Matt Heafy Explains Just How Sweet Trivium’s New Airplane Hangar Headquarters Is
Trivium's Matt Heafy was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio. The band is currently on the road on the long-awaited 'Metal Tour of the Year' alongside co-headliners Megadeth and Lamb of God and special guest Hatebreed.
It's the first time the group has been able to tour since releasing What the Dead Men Say last year, but now their focus is on In the Court of the Dragon, their newest full length, which is due this fall.
For Trivium, the downtime amid the pandemic was quite productive, as they secured an airplane hangar and repurposed it to meet their every need as a fully operational, multi-purpose headquarters. As Heafy noted in the interview below, this headquarters has already generated a lot of chatter among other musicians, opening even more revenue opportunities for Trivium than they had previously thought.
There was a lot more to discuss as well, including Heafy's solo cover of the pop hit "Right Here Waiting" and how he landed the song's original author, Richard Marx, as his collaborator on the cover version.
Read the full interview below.
Due to the pandemic there wasn't a tour looming over the making of the new album. What changed about the process without time constraints?
What's pretty crazy is that we released two records in the span.
For the first lockdown we were approached, "Hey, you guys had this record done. The world doesn't know about it yet. We should delay it." We didn't want to delay it. The label was like, "Well, we're not going to sell records." We don't care about sales. All we want to do is get this album out and give people something to enjoy, so we put out What the Dead Men Say. We weren't able to tour on it or sell CDs, but what we said to ourselves was that we need to keep an eye on, keep being forward-thinking about this and not stop moving.
We had, at the time, the most successful paid for metal streams and we did two incredible free ones on Twitch as well.
We then decided we all needed to live in the same place. Paolo [Gregoletto] moved down from Illinois, Alex [Bent] moved in from California and we all got places 10 minutes from each other. We were able to be around each other and be creative when we needed to be, when we want to be.
We were able to invest in ourselves a little bit, so we bought an airplane hanger and converted it into a studio/live stream room/production place — a mixed media facility headquarters.
In the interim, we got in a room together to see what we can come up with [for new music]. Trivium does best when it's just the four of us just creating the kind of music that we want to hear for ourselves when we're together.
I know that there are some bands that do better writing in the studio, some bands write with [outside] writers, but for us, it's always been about writing the kind of music that the four of us want to hear for ourselves. We don't think of if our fans going to like it — it's just a matter of making what we want to make.
The last three records were made without constraints — we didn't tell anybody we were making anything. I was still keeping my normal stream schedule in the mornings and I'd go into the studio during the afternoon, then come home and get the kids ready for bed and everything else to keep that mystery up. So then when we had everything ready to go we could just announce it very tastefully with a very curious piece versus just the standard social media team.
How do you anticipate the airplane hangar headquarters will affect the business and creativity of being Trivium?
It hasn't fully paid for itself yet, but we've done a music video, a mini live DVD shoot, a livestream slash/DVD shoot, several photo shoots for magazine covers, our promo photo shoots, endorsement shots there.
We would have had to locate a facility, pay day rates for manufacturer space... this thing is everything we'd ever need.
I'm an avid Twitch streamer and I've helped bring a lot of musicians over to the platform. Now, one of our team members from Roadrunnder Records from In Waves through What the Dead Men Say, who is now at Twitch, said that musicians are looking at our hangar already as like the "digital" Red Rocks [Amphitheatre] or CBGBs and other bands want to start playing there.
That's something we can start expanding to in the future — allowing bands to do their music videos, livestreams, etc. there. To be able to do your records outside of a studio that you'd be paying for the fees of the gear and all that stuff is pretty amazing. Upstairs, we've got a room that will be converted into a tracking room, a jam room, a living room and a bathroom. Downstairs is storage, kitchen, guitar workstation, drum workstation, a bedroom and a shower and bathroom.
Then we have the giant hangar itself, which can be absolutely anything anyone would need.
I believe that it will soon pay for itself with the more content that we make.
The song "In the Court of the Dragon" was initially influenced by a short story. What aspects of film, literature and art typically create connections to your music sensibility?
On the In Waves record I met John Paul Douglass, who became a close friend of mine. He's done a Trivium documentary and he and my wife are from a very different world than I'm from. They're both visual artists, and they've both been able to really sell me on different things to be inspired from. John Paul Douglass got all of us to be inspired by filmmakers such as David Lynch, Paul Thomas Anderson and Lars Von Trier.
My wife is the one that got me into classical art and modern art and to be inspired by things that I can't make.
With this song itself, Paolo had found that initial short story and realized that that was a short story that inspired H.P. Lovecraft and a lot of different things. When I started writing the lyrics to that song, I initially was writing it about Thor and old Norse mythology.
