Trivium: 'We Bring Back Style Of Music That Was Influential On Us'

artist: trivium date: 10/31/2006 category: interviews
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Trivium: 'We Bring Back Style Of Music That Was Influential On Us'
If the Latin derivation of the word trivium means a coming together of elements, a nexus of ideas, then this group of players has certainly adopted that philosophy. Trivium, the quartet from Florida variously described as metalcore and deathcore, is rethinking the genre, trying to shake things up, and on their upcoming album titled The Crusade, they go right to the heart of it. Guitarist Corey Beaulieu talks about the change, a return to more passion-inflected vocals in the stead of relentless screaming. There are other wrinkles - some that will upset fans and some that will delight them. Here, he opens the box. Ultimate-Guitar: As a participant in the SOTU Tour, do you ever think about the idea that you and these other bands out there are really at the forefront of what is considered modern metal? Or death metal or thrash or whatever descriptive you might want to put on it. Certainly you don't consciously think about that but might there be an unspoken feeling that you are spearheading this sort of metal movement? Corey Beaulieu: We've got all the big bands from back in the day that were our influences and stuff, and they kind of ushered in a new form of heavy music back then. It was the big thing. When I first got into music, I heard the stuff on the radio and what was the big thing, but nothing really hit me like the kind of Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera kind of stuff. It was like catchy riffs and stuff. That's what I wanted to hear. Then once I really got into playing guitar, I was really into music that had musicianship and guitar playing. People actually knew what they were doing instead of like these simple chord songs. Now I'm more into the good guitar playing and just melody in general is a big thing. It's cool. We're doing something, especially more on our new record, we're doing more of a sound that really hasn't been done in a very long time or no one's really playing that style of metal. The way we're doing it on our stuff, it's something new now, but it's an old form that really hasn't been done really that much. So it's really cool to kind of lead, like bring a style of music that was really influential on us to like a new generation of people who might not have had a chance to hear stuff like that. So it's kind of like we're bridging the gap and getting the young kids, who were growing up on us, kind of like they find out about Megadeth or something through hearing about us and stuff. So it's cool to kind of be showing people stuff that we like and our own way. On The Crusade, your new CD (as of this writing the music was not available for listening), you talk about how you are bringing older - more classic - elements to Trivium's sound. Rather than scream your way through melodies and lyrics, you'll actually be reverting to a clean/normal vocal style that permeated all those bands you mentioned - Metallica and Megadeth. In a sense, by going backwards, you'll really be looking forward in terms of a sound and style. Because that type of vocalizing is really absent from this new generation of SOTU metal bands. Well, it's like Matt (Heafy, lead singer) started singing in the band and wasn't a singer. There was no one else in the band at the time when he started singing to do it and have vocals in the song. He was young; he couldn't sing very well. So he just screamed just so we had vocals. Then in the last year or two from touring and he's been taking vocal lessons, he really developed his voice into a way where we could do something more than just scream. Screaming is so one-dimensional. Also doing that Master of Puppets song (from the Kerrang! [metal magazine] Remastered 20th anniversary tribute to Metallica album) and a little bit on Ascendancy, where you hear this mid-rangy, aggressive singing style, but it had melody and you could hear what he was saying. All of us, we never would have wanted to scream in the first place because all the stuff we listen to - like Pantera, Metallica, Megadeth, Testament - none of those bands screamed like that. They all had a melodicit was still aggressive, but it had a melody and a melodic-ness to it. Nowadays every band screams, so it's just like we wanted to kind of get out of the music that we got lumped into from having the screaming when we started. We wanted to remove ourselves from that and kind of do our own thing and stand out, instead of being lumped in and kind of blend in with all the bands out there who do screaming, then sing, scream and then sing. And it's become like the kind of standard vocal styling for like modern metal. It's like you scream for this part and then for the chorus you sing. And we don't want to be a band that gets stuck in a certain formula. We're influenced by so many different styles of metal. Now with a new singing style, where we can do melodic stuff and have a melody throughout the song, there's different styled songs and different influences of different styles of metal that we (can now do). (We) couldn't write those certain types of songs or those certain parts with screaming because it wouldn't have sounded right. Now with the different vocals, you can do anything with them. You could play something softer and still use that voiceover and it works, or something heavy. So it's like you can do a lot more different styles and a lot more different things. It's kind of like getting rid of the screaming and using this more of a range of singing definitely knocks down the walls of what we could do creatively. So it definitely opened up a lot more to the songs and let them breathe and really gave the songs a different life than if we would have done screaming. It would have limited what we could do with everything else.
