Trivium's Matt Heafy on "No Rules" New Album, Quarantine Life, First Song He Ever Wrote | Revolver

Trivium's Matt Heafy on "No Rules" New Album, Quarantine Life, First Song He Ever Wrote

Metal renaissance man also talks Twitch channel, BJJ, upcoming projects
mattheafy_press_2020.jpg, courtesy of Roadrunner
photograph by courtesy of Roadrunner

The world might be in disarray, but Trivium aren't backing down or giving up. This Friday (April 24th) will see the release of the Florida-based metal stalwarts' ninth full-length, What the Dead Men Say, via Roadrunner Records. An immediately gripping listen that's sure to please fans of both old and new Trivium, the LP has anthemic choruses, vicious screams, and, of course, lots of instrumental shredding. It's their finest in years.

"With so many bands pushing [the release dates of] their albums due to physical 'album sales' — I say we ought to be getting our material out no matter what," the group's frontman Matt Heafy says of dropping the album in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. "We owe it to the people now unemployed, furloughed, stuck at home ... I want to give people something to enjoy during this."

The album will be released as scheduled, but Heafy and his comrades in arms — guitarist Corey Beaulieu, bassist Paolo Gregoletto and drummer Alex Bent — are still having to adapt to the strange COVID-19 world. For example, the music video for the LP's title track was fully shot and edited in the U.K. by director Ryan Mackfall during the shutdown. Created over the course of two weeks — with the full crew working in masks and gloves, maintaining as much distance as possible — the finished product is truly a work of art given the circumstances.

Now with the album's release just around the corner, Trivium are setting up a virtual in-store, which they will livestream on April 27th at 3 p.m. EST at trivium.org. Fans can pre-order a CD copy of What the Dead Men Say and have it personalized by the band, who will be signing copies of the album live during the online event.

Ahead of the big day, we caught up with Heafy to chat about life in quarantine, the origins of his popular Twitch channel, the spirit of "no rules and no limitations" with which the new LP was made, and all the projects he still has coming up.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST TAKEAWAY FROM THIS WHOLE QUARANTINE EXPERIENCE SO FAR, BOTH PERSONALLY AND FROM A BAND PERSPECTIVE?
MATT HEAFY I have found this time to create a place for our fans to escape — whether it's their gym, restaurant, therapist's office, library, nightclub, bar, coffee shop — whatever they need. My Twitch channel is that for the community.

WITH ALL THE ART FROM MUSICIANS BEING CREATED NOW — IGTV VIDS, PODCASTS, TWITCH STREAMS, NIGHTLY UPDATES, ETC. — WHO OR WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND YOURSELF WATCHING?
When I am not on my Twitch stream — which is most of the day — I'm hanging with my twins, watching the massive, incredible community of music streamers who came before the new blood of musician streamers now coming to Twitch. Streamers like NoelleDosAnjos, Chainbrain, iYoungGun, MrGregles, The8BitDrummer, VenusWorld, MermaidUnicorn, Sayanoe, Lammasaurus, TheFlairGuns, PizzaVibes, Aishu, HugoMoroux and so many more.

YOU BUILT A VERY STRONG TWITCH COMMUNITY FAR BEFORE THE PANDEMIC. WHAT EXACTLY LED YOU DOWN THIS PATH AND THE PLATFORM?
We played a show in Barcelona, and afterwards met several Spanish YouTubers. Jordi Wild, the main guy from the group of friends — who has become a good pal of mine — has seven million subscribers on there. After we met, I felt inspired and said, "I should start making videos on YouTube." Paolo responded, "You should check out Twitch."

I started an account for both that night and began casually, randomly streaming on Twitch. For the first half year, it was me streaming 15 to 60 minutes at a time off a PS4 with webcam and sort of engaging with chat on an iPad.

When I was invited to Twitch HQ about two and a half years ago, I befriended John and Brandon — who are now two of my closest friends — they became my mentors and inspired me to begin streaming all the countless hours of practice I put into off-tour time. It all picked up from there.

AS A FOODIE IN QUARANTINE, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST DISH CREATION SO FAR?
My wife is the main chef of the house. I am amazed by how she can put together random bits in the house and make things as amazing as dishes that used to take me three-to-five days to prep. I don't know how she cooks multiple meals a day for the four of us in the house, works two full-time jobs, and raises our kids. Super-mom!

AS A PRACTITIONER OF BRAZILIAN JIU-JITSU, HOW HAVE YOU ADJUSTED YOUR PRACTICE DURING THIS TIME?
As a practitioner of BJJ, I have not adjusted to this time. [Laughs] I'm doing my best to keep a good practice regimen despite all this. Five days a week of body weight exercises, three days a week of cycling, two days a week of yoga. Extensive foam rolling and stretching.

MOVING TO THE NEW ALBUM, LET'S GET THE ELEPHANT OUT OF THE ROOM — YOU BROKE THE SPINAL TAP CURSE! THOUGH, OF COURSE, YOU GUYS HAD TO JOKE ABOUT IT FOR APRIL FOOLS DAY! I ASSUME IT'S NICE TO WORK WITH THE SAME MEMBERS AGAIN, SO WHAT'S ALEX BRINGING TO THE TABLE ON THIS NEW LP THAT YOU'RE EXCITED ABOUT?
What's funny about people mentioning us for the drummer swaps — we've only had four studio drummers. That's a better record than most bands already. With that being said, I will always troll people with drummer swaps.

