In a 2001 interview with the Web 'zine "Into Obscurity," Avenged Sevenfold frontman Matt Shadows was asked what he and his bandmates would be doing if they weren't playing aggressive emo-metal music. The singer flippantly replied that he would be in the NBA and bassist Justin Sane would "overdose on something."
His words would return to haunt him. Before the band started working on its sophomore album, Waking the Fallen (which came out August 26), Sane tried to kill himself by drinking an excessive amount of cough syrup. He survived, but was so severely impaired he had to leave the group.
"He perma-fried his brain and was in a mental institution for a long time," Shadows said. "When you have someone in your band who does that, it ruins everything that's going on all around you, and it makes you want to do something to prevent it from happening to other people."
That's why Avenged Sevenfold and other screamo, metal, hardcore and punk artists are taking part in this year's Take Action Tour, which will benefit the suicide awareness and prevention program the National Hopeline Network 1-800-SUICIDE. The first of 28 dates will be September 11 in Minneapolis, and will feature Poison the Well, Dillinger Escape Plan, Further Seems Forever, Eighteen Visions, Shai Hulud and Since by Man. Avenged Sevenfold will join the tour September 17. Other acts that will play select dates include Shadows Fall, This Day Forward, Throwdown, Himsa and These Arms Are Snakes. The tour runs through October 12.
To coincide with the tour, Hopeless Records has just released the benefit record Take Action! Volume 3, a double-CD compilation that features 45 songs by such acts as Avenged Sevenfold, Thrice, Poison the Well, Thursday, Good Riddance, the Ataris, Further Seems Forever, Division of Laura Lee, Yellowcard, Boy Sets Fire and Cursive. Last year's Take Action! disc has sold more than 240,000 copies.
"Take Action is raising money for something that affects absolutely everyone that's human," said Poison the Well guitarist Ryan Primack, who delivers a PSA that starts the record, and whose band is playing the tour for the second year in a row. "Everyone knows someone or is someone that has felt depressed enough to kill themselves. With an issue as basic and humanitarian as this, people who need help should get help."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, young people account for approximately 5,000 out of 30,000 total suicides in the U.S. each year. Another 650,000 people are hospitalized annually after attempting to kill themselves. In addition, suicide is the leading cause of death for college students.
"Of course, not everyone who comes to a punk rock show is suicidal or depressed, but punk fans are a young group of people who are dealing with very difficult issues at school and at home," said concert organizer and Hopeless Records founder Louis Posen. "So we realized that here was a group of people who could identify with the message, and also the bands seemed to have a lot of connection with dealing with depression and suicide."
One emotionally aware band that feels a real connection with the cause is Thursday, who contributed "For the Workforce, Drowning" to Take Action! Volume 3. In the mid-'90s, one of frontman Geoff Rickly's best friends killed himself.
"His name was Kevin, and he's the one who got me into hardcore and punk," the singer recalled. "He was schizophrenic and he moved to San Francisco, and ended up shooting himself. I talked to his mom afterwards, and she said he had a suicide hotline number for New York, and he had used it before, but he couldn't use it in San Francisco because he didn't have a long-distance plan. If there had been a toll free number like 1-800-SUICIDE, he could have called them, and I might still have my friend around."
Take Action Tour dates, according the the event publicist:
- 9/11 - Minneapolis, MN @ The Quest
- 9/12 - Chicago, IL @ House of Blues
- 9/13 - Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart's
- 9/14 - Pontiac, MI @ Clutch Cargo
- 9/15 - Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theater
- 9/16 - New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
- 9/17 - Old Bridge, NJ @ Birch Hill Niteclub
- 9/18 - Worcester, MA @ Palladium
- 9/19 - Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
- 9/20 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
- 9/21 - Norfolk, VA @ The Boathouse
- 9/22 - Charlotte, NC @ Tremont Music Hall
- 9/23 - Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
- 9/25 - Jacksonville, FL @ Free Bird Cafe
- 9/26 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Venu
- 9/27 - Lake Buena Vista, FL @ House of Blues
- 9/29 - Houston, TX @ Numbers
- 9/30 - Austin, TX @ Stubb's BBQ
- 10/1 - Dallas, TX @ Gypsy Ballroom
- 10/3 - Tempe, AZ @ Marquee Theatre
- 10/4 - San Diego, CA @ Soma
- 10/5 - Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues
- 10/6 - West Hollywood, CA @ House of Blues
- 10/7 - West Hollywood, CA @ House of Blues
- 10/8 - Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues
- 10/9 - San Francisco, CA @ Fillmore
- 10/11 - Seattle, WA @ Graceland
- 10/12 - Portland, OR @ Roseland Theatre