Earlier this year, a voice that certainly sounded like Avenged Sevenfold frontman M. Shadows announced on the band’s Trax podcast that they were canceling their sets at the then-upcoming Welcome to Rockville and Sonic Temple festivals. Shadows quickly tweeted that the voice on the podcast was not his, hinting that the band was the victim of some kind of AI deepfake hack.

If, however, you guessed that the whole ordeal was really just promo for A7X’s next album, you were correct. In an interview with Rock Feed, Shadows confirms that he and the band came up with the idea for the “hack.”

As Shadows explains, A7X worked with a member of their social media team named Samantha to keep the plan secret from the band’s management, and from Welcome to Rockville and Sonic Temple producer Danny Wimmer.

“We knew that everyone would say no,” Shadows shares. “I said, ‘Don’t tell anyone.’”

“I said, ‘Samantha, all you know is we got hacked and we are trying to fix it,’” he continues. “She’s like, ‘Are you serious?’ And I’m like, ‘That’s what we’re doing.’”

Following the podcast, the supposed “hacker” posted a bunch of things related to Avenged Sevenfold, which led fans down a rabbit hole of theories related to the new album. Beyond just being a fun prank — though, maybe not so fun for Wimmer and A7X’s management team — the ordeal was meant to illustrate a larger point about AI.

“The whole thing was, like, ‘We don’t need to be a real person. You will be fooled, you will feel something,’” Shadows says.

Avenged Sevenfold’s new album, Life Is But a Dream…, drops Friday, June 2.

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