Hit The Lights: Trivium: 'We're Trying To Make Tight, Precise Songs That Sound Like Anthems'

artist: Trivium date: 12/12/2009 category: interviews
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Hit The Lights: Trivium: 'We're Trying To Make Tight, Precise Songs That Sound Like Anthems'
Once a group reaches its initial decade of existence, and has several albums under its belt, which future path to take can seem unclear. By that time, a band has made decisions both wise and ill-advised, and will have hopefully acquired enough maturity to have learnt by any past mistakes. With four albums to its name in the form of "Ember To Inferno" (2003), "Ascendancy" (2005), "The Crusade" (2006), and "Shogun" (2008), such a test faces Trivium. Of course, whether the group's impending fifth album surpasses its predecessors will be ultimately decided by the fans themselves. Beginning at Atlanta, Georgia's The Masquerade on October 29th, 2009, and due to conclude at Club Firestone in Orlanda, Florida on December 12th, the second leg of Trivium's "Into The Mouth Of Hell We Tour" has paired the group alongside the likes of Chimaira, Whitechapel, and Dirge Within. Drummer Travis Smith hasn't taken part in any of the shows due to personal reasons, with former Trivium drum technician and Maruta member Nick Augusto filling in. March 2010 will see this touring package arrive in the United Kingdom, pairing the three groups together as touring partners once more. A month prior, from mid February to early March, Trivium will tour New Zealand and Australia. In late November, it was revealed that new Trivium track "Shattering The Skies Above" would feature on the "God Of War Heavy Metal" EP, which'll be included as part of the "God Of War III" console game's "Ultimate Edition" package. For quite some time, Trivium's members have been composing material in preparation for a fifth studio full length release, and plan to spend much of 2010 devoted to that cause, as well as its actual recording. On November 25th at 23:00 GMT, Hit The Lights' Robert Gray telephoned Trivium co-lead guitarist Corey Beaulieu. Discussing Trivium's fifth studio album plans, the act were due to perform that night in Vancouver, Canada at the Commodore Ballroom. Corey Beaulieu: Hello? UG: Hello. This is Robert Gray from Ultimate-Guitar.com. Anyway, how are you Corey? Doing good. Ok. Would it be alright if I began the interview? Yeah, no problem. Go for it. How did new track "Shattering the Skies Above" come about? We got asked to write a new song for this video game that's coming out ('God of War III', slated for release in March 2010). We had riffs and so on, and just made a song out of them, figuring out what we wanted to do for the song, which was something that would fit the project and everything. "Shattering the Skies Above" came together really easily, because we're already in writing mode, working on new material for the new record. We had lots of riffs and ideas, and then we just picked what we liked and wanted to work on, and went with it. We've just been picking the song apart for the last month or two, just adding to it and fixing it up, so it's come along really well. We're really stoked to get "Shattering the Skies Above" finished. How would you describe "Shattering the Skies Above"'s musical content? "Shattering the Skies Above" just sounds like Trivium; it's really heavy, and has really big, melodic hooks. It's a pretty intense song - I think it's more aggressive and intense than anything on 'Shogun'. "Shattering the Skies Above" is a very energetic song that we've just been very inspired writing and everything. It sounds like Trivium, so everyone's gonna probably be pleased with the song.

"We're already in writing mode, working on new material for the new record."

