The Mayhem Festival takes over Riverbend July 20 and CityBeat will be featuring bands throughout the week leading up to the festival. Trivium is one of the groups playing this year, represent the new school of Metal at its best. The band, out of Orlando, is signed with Roadrunner Records and its fifth studio album, In Waves, is expected to be released in August. The band has most recently had its song “Shattering the Skies Above” featured in the third installment of the God of War video game.
CityBeat spoke with lead vocalist and guitarist Matt Heafy for a preview of this summer’s Mayhem Fest where they will be touring with Metal legends, Megadeth.
CityBeat: Let’s talk about the new album coming out later this summer. What’s the actual release date on that now?
Matt Heafy: The release date, I’m not exactly sure. It’s just that it has been changing. Tentatively I believe it’s August 8th or 9th in the U.S. but you never know because it could change.
CB: What was the process to put the record together? I know you guys have been working on it a while.
MH: Basically, we have been working on this record for two years now. We had about eight or nine months on pre-production demoing between all of us in the band. We just did it with the four of us. The record took about three months of tracking. I believe the mix process took about a month or six weeks or so. The visual process spanned about a year as well. We have been working on the visuals with five visual artists on this record and we have been working closely with some of them for about a year. We are working on the new treatments for the new video. But we really wanted to make something that wasn’t just about the music anymore and it was completely unveiling the entire package. So you weren’t just getting the soundtrack to the movie, you are getting the entire movie with this record and we wanted to break the mold of what Metal has looked like for the past 30 years. Essentially, Metal has stuck with the exact same formula since Sabbath and Priest did it. We wanted to do something completely different this time.
CB: What’s your favorite track on the album and what is the story behind it?
MH: My personal favorite track of this month of our record, it changes a lot, is probably “'Caustic Are The Ties That Bind.” With this entire record with the really deep visuals and all the song titles and lyrics, we really want to leave the interpretation with the viewing listener and put the power back with the person enjoying the music and what they feel like the interpretation of everything should be. I can tell you about the premise of that song. I remember we were in LA one day and we were in the dressing room prepping for this show we had. It was a co-headlining show with us and Coheed and a bunch of other bands. We had just gotten back from eating Peruvian food nearby and it was amazing, and Paulo said “Check this rift out,” and it started out like, "Duh duh du duh duh dun nuh" and I said “That’s really cool." I was really into it and said “Hey pass me the guitar." So I learned that riff and added some things onto it and started playing around with it and next thing I recorded the demo and the song went through about five to ten revisions between demos until we came to the right thing.
The reason why we kept coming up with different revisions was the middle section was definitely a challenge to come up with. That didn’t come up the first time. I don’t think we had the final vocal arrangement with everything until about two weeks or so before going into the studio. A lot of these songs have been through tons and tons of revisions and some of them were quick like “What’s This World Coming To”, that song was written for the record and pretty much you hear it on the record was the way it was in demo form and “'Caustic Are The Ties That Bind” went through like 10 revisions.
CB: Do you still live in Florida?
MH: Yes, I still live in Central Florida, kind of in the Orlando area.
CB: So you have been together for 12 years basically.
MH: What’s so great about us starting out so young is … something our label, our booking agents our management always talk about … is that even 10 years from now we’ll be the average age of the bands that are out right now. So we always have so much time to do anything and everything. So it’s onward and upward really. There are no performances anymore, they are all like mini movies. I have this whole grand scale idea of where I would like to go with our videos, and our live performances, and our live setups. Those type of things aren’t really possible for a band our size. We aren’t a big band by any means. We are a medium to small size band. If you are big enough that you can put the revenue you generate back into the band, back into the art, back into the show, and back into the videos, that’s when you can do things like Rammstein and Lady Gaga do who are heroes of mine when it comes down to bands who are musically and visually creative, that do something different from what everyone else does. When you see what those two bands, what Gaga and what Rammstein do live, it is completely different than what any other band does, what any other band would think to do. And so I have my own ideas of where I would like to see our stuff go.
CB: So you want the fountain of blood at your next show like Gaga?
MH: We would find our own versions of it.
CB: I’m always amazed at how many Metal people love Lady Gaga. It’s really funny to me.
MH: I heard with her new record, she wanted to make a new record that all her Metal friends would like. The first one didn’t really take with me. It was cool and all, our bass player was into the first one. But with this new one, I really, really dig it. The music is simpler, it is darker imagery. I found that she is really artistic. All these other Pop stars do the same old thing. It is really nothing visually striking or visually creative. She has always injected in the occasional modern art into some of her stuff and in her music videos there will be moments where it will be performance art kind of stuff, and I’m not even talking about the dance scenes, I’m talking about those weird sections where she’s being pelted by waves in a tour dress or something. I think that is bringing a new artistic level into something that typically with Pop music is not about art, it’s usually about turning something out, but with her it is something so much more.
