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Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows reflects on "The Stage" surprise release: "It was horrible for the casual fan"

Credit: Jeff ForneyEarlier this month, Avenged Sevenfold announced that a deluxe version of their album The Stage, featuring a host of covers and live tracks, will arrive on December 15. That's a whole lot more notice than the band gave us for the original release of The Stage, which arrived by surprise overnight last October.

Reflecting on the surprise release strategy a year later, frontman M. Shadows feels that his band "definitely dropped the ball in terms of the casual fan."

"Do I think it was a good strategy for the casual fan? No, it was horrible for the casual fan," Shadows tells ABC Radio. "Most casual fans don't even know about it, or they've written it off as...'Why would you release a record secretly? It must not be good.' And we weren't expecting that at all."

The Stage debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 with 72,000 copies sold -- not exactly the barnstorming numbers A7X was hoping for, but still solid for a rock band in 2016. And while they might not have converted any casual fans, Shadows was happy to see that The Stage really connected with the hardcore Avenged Sevenfold follower.

"I haven't seen a more excited core group of fans...ever," Shadows remembers of The Stage release week. "So I think in terms of solidifying our core fan base, like, the fans that really are engaged with Avenged Sevenfold, it couldn't have been better for them."

Still, Shadows probably wouldn't do the surprise release over again.

"If we were to do it over, I would've tried to do something that encompasses the casual fan that's not living and breathing what bands like us are doing," he says. 

Avenged Sevenfold will launch a North American tour in support of The Stage in January.

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