You said that "Shattering the Skies Above" is more aggressive, so is that indicative of the musical direction Trivium's fifth studio album will take? Who knows? We've just been writing a ton of material, and we'll end up picking the best tracks for the album. We have a lot of really heavy material with melodies and everything in them, and there's some more melodic, mellower material, so it all depends on what we feel is the strongest music. Who knows? We've just been writing a lot of heavy material. "Shattering the Skies Above" is never gonna be the defining song of what the record's gonna be like, but it'll give you a general idea of part of it at least (laughs). (Laughs) How long has Trivium been collecting riffs and writing parts for new songs in support of the fifth album? We've been writing since 'Shogun' was completed. We never stop writing or anything, so there's always new riffs and things like that. Recording 'Shogun', another set of riffs were written pretty close to the completion of that record. We're just always constantly writing, and then sometimes, some of the earlier material gets dropped because it's not as strong as the more recent material. We're always writing, so there's just tons and tons of song ideas that we have lying around. There's a lot of ideas to work on, and a lot of cool ideas to finish. We're onto something really cool that we feel is gonna be our strongest, biggest sounding record - we're pretty stoked on the direction that it's flowing into. Do you prefer writing while touring, or do you prefer writing when you're at home? It doesn't really matter. It depends on the mood; sometimes you don't really feel like writing on tour and do most of it at home, and sometimes you write a lot on tour. On the last tour, we were all recording and writing quite a bit, but on this tour, we've just been laid back and enjoyed the tour, playing and not worrying about anything else, and just taking a breather from it. At sound check, we might jam some riffs, or work on a new song that we're doing, so we do things like that. In our individual time though, everyone's just been taking a breather from it, and just letting everything sink in. Once we then go home for a little bit of a break, we're ready to start ironing out some more details, and to finish some song ideas. It all depends; sometimes we write a lot on tour, and sometimes not. It all depends on if you feel inspired to do so at that time, or what not. It varies between the three of us when we're on tour. Will any new material be previewed live prior to the release of Trivium's fifth album? Or will new material be performed only after the release of the fifth album? No. If a song isn't recorded, then we don't play it live. When we're on tour, any song ideas or whatever that we come up with change at any time. We just go through them, have one version, and listen to that version a bunch of times. If we don't like certain parts, we then change them. We don't ever play anything that's not finished live, because it's gonna change, and we only want people to hear the finished idea and the final thought to really understand the song, instead of getting a half-assed version of a song that's not even halfway complete. The new song that we're working on right now we're gonna start playing it live, but not until the song's completely done, and it's already been out there for people to hear. It'll be a little while before you hear any more of the other material. So "Shattering the Skies Above" hasn't even been recorded yet then? "Shattering the Skies Above" is a song that we're jamming, but it's not finished. Up until the song is finally in the studio and tracked, there's always something to be critiqued, or fixed, or we could change something at the last minute before we finish the song, so there's always chances that the song can get altered in a way. When it's tracked, mixed and mastered, the song is finished (laughs). When does Trivium plan to enter a studio, and record "Shattering the Skies Above"? We're touring the US until December 12th, and then we have all the holidays and other things, so we actually start tracking the song pretty much around mid January. It'll then be turned in by the beginning of February - it's only one song, so it shouldn't take us more than a week to record. I believe it gets released in March or something like that. I'm not really sure of the details - we have to wait for someone else to fill us in on that (laughs). (Laughs) Can you reveal any song titles from Trivium's upcoming fifth studio album at this moment, or is it too early to do so? There might be some tentative titles here and there, but we don't actually start working on the record until April, May of 2010, and then we don't start recording until this time in 2010, so it's pretty far in advance for any of that stuff. We've just been writing a lot of music. I think Matt has some lyrical ideas and songs that he's working on, but nothing that's set in stone, or that possibly might still be a title, or will be used by that time, so there's nothing really at the moment to talk about. Where do you think Trivium's fifth album will be recorded? We're planning on recording the album in Florida so we'll have more time to be at home while we work, instead of having to go live somewhere else for a couple of months. We're not really sure exactly of studios, but I know we're gonna do it at home. We're still trying to figure out all the little details, but that's the basic plan. We're still talking to possible people we might work with, so we're still a little way off. There's not a whole lot to talk about as far as making the record goes, besides the fact we're just writing a lot of music, and just getting as much material as we can to work on and choose from. 'Shogun' was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee, so with that album, did the group's members feel as though too much time was spent away from home? No. We had a blast that time making that record, and it was a good thing to get away from any distractions at home. For this record though, we feel the best situation is to record here. We recorded at a big, fancy studio, and we had to rent a place to live, so to record away from home was a lot more expensive. It'll be easier to record in Florida, and also, everyone can go home and sleep in their own bed at night. We're on tour so much and away from home, so for the couple of months that you're off tour working on a record and recording a record, it's nice to actually spend time at home, instead of having to get off tour and go somewhere else for a couple of months, and never get home. It'll make everything more relaxed, and this way, we can record longer and work on the record longer because there's not spending a lot of money on trying to pay for a place to live somewhere else, and everything like that. We want to record a lot of songs, a lot more than we normally do. That also helps us maximize our recording and writing time to be able to do a lot more music than we normally would be able to fit into a shorter amount of time. Can the group see itself entering Audiohammer Studios in Sanford, Florida, and working with producer Jason Suecof again? No. We're still friends and everything, but I don't think that's gonna happen ever again - I don't think there's ever gonna be a working relationship, working on a record, or anything like that. We've had a couple of talks with a few potential people about working on the record, but it's still scheduling. We won't be able to really figure that out until we solidify our plans in terms of when we're recording, and when we're writing, and when we find out who's available. But definitely, I don't see working with Jason as a possibility. Would you say that realistically, Trivium's fifth album will be issued in early to mid 2011? I think the beginning of 2011 will probably be the time it'll come out, because we're writing next year, and then we'll be recording anywhere from September until November - whenever we feel ready to go in. By the time we finish recording and mixing the album, and finishing the product, it won't be ready for release until the beginning of 2011 at the earliest, so that's our time frame. Hopefully, we'll have a new single for the record out by maybe the very end of 2010, or the very beginning of 2011, but I don't think there's any way we could get a record out next year just due to the fact that we have touring obligations. We don't want to write and record early, and rush the album too much. We want to take a little more time to make this record something really special. As Trivium releases more and more albums, does it become more and more difficult to write fresh, distinctive material? Not too much. We have the benefit of having three songwriters in the band, so if one person's well runs dry at a certain time, then someone else might be having a streak of inspiration where they're just busting out songs left and right. There's always someone writing something. Everyone has different thought processes and whatever for writing songs; Paulo writes some odd stuff, and Matt can write weird stuff. Everyone writes full-on metal stuff, and then has some different direction that they can take the song in, so it's really cool. The more records we've made, the more we've figured out what we're all about, and what exactly we feel that we should sound like, and what our strengths are, and what really defines our style. With every record, we've learnt something new or tried something new, and then awhile after that, you can reflect on it and think "That wasn't such a great idea, but going in this direction was". We've been talking a lot, and working on material really closely together for quite awhile. People are gonna hear our new material, and instantly know it's us, and it's really gonna have a definitive sound. On the last record, we came pretty close to really establishing our sound, and I think we've been able to fine-tune what really makes the ultimate Trivium song or album even more. I think you're really gonna be able to hear the progression.