"Now I'm more into the good guitar playing and just melody in general is a big thing."
The fact that you bring this up is unbelievably interesting. Truly, it's surprising that other bands haven't approached their music in this fashion. Melody is music. When you hear something, if someone is screaming and growling into a microphone, you're not going to come away from the song being able to hum anything in your head. When you hear like Enter Sandman or something, that vocal line, it's got melody and it's still powerful and heavy - but you can sing along to it. I love melody and I love having a hook. Hearing that melody line or that vocal line that just makes your freaking hair tingle or stand up because you're just like, Oh my God! That sounds so awesome. Some people are gonna be mad that we don't scream anymore, but if we could have in the first place when we first started out do this, we would have. But now it's like at the time where we're able to do it and here's our chance to do it. Because if we did another record like the last one and had screaming, then it would have been like too far down the road to try and change something out. But it's also like a progression of the band. Every band that got bigger by every album, the next record after the previous one was like stepped up. It's an evolution of the band. Everything like the sounds morphing and the band's building up and maturing. Then the bands, who every record just kind of do the same thing, it's stagnant and then they just go away because it's not interesting. From Kill 'Em All to the Black album, there was a progression in the music and the songwriting and the performing. It's just kind of going up the steps. We're still heavy and fast and stuff, and it's not too far. It's still sounds like us, but we bring in different elements that weren't on the last record. So when people hear it, they're like, Oh, I haven't heard them do that before. That's interesting. It's a different sound and a different feel. So it keeps things interesting. So when a Trivium fan goes to buy the new record, they can expect that there will be something new for them to hear that they haven't heard us do before, which keeps it interesting. Like, What are they gonna do next? And then also we've got so many different influences from different forms of metal, not just like thrash metal. But we've got like hair metal, just all the different kinds of metal. That's why we don't want to be stuck in one kind of genre or whatever because we just like to be a metal band. We like to explore the different parts of the metal spectrum and do a bunch of thrash songs and be all aggressive, and then do a more groove like anthem-esque kind of (thing) like those epic heavy metal songs by Priest or Maiden. We kind of hit all spectrums of what we like as far as music. We wrote some songs that are very different from the last record as far as sound-wise and the tempos and stuff. From the last record, we listened to it and were like, Yeah, that was the best record we could do at the time. And then after playing all those songs and hearing that record so much, we're like, We definitely need to diversify the music instead of playing 100 miles an hour the whole time or the song structure being pretty similar. We really look back on what we did and learn from experience that we need more openness in the music and more groove and different tempos and different styles. So when you listen to each track on the record, it's like very easy to distinguish that it's a new song instead of being like, Oh, we're on track four? I thought it was track two or something. It really kind of gives the recordsong to song is very diverse and offers something new and stuff. So we tried to show people more of what we're capable of doing. Could you talk about some of the new tracks and what's going on musically? Yeah, the first two tracks on the record, the first song - Kirk Hammett, he heard the first two tracks of the record and he said it reminded him of old-school Exodus, which he said was a good thing. I didn't really hear too much of the early Exodus, but it reminded me a lot of early Testament Legacy, New Order-type stuff, kind of like old-school thrashy. The first song is just like pretty much just (an) in-your-face thrash song, pure thrash from start to finish. The first track is Ignition, which is just like a full-on thrash song. Track two is Detonation, which we've been playing live. It's a full-on thrash song, but it kind of varies. With the first