Paolo said we should create our own mythology and allow ourselves to be inspired by the things we've binged before — Greek mythology or Japanese history like myself or The Yellow King — and create our own stories versus retelling mythologies and historical stories.
It's been this really interesting and fun journey to see the things transform.
Trivium "In the Court of the Dragon" Music Video
The chorus line itself were the very first words I sang, and it was the same thing with "Feast of Fire." That was the final song we wrote and we wrote it very quickly after pulling a couple of riffs out of a crazy thrash metal song from Corey [Beaulieu]. When we hit that first open chord in the verse, the very first words I improvised and sung was, "Sunlight falters." The second verse was exactly written the first time we ever played.
I love that so much. We're a very prepared band. We rehearse a lot, to the point that it wouldn't be fun for other people, but for some reason it just is for us. When we walk into the room, we write very improvisationally and because we're so tight, the music doesn't sound like a jam rock band.
With the four of us being such students of where we come from. We know our genre in and out, as good as the best people in the world. We're so inspired by the things that we love. We love every subgenre of metal and we understand it all. It's in our DNA.
When we write, it's such a process. If I play a riff, I don't know where it should go. Paolo and Corey will help me finish the sentence and Alex will know exactly what kind of drum beat it should be. That's just from the amount of years we've all put into our instruments and the amount of songs we've written. It has become this really effortless, living, breathing mechanism.
Trivium, "Feast of Fire" Music Video
Let's talk about your cover of Richard Marx's "Right Here Waiting." It actually featured Richard himself growing up. What made you start to like and value music that wasn't metal.
In life, you have to try everything. Open-mindedness to food leads to an open-mindedness to everything in life. From a very early age, I realized that I was eating something different because I'm Japanese. I wasn't aware. I remember the first conversation I ever had in school. Everyone was asking what you had for breakfast. I said, "Salmon and rice, same for you guys, right." Everyone was like, "We had cereal. What the hell? Why would you have salmon and rice?" I realized at that moment we're all a little bit different, but we're semi-similar as well.
"Right Here Waiting" was always on the radio when I was a kid. I just thought it was an incredible song. Flash forward many, many years later... someone sent me a picture of a Richard Marx documentary and someone in the background was wearing a Trivium shirt. It ended up being Richard's son, and I reached out to Richard on socials, like, "Hey, I noticed you've got a family member as a Trivium fan. Anytime they ever want to come out to a show, they're more than welcome." His son and a bunch of his friends came up to our L.A. show — I got them tickets and passes and got to meet them and we stayed in touch.
Richard and I have been friends on socials for a long time and, one day, in his comments section, I decided to just drop a comment in there — Hey, what are we doing to collab? He texted me back and said, "Let's do it. You've got my number."
The very first thing I sent Richard back was a metal version of "Right Here Waiting." I put blast beats and screaming and heavy, down-tuned seven string guitars on it and he loved it. He tracked vocals and I remember hearing him sing that — it's a progressive, raspy metal version of Richard Marx — and I was just so blown away.
That's what life is all about — trying everything and realizing that even though we play different styles of music, we all love the same things. This year alone I did a collab with Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park and he transformed this really intense, super heavy, death metal/power metal piece I did and did something completely electronic and interesting.
I covered a massive K-pop song and sang it and screamed it entirely in Korean. I can't sing or scream Korean, but I did it. I rapped in Korean on the song. It's been about doing anything and everything that sounds fun and I've really, really enjoyed that.
Richard is just an amazing person, unbelievably talented, and the version is perfect.
Matthew K. Heafy, "Right Here Waiting" (Feat. Richard Marx)
The Metal Tour of the Year — Megadeth, Lamb of God, Trivium and Hatebreed — is happening now. What is different behind the scenes that most people might not be aware of?
We've been preparing for the ability to go back on tour [for a long time]. It's the longest I've gone without playing a show in front of human beings in the same room since I was 13, and we have been practicing so damn much. I stream on Twitch and 75 to 90 percent of the time, it's me playing Trivium songs, by request, to Trivium fans. That's the same for the rest of the guys in the band. So we're all so individually rehearsed and as a band that I feel like it's going to be as if we never took any time off at all.
A lot of bands are maybe going to feel like they've got some rust to shake off, and we've been there before. Usually the first week or so you've got a sore neck. We've been gearing up and practicing for this moment for the last year and a half. It's business as usual for us and I think we're going to finally be able to give people the relief they've been needing for the last year and a half to two years.
Thanks to Matt Heafy for the interview. Follow Trivium on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify and pre-order your copy of 'In the Court of the Dragon' (out Oct. 8) here. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.