Interview by Brady Deeprose
Hey Corey, thanks for chatting to us. The recently released Vengeance Falls is Trivium’s 5th offering and seems to have gone in a less aggressive direction, especially compared to Shogun and In Waves. Was this a deliberate choice?
We just kinda write what comes out. The record, I think, is still pretty heavy, there’s just not as much screaming: it’s still in there just not all the time. We wanted to focus on writing heavy music but with more emphasis on hooks. The whole constant screaming to singing and then back again is a formula that got old and Matt (Heafy, Vocals/Guitar) really wanted to expand his vocals, while still being aggressive, into more melodic territory. Instead of having to wait till the chorus to have a big ‘sing-along’ part, we wanted to take that and put it throughout the rest of the song so every section has an interesting melodic hook while still being heavy. Instead of ‘Here’s a heavy part, we’ve gotta scream on it’ we wanted to have both of those elements put together and use the screaming as an impact point, backing stuff up and adding aggression where needed. Certain parts are fully screamed but only when it’s called for. Every record, we try to find a way to present our music in new ways and keep it fun for us as opposed to just following the same thing every time: I think that’s what makes each record a bit more stand alone, it’s not just trying to copy what we did on the previous one, they all have their own kinda vibe.
Yeah, you can definitely hear that, especially when you look at, say, Ascendancy, to The Crusade, to Shogun.
Yeah, it’s cool that each record does its own thing as it opens you up to a whole new bunch of fans. Everyone has different musical preferences and it’s cool because you can talk to a group of fans and they’ve all got a different favorite record because there’s something about that sound that they really like. We just try to keep it interesting so each record, people don’t know what to expect: it keeps them curious and eager to hear what’s next. If every record sounded like Ascendancy or Shogun you’d already know what to expect so there’s no desire to hear the new little twists and turns that are brought in with the next record.
Did producer David Draiman have much input into the writing or arrangement of the album?
He’s wanted to be involved with it, but at first, we’d get a load of demo’s done and email them over but didn’t really have that much to say at first, maybe that he liked this part or focus on improving this section but it was very vague. He wanted to save all his in-depth thoughts on things until we were in the same room so nothing got misinterpreted. Once we had all the music and some of the songs had lyrics, he’d just sit and listen to the songs and throw some ideas at us about maybe expanding a riff or adding more to it, just making sure all the rhythms and drums were exciting and the drums were adding as much flavor to the songs as they could. A lot of minor details and just making sure everything was solidified before we went into recording. A lot of times, when we were in the studio, things would change and we’d write stuff as we went along and he wanted us to go into it knowing exactly what we wanted to do. There was a lot more preparation and planning… making sure all the drum parts were nailed instead of coming up with stuff on the spot or changing it as we went along. We jus sat together and hammered out the more detailed parts of the songs, vocal melodies and tweaking bits where they needed. It was a lot of fun, two weeks of about 8 to 10 hours a day of re-writing and dissecting songs, modifying them to be just a little bit cooler-sounding!
How do you feel the album has been received so far?
It’s been great! A lot of fans got it right away and for some fans it’s taken a little bit longer but I think now that the record’s been out for 4 or 5 months, a lot more people have had a chance to really listen to it and let it sink in. Paulo had someone on Twitter say, when the record first came out, that he didn’t like it but then tweeted him last week like, ‘I get it now!’. With anything, there will be a lot of people that get it right away and enjoy the music for what it is and other people who have a pre-determined idea of what they want the record to sound like, like Ascendancy or something, and when they hear it and it’s not what they want, they’re kinda disappointed but then when they get rid of that idea and just listen to the record for what it is, it grows on people. A lot of people have said it’s their favorite record, people from labels and press… the guy that signed us to roadrunner initially, whose no longer there, we went him a record and it was his favorite record we’ve done. It’s been going really well, the songs we’ve played from the record so far all go down live amazingly and people sing them and go crazy so it’s a good sign that they fit in with the songs from the past records they love.
It feels like Trivium haven’t really played in the UK that much of late, have the crowds been as ‘up for it’ as you’d hoped?
Yeah, it’s been great. The last tour we did for In Waves was us and As I Lay Dying which was end of 2012 so it’s been over a year I guess, so all the shows have been great. We’ve been stoked to come over here and play songs from the new record for the first time… also, the pairing with Killswitch, the pairing of the two bands, people are really excited to come and see us at the same time. The atmosphere has been really energetic: the opening bands have been getting really great reactions and then for both the headliners, everyone has been singing all the words and so far, all the shows have been really awesome.
I think for a lot of people in my generation, Ascendancy and Alive Or Just Breathing were the first metal/metalcore records they bought so it’s great to have you guys and then Jesse (Leach, Vocals) back in Killswitch, all in one package.
Yeah, we both cam out around the same time, KSE had 2 years on Ascendancy, but The End Of Heartache came out around the same time so we’ve been in the same category of newer bands but we’ve never really toured together properly. We did a tour where we had Rise To Remain opening for us and I remember talking to Austin (Dickinson, vocals) who said that his first few metal records were Ascendancy, The End Of Heartache and Alive Or Just Breathing so a lot of people from that age group seemed to have latched on to those records and they seem to have got a lot of people into metal, which is cool. I wish we were playing more shows as we only just played the 4th show and tomorrow is the last one already, it went by so quickly.