track, it's pretty much fast, in-your-face the whole time. And Detonation is like groovier (meaning: more of a rhythm groove), starts off more of like that kind of Lars Ulrich boom-pa-bum, grooving and kicking it. It has a really fast Slayer middle section. It's kind of got like three different kinds of movements in it because it's like this part goes and then it goes into this other section that has it's own thing going on. And then the end is like totally different from it. So the songs are definitely, as far as structure-wise, are more creative. They go different places and stuff. Then we've got a song called Anthem. We've played it, too (live); it's a really catchy song and stuff. They said it reminds them of them like Motley Crue, Skid Row, just kind of hard rock kind of vibe to it. Then there's Sadness Will Sear. It has seven strings. It's got very simple guitar parts and the vocals are just really melodic and huge on it. It's like a really different song, a really more slow groove, big epic-y kind of song. Are you playing the seven-string? Yeah. We both do. I think we did like four or five songs with seven-strings. Does that type of guitar texture intrigue you? Matt's just really into John Petrucci and stuff, like the Dream Theater. Some people, with the whole new metal thing, they use the seven-strings in like a very simple, kind of caveman style. Where they're like, Oh, low string - just hit that. But I really like the way, Petrucci and Dream Theater, they have the seventh string and they added it, used it in a musical way instead of just using the seventh string to be low and heavy. They used that lowness to add different textures and sounds to it. So we used that seven-string on this one song that's like a very slow, mid-paced type song. The seven-string just gives it that thickness and that fullness. That was the Sadness Will Sear (track). Then some songs, you could play it on a six-string and then it goes to like a part with a seven-string and stuff. It's some cool stuff. Matt, all the songs that pretty much use seven-strings, he wrote because I don't really play a seven-string all the time. I like just the six. The seventh one kind of confuses me because I'm not used to it. So Matt really wanted to get creative on the seven-string. There are some songs (played) on that. In a few songs with the seven-string, you can definitely tell the difference in the songs and it gives it a more diverse sound as well from a song that has like a six-string in it.
"It still sounds like us, but we bring in different elements that weren't on the last record."
Your six-string of choice is a Dean. Yeah, Matt and I are both with Dean. You play the Razorback? Matt plays (a) Razorback and I play, for the last couple months, the new Razorback V. What is it about the Dean guitars that you couldn't find in a Fender or a Schecter? Growing up, I never played a Dean. They were gone for a while because Dean wasn't around. I had never played a Dean or really seen one because from where I lived, I never really got to see it. I had an Ibanez and B.C. Rich. Then I really liked Jackson and when we first started out, I was playing Jackson and stuff. I liked those guitars because I really liked the V and I loved Mustaine, and that was like his main guitar for a long time, the Jackson KV. I was all into that. Then Dime's wife, Rita, who is a friend of ours, we did a Dime tribute on the anniversary and she let us borrow some of his old Washburn guitars. We played them and they sounded great and they played awesome. We were like, Wow, these things play amazing! She's like, Well, if you like the way the Washburns play, you should try out the Deans. They're awesome. So she got us each a Razorback, and we played them and really liked the necks. As far as being like a metal guy and playing fast leads, the way the guitars are built, they're just so easy to play. They're really easy on your hands. The way the neck is bowed, like the semi-V kind of cut, it's round on the neck but it's got that kind of groove in it where it fits in your palm really nice. And the way the frets are, it's just a really nice, high-quality guitar. They play great, they sound awesome, and I love the way they play. So it's like ever since we tried them out, regardless that Dime played them and they're his signature guitars, they're just great guitars. It doesn't have to be a Dime guitar, it could be just like a regular Dean guitar. Just the quality of their guitars and how much quality control they put into their