Congratulations sir..i have interacted with him and papa gates and they are always nice and gracious so i have no problem believing they are like that in person.one day before i take a dirt nap i will get to meet the whole band and papa gates but until then i will live vicariously through you..thank you sir for posting this. JohnAh, where do I begin? This will be long.
My family vacation this year was up on the Oregon Coast. We decided to drive instead of flying to see some of the sights along the way, including a lot of the beautiful coastline, the Golden Gate Bridge (I did a lot of work travel to San Francisco, but my wife and kids had never been there) and, well… look what happens be to along that coast? Huntington Beach.
“What if?” I thought. I decided I needed to find out. I made contact with Syn about a month ago to put the feelers out there. He was totally open to a visit and suggested I reach out again a couple days before the trip to see if his schedule would allow for a visit. I mostly kept it to myself, being a realist – I still considered it very much a long shot. I hoped that all my efforts and input here on the site would help, and Syn had definitely called me out a few times for them, so I didn’t feel like it would be an anonymous fanboy-type ask. After that first contact, he genuinely seemed open for a visit.
I told my wife Lisa about it a couple days ahead. As expected, she had very little idea who Syn was, or who Avenged Sevenfold is. She’s a pop-music fan, through and through. In fact, when she told my daughter about it on the phone, she said “We might be meeting the guitar player from Sevendust.”
Star was not enthused.
As we were getting close to Huntington Beach, I reached out again, and Syn called me back right away. His day was pretty packed, between a meeting that would not see him get home until about 4:30, to dinner with his family and in-laws. He was gracious enough to make time for us. It was about this time that my daughter got wind of the fact that this was SYNYSTER GATES from AVENGED SEVENFOLD and not “some guy from SEVENdust,” like she thought. She started freaking out a little, and made it clear to my wife that there was a REALLY BIG-ASS DIFFERENCE. In retrospect, I’m glad she didn’t know correctly before then, because I don’t think I could have dealt with Star’s fangirl freak-out for the whole 7 hour drive.
Anyway, he sent me a push-pin for a park to meet him in. He would take the dog (“Pinkly!”) for a walk and meet us there. His time was limited, but I was super-impressed and grateful that he was genuinely going out of his way and inconveniencing himself to meet us. There is literally no way he could ever do this for any fan, or even any member of the site here, who happened to be passing through town. I definitely felt very fortunate.
Huntington Beach traffic on a nice day is a nightmare. This time, it was MY fucking nightmare, because I didn’t want to delay or inconvenience him any more than necessary, and I was dreading the “Dude, I’m sorry, but I gotta go” phone call. It never came. We pulled into the parking lot of a nice park. As I was pulling in, I spotted Syn and Pinkly just getting there. I rolled the window down and said hey, then parked.
As we got out of the car, Brian (switching to calling him Brian now, because it seemed everyone he knows “in real life” calls him by his given name, and it seemed wrong to use “Syn” outside of a music-related venue or situation). So as we’re getting out, Brian is just real approachable, and so I just treated him like many other “internet friends” that I meet in real life – handshake and a hug and “hey man, great to meet you, thanks for coming out.” He was all smiles and introduced himself to the family, then introduced Pinkly (who is ADORABLE, by the way).
He asked a bit about each member of the family and our vacation plans, and then invited us over to sit down at a park table. He took Pinkly off the leash, telling us he’s old (13) and more than a little deaf. Pinkly wandered a bit, and then settled in the grass behind Star, who LOVES all dogs dearly. Brian was only ever distracted from our visit by making sure Pinkly was safe and near. He gave us his full attention and acted like there was literally nothing more important in his life in those moments than visiting with us.
He spent a good deal of time telling my family how awesome I am, and how much of a huge help and influence I am at this school – which, as you might have guessed, scored me UNLIMITED COOL DAD POINTS. Thank you, kind sir!
He asked me if I had a favorite album, and I told him honestly – The Stage. From the crazy opening lick to the ending spoken word with Dr. Tyson, I was absolutely head over heels in love with the album – I pointed out how much I loved that they took SO MANY “out there” chances, and that – for me, at least – they all just WORKED. I told him that the lyrical content – which I’m not usually big on – hit home for me, as well.
Then he asked me if there were any weak spots for me in the catalog, and honestly again, I said that I felt like HttK was an amazing collection of great SONGS that didn’t make for my favorite album – that if I had shuffle on, and anything from that album came on, I thoroughly enjoyed it, but that I just never listen to it front to back like I do with most albums. He understood where I was coming from and listened intently and enthusiastically to everything I had to say, and I probably rambled a bit (I’m prone to that, I know – I’m doing it now, no doubt, as well).
