Trivium: Pulling the Strings
04-Mar-2012 Words: Brendan Crabb
Pix: Brendan Delavere
Latest release: In Waves (Roadrunner/Warner)
Band site: www.trivium.org
One of the many major international metal acts to tour our shores as part of this year’s mammoth Soundwave Festival, Florida’s Trivium have continued their sizeable momentum with blistering, well-received latest disc In Waves. Prior to the band’s recent set opening for Slipknot at their headlining show, Loud trekked backstage at the Sydney Entertainment Centre to talk to guitarist/vocalist Corey Beaulieu and bassist Paolo Gregoletto. We discussed the creation of their latest album, when they plan to return to Australia for a headlining tour, making parody T-Shirts and forgetting the lyrics to their own songs.
Q: This isn’t your first time playing Soundwave, but what’s the experience been like thus far?
A: Corey: It’s pretty awesome. Both shows the crowds have been nuts and it’s nice to be back and playing new material, because last time we came down we had just finished the record, so we didn’t play any of the new stuff. So it’s a lot of fun you know, finally getting to come back down here, play a lot of new stuff and seeing the reactions from the kids in the crowd. They’ve just been amped up and just crazy crowds. It seems like every show it just keeps getting crazier and crazier, so it’s just been an awesome time. The last time we did this tour it was just an awesome tour.
Q: The previous time you were here was supporting Disturbed on their arena tour. What do you take away from that experience that you can apply to your own live performances?
A: Paolo: I mean those dudes are just so pro with how they put on the shows and even off-stage they’re super cool dudes. That’s just the kind of band you want to emulate, when it comes to playing big shows like this they just know how to put on a great show and when it comes down to it and people are spending this much money to come see bands, you can’t put on a punk rock show. It’s gotta be larger than life. It’s the same with Slipknot; we did a tour with them back in 2009 and they were the same calibre of band, they’re just, it’s just a larger than life show. That’s how we envision Trivium becoming over time. I think we’ve definitely come a long way in terms of our live show; it’s definitely the tightest we’ve ever been and just every time we come back we try to make it bigger and better each time.
Q: So can we expect some overblown theatrics and expensive pyrotechnics at some point in the future then? (laughs)
A: Paolo: That would be cool, to have some really cool production stuff; I mean, that just all comes down to the money side of things. But when you’re playing big venues like this in the headlining slot, it’s not an issue (laughs).
Corey: We’re planning a headlining tour for later this year and we’re kinda throwing around some ideas to do our most elaborate headlining tour we’ve done. So there should be some cool shit on that once we figure everything out (laughs).
Q: When is that likely to happen then?
A: Corey: Sometime around the fall, October or so.
Paolo: I think it’s even later; maybe November/December. We haven’t really totally figured out the logistics, but pretty much we’re booking the later half of the year, which is like the end of this album cycle, so we might end for the first time in Australia, which will be really killer.
Q: Good to hear. Does the band write much while on the road?
A: Paolo: Yeah, we’re writing now.
Corey: Yeah, that’s pretty much how we write most of our records, minus (2005’s) Ascendancy and (2003 debut) Ember to Inferno. Everything since we’ve been a touring band, pretty much the majority of everything on those records was written on tour. We’re really not home all that often and when you’re home, you’re home for like a week and the last thing you’re really thinking about is writing. But on tour, it’s really cool, you’re in different places all the time and it’s nice to have like a different environment, ‘cause it kinda sparks creativity. When you’re at home, you’re sitting on the couch or something it’s like the same old thing. So it’s cool to be in a different city and something you might see in that city, you’ll get an idea or something. So we write all the time in tour; little pockets of stuff.
Q: When you’re on tour you’re already in the zone anyway, in that correct mindset. New riffs probably come to you more naturally when you’re sound-checking every second day, for instance.
A: Paolo: Yeah, definitely.
Q: Where do you see the next Trivium album headed then?
A: Paolo: I think it’s going to be heavier.
Corey: Angry (laughs).
Q: (Laughs) What are you angry at right now?
A: Paolo: We’ve been talking about it a lot, just a lot of stuff, like where we want to go with the next record. I think we’ve definitely learnt to write better on the road and we’re learning that writing with a more focused vision musically is the way to go. Not just all of us just writing as many songs as we can. I think we’re all trying to be conscious of how much we’re writing, what we’re writing and really just spending the time with a smaller batch of songs, rather than writing like 40 songs and kinda being all over the place musically. But it’s definitely I think going to be a heavier record.
Q: It’s a case of quality over quantity then.
A: Paolo: I mean, the last record, we had so much time; we had like two years and we wrote an album over the course of two drummers, so it was like, when we started writing we were in a different headspace than when we actually recorded. So we had a lot of material, which was great. But I think now that things have smoothed out on the personal side of things for the band, I think we can focus solely on just the musical vision of what Trivium is and really have no, outside of the musical stuff we have nothing going on that’s kinda like drawing from that.
