Interview: Trivium goes for the throat with “Shogun”

 

When Roadrunner releases the deluxe addition of Trivium’s new album, “Shogun” this week, the list of extra goodies will include video of guitarists Matt Heafy and Corey Beaulieu teaching aspiring shredders how to play Trivium riffs.

Guitar players excited by that prospect had better warm up their fingers, however. Keeping up with guitarists the caliber of Heafy and Beaulieu won’t be easy.

Heafy, who also handles lead vocals for the band, doesn’t practice much on tour. After all, shredding through blinding riffs night after night onstage is practice enough. But Heafy said last week he readies himself for every performance.

“I definitely warm up,” Heafy said. “Since we tour so damn much, we don’t need to practice.” Part of Heafy’s pre-concert routine includes playing scales written by John Petrucci, the virtuoso guitarist of Dream Theatre.

Heafy and Trivium have rightfully gained a following based on top-notch musical performances, and “Shogun” is another jaw-dropping example of the band’s power. Songs like “Into The Mouth of Hell We March,” “Kirisute Gomen” and “Down From The Sky” combine both brutal roars and soaring vocal harmonies, frantic guitar attacks and swirling arpeggios, raw aggression and melodies that are, let’s face it, just lovely.

“With this record, it’s a combination of everything we’ve done right musically,” Heafy said. “A big thing with our songs was always to have melody and brutality, too. When it came to this record, we wanted to take those lines farther.

“We like to have it all,” Heafy said. “We’re big fans of songs that are melodic and catchy. It shows we … like to meld everything into our sound.”

Somehow, the band – Heafy, Beaulieu, bassist Paolo Gregoletto and drummer Travis Smith – does manage to do it all. It’s enough to make any musician a firm believer in his own abilities. But Heafy said guitar players should remember there is more to the instrument than just speed.

“My thing with technical stuff, I think it’s more important to be able to write a song,” Heafy said. “You’ll remember a McCartney and Lennon song more than you’re member” someone who can play at super speeds,” he said.

“The song is first. Everything else is secondary,” Heafy said.

For “Shogun,” Heafy drew on both Greek mythology, religious imagery and even Japanese history  for lyrical inspiration. While Heafy researches every song, the phrase “kirisute gomen,” which was a Samurai term for, essentially, “excuse me while I chop off your head,” struck a particular nerve, he said.

“When I heard that, I thought, ‘holy #%*!, why hasn’t anyone used that?'” he said. Unlike previous Trivium albums like “The Crusade,” and “Ascendancy,” Heafy said there are no literal meanings to the songs on “Shogun.”

“This could be seen as a cop-out answer … When it comes to this record, I want the interpretation to be up to the ear of the beholder,” Heafy said. “If (a lyric) means something to them, then that’s right. I want them to create it themselves.”

When it came time to record “Shogun,” the band members stepped outside their collective comfort zone by tapping Nick Raskulinecz as producer, leaving behind Jason Suecof, who had produced “Ember to Inferno,” “Ascendancy” and “The Crusade.”

“It was a great way to challenge us,” Heafy said. “Jason really knows his (stuff) about metal … (But) I think Jason and Trivium had learned everything we could from each other. We needed someone who could challenge us and think of new ideas.

“With this record, we did everything differently,” Heafy said. “With (previous) records, we recorded at a friend’s house.”

For “Shogun,” however the band traveled to Nashville, to record at a studio more familiar with Hank than heavy.

“We decided to bring metal there,” Heafy said.

With the album on the verge of release, the band has been playing “Into the Mouth of Hell,” “Kirisute Gomen” and “Down From The Sky,” as a way to familiarize audiences with what “Shogun” has to offer. So far, the crowds have reacting “amazingly” to the new material, Heafy said.

“Into the Mouth of Hell” is particularly my favorite to play,” Heafy said. “It’s a challenging song to play, but we like to be challenged with what we do and have songs fight us back a little bit. It makes it that much more fun to play.”

The band will play Headliners Music Hall in Louisville on Oct. 14, with All That Remains, 36 Crazyfists and The Human Abstract. People coming to hear Trivium’s set can expect a musical “kick in the ass,” Heafy said.

“Whether we’re playing in front of five, 500 or 5,000 (people), whether it’s 25 or 80,000, you’re getting the same show. There’s no fancy #&!* going on with this tour. It’s just us, the music and the crowd, and I think everyone is going to have a good time with it.”

Tickets for the Healiners show are on sale at www.ticketweb.com

Several tracks off “Shogun” can be heard at www.myspace.com/trivium

If that’s not enough, check out the band’s channel on YouTube channel, which includes the video for “Down From The Sky.”

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