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Trivium Frontman Matt Heafy Talks New Album ‘Vengeance Falls,’ Playing Metal Festivals + More

Matt Heafy of Trivium
Liz Ramanand, Loudwire

Trivium frontman Matt Heafy was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s radio show this past weekend. Heafy discussed his experiences playing European music festivals this summer, the band’s upcoming album, ‘Vengeance Falls,’ and more. If you missed Full Metal Jackie’s show, check out her full interview with Matt Heafy below:

It’s Full Metal Jackie bringing you two full hours of metal each and every week. With us on the show, Matt from Trivium. How are you doing?

We just got back last night. Our flight was about four hours late getting in, as it always is, that’s just something I’m used to. I expect it now whenever I travel or whenever I travel with people who haven’t traveled much. I always expect it to go wrong, this way when something doesn’t go wrong, I’m pleasantly surprised. The shows were amazing. We played about half festivals and half headliners. The headliners were 500-1000 people, then the festival were about 10,000-90,000 people. We played Wacken Open Air for the second time, direct support for the headliners. Yeah, 90,000 during our set!

We built up basically what looked like the ‘Vengeance Falls’ cover onstage, so we had mountains everywhere. We didn’t get to use pyro, but we used CO2. It was cool to go in that kind of direction, the Iron Maiden production. It’s something we’ve always wanted to do but haven’t been able to do. Finally, we were able to do that. We used it in pretty much all the small clubs as well; hopefully we’ll have some of it in the U.S. for this upcoming tour.

Awesome. Last time you played Wacked I was lucky enough to be out there and see it for the first time. It was amazing, they went crazy for Trivium. I know it was the first time you played that festival but the response was tremendous. I can only imagine how much better it’s gotten since then.

This year was even better. Wacken, I have to say, is the greatest festival in the world for metal. It’s my favorite festival I’ve ever been to on the entire planet. The fact that 80, 90, 100,000 people show up to this thing. Mind you, a week after Wacken finished, next year’s Wacken was already sold out. Emperor is headlining, they’ve re-formed to headline that festival.

That will be amazing. The fans come from all over Europe to go to Wacken. People are just so psyched to be there. With the amount of alcohol and everything that goes on out there, there are no fights, people are taking care of each other. It’s a really cool vibe.

It’s done right. A lot of the festivals in the states, having to stop every other song because people are fighting. Other spots, not necessarily fighting, but maybe not as big of a turnout. Wacken is incredible. All metal bands. People take care of each other. This time all four of us in the band and our manager walked around the entire thing just to see what it was like. We went to all the metal shops where they sell every t-shirt from every obscure band and get to see the different stages. It was really amazing. I hope I have time, that we’re not busy and I can go fly to just watch next year and see Emperor play. It’s that cool. It’s my favorite festival, it’s the most well run, most well organized. They take really good care of you at that festival.

Matt from Trivium with us on the show. There’s a new Trivium album coming out in October called ‘Vengeance Falls.’ Matt, each Trivium album gets closer and closer to sounding timeless. Especially this new one. What’s the biggest factor in evolving to the point of being able to do that?

I think it comes with time. I guess some bands can pull off their sound, looks and image, everything that is that brand on the first record. I think Slipknot did that incredibly well with their self-titled record. I think you see that every once in a while, Rammstein, it immediately had what their vision was and what they are as a band, all figured out on one record. For us, yeah, we had a huge part of our music figured out. I know with our second record, we had a huge part of the music figured out, but we didn’t really know what we were going to look like. We had to grow up in the public eye, we had to figure out how we were supposed to dress and perform onstage. A lot of other bands had years to figure that out in their local scenes. Our local scene was spent 12 years old, 16 years old, playing bars in Orlando and instantly starting touring the world.

So, I guess with every record we’ve figured out more and more of what we are. What we do best as a band. If I had to be very critical of ‘Vengeance Falls,’ it captures the best key ingredients of the previous five records. Speaking in terms of everything that can be done on the record. Lyrics, visuals, songwriting and instrumentation. All of that I think, every key ingredient from the past five records are present in Vengeance Falls. I think it came with time.

‘Vengeance Falls’ is going to be out Oct. 15. David Draiman, best known as the singer for Disturbed and Device, is the producer. What initially attracted you to him to produce ‘Vengeance Falls’? What was the biggest impact he made on the finished album?

