By Andrew Nusca
No one knows a drummer better than his bass player, so we asked Avenged Sevenfold bassist Johnny Christ to share his impressions of The Rev. “His style has definitely changed my style as a bass player,” Christ says of the Rev. “I was 18 when we started playing together, and since then I’ve learned a lot about style in general from him.
To me, The Rev is like a heavyplaying [Mike] Portnoy. His style is like no other, and he plays faster than anyone I’ve heard, really. We’ve both been influenced by the Pantera groove metal we grew up on too. He’s just my favorite drummer to listen to.” In the studio, the The Rev’s style has influenced the whole band, Christ says. “We definitely tightened up the songs,” he says. “We just wanted to make it more focused. We also wanted to slow down and get all the groove orientations down well. It really works out well live. He and I would lock in more often. We started to focus on what we were playing [together]. He wasn’t going off and playing other things. When the whole band locks together in a groove, it really comes off way better.”
Christ says the two leave locking in unscripted while on stage, relying on their instincts to surprise the audience – and themselves. “The Rev is great to play with live,” he says. “We often have our moments when he’ll just throw in some fill I haven’t heard him play and we’ll just look at each other and laugh a bit about it. “For one song, we took this groove that we had and we elongated it and stopped everything else so that it was just the bass and the kick drum. We got the crowd into it. It was just right at the right tempo, getting everyone’s fists in the air. That was really impactful, that little one-two beat. His timing is awesome. He’s very easy to play with – in fact, I think it would be really hard for me now to play without him.”
Christ says he always makes sure he’s ready to keep pace with his rhythmic partner onstage. “When warming up before a show we’ll usually start out individually just getting our fingers warm. Then occasionally we’ll be playing parts of the songs we’re playing that night. We try to make sure we’re both ready to play out there.” Being longtime friends keeps any shred of ego in check, Christ says. “Working with The Rev has been just an overall great experience,” he says, grinning. “He’s a really technical player who has taught me a lot. You might find us every once in a while laughing about some joke or just messing with each other. There’s never too much dispute over anything, but I guess if there was, I’d probably just say, ‘You’re right.’”