Avenged Sevenfold Guitarist Synyster Gates Dazzles Fans at Master Class [Exclusive Interview]
Avenged Sevenfold's Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance just took home the award for Best Guitarists at this year’s Revolver Golden Gods Awards, but a few weeks ago Gates took the stage for a much different kind of gathering. In an event co-sponsored by Schecter Guitar Research and Guitar Center, Gates hand-selected 10 guitarists from an online contest to take part in an hour-and-a-half master class.
The lucky winners -- all obviously huge Avenged fans -- were in awe as Gates took the stage and played an original composition written specifically for the class. The rest of the curriculum involved tips on various techniques, ranging from picking styles to songwriting. And the end of the class, Syn asked the group if it would be alright if he brought out his acoustic guitar to play one of his favorite songs: Django Reinhardt’s 'Minor Swing,' a gypsy jazz standard.
Following the exclusive class, which was filmed and will be featured on Guitar Center’s YouTube page, Loudwire caught up with Gates to talk about his own guitar heroes, A7X's songwriting process and the upcoming Rockstar Mayhem Tour with Korn. Check out our chat with Synyster Gates below:
If you could have taken a master class with any guitar player when you were growing up, who would it have been?
When I was young, probably Dimebag Darrell. That was my guy. I respected Steve Vai’s playing technique a little bit more, but just to be able to meet Dimebag would have been phenomenal. He could have shown me so much cool stuff. That’s the guy.
You and Zacky have such a distinctive twin-guitar sound. When the band was starting out, were there any indications that you guys would drive the band’s sound?
I don’t know if that kind of perspective was there, but definitely it was a guitar-driven band. When Matt [M. Shadows] writes songs, he’s writing on guitar. When Jimmy ['The Rev' Sullivan] was alive, he was writing for Avenged on guitar, mainly. I mean, we borrowed some elements from our old band Pinkly Smooth, songs like 'Fiction' or 'A Little Piece of Heaven' are very much him on the piano doing his thing.
Can you talk more about the band’s songwriting process?
Well, songs like 'Brompton Cocktail' or 'Afterlife,' those are very much Jimmy sitting down with a guitar. Everybody comes from that punk-rock background, everybody has a guitar. So it made sense, I knew it was going to be guitar-oriented. And when we started writing, we all liked the dueling guitars. Everything had to be harmonized. You listen to 'City of Evil' and it's just layers and layers of harmonies. We were really influenced by bands like Queen and Mr. Bungle and all of their harmonies, and that really comes through in the music.
What does it feel like to by headlining the Mayhem Festival this summer alongside a legendary band like Korn?
This tour is going to be really exciting. I love all the bands. Korn are great friends of ours, so to be on tour with friends is amazing. We’ve been very fortunate to meet a lot of great bands, successful bands, that we can actually go tour with. Because the bottom line for those on the other side of it is they have to sell tickets. So its fortunate when you have great friends that can sell tickets as well because then you get to hang out with them everyday. I grew up listening to Korn, they were one of my favorite bands, just for the bass playing, vocals, and their extremely innovative guitar and drums.
Can you talk a bit about what fans can expect at your Mayhem show?
We’re probably going to play different songs, and just switch it up. We definitely have other things we can’t divulge, but we’re definitely going to put on a bigger and better show. Hopefully a little bit longer than usual, too.
Our thanks to Synyster Gates for taking the time to chat with us. Catch Avenged Sevenfold and an impressive lineup of rock and metal acts on this year's RockStar Mayhem tour. Click here for dates.
Photos of Synyster Gates at His Master Class: