Interviews : “It’s the origin story. This is why we are the way we are.” – An Interview With Matt Heafy (Trivium)
Matt Heafy – Trivium
Ever since I watched Trivium live for the first time in 2014, it’s been somewhat of a career goal to talk to Matt Heafy. Other than being the frontman of a fantastic band, he also seems like a genuinely nice and humble human being. Two years after falling in love with the band I finally got my chance! We talked about the band’s re-release of old material, touring with Sabaton, and whether there would be screams on the next album or not.
There have been plenty of memes created since Ember To Inferno was re-released. The design of the band logo makes it look like the band is now called Triviut. Has there been a sneaky name change in the works?
[laughs] “Not yet! But I do love the culture of memes that we live in today, it’s a lot of fun!”
I asked Heafy whether Ember To Inferno, other than being an amazing band title, actually was a description of the state of the band at that point in time?
“That is exactly correct. With most titles that we’ve had, it’s not every title, we’ve tried to make it either the mission statement or statement of exactly where we were as a band.”
Continuing on the subject of this release that is an absolute treasure and a unique view into the starting point of Trivium, I was curious about if Heafy saw any negatives at all during the planning stages.
“No, nothing that I saw exactly. Typically, whenever someone mentions Trivium, we generate lots of impassioned statements, whttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osFyOcsfAlshich I love. We have fans that love certain of our albums, hate certain of our albums, can’t agree on certain ones, which I like. If people were like, “oh yeah, they’re alright!”, I wouldn’t like it. The fact that we’re a band that people violently despise and passionately love, I like that. This was more for the people like yourself. People that maybe aren’t as familiar with our band. I want to be able to bring them back in time. It’s the origin story. This is why we are the way we are. How it started for our band. It’s there for old school and new school alike, for people to be able to see exactly where Trivium came from.”
At the moment Trivium are pretty much showcasing their entire 7-album long career in their setlist. I was curious to know how much of this has got to do with the fact that Paul Wandtke seem to be able to play almost anything effortlessly.
“I mean, for us, whoever is playing drums for us, it’s definitely in their hands. Paul has stepped up to the plate and been a great session dude for us, and covering the live aspect that we needed someone to cover for, so that’s been good. But anyone that is playing drums for us, past, present, future, the amount of time, effort and work that Paolo, Corey and myself have put into the band is a lot. So, again, definitely it’s up to that player.”
Heafy’s screaming is one of the most frequent debates on social media in 2016 (come on guys, let it go!). A lot of people aren’t massive fans of Silence In The Snow because of the lack of screams, but since the frontman has really gotten back into screaming big time live now, I still had to ask the question, will there be screams included on the next Trivium album?
“Now that I can do it in a way that sounds brutal and is super easy to do, I do love doing it. It’s been in Trivium since the beginning. So, I think the fact that I can comfortably sing and comfortably scream nowadays, it means more tools in your arsenal. I see no reason why there couldn’t be a little bit of everything on whatever comes next. But there definitely are no plans of making new music right now, we’re going to finish up our final European tour in February and after that we’re taking a nice vacation finally.”
We then turned the subject to a couple of bands that I have been a massive fan of for many years. Trivium just finished up a long US tour together with the Swedish power giants Sabaton. What was it like to tour with them, and did Heafy pick up on any Swedish?
“I do know some Swedish! One of my good friends from home is Swedish as well. And having toured with In Flames so much I’ve definitely picked up a little bit of Swedish, stuff like: “tjena, läget?”, “tack så mycket!”, “tack”, “skål”, “vi ses snart/vi ses imorgon”, that kind of stuff. It was amazing to tour with Sabaton. We have all been friends with Sabaton for years. It was an honour to finally being able to tour with them. It was kinda funny, when we released the song Silence In The Snow, is when we started seeing more Sabaton shirts in our crowds! The guys are amazing! Amazing people, amazing players. Amazing band. They played a really funny prank on us during the last show. They wheeled out this mobile Swedish bot with a Swedish flag that also said IKEA on it. We had a shot together on stage, which is something I never do, but I did it with them! It was fun, I really enjoy that band!”
Trivium have also performed with Volbeat on stage a couple of years ago. I was curious about what kind of relationship the bands have got and if Heafy would be interested doing guest vocal work with the band?
“Absolutely! If Michael (Poulsen, vocals/guitar) was happy, I’d be doing that in heartbeat. Also, if he’d be down to do it on ours, we’d have him in a heartbeat. Love Volbeat, big fan of them. He’s not in the band anymore, but I used to give Anders (Kjølholm, former bassist) some yoga lessons when we were on tour together, which was really cool. I think he’s doing that a lot more now which is fantastic!”