product, I can see it and I can feel it when I play the guitar. I had never played one before and the first time I played them, I was sold. I was like, These things play great. And you're a Marshall guy? Yeah, both Matt and I play Marshalls. Is that, for you, any type of throwback to all the older bands who played Marshall? Or was it simply because they provide you with the tones you're looking for? Just like Deans, growing up, I never played Marshall amps or anything. I started off with like a Crate half-stack, like a Blue Voodoo and what not. I just went through all this stuff. And then when I first joined the band, we were with Peavey. I had like the 5150 IIand stuff. And then when they stopped making it I was like, Well, I'll kind of look around and see what else is out there. At that point, I hadn't really had a chance to really experiment with guitar tones and really play different amps. So Matt had some Mesa Boogies stuff, and that really wasn't what I was looking for in tone. Then I played some Crank stuff. I knew Nick Bowcott from Marshall (product manager for KORG USA) and Guitar World from working with him on that stuff. He was working with Matt because Matt was playing Marshalls before I was. Whenever I wanted to give it a shot just let him know. Last year at Ozzfest, he brought me out like a JMP1 rig. I just plugged into it and it was like the tone I was striving for that I (had) never found. He was like my tone god that was just kind of like, Here, try this out. I've been playing them ever since. The JMP1 setup, it's got the digital preamp into a power amp and it's got that really clear tone. But it's also really aggressive and thick, so it's just kind of like crisp and clear - the way I like it. That's like my baby. A lot of metal bands tend towards the Mesa andCrank amps but you said they didn't quite do it for you. What tone is it that you are looking for that you found in the Marshalls? I guess since we don't really tune down that much. Like we played the new record in E standard. Most bands are like in drop C or D or D# and whatever. With the Crank stuff, I've seen other bands play them and they sound good for them, but when I played through it, it just didn't work for my sound. I like that really cutting, crispy, hi-gain distortion, really thick and heavy, but still being like you can hear what's going on. Some of the stuff sounded too muddy or didn't have that fucking crisp cut to it. Maybe I could have gotten it out of those, but for the time I put into trying to get a tone, it really wasn't what I wanted. Then the JMP1, from the first time I plugged into it, where Nick just went up to it and punched in a bunch of settings and was like, Here, here's a good starting point, it was like, Wow. It was that quick. It was in the first two seconds I hit a chord playing through that rig, I instantly knew that was what I needed to play through. Do you and Matt specifically try to dial in different tones from each other or does that just come naturally? It comes natural because obviously we're different players with different styles. Like I play through his rig, it sounds completely different than when he plays through it. It's not like we purposely try to sound different; it's just like what he likes his tone to sound like, what he's comfortable playing, whatever sound works for him or how he wants his leads to sound. Because sometimes if you're playing through a rig that you like the way it sounds, you play better. But if you play through something where you hate the tone and stuff, it's hard to play your style because it just doesn't come out as what you're hearing in your head. If Matt and I had the same setup and the same tone, it would probably still sound different. So it's like having the two different tones, when you play them together live, it definitely gives it a different sound than just the same exact sound coming at you. So you've got to tweak your sound to your playing style, I guess. When you talk about bands with two guitars, like Judas Priest or Iron Maiden, you can tell that they were really able to develop unique sounds that meshed perfectly. Yeah, it's like when we were playing with Metallica, I got to look at their rigs. James and Kirk play through totally different amps and stuff. It sounds great together and it's different sounds for each person. So it's cool to see people still have that come together for one sound as a band, but individually you've got your own thing going on.
"Screaming is so one-dimensional."
