Avenged Sevenfold guitarist Gates admits feeling within the band is “lighter” than when Mike Portnoy stepped in to help them

Synyster Gates

Man up: Synyster Gates

Avenged Sevenfold guitarist Synyster Gates says the death of drummer Jimmy ‘The Rev’ Sullivan has forced the band to grow up.

Sullivan died in December 2009 after an accidental overdose of drugs and alcohol, possibly exacerbated by a heart condition. The tragedy brought A7X close to splitting until then Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy stepped in to record fifth album Nightmare and then toured with them during 2010.

The band have hired new sticksman Arin Ilejay for their current tour, although they haven’t confirmed whether he’s a permanent member. But Gates says the lineup isn’t the only thing to have changed.

He tells Ultimate Guitar: “Arin is very young, and it’s more about us taking him under our wings at this point – whereas with Jimmy things were absolutely insane.

“The guy was a madman, very funny, and we were all friends, so it was a much crazier time for Avenged Sevenfold.

“I also think since the Rev’s passing we’ve had to grow up quite a bit. Mike helped us get through our period of grieving. Playing with Arin now is definitely a lot lighter kind of atmosphere than the moments we had with Mike Portnoy at that time. And not because of Mike – but because it was a lot closer towards the passing of the Rev.

“But now I think we’re into the healing process and it’s a breath of fresh air to have this really young talented kid out with us.”

A7X have hinted they’ll take some time off after completing the touring cycle for fifth album Nightmare, and Gates confirms they’re not currently writing for a follow-up record.

“We don’t have any plans right now as we are just really focused on touring,” he says. “A lot of cool new places have opened up and we’re really excited to come and see all our fans. And that is what is exciting to us right now.”

Related stories: