he may be known as one of the 21st cen­tury’s premier gui­tar he­roes, but within avenged, Synys­ter Gates is also the guy keep­ing the team to­gether

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Avenged Sevenfold - WORDS: JOE DALY • PIC­TURE: TRAVIS SHINN


There are two kinds of drinkers in this world: those who can’t han­dle their hang­overs and the ones who can. Synys­ter Gates falls squarely in the lat­ter camp. De­spite pay­ing the head-split­ting toll for a big night out in his home­town of huntington Beach, we find the avenged Seven­fold gui­tarist both af­fa­ble and joc­u­lar. he as­sures us that while they’ve di­alled back a good bit of the ol’ rock’n’roll ex­cess, he and the lads are still well up for the odd night on the town. “We are try­ing to re­tire some of those nights,” he says, “but we’re still un­op­posed to them, as douchey as they may be. We still have hang­overs, but more of the wine- and mar­tini– in­duced kind. We’re do­ing our best to keep it classy. ha ha ha!”

You get a lot of that sort of ca­sual, self– ef­fac­ing hu­mour when speak­ing with Synys­ter. chill as you like, he tends to lis­ten in­tently to what you’re say­ing and he’ll ask a lot of ques­tions back at you. It’s no won­der that he’s the band’s res­i­dent me­di­a­tor. “I make sure that all the re­la­tion­ships are in­tact. I feel like I lis­ten to ev­ery­body in the band and if there are small is­sues – and we’re very, very lucky be­cause we don’t re­ally have any gnarly is­sues – I try to work things out so that ev­ery­body’s as happy as pos­si­ble.

I’ve never ad­mit­ted that be­fore and I think I’m go­ing to re­gret


done so. But af­ter a few years of it, I guess that’s what I do. I’m the gel.”

like Johnny, Synys­ter en­joys pa­trolling the glassy waves up and down the huntington

Beach coast. Some­thing he’s done his whole life, surf­ing has evolved from a thrillseek­ing ad­ven­ture to some­thing far deeper. “I’m work­ing on slow­ing down and not try­ing to be the best at every­thing,” he says. “In my mid-20s I started trav­el­ling for surf with my wife and I ex­pe­ri­enced a lot of dif­fer­ent waves – in­tense waves, reef breaks and all this stuff. I felt like I was in a unique po­si­tion to get re­ally fuck­ing good at surf­ing, but then I re­alised a few years later that I didn’t have the tal­ent for it and it fuck­ing bummed me out! these days I just try to get out and en­joy the fact that I’m in the wa­ter with my friends or my wife or my fa­thers and just do my best to get a lit­tle ex­er­cise, be­cause I drink too much on the road. Now I try to keep it way less com­pet­i­tive.”

You read that cor­rectly – “fa­thers”, as in plu­ral. “Yup, both of my fa­thers,” he ex­plains. “I’ve known my step­dad Bruce for my en­tire life. I love them both to death.” Now that he’s a dad him­self, his ca­reer has taken on a new sense of pur­pose and vi­tal­ity. “Be­ing a dad makes you want to write the great­est song in the world, not for you but just for your legacy, to pro­vide more. If you write the great­est song in the world, that’s a gift you’re giv­ing to your son. Fa­ther­hood can

be just fuck­ing mad­ness! to­tal ab­so­lute chaos, but it’s the most beau­ti­ful thing you could be a part of.”

When he’s not on tour or home with his wife and son, Synys­ter runs an on­line gui­tar school – the Synys­ter Gates School – with his dad, Brian. “We’re re­ally proud of the unique­ness of it,” he says. “We have a bunch of video con­tent from a to Z, but num­ber one, it’s free. there’s no up­selling – you have ac­cess to every­thing. and sec­ond, you also have ac­cess to thou­sands of other stu­dents and all of their in­sights. So you post a ques­tion and then you lit­er­ally have dozens of kids an­swer­ing with their way of do­ing things. We also have a no-tol­er­ance pol­icy for bul­ly­ing. Vi­o­la­tors are kicked out im­me­di­ately – no sec­ond chances. We en­cour­age de­bate and crit­i­cism, but one of the gold stars of this fuck­ing com­mu­nity is that I haven’t had to kick one per­son off. It’s re­ally com­mu­nity-friendly and we’re re­ally proud of it.”

that he uses his fame to freely share his gifts only un­der­scores the unique con­nec­tion the band share with their fans. re­gard­less of the money, fame and ac­co­lades that they’ve earned, none of the guys buy into their own celebrity. “I know we draw tens of thou­sands of kids a night and all of that kind of stuff but you don’t feel that,” he ex­plains. “there are no pa­parazzi at my house. I live right by the high school and funny enough, the only fans that have ever come to my house are fans from way out of town, like across the pond, and only a hand­ful of times. a cou­ple of Swedish girls came by and a guy from Utah once, and it was re­ally sweet. he had twin daugh­ters and loved not just the mu­sic but he loved the band dy­namic of us all be­ing friends and the fact that my singer and I are mar­ried to twins who we grew up with. We’re best friends and we’re lucky to be re­spected and re­lated to by our fans.”

Grat­i­tude per­me­ates so much of what he says, which is un­ques­tion­ably why so many are drawn to him; he can be both the coolest guy in the room and the guy most likely to join you at the bar for a long, heart-to-heart chat about life. he takes noth­ing for granted. “I know it sounds clichéd,” he says, “but I don’t go a day with­out re­ally ap­pre­ci­at­ing it all and some­times it’s be­cause it’s right there in front of my face. my sis­ter-in-law will come over with her kids – matt’s kids, my neph­ews – and I get an amaz­ing sense of luck and be­wil­der­ment. like, ‘Why me?’ It’s like a fairy­tale. If this band ended to­mor­row, I’d just start a dif­fer­ent band with the same dudes.”

m. Shad­ows and Synys­ter: broth­ers-in-law in arms

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