Thirteen years in the modern music industry is a long time, and longevity in this era should be celebrated with gusto. The Internet has systematically become the saviour and doom of any aspiring musician: providing a platform to a global audience, whilst hindering their chances of making any money from their craft. It’s all so easy to get hold of music, yet nouveau methods of music distribution barely help the budding artists at all (unless a £5 return on somewhere in the region of four billion plays on a streaming site constitutes success). So it’s testament to Trivium that they’re here, riding high atop metal’s mountain and basking in seven albums-worth of material. Admirably confident (not arrogant, mind, just confident) in their own abilities, they’ve cemented themselves within the metal tapestry, and woven long into its fabric. And it all started thirteen years ago with the Lifeforce Records-released ‘Ember To Inferno’.
Recently the band reissued the debut album and Metal Wani writer Lee Carter had a quick chat with the frontman Matt Heafy on all things ‘Ember To Inferno’, decade long journey, change in style and future plans. Here’s the detailed conversation:
1. Hi Matt, how are you and how are things going? Any plans for the festive period?
Thank you very much for having me. Things are going fantastic; we’re simply enjoying the small break between the massive cycles of touring we have been doing for Silence In The Snow. Currently, we are all rehearsing individually and as a band to get prepared early for Europe. The only plans I have personally are to hang with family and friends, and practice.
2. You’ve just released the ‘Ab Initio’ reissue of your debut album ‘Ember To Inferno’ thirteen years after it first dropped – congratulations! Did you ever think, back in 2003, that you’d be in this position discussing your first full foray into the metal world alongside your early demos?
It still is a mind-blowing thought to imagine all the amazing people and media who want to speak to me about Ember To Inferno. Back when ETI was first released, we had no fans, no one knew who we were, the album was near impossible to find in stores – but now everything has been lining up to finally give Ember the release it has always deserved.
3. Your assuredness in yourselves is a known strength of yours down the years and was particularly apparent in your early years, so take us back to your mindset back then: what was going through your heads when you were recording ‘Ember To Inferno’?
That confidence was instilled in us very early, and has stuck with us since day one. That confidence and assuredness in the self comes from knowing and sharing the same goal in the band: to be the kind of band who can make a serious impact on the musical world; to be the kind of band who can play anywhere on earth to countless numbers of amazing supporters. We are by no means at the height of the goal, but having that collective determination to reach it, while putting in the hours and years of work and practice is what has created that resilience in each of us.
4. It’s interesting to note that you’ve refrained from doing any form of “remastering” for the album or the demos you’ve included – was that a conscious decision at all?
It was absolutely a conscious effort to not remix, remaster, or re-record anything on ETI, or any of the surrounding releases.
The point with this stance is to transport the listener back to the exact moment in time when Trivium was existing back then. We felt that any change to the integrity of the original recordings would affect that honest experience. I have been disappointed with several of my favorite bands’ re-releases when I find myself missing specific elements of those nostalgic releases.
5. Trivium are once again revisiting the shores of the UK in the New Year. What’s it like for you playing the UK? It has been argued before that it is almost like a second home for the band – would you agree with that? What sets the UK apart from other stops?
I almost think it proper to say the UK is Trivium’s first home. The UK is the first territory to embrace Trivium, and ever since then, each time we are there we are treated like its home. Since then, more and more territories have opened up and welcomed Trivium in, but the UK was definitely the first. We are always elated to be back there.
6. With the reissue, will we be seeing further cuts from the album included in the setlist? Any mainstays or favourites that will be making an appearance?
Over the years, we have always had an ETI track or two surface in the setlist. On the last several runs, there was always a spot for Ember tracks; we would have several ready to go that we would rotate in when we felt like it. Lately, “Pillars” and “Requiem” have been our personal favorite to play live.
7. Of course, this reissue is hot-on-the-heels of the release of your seventh album ‘Silence In The Snow’ – how have you found the reception of the album live so far? Is there any nervousness at all when debuting a new record live or do you just get out there and tear the place a new one?
In typical Trivium fashion, we are always ready to unleash anything new or old to all the fans out there. What has been monumentally great about Silence is that with this album, the USA has finally truly come around for Trivium. We don’t know what the delay was all about, but we are very happy to finally have our home country support the heck out of us.
8. Trivium have gained a reputation over the years with each release of never releasing the same record twice. With that being the case, is your mentality different from those early days of ‘Ember To Inferno’? How do you think these last thirteen years has changed you as a songwriter?
In retrospect, what’s fantastic is that Trivium has always had the same mindset of never being content to release the same thing twice. Trivium has always been about going against the tides of what everyone else was doing, while at the same time being ready to even go outside of the bounds of what we see Trivium being able to do. We love going outside of the realms of comfort for both ourselves and our listeners; we will never be content being like the herd.
9. It may be a little early yet to be asking about future releases, especially as ‘Silence In The Snow’ is still fresh, but has there been any consideration to the next album at all, be that riffs, sound or direction? And any further tour plans for 2017?
The only plans on our radar right now are to get ready for our final European Silence In The Snow tour; there are no current plans of a next album.
10. Away from Trivium, you’ve performed a few acoustic sets here and there, covering acts like Opeth and Iron Maiden – are there any plans for more acoustic Matt Heafy? Also, what’s the latest on your Mrityu project with Ihsahn?
As far as the acoustic covers go, I will always be throwing a couple around, here and there. Perhaps one day I can make a stripped down acoustic covers and originals album. For Mrityu, Ihsahn and I absolutely will be doing the project, its simply a matter of when. Ihsahn is a very busy man with his solo works and the Emperor reunions, and Trivium is obviously in the same boat of staying obsessive busy.
11. Finally, who have you been listening to when not in the “write-record-tour” cycle? And what do you do to relax, unwind and keep yourself grounded?
Right now, as I type this I am listening to CPE Bach. I have had the new Metallica album in non-stop rotation, along with the new Stick To Your Guns EP. My time on and off tour typically revolves around Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. While home, my weekly schedule usually is comprised of 5 days of 75-90 minute BJJ sessions, 4 days of weight lifting, and a day of Ashtanga Yoga. 5 days a week, I make sure I sing 2-4 hours a day, and practice guitar 30-90 minutes a day. It’s all about staying on top of your game.
12. And that’s the interview! Thank you for your time, Matt – it’s very much appreciated. Are there any pearls of wisdom or anything in-general that you’d like to say to the Metal Wani readers across the world?
Thank you and thank you to your readers for all the support. I encourage those who don’t know or don’t like Trivium to check us out and check us out again properly; for those who do know and love the band – thank you all for the constant care you have shown our band. I encourage all supporters or Trivium to keep spreading the word of the band. We look forward to seeing you all soon.