The first time I met him was in 2005. Trivium was second of five for the Danzig tour; I forgot the name of the tour. We played the Chicago show and after the set we were walking around, David came up to us and said, “Hey, I’m David from Disturbed and I want to let you know I’m a fan of your band.” It blew our minds because we were such fans of Disturbed. I remember seeing the first Disturbed show in Orlando in 1999 or 2000 when they were supporting bands. Danzig, Six Feet Under, Disturbed was the first band. We ran into him at least once or twice a year over the next few years at festivals here and there. We had the opportunity to go over to Australia with Disturbed and As I Lay Dying. We got to know them a little more, then we did Mayhem together. I gave David a copy of ‘In Waves’ to listen to in the middle of the tour. At the end of the tour, he approached us and said, “Never before did I feel you guys are ready to make the jump you’re about to make right now and I would love to help you guys do that.”

When we heard that we were stoked but we weren’t sure what he meant. We started digging in and finding out he had been doing the production work for Disturbed and then he showed us what was going to be Device. Right when we heard Device we said, “Yes, this guy is our producer.” All the ingredients that we loved as fans of Disturbed songs and production were present in Device. We knew there and then that he was not only a singer/songwriter but also a producer.

You’ll be on the road with DevilDriver in September. On tour with other bands, are you a student of what they do? What band that you’ve toured with has made the longest lasting impact?

You can always learn something from every kind of band in every kind of genre. Whether a new band or an old band, legendary or not legendary. You can always learn something. Even on this last run, the very first show was in Bucharest in Romania. We were playing with Rammstein for the first time. Rammstein has been a huge influence on me and what I try to do creatively. If you look at all the story line videos from ‘In Waves,’ that was taken a huge note from what Rammstein did and the way they do it. The way they do videos, mini films. Same thing with, not trying to make it the way they do it but learning from the way they do it.

Their music videos, live shows, uniforms was kind of what I was going for in ‘In Waves.’ What I felt this time in Bucharest inspired me even more down to watching how he’s a frontman and how the band approaches performance. Outside of all the pyrotechnics and all the theatrics, you can still learn a lot from what they’re doing for a band like who’s capable of doing without all the pyrotechnics and all the insane stage production. It gives us something to work towards. I was just talking to one of the main promoters who runs Wacken in Germany and I was saying we got to see Rammstein and it reminded me once again that when we can, and as soon as we can, I want just as much pyro as they have and just as crazy of a stage show as they have. I won’t be buggering any of our band members off a 20 foot ramp into a ring of fire or anything, but everything else.

I would hope not. Matt, Disney World is the first thing that comes to mind generally when someone says Orlando. Mickey Mouse, not necessarily metal. What about that area made the biggest impact on you as a musician both growing up and now?

Yeah, whenever I mention that other bands and journalists usually assume we’re from Europe, which is strange. “Oh you guys are from the UK, right?” Can’t you tell by our accents that we’re not from the UK? We’re from Orlando. Disney is about 40 minutes or so south of where I live in a city called Kissimmee. But it’s easier associated with Orlando. Growing up in Central Florida, it was known for boy bands and pop punk. Goth. Country is pretty big. A lot of radio rock. I think it was from being surrounded by all of that from that being what the majority accepted that drove me into doing the furthest thing from all of that, which was metal. When European bands think of their favorite bands, a lot of the Swedish bands in the Gothenburg scene were very influenced by the Tampa death metal scene.

So they know that. It was something I really missed out on, it was in the early 90s to the mid 90s when that was around so I wasn’t really aware of what death metal was until after I had gotten into the original gateway metal bands. Pantera, Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Testament. Then trekking onto the extreme stuff. I think it was the indentation of kids being into pop punk, ska and then soon to I guess whatever they became that you can call it what it is now. Stuff that incorporates dance, dub step and all that weird stuff. I know pop punk, which is fine if that’s your thing, it’s just not my thing. That made me want to stick to metal.

Matt, looking forward to hearing more tunes from ‘Vengeance Falls.’ It’s out Oct. 15. We’ll see you out on the Trivium / DevilDriver tour and really appreciate you being on the show. Congratulations on the success of your Europe run and looking forward to seeing you soon.

Thanks and there are two legs of that tour so if people don’t see their hometown and are bummed, they may be showing up in the second leg of the tour, which has not been announced yet but will be soon.

This coming weekend, Full Metal Jackie will welcome Bill Steer of Carcass to her show. Full Metal Jackie can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.

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