""Shattering the Skies Above" just sounds like Trivium; it's really heavy, and has really big, melodic hooks."

Currently, Trivium is on the second leg of the North American 'Into the Mouth of Hell' tour. How has that been? It's been great, with a lot of killer shows. The crowds have been really awesome, and it's been a really fun tour. It's been awhile since we headlined in the US, and it's a lot of fun to be able to travel around your home country, and play. We've had really cool bands out with us, so it's been a great time. After this tour, we'll go home and recharge the batteries. Trivium has been performing material from 'Shogun' for awhile now, so what has the live reception been to material from that album? The reception's been really well. With the tours we did recently, and where we opened for Slipknot and were on the last Mayhem tour, it seems when we play those songs, there's definitely a lot of people into them. The reaction's really great, and a lot of people sing along. People really got into the songs, and it's a really good balance of everything we've done, so I think our fans really enjoy 'Shogun' - the record did really well, and people enjoy it. We're really happy with it, and looking forward to just making an even better record. Currently, drummer Travis Smith is at home. While on tour, is Trivium missing him a lot? We have a really great replacement on tour, and he's just an amazing drummer, so we haven't lost a beat. He's really done a great job of learning all the material, and being able to come in, and rock out with us, and finish the shows. We didn't miss a beat, so it's really good to have that. We only have like a two-week break between tours, so it was a really quick training, learning curve to come in and do. He did great, is familiar with the music, and is just crazy on drums, so we're fortunate to be able to not miss a step, and just go out there and rock. But having said that, you're missing Travis as a friend? He's obviously a friend, but he's gotta do what he's gotta do, and get his stuff together. You just gotta do what you do; we just come out, perform, and do what we love to do. Definitely, it's a different dynamic, a different atmosphere, with someone else around, but we're all grown up, big boys - we can deal with someone else being around (laughs). It's been good, but it's definitely taken time to get used to. It is what it is, and you just gotta work with what you're dealt. Everyone's been dealing with it pretty well. Ok. And when will Travis rejoin Trivium on tour? After this, we'll be off tour for two months, so we'll see what happens. It's pretty much left up in the air. There wasn't any set return or anything like that, so we'll deal with it when the time comes. Right now, who knows? We'll wait and see. Will Travis definitely return then, or is his position in Trivium unclear? Right now, there's not really anything to talk about. We're just finishing the tour, and then we'll see what happens when we're done, and deal with whatever happens. So at present then, you're not too sure? We're just gonna take it day by day. If I name each of Trivium's albums, could you just share me your thoughts on each album? Would that be ok? Yeah. Well firstly, Trivium's first album was 'Ember to Inferno', released in October 2003 through Lifeforce Records. I heard some of 'Ember to Inferno''s songs on the demo that I had, so I was really familiar with most of that record. When I auditioned for Trivium, I remember that Matt gave me a CD-R copy of it to learn the rest of the record. I didn't get a chance to play on it, but I got to tour for it, and help promote it. It's a lot of fun, and is a really cool record. I think a lot of Trivium fans aren't really familiar with 'Ember to Inferno', or know that it's out, but for everyone's age in the band at that time, I think they had a really cool thing going. There's a lot of really strong songs, and we still play a lot of those songs live, so it's definitely a really cool record that I think a lot of Trivium fans aren't really too familiar with. It gives you a good glimpse of how Trivium started, and the progression from that record to what we are, and to the next record release. 'Ember to Inferno' was Trivium's start. And following that, Trivium released 'Ascendancy' in March 2005 through Roadrunner Records. Yeah. 'Ascendancy' was pretty much written as a three-piece; it was just me, Matt and Travis jamming in our rehearsal space every day. No-one went to school, and none of us really had jobs, so we'd just show up and play every day because we had nothing else to do. We'd just jam on riffs, or have a song idea and start writing. We just didn't have anything else going on, so just kept writing music, and then by the time it was all said and done, 'Ascendancy' came out pretty special. It was really big, and that was what broke us pretty much in a lot of places around the world. That album was our career starter as far as albums go, and it's really cool to be a part of writing a record that really had an impact. Following 'Ascendancy', third album 'The Crusade' was released in October 2006. Yeah. 'The Crusade' had cool moments, and then its not so cool moments I guess. It was just a really odd time, kind of a transitional period. We were still trying to figure out what we were all about, and we tried a lot of different things - some worked, and some didn't. There wasn't really a whole lot of band chemistry, which wasn't so hot, but for how much time we had and for what it is, it definitely had its bright spots and definitely opened our band to a lot of people that weren't familiar with us, people who liked old school material that had more of a classic metal vibe. I think the album really attracted a different side of the metal audience that maybe dismissed us before or something, so it definitely opened us up to a lot of new people, and helped us see what our band is, and helped us transition to the next level and so on. 'The Crusade' is definitely the most different out of all the records, but it stands out the most because everything was done different than anything previous or after that. It's definitely a stand out record in a few ways, I guess (laughs). (Laughs) And that brings us to Trivium's fourth and latest album, 'Shogun', released in September 2008. 'Shogun' has a lot of cool parts. We got really musical on that record, writing really long sections of instrumental parts. I think you can definitely hear everyone's playing as musicians on that record, and I think it really took what we did on the previous record, and molded it together in a certain way. 'Shogun' definitely has combinations of styles, and the influences of those other records, and just really molded them into one sound. We're really stoked about that record, and I think it really got us to a place where we needed to be. 'Shogun' is another stepping stone to the next record; making that record's really gonna help us get to the next record, which we're hoping will be our best record. Also, we're hoping everyone else will agree. So 'Shogun' was another stepping stone to whatever the future holds for the band. We're really happy with the record, and how it turned out, and all the hard work turned into a pretty solid record. On this tour cycle, it's been a lot of fun playing those songs, and people seem to really enjoy those songs. Those songs really work, and they have a good energy live that the crowd really reacts to, so it's a lot of fun playing those songs, and hearing people singing and everything. I think we did a good job.

