By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
For sanity's sake, the bandmates mostly part ways while in Miami, with Gabriel and Steven preferring to relax at home while Alex and Zakk still hang out together, remaining the band's self-professed party duo. Zakk several times professes his love for hitting on drunk college girls Thursday nights in Coconut Grove and for hanging out late at night at house parties and in Kendall's Hammocks Park.
Alex, meanwhile, is a rabid Churchill's devotee, claiming to have visited the place eight times over the past seven days and yanking aside his T-shirt sleeve to show off a tattoo of the punk dive's logo, the cane-propped silhouette of Sir Winston himself. Alex says he, three friends, and two of their parents all proudly sport the same tat.
At home, too, the bandmates cope in various ways with the rising pressures of fame. While friends still treat them normally (or tease them to put them in their place), the guys tend to avoid practicing, or even listening to, their own music. The exception is Steven, who claims — to the incredulous stares of his bandmates — he listens to Light from Above on his iPod at least once a day.
Zakk says he can't stop himself from checking Internet postings about the band, especially on Blabbermouth.net, the high-traffic, Roadrunner Records-sponsored clearinghouse for all heavy music news. As on any other blog, user comments range from slavish to measured to vitriolic. Reactions to a recent posting of an interview with the band at the UK Download festival ran the gamut from "Gabriel totally rocks!" to "This stupid band is the mallcore metal version of Carrie Underwood."
"I read them all. And first of all, most of those dudes live in my neighborhood," Zakk says. "And they haven't learned that when you click the user name of the person who leaves the comment on the site, it gives you their e-mail address. And I'm an asshole and I go to my [MySpace] friends list and I type in the e-mail address and I find out, hey, it's so-and-so!"
"Most of those kids are fucking stupid anyways," Alex says. "It's like, 'You guys suck and smell bad and I hate you!' It's like, Okay, thanks, do better — I've fucking heard that already."
But why bother reading any of that in the first place?
"I don't know. Somehow it makes me feel better," Zakk says. "It's like ... self-torture."
As the weeks pass, the band's star continues to rise. This fall, they'll crisscross the nation again, supporting the like-minded Welsh metallers of Bullet for My Valentine. And in October, the band will travel its farthest yet, to share a headlining stage with the likes of Avenged Sevenfold and Mötley Crüe at Japan's Loud Park 08 festival. And guess who's smack in the center of Revolver magazine's Mayhem Tour-themed foldout cover? Gabriel Garcia, of course. It seems the guys are getting the last laugh.
"What would you do if you were 15 and on tour?" Jason Suecof says. "It would be the most incredible life ever."