Corey: Also, on (2006’s) The Crusade, (2008’s) Shogun and In Waves, we just wrote so much stuff that was like just trying different ideas, to try and see what we could do. I think with those records, even before we recorded like demo-wise, there was some stuff that was like way over here, and then there was some stuff over here. And now it’s like we kinda know, “okay, that definitely sounds like us, it’s not too out of the box” and you know what’s not even worth kind of digging into. Like it just won’t fit the vibe of the record, the riff just doesn’t sound like Trivium.
Q: Or sounds too much like another band perhaps?
A: Paolo: Just like, if it’s… On this record particularly we had a tonne of demos and it was really not sounding like other people, it was just, “is this too extreme, or is this too soft? Is this not even really in the ballpark of what we’re trying to do?” I think the only reason we had so much stuff is like I said, we had too much time on our hands really (laughs). And it was good, it was like, especially when we had Nick (Augosto, drums) in the band, we hit this new creative spurt where we just kept writing and demoing and at the end of the first month of demoing we had like 14, 15 songs, and we just kept going. It was a lot of stuff and when we demoed like two or three times in a row it was just sort of like overkill with the demos. That was one lesson we learnt with this record; my only critique of the whole process of In Waves is we demoed too much.
Corey: Also, if you write way too many songs you have to write lyrics, vocal ideas and all the other stuff, and you kinda spread yourself too thin. We cut a lot of stuff… Not necessarily that some of the songs were bad; there was some cool shit. But it’s like, “what do we want to present to everybody with this record?” We narrowed it down to certain songs and we just focused on those, because if you spread yourself too thin, a song that could be great might not get enough attention and be like, “oh, it’s pretty good, but look where we could take it if we put the energy into it”. So that’s why with this record, it was like, we don’t need 30 songs. If we get 12 or 13 great songs and from day one just focus on those, we can just make ‘em just like motherfuckers (laughs).
Paolo: That’s it, like motherfuckers (laughs). Motherfuckers!
Corey: It’s like you don’t need a fucking single. Fuck a single - you want like a fucking record, a full record of songs.
Paolo: A full album that must be heard, start to finish, a complete thought. I think it’s also going to be the first clean slate with Nick totally in mind for playing the drums. A lot of the songs, like “Inception of the End” was like the first song that was written and that was two years before we pushed “record”. So when that song was written, Travis (Smith) was playing drums amd it was a totally different mindset of us playing and writing a certain way to when Nick came into the band. So this is the first time that we’re going to hand Nick however many songs it is we end up getting demoed on the computer and be like, “alright dude, here you go, go insane. We’re not tying your hands back, just fucking go for it”.
Q: Do you see him playing much of a role in the writing process on the next album?
A: Paolo: Well, the three of us (including vocalist/guitarist Matt Heafy) are the dudes who can write the riffs, guitar parts and bass parts.
Corey: The cool thing about Nick’s playing is he really, he kinda jams on guitar, but he’s got like way more of a musical ear. We’re playing a riff and he starts doing like weird accenting parts on the riff and sometimes for the songs, he would play some kind of weird drum part and it would be really cool, or he would write a really cool drum part and we would like alter our guitar part to fit the mood of what he was playing on drums. Compared to like the other records, there’s a lot more… The guitars and the drums are playing together instead of just a standard beat. He’s really connected with the guitars, which gives it a lot more energy. So we would play together and play the riffs, it’s like we’re kinda playing off each other. ‘Cause he will jam (with) the guitars, then he might do something like a cymbal here or whatever and we’ll do something on the guitar to match that.
Paolo: I think my writing personally has even changed a little bit with him in mind. His playing is definitely more outside the box and even a little jazzy for a metal drummer. When I’m writing a riff, I’m like, “alright, I can keep this four-to-the-floor, simple, straight to the point, meat and potatoes metal riff, or I can now throw in some weird, crazy ass stuff” and Nick’s going to understand it. It’s almost like I’ve tried to keep what we’ve done in the past and keep that in mind ‘cause it’s really important that we don’t go off the deep end with that. But at the same time, tailor some of the riffs to Nick’s playing, because he’s a really incredible drummer and I definitely want to make sure that the next album in a way is almost his album. Like, really show what he can do. He’s got a lot of potential there.
Q: But as you suggested, do so while staying true to the band’s spirit and not ignoring your strengths – you aren’t going to morph into Meshuggah on the next record.
