Matt Heafy (Trivium) recently sat down with Metal Wani’s Carl Rourke to have an in-depth conversation on a wide variety of topics including Trivium’s new album, ‘In the Court of the Dragon’, the singers upcoming black metal album entitled Ibaraki, stories that include Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden and the late, great Ronnie James Dio, and much more.
As Trivium begin to hit the road touring once again in support of ‘In the Court of the Dragon’, Matt explained whether their shows also acknowledge the band’s previous album, 2020’s ‘What the Dead Men Say’, which dropped as everything came to an imminent halt due the pandemic.
“They do a little bit of both. So, when we did that Megadeth/Lamb of God tour, I think we were doing ‘Feast of Fire’, ‘In the Court of the Dragon’ and then ‘Dead Men’ and ‘Catastrophist’. So we were doing like a 50/50. The same thing with this Metallica show, we kind of did a 50/50 but we introduced another song. We did a Twitch charity show where we did ‘The Phalanx’, so it’s been a little bit of showing both.”
“What’s even crazier about ‘What the Dead Me Say’ when we finished that record it was right before the world shut. Then the world was gonna start to shut when we were getting ready to get that record out, and our label actually said ‘Hey, you guys should delay this. You’re not gonna sell any CDs, you’re not gonna sell any records because they can’t be manufactured coz everything is closing,’ and we said we don’t care. We said we don’t care about the money. We don’t care about the sales. Let’s just get this out now for free. Let’s get this thing out and give people something. Give them some enjoyment, give them something to do. Give them something to relieve the pressures of all this stuff happening, because we have no idea how long this is gonna last.”
For the better part of 12 years, Matt has been working tirelessly on a solo, a post-black metal album entitled Ibaraki which, lyrically, taps into his Japanese heritage and explores the culture’s mythology and folklore.
“My thing with black metal, which you said, there are the purists that say you need to stick with the Norse culture, it needs to stay with this, it probably needs to stay Norwegian and all that, which I think is cool. Like that’s a cool aspect of it.”
Matt went on to say,
“We finished it maybe 9, 12 months ago, but 12 months before that I still didn’t have lyrics. I still didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. I remember saying to Ihsahn ‘Man, I wish I was Norwegian. I wish I was Swedish so I could sing about Thor battling Jormungandr at Ragnarok’ and he was like, ‘Matt, tap into your Japanese culture.‘ And I was like, my mind exploded. I was like, oh yeah! I forgot! On my back, I have the Japanese storm God battling the eight-headed serpent of the sea. That’s the story of Thor and Jormungandr, but the Japanese version. And the lyrics poured out of me. It was instant. I went from having almost no lyrics whatsoever, then everything just pouring out. I was like, you know I’m gonna change the band name, change to Ibaraki because Ibaraki is the thing that inspired Trivium to be the mascot but the story of Ibaraki is also on my arm. Paulo also has the skull of Ibaraki on him. It’s the nice Easter egg that ties in Trivium with Ibaraki. It was effortless. And then there we were. We had everything done. ”
Matt also elaborated on potential future Ibaraki plans, where lyrically and/or musically he may explore his Irish roots.
“That’s what I’m thinking of doing. So, I’m kind of torn. I’m like, do I wanna do that for the next Ibaraki, like check out my Irish side for this kind of post-black metal thing? Or do I wanna go even more traditional and focus on Irish traditional stuff? Because I’m almost just as Irish as I am Japanese. Everyone always looked at me like, ‘ that’s the guy that can put Japanese culture back but I can also do that for Irish culture and I’ve never heard it approached in a metal way. I mean, I’ve heard it metal but it’s more like Pogues descendants. But what would it be like in this post-black metal thing?”
While touring ‘The Crusade’, Trivium had the opportunity of being interviewed by singer Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden), who shared an observation with Matt about his voice, one that Heafy eventually passed on to Ronnie James Dio who offered a response on Dickinson.
“We were interviewed on Bruce Dickinson’s radio show in 2006 on ‘The Crusade’ and I remember I was like, I gotta talk to this guy about vocals. I asked him all these questions about vocals and what he told me, in the end, was ‘I believe that someday your voice will develop to be something like Ronnie James Dio.’ That’s what Bruce Dickinson said to me. I was like ‘Thanks man!’ and it stuck with me forever. Then, 2007, 2008, we’re playing that Heaven and Hell show and I’m able to meet Dio. I told Dio that same story. I said Bruce Dickinson said someday I’d have a voice like you. Ronnie James Dio laughs, smiles, and goes “you know, Bruce finally admitted I’m one of his heroes” and that was kind of the end of that. We shared a glass of wine together. And that was just a very trippy night.”