Interview mit Matt Heafy von Trivium

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With „Ember To Inferno“ released in 2003, the nowadays well-known TRIVIUM laid the foundation for their later career as one of the most successful modern metal bands. Following the re-release of this debut, we took the opportunity to do an interview their charismatic frontman Matt Heafy. In the following lines, you’ll read everything you need to know about „Ember“, the time soon before and afterwards, Matts now gone vocal problems and his view on the musical evolution of the band.

In 2003 you released your promising debut „Ember To Inferno“. Now you are re-releasing it under the title „Ember To Inferno: Ab Initio“. Why was it so important to you to do this re-release?
When this album initially was released, it was very difficult to find in our home city, and even the USA entirely. When distribution was upgraded, „Ascendancy“ had just come out – eclipsing the release of „Ember“. When I received the rights to „Ember To Inferno“ back, I knew I wanted to properly give „Ember“ the release it always deserved.

You already announced the re-release in December 2014. why did it take two years for it to finally be released?
It was a matter of planning the time and method for the release. My management company and I knew we wanted „Ember“ to be released through a label imprint that would be entirely my own; so it took a few years of research and devising the proper platform. 5B management eventually partnered with Cooking Vinyl to act as the promotional and distributional department for my Kiichi Chaos label imprint.

13 years have passed since the first release of your debut. Why is now the perfect time for it to be released?
With the full inheriting back of rights of „Ember To Inferno“, the timing needed to be right. We in TRIVIUM looked carefully over our schedule to find the right time to properly release „Ember“; towards the end of the „Silence In The Snow“ cycle seemed like the appropriate time. In addition to releasing „Ember“ exactly as it was – preserved, if you will – the plan was to have a special edition that would include several releases before and after that would bring the listener up to speed to knowing what TRIVIUM was from the beginning until the moments prior to „Ascendancy“. Ab Initio is Latin for „from the beginning“.

Back then you had only three members, Corey Beaulieu joined afterwards. However, „Ember To Inferno“ featured some guest-musicians. Why didn’t you take a fourth member to begin with?
When TRIVIUM first held tryouts, they were a four piece, then their original guitarist left; they held tryouts and I made it in. After our original singer left and we couldn’t find a singer, I was made vocalist. We did have several lineup changes within the numbers of a four and three piece. It just so happens that the timing of „Ember“ was TRIVIUM as a three piece. We couldn’t find the right fit until we held tryouts after „Ember“ was out, and that was when Corey tried out for the band.

At first you didn’t want to become the leadsinger and you even had problems with your vocal chords later on. So you consulted a vocal-coach. How is your voice doing now?
The voice is doing fantastic now. I can sing and scream better than ever – for as long as I want – as many times a week as needed. My screaming technique from 12 years old on was completely incorrect; my singing technique was mostly incorrect. Ripping my vocal cords apart for years, they finally gave in towards the end of the „Vengeance Falls“ cycle. It was an awful time in my life. I thought I was done as a singer. Thankfully, when Matt from Avenged Sevenfold contacted me to see if I was doing ok, he also got me in touch with his vocal coach. Since training with Ron Anderson, all is well in the world. Off tour, I am sure to train the voice 5-6 times a week, 2-4 hours a day; singing and screaming.

With tracks like „Ember To Inferno“, „Pillars Of Serpents“ or „To Burn The Eye“, you wrote some classics even back then at the time of your debut. Which one is your favorite off of „Ember To Inferno?
My favorites right now would have to be: „If I Could Collapse The Masses“, „When All Light Dies“ and „Falling To Grey“.

„Pain“ und „Lake Of Fire“ with their clean-guitars as well as the stomping „Thrust“ might as well be from another band, they sound so untypical of you. We’re you still searching for „your“ sound back then?
I disagree entirely with that question. I feel looking back at those songs, you can very clearly see the blueprint and archetype for what TRIVIUM would become. A song like „Thrust“ occupies the minimalistic space that a song like „Dying In Your Arms“ off of „Ascendancy“ does; or „Until The World Goes Cold“ off of „Silence“. „Pain“ and „Lake Of Fire“ are comprised of the similar ingredients we would later have like moments of brutality, melody, catchiness, heartiness; sure, its more of the roots of the classic bands TRIVIUM was inspired by – before we knew what Melodic Death Metal or Metalcore was – but I 100% hear TRIVIUM in these songs, and I am more familiar with TRIVIUM than anyone.

„Blinding Tears Will Break The Skies“ has already been heard as bonus track on „Ember To Inferno“ and „Ascendancy“. However, it never became a standard track on any album. Why not?
Unfortunately it just didn’t make the cut. I love „Blinding“, but at the time, we must have felt the rest of „Ascendancy“ was just that much stronger than the song.

The following album „Ascendancy“ was your breakthrough album. Do you think, too many fans are overlooking your debut because of that?
Absolutely, hence the re-release of „Ember“.

Do you still remember, what music you listened to the most back then at that time?
During „Red“ it was Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, Slayer and Testament; during „Blue“ it was the discovery of bands like In Flames, At The Gates, Dark Tranquillity and Soilwork; during „Ember“, getting into bands like Poison The Well, Caliban, Heaven Shall Burn, Converge and Hatebreed massively re-shaped our sound when combined with the previous influences. On „Yellow“, the amalgamation of everything we listened to brought us into something entirely our own.

You always seem to be opposing a categorization as a „Metalcore“ band, Thrash and Heavy Metal are your preferences. However, there were still hints at Metalcore (some breakdowns, screaming in verses and cleans in choruses). Why did you make use of these things if you didn’t like Metalcore?
I have always opposed any categorization of TRIVIUM because we go beyond any simple classification of a genre of band. From a broad spectrum, we are a Metal band; but we are influenced by Metal, Melodic Death, Death, Metalcore, Hardcore, Black Metal – and that’s just counting Metal. Outside of that, our span of listening tastes goes all over the place. I love Metalcore, and yes – there is Metalcore in our sound; but not JUST Metalcore. Anyone who says „Ascendancy“ is JUST Metalcore must not know what Death or Martyr or In Flames sound like.

„Ember To Inferno“ has been released on the German label Lifeforce records. How did you come across that label?
Lifeforce discovered us through our old webmaster. Our old webmaster Fredrik also ran In Flames‘ website at the time. He passed our „Blue“ album to Stefan at Lifeforce.

And how did you proceed to go on to Roadrunner Records?
Monte Conner heard the track „If I Could Collapse The Masses“ on a compilation album, then contacted us upon hearing it. He expressed a reluctant interest in the band. When we discovered the interest, we wrote and recorded the „Yellow“ album; upon Monte and Roadrunner hearing this, they immediately signed us.

You always changed your sound over the years from album to album. There is quite a difference from „Ember To Inferno“ to „Silence In The Snow“. Do you already know, in which musical direction you want to go next?
We haven’t „always changed“ our „sound over the years“. It’s been a conscious evolution to think outside of the box of being a typical band releasing the same album every time. It hasn’t been change for the sake of change, but it’s been about exploring the broad range of music the band can deliver. We allow the songs and albums to dictate themselves; we don’t force creativity.

So, we are getting close to the end of this interview. At last, I would like to ask you to take part in our traditional What comes to your mind while reading the following terms:
Sparks: Ember
Fire: Inferno
„Hardwired… To Selfdestruct“: Amazing
Favorite album of 2003: Opeth – „Damnation“
Thrash Metal: Exodus

Alright, thanks again for this interview. If there’s anything you want to tell our readers, go ahead:
Thank you to everyone for their support. Please keep spreading the word of TRIVIUM.

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