Trivium’s Matt Heafy Talks ‘Silence in the Snow,’ Ronnie James Dio + More
Trivium's Matt Heafy was the guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show. Matt spoke with Jackie about the band's 'Silence in the Snow' album, making creative leaps, the influence of Ronnie James Dio and more. Check out the chat below:
When you're a band with several albums and an established fanbase, how much courage does it take to divert at all from what you're known for?
I think it takes a massive amount and luckily that is something that we showed really early on. 'Cause there was quite a bit of success with our second album, Ascendancy, in the U.S. and the UK. And immediately after we decided to make a record that was the polar opposite of the previous. We decided to release the Crusade immediately after Ascendancy. The reasoning behind consciously making an album that was the polar opposite of the previous is that we wanted to show people early that we weren’t afraid of taking chances, of doing the opposite of everything that we have ever done. And we never wanted to do the same thing. We noticed that the common ingredient that a lot of bands are always doing is making the same album every single time. Something we always tell our fans and our supporters is that we are the kind of band that you never know exactly what you will be getting into with each record that followed the previous.
Matt, you've said that seeing Ronnie James Dio with Heaven and Hell really changed you and your bandmates. What affected you so much and how did it change you?
At that time I was a casual fan of the Dio material. I’d known the big hits. I don’t really know much aside from the Holy Diver record. And I definitely missed his Sabbath era material. So when I saw that set, specifically the song "Heaven and Hell," it showed me how else I wanted to depict the metal that I was creating. Like the same way when I first heard Metallica and I never heard metal in my entire life. I never heard metal delivered in that way. And to be able to hear Dio live and be able to hear Tommy Iommi live, to be able to hear how that was portrayed with that band, it really just blew my mind and blew all of our minds.
When we met Dio afterwards, it was pretty life changing to be able to meet one of the greatest metal singers of all time and really be welcomed by him. And he treated us so well and he was very humble and very polite. It was amazing. It was really, it was one of those moments where looking back at it, it doesn’t seem real. And after that night, I picked up my guitar and inevitably started writing some that sounded like the song "Heaven and Hell," I feel. Well I wasn’t trying to make something that sounded like it. The first thing that came out is something that was obviously inspired by that song.
The song "Silence in the Snow" has been around in various forms of completion for quite a few years. Can you talk about the evolution of that track?
It was pretty crazy cause we wrote that song while we were creating the material for Shogun. And it was a song that I loved and I remember our manager loved and my wife loved. But Paolo and Corey, they weren’t quite into it yet. And we could not figure out why it didn’t fit. They couldn’t put exact words on why they were not into it. Looking back at it now, eight years later, I see that we were not ready for that song. Cause that song was the most stripped back thing that we had written for Shogun, and Shogun was a very technical record.
And with that song, "Silence in the Snow," it was more minimal. When a song is more minimal musically, technicality wise, it relies on a much bigger vocal. I was an okay singer at the time. I wasn’t where I am now. I am not saying that I have arrived as a singer. I am not saying that I am at my end result or where I was intending on going. I am on the path. And I feel that with growing the vocal ranges I've stepped up myself to be the singer that the song requires. When the music is boiled down to the simplest part, it’s all about the big hook or the rhythm or the big melody, it just required us to be bigger musicians and bigger performers then we were at that point in time.
You really didn't do the typical social media updates about the progress of this album. How much greater anticipation there's been for the album because of that?
Like I said, we've always been into doing the opposite of what we've seen either ourselves doing or other bands are doing. We looked at how are all bands presenting their upcoming records now a days and that was basically seeing Instagrams and twitter feeds of pictures of amps or guys sitting in front of a computer with a beer saying, alright we're finishing our new record. You're constantly being fed little pieces of information of how the record is going but never being able to see any finished product until so much later. So we decided to keep the entire thing a secret, which a couple of other bands have done at the same time as well, which I think is cool -- when you don't know a band is recording and then all of a sudden it just comes out.
We didn't want to let anyone hear anything until we had an entirely finished song and video. We always wanted to present things differently. We made sure with this record, every video we did and with the album art we did, it was all presented in a way that we hadn't presented it before, in a way we haven't really dug into before. That's why with every single video that's been out, with all three videos they are polar opposite of each other but they're also very different from everything we've done. Same thing with the artwork being minimal and simplistic and essentially monochromatic. We wanted to do opposites, do opposites of what we've done in the past and present things differently.
The drummer affects the dynamic of a band in so many ways. This is Matt Madiro's first album with Trivium. Tell us about his contribution to the disc.
For us, the newest of the band that's formally in the band is Paolo. He's been in the band for 11 years. So, with our band whoever is going to be filling in the shoes for the rhythm section of the band, has to put in an incredible amount of time, work and effort in order to be where essentially the three of us are. Matt stepped in at an absolutely integral time for our band when we had to make a switch. We made it overnight between Nick and Matt. Whereas, when Nick filled in for us, he had about two weeks to learn the material and Matt had about 24 hours to learn the material. So Matt came in at a dire moment and saved the day on a tour and did the cycle with us then did the record with us. It's really up to him to see where his future leads with this band. Like I said, Paolo has put in about 10/11 years. Corey has been in the band since 2003. I've been in the band since 1999. So we're definitely a band that's been around for a very long time with members who've been in for a large amount of time. So it's entirely up to him to see where we'll go with it. He did a great job on the record, a great job on the record cycle and touring. He's doing a great job now, so we'll see.
Beyond the next month or so, what's the plan on touring?
For the rest of the year we'll probably be rehearsing, jamming and constantly keeping our stuff at the highest level possible. Then next year get at it. I think the stuff that we have booked for next year so far is obviously the European fests in the second or third quarter, hopefully U.S. festivals. We'll carry on for there. We're filling in the year as we go, but there's nothing formally locked in just yet.
Thanks to Trivium's Matt Heafy for the interview. The band's 'Silence in the Snow' album is available via Amazon and iTunes. At present, only a handful of tour dates are on the band's schedule, which you can see here. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show at this location.