We talked about Matt’s voice and recovery (a much bigger deal than expected, and Matt’s doing fantastic), and then I asked about the new album. That’s all I’m really going to say about that, because it was here, talking about that, that Brian was most excited and most animated, and at some point, he will share that with all of you. It’s simply not my place to take that joy of sharing away from him. I will say, he excited me for the album, and for Matt’s voice, and the direction overall. I doubt he shared anything “secret” with me, but still – I don’t feel like it’s my place to take that from him. He will post in here or give an interview when he’s ready.
We took some pictures, and let him go without keeping him too long. I’d been expecting 5-10 minutes, and I think we were somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes – I wasn’t keeping track, but it was unhurried and we covered a lot of ground. We took pictures, and he even pulled my wife in for a picture, which she didn’t expect or seek (I mean, he’s not Madonna, you know?). Wife and daughter both commented later that he “smelled fantastic,” so I need to find out what cologne he was wearing . Everyone found him gracious, respectful, and very NICE and KIND and GENUINE. Pinkly is a happy and friendly little guy, too.
All in all, it was an amazing visit, and more than I ever hoped it would be. I made a post about it on my personal FB and IG, and a few aggregates re-posted the IG stuff, which made me stop and think, and also kind of made me feel bad. I guess I’m still a little naive about some things online (which kind of surprises me), and I certainly never stopped to think something like that might happen. My FB is fairly locked down, so I knew that would not be a problem there, but I’m newer to Instagram, and I’ve never had something like that happen there, and it made me feel off – I certainly wasn’t intending to “use” Syn for likes or shares or anything like that, and that others would just take my personal memories and repost them like that gave me pause.
It made me stop and realize, if nothing else, that while many of us do (or have in the past) chased fame, and considered the “ups” of being famous, we don’t often look at the downsides. Syn is lucky (and smart) in that he is surrounded by family and local friends in his hometown that he’s known all his life. People outside the entertainment machine who keep him grounded and real, in a world where everyone you meet is more likely to be a vulture who only wants to take from you, without regard for consequence. I certainly don’t think he’s lonely, but it gave me a brief perspective into how someone famous could definitely feel that way, and I found it unsettling. Imagine meeting new people – every day – and having to default to the assumption that they only want FROM you, without any real care FOR you. That he can remain so grounded, humble, affable, and giving of himself in the face of that makes it all the better.
I’ve heard said many times that one should never meet their heroes or idols, for they will always be disappointed. I am here to tell you personally from my own experience that if you are presented with the opportunity to meet Syn/Brian, you can do so safe in the knowledge that the guy we see posting and commenting in here is exactly the guy you meet. In fact, from now on, I expect everything he writes here, I will read in his voice in my head. If it were possible to think more of him, I certainly do after meeting him, outside the “world” of entertainment and music and all that. We never even talked guitar.
TL;DR: If you get the chance to meet Syn, do it. You won’t be disappointed. He kinda fuckin rules.
There are duplicate pics, and multiple shots, so here’s the gallery:
and its comments like this one is why i will never leave this school..the respect and family feel..you just dont get that every where..thank you sir and all of the synnersThose are the most incredible words written or spoken about me that I have ever read or heard. I seriously teared up and made my wife read it immediately after lol! I’ve never had that reaction to any interview, post, thread, or anything really in my entire life said about me.
Damn man, it was only like 30 minutes and I felt horrible for not having more time lol!
“Truth”, you are beyond a leader in and out of this community, your kindness and compassion for everyone is beyond reproach. You are in every fuckin forum topic and always have been. Brother, it was MY honor to meet greatness. AND, I noticed IMMEDIATELY that these transcendent characteristics emanate through your entire family. So much so that the son I didn’t even meet is still clearly cut from the same cloth simply, but not limited to, the fact that he is serving his country in our great military.
Brother, you kinda fuckin rule
Thanks for resurrecting this thread, bud! It all seemed a lifetime ago and it was awesome to re-read what I, Syn, and everyone else wrote about. Thanks for the memories!Congratulations sir..i have interacted with him and papa gates and they are always nice and gracious so i have no problem believing they are like that in person.one day before i take a dirt nap i will get to meet the whole band and papa gates but until then i will live vicariously through you..thank you sir for posting this. John