CB: I went to see her final tour stop show in Cleveland last month. I guess I’m most impressed with her when she is just sitting at the piano playing and singing because I think people forget that she is a real musician with real talent and who can really, really sing.
MH: Yes, definitely. Most Pop stars are all using backing tracks and auto-tune live. Even Metal bands are doing it. I cannot believe the amount of Metal bands that use backing tracks and auto-tune during live show. They have the actual album playing while they are playing live.
CB: That’s not something I’m used to with Metal because it’s such hardcore drums and guitars.
MH: There are so many bands in our genre that have their album playing while their playing live and I think, “When did this become OK?”
CB: It’s not. It’s definitely not OK. I always love to talk to the drummers because I am like, “How do you do that?” It just beats the shit out of your body for like two hours every day.
MH: Our new drummer, he is disgustingly good at drums. I was watching him play yesterday and he is not even mic’ed up to anything. He has no triggers or anything and he can play all the stuff that I did not know drummers could do anymore. Triggers are essential for metal bands and they keep the sound consistent when you are playing, but our drummer came from a world of like Grindcore Technical Death Metal. They didn’t have those kinds of things. He didn’t have nice gear. He just had a little five piece kit. So he had to play everything these guys played on records with nothing. It is an amazing thing because I am an awful, awful drummer. So it’s cool to see it done right.
CB: So you are going to be with Megadeth on this new tour. They are probably one of my all time favorite Metal bands. Did they have any influence over you growing up or were they one of your influences?
MH: Yeah. Of course. The original favorites we got into were Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, Testament, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath. Those were the staples, amazing Metal bands. Megadeth is actually Corey’s favorite band in the world, our other guitar player. We have never toured with Megadeth, we’ve toured with pretty much every other one of our favorite bands ever. Machine Head was the first live Metal band I ever saw in my life. We have toured with them between three and five times now together. I consider them our best friends of any band in the world. They are still one of our favorite bands and our heroes. In Flames is a band that if I did not get into when I was 15 or 16, I wouldn’t be here right now. I wouldn’t have learned to write music that is like Trivium. It was like Black Album and Machine Head’s Burning Red, those were the records that made me. It’s definitely going to be great to be on tour with In Flames and Machine Head again. We have toured with both of them a lot. We toured with Disturbed in Australia. They were super awesome. They treated us better than any band had ever treated us before on tour. Megadeth, I haven’t met Dave yet. I heard he digs our band. I love Megadeth with everything they’ve had.
CB: It makes sense that Corey loves them with their guitar.
MH: That is Corey’s absolute favorite band. We have hung out with those dudes before. I have met everyone in the band but Dave and everyone is super cool. Corey said hanging out with Dave is super cool. So sounds to me like it’s going to be a good tour.
CB: Do you guys have any regrets over the years?
MH: Oh yeah. I mean, a ton — it would be hard to list. But it’s always good though. It’s good to fuck up because when you do mess up and when you do have error, it allows you to make something better in the end. I think every single mistake we have ever done and every error we have ever had is a culmination and the end result is our new record. And our new record is the best thing we have ever done as a whole package. Without every error we have ever had we wouldn’t be where we are at right now.
CB: I always ask this question because it’s sometimes funny and sometimes it’s not. Are there any crazy boyfriend or husband stories on the road?
MH: Boyfriend or husband stories? Do you mean like banging somebody’s husband or boyfriend?
CB: Or girlfriend?
MH: I’m sure it happens. I’m the only guy in the band who is married. I’m the only guy in the band who is in a relationship so I don’t look too kindly on that stuff. I don’t think our guys are too into that. I don’t know.
CB: I usually get the stories of the guys asking the band members to be with their wives or girlfriends.
MH: Oh, those. I think I’ve heard that once or twice back in the day. I don’t know if they’re serious or not. I obviously never did that. I have heard it and heard of it. That’s not cool. Don’t offer up your wife to scummy ass band dude. That’s not OK.
CB: I’ve heard everything from girls laying under the bus tires to not getting off the bus. Some bands have banned girls from the bus period because it’s a legal issue at this point.
MH: Any chick that is going to sleep with a band guy should ask for their STD records first. That’s definitely a good way to go before you sleep with any band member in my opinion. Band guys are some scummy ass dudes and that’s coming from one that used to be a scummy ass dude. I’m not a scummy ass dude anymore but I was. Just because he is in a band does not mean he is anything special. That’s the way I look at it.