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Trivium's Matt Heafy: Metal's Not A Genre, It's A Lifestyle

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Guitarist and lead vocalist Matt Heafy was around 13 or 14 when Trivium formed in Orlando in 2000, and only 17 when Trivium released their debut album, Ember To Inferno. Over the past decade, Heafy and the other members of Trivium have come a long way, from constant experimentation (each album has its own very different sound) to the evolution of their songwriting and musical prowess.

Rounded out by lead guitarist Corey Beaulieu (who came on board right after Ember to Inferno) bassist Paolo Gregoletto (2004-present) and drummer Nick August (2010-present), the band is still in their 20s, but they've achieved what most musicians their age only dream of. The name "trivium" even suits their accomplishments, translating to a three-way intersection that combines metalcore, melodic death metal and thrash.

Currently touring North America with DevilDriver, Trivium's Heafy talked with Up On The Sun about working with David Draiman, what makes his metal generation unique, and how he would describe Trivium in three words.

Both Vengenace Falls and In Waves were Top 15 debuts. They obviously have significant musical differences, but for you personally how did the writing and recording experience change from album to album? Every record is so different; we don't exactly have a formula to stick to for writing. It shifts with every album. With In Waves, one of the songwriters, either Corey, Paolo or myself, would write the majority of the song, but it wouldn't really come together until we all sat together. It definitely shifted a little with Vengeance Falls. And I guess when looking back at Vengenace Falls, you can see moments from all the previous records encapsulated into that one.

How was it working with David Draiman on Vengeance Falls? It was amazing. He was certainly one of the most hands-on producers we've ever had. The ideas he had for the record, whether it was drums, lyrics, vocals, guitar playing arrangements, he had something for everything. I'm not saying we would go for every idea but what we would do is that any time one of the five us had an idea we tried it out. David was one of the best. He's also without a doubt the best vocal coach I've had in my entire life.

He is an amazing singer and I definitely follow his type of regimen for singing on the road now. Cutting off food four hours before a show, cutting off food three hours before going to bed, no drinks three hours before going to bed, no alcohol no caffeine on tour. Nothing that would call reflux necessarily. Prilosec in the morning, Zantac at night; it's very strict living to be a singer...who sings well.

Do any of the other band members follow suit or do they see that as just the vocalist's routine? Corey, our lead guitar player who does back-up screaming live, he does the exact opposite of me. [Laughs] He can drink vodka before a show, on stage, and after a show and be totally fine. I think if I were just screaming it would be fine, and I wouldn't have to take as much care of myself as I do. There are a couple singers out there, like Ronnie James Dio, for example, who never warms up before a show, who drinks red wine all the time, and did whatever he wanted and sang perfectly.

There are a couple guys like that in the world but it's few and far between. David [Draiman] and I are the type of singers that require much warm-up, and much tedious care in order to do what our audience deserves.

You said back in 2010 that In Waves was going to be definitive, "the one." Do you still stand by that now after Vengeance Falls has been so well received? I've definitely said some quotes over the years, but I guess... they were correct at the point in time, um, but looking back at our career and having six records already, every album has does different things for our band.

And every album has been received bigger or smaller in certain territories.Ascendancy for example did incredible well in the UK and the U.S., and didn't really do anything anywhere else. The Crusade, as far as the popular mind went, wasn't well received in the UK and the US but it opened the doors for us in Europe. Shogun wasn't anything that was really talked about when it first came out, but nowadays people hail it as our best album. In Waves blew the doors open for us in Germany, and Vengeance Falls blew the doors open for us in Japan. With every record we have a different faction of fans who appreciate it. It's refreshing I would imagine for the fans that we're a band that never releases the same record twice. Trivium has shared the stage with Metallica, Korn, Iron Maiden, and some other big time bands. Is there a band that would be your ultimate to share the stage with or do you think you've already done that? Man, I guess we've already done that. We toured with Metallica briefly, and Iron Maiden extensively. We've co-headlined with Slayer. We never got to work with Pantera, though...We just recently played a festival with Rammstein which is one of my favorite bands ever.

We've gone on eight or 10tours with In Flames, who, I wouldn't exist without. So we've definitely toured with all the biggest and best. Um, I've always wanted to play with Emperor, which is one of our favorite bands. Ihsahn Is one of my good friends and mentors.

Describe Trivium in three words. First word--kinda smart about it--would be Trivium. The second word would be metal. These are individual words, not to be connected, by the way. And... lifestyle. Because, the way I look at the metal scene, it isn't just a genre that you turn on and off. Metal is a lifestyle that is meant to be eaten and breathed, and to rectify people who enjoy it. In the U.S. it's not so much this way...metal is... I'm not saying that it isn't respected here, but it isn't respected the way that say, Germany or South America looks at metal, where it is legitimately a cultural way that people live. There's a small population in this country that does that, but I would like to see that enhanced.

Do you feel that being a self-taught guitarist has made writing more difficult as you've musically matured? Or has it made it easier? I'm self-taught for the most part. I had maybe two years of lessons when I was like 13, 14 or 15. I don't really know music theory so well, but had a couple lessons from John Petrucci a couple years ago, who's like my favorite guitarist ever.

I think it's made it easier. I've pondered learning theory before and, like I said, started to study it a bit. I think it made me think about things that weren't really there. Nowadays, what I write is fine for me. There's no right or wrong; when it comes to songwriting you just go with what sounds good. It's boundless, limitless.

When you guys first experienced a solid taste of success as Trivium, you were all pretty young. What do you think makes your generation unique, in terms of your generation of heavy metal? I think the fact that we're a band that is so influenced by Metallica, Megadeth, Maiden, Pantera, etc...the obvious metal bands. But we're also a band heavily influenced by Swedish death metal, like Dark Tranquility. And I'm a huge black metal fan. It's not that prevalent in our music but you can see it sometimes, like in the use of tremolo-picking.

A lot of the front-runners in the metal scene right now aren't really influenced by the extreme scene, and that is something we are very much influenced by, it just doesn't necessarily always shine through, same with the late '90s hardcore metal sound too.

So what is up next for Trivium? Just constant touring, man. After this tour we are home for a couple weeks. Then we have a co-headlining tour with Killswitch Engage. We're joining Soundwave in Australia, then to South Africa for a couple shows. Then home for a bit then a North American support tour but I can't say who were going to be out with yet. However, it's going to be a huge tour. European and American festivals...and then probably back to Japan or southeast Asia or something.

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