The stage setup for this tour is a lot more extravagant than you guys have used previously…
Yeah, we had it built at the start of the touring cycle for the new album and it’s cool, a lot of effects and stuff that we’ve always wanted to use and after the summer festivals last year, we just wanted to go all-out. Download this year will have some extra treats which will be pretty awesome.
Obviously you’re obligated to say Vengeance Falls, but are there any albums you’re particularly proud of or specific moments you wouldn’t go back and change?
All the records I’ve been a part of have been different, all different moments in time, but they all have cool stories and I’m really proud of all the songs we created for them, so it’s hard to pick a particular favorite: Ascendancy’s great, Shogun was cool because there was so much that went into making that record, it was more of our challenging record and listening back, I just think ‘wow, it was a lot of work’. It’s really satisfying to listen to it back and hear how much we improved as musicians on that record. In Waves and Vengance Falls we’re really stoked on because we looked back at Shogun and the technicality of everything and we really just wanted to focus in on big hooks and it doesn’t matter if the riffs are simple, as long as they have something you can connect with or get sucked in by. ‘In Waves’ is now one of our biggest songs and it’s probably the simplest song we’ve ever written, so it’s all about that: grab people with the hooks, the riffs or the groove. Those records were really fun because it was taking yourself out of it, not being bothered about playing a million notes and just making the best songs we can. Each record has something really cool about it that I like, The Crusade is the only one that I’m not super into…
That sucks, that was the first Trivium album I got and introduced me to a lot of metal! I hear a lot of people that are a bit down on it, especially after Ascendancy, but as far as I’m concerned it’s a great record.
Yeah, there’s some cool songs on it. Being involved with making it and having to go through all the things that were happening at that time, it wasn’t as fun of a record to make and we didn’t have as much time as we really needed, so there’s a lot of things on that record that sound unfinished, or not complete thoughts that, if we’d had more time then I’d have said, ‘That’s gotta go ‘ for a vocal part or even just a song in general. There are a couple of songs that I probably wouldn’t even have on the record.
Are there any from The Crusade that you still, or plan to, play live?
This tour, no, but right after this, we’re headlining in Europe with just Miss May I and Battlecross with a longer set so there’s about 5 songs that we’re adding in. On the last US tour we’ve been playing ‘Becoming The Dragon’ but we’d only usually play one or two. Past tours we’ve played ‘Entrance Of The Conflagration’ and ‘Detonation’ sometimes pops in there… ’Ignition’ we’ve played a little bit. So yeah, when we have as much time as we do on headline shows, we try to get at least one song from every album in there.
It’s great to see ‘Shogun’ on the setlist!
Yeah, once we released the album, we got badgered with requests so on the Vengeance Falls tour, we thought we’d get it in there finally so people can enjoy us and not bother us about it again!
Why did you guys make the switch from Dean guitars?
A few years back, Matt went back to Gibson as he’d always loved them and I moved over to Jackson, they’ve always been my favorite brand, and I played them during Ascendancy. After that, they got taken over by Fender and the way the company ran wasn’t really very musician friendly, at least for me. I know a lot of other people left around that time. If it wasn’t Eric Clapton or that kinda thing, they didn’t care at the time. So we got the chance from Dean to try some stuff out and do whatever we wanted, so it was cool to learn the whole process of making guitars and having that option to be involved with a company and do some stuff. Then it just came to a point where it wasn’t what we wanted to play and we just weren’t really feeling it. When we parted ways with Dean, Matt picked up his old Gibsons and started playing those on tour and I wasn’t sure, I wasn’t with anybody for a long time, maybe a year, I really loved Jackson but I wasn’t sure what the situation was like there years later. A bunch of different companies sent me stuff to try to coax me into signing with them but I just always loved Jackson, so I didn’t wanna pass up another opportunity to be with them. When I spoke to their people this time round, it was a whole different situation and I’ve been treated amazingly, my signature guitar has been out for nearly a year now, it’s great! They’re a great company and I’m not going anywhere.
We used to, pretty much everything after Ascendancy was written on tour, that’s just what we did, jamming in the dressing room or whatever. It got to a certain point where we were able to break out of that, kinda, ‘work’ approach… just from being on toru with so many other bands where they’re sat in the corner after the show working on songs… it became really uninspiring: cooped up in a small room with headphones, writing riffs with a bunch of shit going on around you, so we’re just enjoying touring and then writing at home. We had a break for a month and we’ve got about 7 songs already for the next record so once we’re off the road and home where it’s quiet and no distractions, we can write a lot of material pretty quickly. We’re focusing on jamming out, old-school style as opposed to sitting with a laptop and then going to record it. Some of our coolest stuff ahs been spur of the moment, just jamming stuff on the spot so we want to bring that back. At the moment, we’re just gathering riff ideas or fragments of songs and stockpiling them until we have the time to look at them.
What do you have planned for the next few months?
We have shows in Germany, Belgium, Holland and Italy: a short mainland Europe run and then over to Australia… after that, two shows in South Africa. Then we have an American tour with Volbeat in April/May and then a bunch of festivals in the US with like, Avenged Sevenfold and Korn. After that, the June festivals and some more touring after that which hasn’t been announced, then the end of they year, which we don’t really have scheduled as of yet. There are some other places that we’re hoping we can make a headline tour work, especially Australia which we haven’t done in about 5 years, same with Japan. If not, we’ll just get to work on the next album.
Sounds like a decent plan! I look forwards to you guys returning to these shores.