Talk about how you and Matt get the guitar sounds down. How do you step back and say, That's the one. It's not going to get any better than that. Well, this record, the way we went about it was totally different than the last one because this one we were on tour all the time. We wrote the record on tour, and we'd pass MP3s or tapes back and forth. Like, Here's a song idea I've got. Here's some riffs and shit. We would just pass (tracks) around with a click track. So it was a totally different process from the last record when we weren't really touring and we'd just be like jamming and working songs out. Once we got off tour, we kind of learned to put all the songs together in like six days. Then right after we got all the songs together, we just went straight into the studio and started recording. So we really didn't have too much time to over think it. It was just kind of like we put the song together how we'd think we'd want to hear it. And once we thought the song was like, Hey, if I was listening to this song, this sounds good to me. I don't see any problems with it, (we recorded it). It was just kind of like what our natural instincts were on how we wanted the song to go, that's what we did. So it was a very just straight to the point, let's get shit done kind of deal. We were going back on tour and if we wanted the record to come out this year, we would have to get it done before we left or we'd have to cancel shows or push the record back 'til next year. So it was just kind of like, Let's not fuck around. We'd get the tones and the guitars (down on tape). And the rhythm stuff, when you know you've got it locked down, it's locked down. Leads are a different thing because it's like you're creating something again besides a riff. When I did my solos, I just went in there and our engineer that tracked it, who's a good friends of ours that we've worked with and known for a while; his name is Mark Louis. He's like the guitar-tone man. In a studio environment, he really knows how to get what you need out of amps and stuff. So we were really stoked about the tones. And then creating the solos, he would just like listen to it and start jamming on it. Working with him, he's an engineer and he does all the technical stuff, but he's also like a really, really good guitar player. So it's like having someone else there as far as being in the same style of music and the same kind of players to do a take and then be like, What did you think? And then if he's like, That was badass, then that's it - just to have someone else who's on the same page as far as what you're going for in the first place. You're like, I think pretty much that's the take and then get the okay from someone who would be listening to it and not playing, just as kind of an outside ear to kind of say, That's badass. Or he's like, I like the idea, but maybe you can play it better. Just have that extra person there to bounce ideas off of or get their opinion on. It was really fun. I had a lot of fun doing the solos and I came up with some of my favorite stuff as far as solo-wise. And I got to be really creative with different things and the way the songs were and the rhythms. The solos were longer than the last record. There's more solos. There are different styles of riffs that I didn't get to play over on the last one. So I get to really do some creative stuff and different techniques or different kind of ideas that I didn't really get to do on the last one. As a band we broadened our music spectrum, but also like as far as individual players and stuff, we got to showcase more of our abilities and stuff like that. It definitely came out in some of the solos, where I do some stuff that I was surprised that I even thought of doing. Describe some of those tracks where you felt your guitar playing rose to a new level. My favorite solo on the record is a song called Tread the Floods. It's got this very Maiden-y kind of galloping underlying part. It's just kind of like it was one of those riffs where you could play so many different things over it, but it's like which one do you do or how do you go about it? It's got so many ideas, you've got to try them all just to see how it works. I was just playing over that thing for like freaking hours, just trying out different (things) like, Should I start it off melodic and then go fast? And then I just happened to do this take and it had this very fast-picking thing at the beginning, and then it just goes into like these very octave harmony lines and stuff. It goes from like doing a lot of notes to like just doing a couple of notes and (then) putting the melody down. My favorite part is like this neo-classical repeating thing and it build up intoit's hard to explain. It's got this really cool thing where it starts off low. It has this repeating kind of very neo-classical-type part and it like builds up the neck. And it does the same thing, but in a higher form. Then it just kind of builds up into this dual guitar, Iron Maiden-y kind of thing. So it's definitely my favorite solo because it has really cool licks in it and also the way it flows and goes out and in from different parts. I really like the structure of it and how it came together. It was like my favorite one so far. Then other solos, it was just kind of like weird things that you never thought of doing. But then all of the sudden you're playing and all of the sudden you just do it, and you're just like, Weird! That's really cool. I'm surprised I haven't thought of that before. Like doing this little pick-tapping thing, it's very kind of Satriani. But it's like taking a three note per string scale, then you go down and up the neck or whatever. But instead of playing like finger picking and using three fingers to play all three notes, it's like using the pick to hit one of the notes and you're just kind of like hammering and pulling off the other two. So it gives it kind of like different sound than just playing the three notes per string. It sounds crazy. It's like a bug or insect noise like on Surfing With The Alien. The first track that we do that like pick tap with the solo really high up. So you can maybe finger tap it or pick the notes, but when you use the pick it gives it that kind of like cutting, sharp-edge sound to it. It just really stood out and it sounds really cool. I did that in the song called Anthem and also I had used that technique in a song called Becoming The Dragon.
"No matter what was going on or what other bands do, we always do what Trivium wants to do."