A: Paolo: Yeah, yeah, of course. (The single) “In Waves” was sort of like our… That was definitely an outside of the box thing, like when people heard it at first they weren’t expecting it. But when you’ve finally got a drummer that can do stuff like that, it’s kinda hard not to want to try (laughs). And since we’ve done that, it’s like… It’s one of those songs where some people weren’t sure at first, but like every night when we play that song, whether people know it or not it’s like instantaneous. Everyone’s moving, everyone’s screaming it; by the end of the song you know the song, it’s just in-your-face and aggressive. That to me was like the second half of the writing for In Waves, it was songs like the title track, “Chaos Reigns”, “Watch the World Burn”. Those are some of the last songs written which I think have a lot of elements that we’ll keep in mind as we go into the next record, just a little bit heavier and even more concise, in a solid vision of that. It’s crazy; when something’s written over a long period of time, it’s so different for us to look at the record (like) someone who’s just gotten the record or someone who bought it when it came out six, seven months ago. This record was like a lifetime ago for us (laughs). It’s crazy; we’re always thinking like so far in advance that it’s crazy.
Q: Interesting. We’ve got a reader question for you now. “Gabba” asks via e-mail, do you ever sing the YouTube interpretation lyrics to “Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr” instead of the real lyrics when performing it live?
A: Paolo: I’ve seen like the posters and I always laugh when I see that. (To Corey) Did you see the “Dusk Dismantled” one yesterday?
Corey: Yeah, I saw “the toast is better” (laughs).
Paolo: “The toast is better” (laughs), that’s another one.
Corey: That’s a funny one.
Paolo: That one’s good.
Corey: It’s funny, ‘cause probably up until a couple of weeks ago and we were on tour, Matt had like a vocal problem or whatever, his throat was hurt. We had so many shows in a row, and all the screaming and stuff. So I was like, “let me know if it’s too much”, ‘cause we were playing like a 50-minute set, and I said I’d do some of his parts so he didn’t have to scream as much. Up until that point, every time that I would think about the words, I never knew the real words to “Pull Harder”, which is weird ‘cause we play it all the time.
Paolo: I don’t know like half the lyrics to that one (laughs).
Corey: Up until maybe like two or three weeks ago, I constantly, for some reason every time the vocals kick in on that song, the first thing that pops into my head is the old lyrics that were never used ‘cause they were too explicit. I always sang those and was like, “what the fuck are the real words?” And then I went to learn them and I’m like, “oh” (laughs).
Paolo: I want to make a shirt of that, ‘cause I think it’d be pretty funny to actually sell our own parody T-Shirt. I think that would be fucking funny.
Corey: Yeah, we got a kick out of it and we thought it was pretty funny when we found out that the guy who made the video fucking hated our band. We thought it was just a goof (laughs).
Paolo: It would be great to do “Pull! Harder! Strings! Martyr!” on the front and “Boat! Rudder! Strange! Mountain!” on the back; be like a mirror shirt, so you can like flip it around (laughs), or you could turn it inside out…
Corey: (Laughs). It’s funny, ‘cause if someone doesn’t know the joke, it’d be like, “what the fuck is up with that?”
Paolo: I think for most Trivium fans they’d probably get it, ‘cause that video has a million hits or something.
Q: Indeed. Our photographer Brendan Delavere also has a question for you (over to our intrepid shooter). The photograph of you playing foosball against Ghost; is there any truth to the rumour that you now have to open for Asking Alexandria after losing the game?
A: Paolo: No, no (laughs). The site that came up with that, I think it was MetalSucks. That was a good one though. The actual picture, the way it came about was we were supposed to do a photo shoot with them, which was like really random to begin with. We were at this really cool venue and they had all this crazy shit backstage. So as we were about to go out I see the foosball table and like, “dude, how fucking funny would it be if we’re playing Ghost in foosball?” So we do the photo shoot first, they do like the set-up one and then I’m like, “alright, let’s get a couple of these”. We did it and I knew that if they used that shit it was going to be like… It was definitely a “what the fuck?” moment, but I have to say I’m pretty stoked that we got it.
Corey: Every time we do photo shoots, it’s like… Especially us with Ghost, it’s completely like visually polar opposites. It’s funny as fuck to see all of those guys in priest outfits and shit, fucking playing foosball. It’s fucking funny, ‘cause it’s like the complete opposite, them in that situation is like the complete opposite of how you think they would do it, just all evil and shit (makes pretend scary noises).
Paolo: I’ve gotta give MetalSucks credit; that was pretty funny. It was a funny way to use the picture.
Corey: I don’t think anyone actually has any kind of competitions to see who goes on tour with who (laughs). It doesn’t work that way.
Q: Any famous last words?
A: Paolo: Ooh, last words.
Corey: I guess, headlining tour later this year. We’re gonna come back, try and do our biggest, most elaborate shows that we’ve ever done down here and hopefully get some time off so we can rehearse and try to pull some tricks out of the bag, play a bunch of songs that we’ve never played before, some stuff that’s going to surprise the shit out of people. It’ll definitely be a show worth catching.
Paolo: We’re going to try to get some really killer bands to come down with us too, so that’s the plan, make it a big event for the fans.
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