One thing that quite a few people that are fans of both Trivium and Volbeat picked up on with Silence in the Snow are the similarities between the two vocalists. Is this a mere coincidence or did Heafy draw inspiration from Michael Poulsen?
“I think it’s the fact that Michael and I are both into the same kind of bands, the classic greats. For me… I don’t talk about it much, but I’m a big fan of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, I’ve done covers of their stuff acoustically. I think the higher range, the way Michael and I sing, it’s both derived a bit from Hetfield’s rock era. If you think of Load/Reload. I think both Michael and I draw from that style that Hetfield did. We’re both into Rainbow, Dio, Dickinson and Halford, I think that… When similar singers share the same loves of their favourite bands you can see that show through a little bit.”
Heafy recently did a live stream via MetalSucks where he read out mean comments about Trivium posted by MetalSucks visitors. He seemed a bit disappointed that there weren’t more bad stuff for him to read out. I wanted to know what his evil twin would have said in a mean tweet.
“Hmm, evil twin… If I had an evil twin, he’d probably say, “I’m going to heel hook you!” And heel hook is a Jiu-Jitsu submission that’s really painful and illegal in some Jiu-Jitsu competitions. I do love, I call them the Dark Arts, the leg attacks. So anybody that’s a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, I usually call the leg attacks the Dark Arts. I love that stuff. So if I had an evil twin he’d probably threaten to heel hook me!” [laughs]
Once upon a time, “Nobody eats until Matt Heafy eats” was a saying that caused the band quite some trouble. I was curious to know if this is still a thing, or if turning it into a joke had completely made all the negative stuff that went with the saying go away.
[laughs] “Ever since it turned into a joke, now it’s fine. That’s the way to disarm anything, add humour to it. Humour is something we need so much more in the world, as well things like acceptance. We used to have really bad road crew that misrepresented us very badly, with bad reputation from people around us and maybe from our early days, seeming like cocky 18/19 year olds, but really what people were misconstruing that as was confidence in young people, which is something people don’t see often. The reason we had confidence since the beginning was because of the time we put into the band, something we still do. That’s why we’re confident in what we do.”
As our allotted fifteen minutes were almost up, I turned the subject to food. Knowing that Heafy is a big foodie, I wanted to know what his favourite restaurants in Australia are.
“In Melbourne, Chin Chin is one of my favourite restaurants on the entire planet. You said you’re in Sydney? In Sydney, one of my favourite breakfast places in the world is called Single Origin Roasters. It’s this tiny coffee place that makes amazing breakfast food. You HAVE to try that place. Mamak, a Malaysian place, is one of my favourite spots. Din Tai Fung is an amazing dim sum place I love to go to. Those are my three favourites in Sydney. You have to check them out.”
You’re on death row, what’s your last ever meal?
“Hmm…. Probably what my mum would always make me for breakfast. White rice, grilled salmon, miso soup, tea. A good traditional Japanese breakfast. That would be my last meal! One of our close friends here in town, Nicholas, whenever we pair in Jiu-Jitsu I’m called “the fellow salmon eater”, because Swedish people love salmon and Japanese people love salmon!”
Moving on from food, I was curious to know when Trivium’s world tour with Babymetal will happen and when Heafy will be joining the girls on stage for Gimme Chocolate!!?
[laughs] “That’s completely up to them, they’re so big now! Whenever they want to bring us out, we’ll be out. Whenever they want me on stage, I’ll go up on stage!”
Will you be dressing in the same outfit as them?
“If I HAVE to, I might… Although, I’m all for people that enjoy cross-dressing, I have never actually cross-dressed in my entire life, except if you count the era when I wore girls’ pants, but I never wore skirts. I’ve never like had the will to. But there’s nothing wrong with it, if you like to do that, that’s awesome!”
Maybe in front of 20 000 crazy Japanese fans would be a good first time?
“If that’s what it takes, I will sell my soul!” [laughs]
Would you rather play a 90 minute set that consists of only the song In Waves on repeat in front of 50 000 people or a regular Trivium set in front of 50?
“I mean, if those 50 000 people don’t mind that we play In Waves for 90 minutes, we’d do that for 90 minutes. I’d much rather play to more people. If we HAVE to play for 50 people we’ll put on a great show but I’d rather play to 50 000, that’s the dream. We’re a big band, not a small band!”
Trivium’s ‘Ember to Inferno’ is out now! Get it via JB Hi-Fi.
About Martin MicheaMartin is an aspiring music photographer/videographer. He is originally from the southern parts of Sweden and now he's living in Sydney, Australia. Thanks to his older sister, he got into Rammstein at the age of 9, and since then he's been into all types of metal/rock. He loves to combine photography and music, but also filming concerts and produce live material. Follow him on Twitter and check out his website.
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