What I love about when we brought Alex in, it finally wasn't a question of "why did you switch drummers?" It became a statement of "now we see what you've been looking for your entire career."

The evidence is in the music. Our last two albums are two of our greatest works yet, and that's because we finally have a group of four people with the same mindset, mentality, practice regimen, dedication to their craft and the chemistry needed to do this right.

YOU AND THE BAND HAVE A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR WHEN IT COMES TO FAN COMMENTARY ABOUT DRUMMERS OR YOUR VOCAL CHOICES OF SINGING OR SCREAMING. COMPARED TO THE LAST FEW RELEASES, YOU'RE SCREAMING MORE ON WHAT THE DEAD MEN SAY, GIVING IT AN OLD-SCHOOL TRIVIUM VIBE BUT IN A MODERN WAY. WHAT WAS THE IMPETUS FOR THAT?
We're not trying to rehash or go back to a time or era. With What the Dead Men Say, we simply went in with no rules and no limitations. We made the music we wanted to hear and play, not thinking if anyone would like or dislike the material.

When a band goes back to that mindset, instead of going to try to revisit a moment in time of their sound itself, the band makes their most honest material.

Looking at The Sin and the Sentence, it was the best ingredients of albums one through seven. And with WTDMS, it's the best of albums one through eight. It wasn't intended to be this way, but it organically materialized this way.

I KNOW PAOLO WROTE A LOT OF THE LYRICS TO THE ALBUM. HOW DO YOU COLLABORATE TOGETHER ON THOSE? AFTER ALL, YOU HAVE TO MEAN IT WHEN YOU SING IT.
With our band, everyone is as important as everyone else — it's all for one, one for all. So whoever starts the writing of the song, lyrics, melodies — it only becomes Trivium when it's performed and finalized by the four members.

I've loved having another perspective of lyrics and melodies, especially from Paolo. I have taken his lyrics and found my own meanings in them and have been able to essentially do what our fans do when they interpret our lyrics for their own. The best metaphor I've found is that Paolo is the writer-director, and I'm the actor in this relationship.

WHAT WAS THE HARDEST SONG TO WRITE FOR THIS ALBUM AND WHY?
We begun writing secretly shortly after TSATS was released, so everything just naturally came about and was slowly evolved when we felt inspired. Creating "writing time" or setting deadlines of quotas of music is when bands usually burn out creatively. Our process is to naturally allow the songs to present themselves, versus trying to write.

Thankfully, everything was effortless, like the recording process, which took 16 days total. We did an immense amount of preparation before getting into the studio.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE SONG ON THE ALBUM AND WHY?
"The Defiant." While previously I mentioned it wasn't about "going back" when this song was being created, I loved that it naturally reminded me of Ascendancy, In Waves and a dash of The Crusade in the middle.

WAS THERE A SONG THAT ALMOST DIDN'T MAKE THE CUT? OR ONE THAT ALMOST DID BUT ULTIMATELY GOT THE AXE?
We knew we didn't want any excess. The idea of having a ton of songs isn't exciting to us, so we knew we wanted nine songs. It felt right to have the best of the best, and that's it.

YOU'VE SAID OF THIS RECORD, "I'D LOVE FOR PEOPLE TO BE INSPIRED TO PICK UP AN INSTRUMENT AND WRITE A SONG." HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU WROTE YOUR FIRST SONG, AND HOW GOOD OR BAD OR FUNNY WAS IT?
I joined Trivium when I was 13. It was my first band and first "job." The first song I collaboratively wrote with our old singer was "Thrust," and the first song I wrote myself was "Pain." Both are still quite good to this day.

Ember was our first album. I wrote that at 16 years old, recorded it at 17. I love that album as much as all my favorite Trivium albums.

THE ALBUM TITLE WHAT THE DEAD MEN SAY IS PRETTY EVOCATIVE. HAVE YOU EVER HAD SOMETHING SUPERNATURAL HAPPEN TO YOU? WHAT IS THE TITLE ALL ABOUT?
We want the titles, lyrics, music, visuals to all be open to interpretation for our fans. There is no right or wrong answer. Down the line, we will eventually let people know what we were thinking in these — but for now, we want our listeners to feel inspired to be creative. Supernatural? Not really. Thankfully?!

WHAT ELSE DO YOU HAVE IN THE WORKS? WE HEARD THE NEW SONG WITH CHTHONIC. HOW'S THE LONG-RUMORED PROJECT WITH IHSAHN COMING ALONG?
You can't escape Matt Heafy these days it seems! [Laughs]

I'm working on the official Twitch help page for music. I'll be the narrator and teacher in a series of help guides for anything any musician would need to know to stream. On the sidelines, I've been helping every musician whose reached out with questions. You'll see my face on the login of Streamlabs OBS — the best software to actually stream on any platform.

I have numerous amazing guest slots appearing here and there ... Working Mrityu with Ihsahn. I have a solo deal with Roadrunner Records coming up for some of my fun covers — like Tiger King and Witcher — and some originals. My EP with Jared Dines comes out soon, too!