"We never stop writing or anything, so there's always new riffs and things like that."

'Shogun' will be followed up Trivium's fifth album, obviously. For interested fans, what might that album hold? Instead of going off and writing full on, seven, eight minute songs or whatever, we're just trying to make really strong songs that just have our style, and what makes us us. We want to really make fucking great songs that just instantly connect with someone, that someone can hear once and know. We're just concentrating on writing songs, and not worrying about if we're shredding enough, or if there's eight million riffs in the song. It's all about quality, and not quantity, so we're really fine-tuning the songs, and cutting the fat. We're trying to make really tight, precise songs that sound like anthems, that people can just sing along to and scream, and have a lot of energy where people wanna bang their head, and pump their fist. We're just writing riffs that are in our style, that fit us, and vocals with melodic guitars, what everyone came to know from the band, but I guess with a stronger, more mature sound. We've written a lot of songs, and played a lot of music, so we know how it's done, and what we can do to make it better and more enjoyable for people to listen to. There's just lots of hard work trying to make songs that we love, and that everyone else is gonna love too. Once we get down to actually working on the material full time, we'll try to get a better idea of what we really got to work with, and how certain songs are, and what direction we want to take the album in. There's a shitload of songs, so we could mix and match any of them for an album. Certain songs will change the overall vibe, because they're different kinds of songs. We'll have to see what the overall is. Ok. Do you have a message for the fans of Trivium? Thanks for coming out to the shows, and thanks for supporting us. Keep an eye out for our new song, and also later on, our new record. You won't be disappointed - we're gonna give you some badass music to listen to. Keep following the band, thank you for supporting us, and we'll see everyone soon. Ok. Thanks for the interview Corey - it's much appreciated. Awesome. No problem, man - thank you. All the best. Bye. Bye. Interview by Robert Gray Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2009
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