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Interview

Bassist Johnny Christ Explains Avenged Sevenfold's "Nightmare"

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Band Photo: Avenged Sevenfold (?)

Avenged Sevenfold recently hit a milestone in their career, landing at #1 on the Billboard top 200 chart with the band's fifth studio-album "Nightmare." After the passing of drummer James "The Rev" Sullivan, Avenged Sevenfold tapped Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater fame to handle the drum recording duties on the album and fill in for touring duties.

Just prior to the recent release of the music video for the title track on the new album, Bassist Johnny Christ spoke with Metalunderground about the new album and the band's future. Commenting on the death of The Rev and how it influenced the album, Johnny stated "...when he passed it kind of took the record to a darker place than it already was. It’s definitely a heavier album than the previous ones. We had already planned on that, but obviously all of us are trying to make this more of a tribute to Jimmy. There are a lot of people out there who have lost somebody and we want to let them know they aren’t alone." He also went on to discuss how Mike Portnoy approached the drumming on the album and the distinctive artwork on "Nightmare."

xFiruath: The deaths in the music world recently have hit particularly close to home for Avenged Sevenfold with the passing of James “The Rev” Sullivan. How is the band doing after that loss?

Johnny: He’s my brother. Jimmy’s passing was a devastation to the rock world and even more so to us because we grew up together. His passing was more devastating to us as people than it was to us as a band. That guy was always there and the first one to get us together to hang out. Having him not here still doesn’t feel real.

xFiruath: Tell me about your own history in music. When did you get started and decide you wanted to be in a rock band?

Johnny: I’ve always been into music as long as I can remember. My parents have told me stories about me dancing around and singing to any kind of music on the radio. I think I first realized that I wanted to pursue music as a career around the sixth grade.

xFiruath: What does the new album “Nightmare” deal with and what can fans expect to hear this time around?

Johnny: This was written 100% with Jimmy. We started about a year ago and took about nine months to write. We were about a week away before his death and when he passed it kind of took the record to a darker place than it already was. It’s definitely a heavier album than the previous ones. We had already planned on that, but obviously all of us are trying to make this more of a tribute to Jimmy. There are a lot of people out there who have lost somebody and we want to let them know they aren’t alone. We wanted to pay a tribute to his legacy.

xFiruath: Where did you record this album?

Johnny: We recorded the drums in L.A. and then we moved to our home studio.

xFiruath: Who did you work with for the cover artwork on “Nightmare?”

Johnny: Zacky Vengeance works with a different artist every time. The concept was to make people feel uneasy as we are uneasy right now. It’s to kind of give a glimpse of what’s on the record. It’s a dark record and it’s going to make you feel a little darker.

xFiruath: Mike Portnoy from Dream Theater came in to record the drums for the album. When he was recording was it a situation where he was trying to emulate Jimmy’s style or was he free to do his own thing?

Johnny: When we first lost him the band was in the background of our thoughts. As time went on we realized we needed to make this record. We went through some drummers but Mike Portnoy definitely had a similar style because Jimmy grew up admiring his work for years. Mike came back with a humble “Yes,” saying he’d do whatever we wanted him to do to make the record. We had some demo tracks that were already laid down and he listened to those and worked with those to get the idea of what we were looking for. We gave him a few different options and then went with the ones we liked best. When it was done Jimmy would have been proud.

xFiruath: Mike will be hitting the road with you guys for upcoming tour dates, but what’s going to happen with the drummer situation after that?

Johnny: We have no idea at this point. Right now the only reason why we are touring is because we need to tour and to let people hear this record.

xFiruath: Where did you guys record the new video for “Nightmare?”

Johnny: We recorded that in L.A. We weren’t going to do a video at all, but we wanted to pay a tribute. We had worked with director Wayne Isham before and we trusted him and he came through for us with a theme from Jacob’s Ladder. There are things throughout the song and video that show and represent Jimmy. We strapped M. Shadows to a gurney and shove him around and had a bunch of people playing with blood. It’s pretty visually intriguing.

xFiruath: There were five teasers released for the video so far. Will there be any others or is it finally time for the full video?

Johnny: You’ll just have to wait and see. The teasers will come as they come and the video will be out soon.

xFiruath: Do you have any particular tour memory that sticks out in your head you’d like to share?

Johnny: At this point it runs together. It’s all great in its own way. I remember having a blast with Bullet For My Valentine. We had a tour in Australia that was a lot of fun a few summers back. The fans were really receptive to both bands and they were excited to see us both. There was never a bad night for anyone because there wasn’t anyone who was just a fan one band. We had a couple days off there where we went to the beach and the bars and everything.

xFiruath: What’s in your musical rotation lately?

Johnny: I started listening to the new Deftones record. That first track is the single that got me to pick up the records. I think it’s a great record.

xFiruath's avatar

Ty Arthur is a freelance writer who writes for both entertainment and technical instruction sites. An avid fan of many different forms of metal, he has been involved in reviewing music for several years and is currently a contributing editor for Metalunderground.com

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17 Comments on "Bassist Johnny Christ Shares His 'Nightmare'"

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kool_ambo's avatar

Member

1. kool_ambo writes:

awesome interview!!!
Rev was the f***ing genius dude in metal world!!!
we miss him!!!
nightmare.....9/10!