The Crusade obviously represents the biggest lead the band has made as players and composers. You truly had to bring you're a-game to make this one work. It's like when we did Ascendancy, we got a lot of praise from people about that record and a lot of people really dug that record a lot. They just thought we wouldn't be able to surpass it or do something that would be better than that. They thought that was like the best thing we could fucking do. It was like, Dude, that's like our second record. We've got plenty more. We're really young; we're only like 20 to 24 years old. Really young and being able to play music sounding (like) we should be a lot older. And with that record doing so well, we didn't want to be one of those bands who were like, Oh, our first record did really well. Let's make the second record just like it just so we don't fuck up. What we wanted to do was we wanted to show people that we can do stuff differently. And also after having a really good successful first record on Roadrunner (band's label), we needed to come back with something that was pure metal, very powerful, but didn't sound like we did Ascendancy: Part II. The Crusade needed to be like Trivium, but not like the last record. So Ascendancy is still great, and you can tell that record is Ascendancy. And this one's Trivium, but it sounds like The Crusade. It's not like they blend together. Each record stands on its own and it has its own sound and its own style. So we're really stoked. We can't wait for it to come out because we're just really proud of what we did. We began this conversation by pointing at Trivium and labeling you as the outfront stylists of the new metal sound. After this record comes out, do you think you might feel somewhat distant from all those other bands on the Sounds of the Underground Tour? No matter what was going on or what other bands do, we always do what Trivium wants to do. The way we do business stuff or the way we think, it's different. We don't go about everything the same as everybody else. We like to try to do our own thing and the stuff we think we'd feel comfortable doing, instead of just like, Oh, that band did it. Maybe we should do it, too, because every band's doing it. We're just like, Fuck that. We're friends with a lot of the bands that we tour with. And all the bands in the scene, we know them and are friendly with them, but it's not like we're in that Massachusetts scene, where all those bands like Shadows Fall and Killswitch and All That Remains and all those bands that grew up together in the scene and kind of built up that whole sound together. They all know each other and stuff like that. We're just kind of like the only band from Florida who played music like that. We just kind of do our thing and go do it. So it's like we'd rather do what we feel comfortable and what we want to do. We'd rather do our own thing and be a leader than be like swallowed in a million bands, following or copying what everybody else is doing. So hopefully with this record, it shows people a different style of music or a different style of metal that's got our own sound to it. That alone will make us stand out from everything else. We're going to a different level, going to a different place, and bringing our music to a different place. Because when it comes down to it, it's not really about what all the other bands are doing, it's the four people in the band. We don't need any other bands to be buddies with when we've got four guys in a band doing what we want to do. Talking about buddies, you toured with Children of Bodom but some of the fans didn't accept you. Do you know why that was? It's just weird. At that point we were like the new buzz band, the new thing coming up. There was a lot of talk about us, so there's obviously people who are gonna want to not like us just because we get a lot of recognition and stuff like that. Maybe their favorite band doesn't get as much recognition as the band opening for them, blah, blah, blah. There's all sortx of dumb, stupid reasons. But for the most part, that tour was pretty good. A lot of those European bands, there's like those really underground, heavy metal fans (who believe) that Euro's true metal and stuff like that, and anything from America is kind of like maintstream-y or hip. So it's not really like true metal, it's like flavor-of-the-week or something like that. Other than that, that was probably the last tour, or shows from that tour, where it was the last time we had anyone really try to go out of their way to make it known, like you know, yelling something. It's like, Yeah, all right. We're gonna quit and give up just because you said so. I don't really give a shit anymore. 2006 Steven Rosen
More trivium interviews:
+ Matt Heafy: 'We Always Push to Change Not Only Formulas and Patterns of Ourselves, But of Music' Interviews 01/08/2014
+ Trivium: 'We're A Great Live Band' Interviews 08/05/2011
+ Trivium: 'We're Trying To Make Tight, Precise Songs That Sound Like Anthems' Hit The Lights 12/12/2009
+ Trivium: 'The More Songs You Write, The More Ideas You Get' Interviews 11/08/2008
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