fully disagree with at this point. We live and we learn and thats all you can try and do.


Q:

Hey man,

I saw you live in Cedar Rapids Iowa. You guys were great. Best band IMO!

My question is, What did you think about the new Star Wars? Hate it or love it?

Also, do more covers! They are great!

A:

Haven't seen it. thanks!


Q:

Thoughts on a DVD in the future? Or perhaps even just doing a pro-shot live stream of one of your shows?

I Love watching fan-shot live shows on YouTube but the quality is sub-par and fans singing poorly in the background can easily ruin it. Not sure of the practicalities of a dvd in this digital landscape but I think a live stream would be a great compromise. Any thoughts?

Love you guys!

A:

I wanna do something for Netflix for free.. DVD's are the past... streaming is the future


Q:

Will you guys continue evolving the stage setup and set list for The End Of The World tour? And any updates on a new album?

A:

The setup is constantly evolving, like The Stage! We like to keep people in their toes. For setlist you’ll just have to come to a show and see.


Q:

Very pumped to see you on tour this summer. So out of every venue you’re performing at, which one are you looking forward at playing at the most?

A:

The Forum in Los Angeles will be awesome. A hometown show where the showtime Lakers played. Can’t wait for that one.


Q:

Hi Matt,

Do you have time to just type Hi?

A:

No.


Q:

Will this tour have an emphasis on The Stage with the whole stage design? I am so excited to see you guys in August, it's been 4 years!

A:

We’re excited to have you back at a show! We always try to put an emphasis on production and blowing stuff up. This summer will be no different.


Q:

Hail to the King: Deathbat is still a kickass game three and a half years later, but I'm sad because the game isn't working properly with newer phone updates (the background music is gone, one of my favorite things about the game). Is there any chance you could maybe get the game dudes to fix it with a little update? Pretty please?

Also, I know music is your priority and I understand that creating games takes time and costs a lot, but do you have any plans or ideas about a sequel to Deathbat? Possibly Captain Cosmonuts teaming up with king Andronikos on some fabulous but highly dangerous buddy cop-esque adventure? 🤔

A:

I tried very hard to update the game but because of the IOS stuff it has made it impossible.. we would have to start from scratch because they wont allow certain plug - ins that we were using. total bummer.

I'd love to make a new game.


Q:

Hey Matt! Thanks for doing the AMA!

  1. Do you ever think you’ll make another album with City of Evil’s speed?

  2. Have you guys ever thought about just producing an album of covers of all your guys favourite songs?

Thanks Matt!

A:

Maybe - really not sure at this point.

we sorta just did that


Q:

Me and my boyfriend are long term fans we love you guys so much but we’ve never had the chance to see you! Are you planning on coming to Australia soon?

A:

Love OZ but just dont see a path there at the moment


Q:

I like to say Thank you for the FREE concert at Camden New Jersey A7X that was a FANTASTIC SHOW! My question is that i'm been singing the last two years and i'm trying to become a better singer, any tricks or tips you can give me that can improve my performance? Thank you again M. Shadows.

A:

Yes - Dont listen to people that just want you to scream.. :)


Q:

Hey Matt, your Croatian friend here. How are you? :)

I'm gonna try not to be too much of a pain in the ass with the questions lol...

  1. Are you aware of the Voltaic Oceans twitter account that posts about VO every day for a whole year now? And if so, is it real? It's been tweeting about 3 phases, same thing that deathbot was saying.

  2. I know that asking about the next album is bothersome, but I'd just like to know if the next album is going to be a bit heavier than The Stage? I know you're going to keep it progressive, but I'd LOVE it if it's a bit heavier as well. Progressive and heavy is the way to go haha. Of course, you're going to do whatever you want, but you know us fans. :P

  3. Lastly, do you ever visit my A7X Croatia instagram page? You might see some trying-to-be-funny memes of you and Johnny haha.

A:
  1. Not sure who runs VO twitter but it's not us. It's not real.
  2. I have no clue what direction the next album will take us in.
  3. While I do check out our AvengedSevenfold reddit, I don't have any social media so rarely check out instagram. I wanna see em. I'll check it out.

Q:

Hey Matt! Huge fan of yours for 11 years now, and I’ve seen you guys nearly EVERY time you’ve come around to NJ/NY (I’ve even seen you guys at Mohegan Sun). Words can not explain how much your band has impacted my life. And i just want to ask, plain and simple, because (your words EXACTLY) “if you don’t ask it won’t happen!”

Anyway, I’ll be coming out to see you guys in Holmdel, and i can not be more excited! can we meet up?

A:

We try to meet as many fans as we can. Our fan club Deathbat Nation runs contests for most shows and will do it again for The End of the World Tour.


Q:

Hey Matt, I have 3 questions for ye.

• I don’t intend to throw the A7X reddit under the bus with this, but what is your thoughts on people asking you to scream more (and A7X to go heavier in general as well)?

• As a Calgarian, I noticed that the last 3 times you toured Alberta, Calgary was skipped. Why is that?

• Since you apparently hooked Matt Heafy up with Ron Anderson, do you feel proud/responsible for him getting back to strength in Trivium?

Thanks for taking the time to do this AMA. Thanks for also being a fucking badass throughout the years as well. :)

A:

no its all good... I love the A7X reddit... I just think there are different opinions on this. I personally don't listen to much screaming at all. Im not sure were or why I would try and be something that I don't care for. We are just going to try and continue to write the music that we love to listen to. I think some bands do it great so we will leave it to them.

im not sure about calgary... we try and hit up as many places as we can while still staying sane...sorry :(

Ron is brilliant... he can get people to their full potential... everything Matt did was because he has an incredible work ethic... you can lead a horse to water..