# Aug 11, 2010 @ 1:29 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
2. Skull writes:

R.I.P Jimmy

foREVer

# Aug 11, 2010 @ 2:13 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
xDecapitation's avatar

Member

3. xDecapitation writes:

Avenged Sevenfold recently hit another milestone in their career, recording their worst album to date, and only reaching #1 on this billboard because it was so mainstream.

RIP Avenged Sevenfold.

# Aug 11, 2010 @ 2:56 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
4. To: xDecapitation writes:

So? What's wrong with it?

# Aug 11, 2010 @ 3:38 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Demise's avatar

Member

5. Demise writes:

^how about for one the constant changing of paces slow then to fast then slow again. a little change is cool but make up your mind. also the lyrics were unimaginative and seemed like they were written in one day. The drumming was average at beast even thought Mike Portnoy was there. The guitar had there moments but overall were your basic riffs a 5th grader could write

# Aug 11, 2010 @ 4:34 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
6. Frank writes:

@xDecapitation

Yeah, 'cause the mainstream just BEGS for singles that are 6 and a half minutes long with a multitude of tempo changes, let alone a full album made up mostly of songs that touch upon the 7 minute mark, some exceeding it.

# Aug 11, 2010 @ 1:02 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
TheIronMan's avatar

Member

7. TheIronMan writes:

f*** it, I'm not even gonna bother anymore.

# Aug 11, 2010 @ 4:29 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
xDecapitation's avatar

Member

8. xDecapitation writes:

Demise pretty much summed it up, I was expecting it to be a whole lot worse than it was I will admit to that, but yes the album was overall pretty sh**. I remember they had a link to where you could listen to it on like AOL or some site, and I got distracted because this band that recorded an actual good EP, "Iron Thrones" I think they were called, who sell 1 record every 6 months.

I know it sounds a little dry, but when you're talking about metal as a genre, and a popular band like Avenged, who I used to f***ing love, (I payed 40$ to see them two years ago) when a band hits #1 on the billboards, it's the first sign that it's all over. I'm not saying this is the case for every metal band who has hit it big but...ok yes, yes I am, Metallica sucks now for example.

As for you 6, it doesn't matter how long a sh**ty pop song is, it's still a sh**ty pop song.

# Aug 11, 2010 @ 5:33 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
9. VENGEANCEcries4REVer writes:

i can not wait till the concert...!!!!

R.I.P. THE REV

A7X foREVer...

# Aug 11, 2010 @ 10:02 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
10. metalneverdies writes:

"Note to self: Art is not created for the people who will hate it - it is created for the people who will appreciate it" - Brian Haner Sr.

this cd was made up of pure creativity from avenged sevenfold. if you dont like it, why are you on this? why does this matter to you? you dont like them, get your negative sh*t out of here, because we dont like you either.

other than that, glad to hear Johnnys experience through this, since him and The Rev were close
RIP Jimmy

# Aug 11, 2010 @ 11:17 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
DeathCrush's avatar

Member

11. DeathCrush writes:

I like this album, and I'm beginning to like A7x because they're f***ing catchy. Also, A7x reminds me so much of guns n roses. I use to tell everyone I hated them, but you know what, secretly love them. There, you are all the first to hear this. I will possibly be reviewing the new album on here.

# Aug 12, 2010 @ 12:21 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
12. Mikey808 writes:

I used to love these guys and still like them, but the new album is sh** and the rev was not that great of a drummer lol.

# Aug 13, 2010 @ 11:23 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Blindgreed1's avatar

Member

13. Blindgreed1 writes:

"if you dont like it, why are you on this? why does this matter to you? you dont like them, get your negative sh*t out of here, because we dont like you either."

Negative opinions are just as important as the positive ones. Only difference is that you pathetic fan-boi's get your little feelings hurt anytime someone says something negative about your beloved boy band. Get over it.

# Aug 13, 2010 @ 4:39 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
xDecapitation's avatar

Member

14. xDecapitation writes:

Chill out man, I just voiced my opinion on the album. and you and this "we" you speak of can suck my balls if you don't like that.

It's not like I made fun of people who like the album, I even said I used to like Avenged, so there was no need for you to freak out lol. This matters to me because a band I used to like, I don't like anymore, I thought that would be kind of easy to figure out...

# Aug 13, 2010 @ 7:26 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
TheIronMan's avatar

Member

15. TheIronMan writes:

^Agreed.

I love A7X, but if you're on this site be prepared to get sh** for liking them. And the rest of the metal community. But why do you give a f*** what other people think about your music taste or your bands?

# Aug 13, 2010 @ 7:41 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
16. diddums writes:

bullet and a7x actually came in the australian winter :)

foREVer

# Sep 9, 2010 @ 10:16 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
KORNDOGG's avatar

Member

17. KORNDOGG writes:

FINALLY someone agrees with me!! Post 11, ive always said they remind me of old GNR, especially nightmare album. This f***en album is genius! I really dont see why you all hate it, each song is like its own crazy mess of awesome! I agree it changes pace so much, but thats what I love about it!! So different, not hardly mainstream! The mainstream has just adjusted to it, because its A7X. Everybodys entitled to their opinion and I respect that.


NP-5FDP - cant heal you

# Sep 9, 2010 @ 10:34 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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