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Trivium - Ascending To Stardom

Discussion in 'Metal Interviews' started by dill_the_devil, May 23, 2005.

  1. dill_the_devil

    dill_the_devil Music Editor

    Jun 6, 2001
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    Darlaston, West Midlands, England
    [IMGLEFT][/IMGLEFT]By Philip Whitehouse

    Florida has traditionally been renowned within the metal community for its contribution as a fertile breeding ground for prime death metal bands - but a good few years have passed since the DM scene's heyday, and now Florida have a new group to show the world. Combining speedy eighties thrash with melodic death metal chops and liberal doses of metalcore aggression and stadium-rock grandstanding, Orlando quartet Trivium have lit a fire under the modern metal world with their latest album, Ascendancy. And, not content to rest on their laurels, they've been doing a fair bit of work bringing the material to be found on that album to the masses. I join guitarist Corey backstage at the Wulfrun Hall in Wolverhampton, doing the preliminary interviews before the first night of the Roadrunner Records annual RoadRage tour gets underway. The poor chap's barely had time to catch his breath - five days ago he was stepping offstage after the final of a round of shows Trivium were playing with Chimaira, and he only arrived in England yesterday. So, has tour exhaustion claimed it's first casualty, or is he still raring to go?

    "I'm pumped for this tour, 'cause we've been looking forward to coming out here and playing for a while. Plus, it's our first time on a bus, which makes it a lot easier to get rest and stuff. So, when we got here yesterday morning, we were actually able to get some sleep, which is something we've not really been able to do before." Hmm... looks like fatigue isn't quite gonna claim these guys left. Other than a good night's kip, are Trivium buzzed about what's going on right now? "Yeah, there's a lot of stuff happening for us right now, and we're really excited to get out and play. Last night we did a little bit of sight-seeing - we came here, and they had a rock night going on, so that was pretty cool. We had a walk around and checked some places out too."


    Indeed, Wolverhampton locals had been reporting sightings of the RoadRage band members since early last night - my girlfriend and I had in fact spent last night taking Three Inches Of Blood guitarist Justin to see a band next door at the Little Civic - on spotting us turning up earlier for this very interview, he pointed us out out to the other band members going "They're the guys that were buying me Jack Daniels!". Well, they'll go away with a good first impression of English metalheads, anyway... However, it seems that non-stop partying isn't the only thing on the tour schedule for Trivium - a glance at their website reveals that during their trek around Europe, they're hoping to shoot a video for "A Gunshot To The Head Of Trepidation".

    "I believe so," confirms Corey. "I haven't heard anything about it as of yet, but we're planning on shooting it at the end of this tour, I think." So, any ideas for the shoot itself - will it be a performance video, or more of a concept promo? "I have absolutely no idea!" Ah, right - leaving that up to the director, then? "Yeah, no-one's really said anything about it yet... But there's that 'hey' chant in the middle section, so a performance video would be cool to go with that." Ah yes, the rather Kiss-esque section in the song that recalls "I Wanna Rock And Roll All Night" in no small way. Corey laughs at the comparison; "Yeah, arena rock!"

    Reviews for Ascendancy have been overwhelmingly positive across the board - some people are saying that Trivium could be this decade's answer to Metallica and Pantera. Does that put any undue pressure on such a young band?

    "Well, that's what we were aiming for! In all our interviews, when people ask us about the bands' goals, we always say that we wanna be, like, the next Metallica - the biggest band in the world!" Quite a bold ambition, particularly refreshing in a world full of bands who come off in interviews as just content to play for themselves and not really go anywhere. Fair enough, it's modest - but Iron Maiden didn't want to play the Ruskin Arms for their entire lives, did they? "No, you gotta have high goals! And that's our goal, aiming high! And it's pretty cool that people are putting us in with all those bands, it's a really big compliment." So, has metal mega-stardom been an ambition for everybody in the band from an early age? "Yeah, definitely." Corey affirms. "We all grew up in different areas, and everyone in the band now, we've only been together about eight or nine months, since we got Paolo in the band. But even though we all grew up in different areas of the States, we all had the same goals when we got the band together."


    But surely, if mega stardom was the main goal, it would have been easier to play emo or something? Corey disagrees. "Metal has been the only kind of music I've ever played! When I first started playing guitar I was influenced by Megadeth, Metallica, bands like that. Everyone else kind of had the same thing too, so when we started writing the new album, that's what came out." Here, I point out that the Overkill shirt Corey is currently wearing has been spotted in a number of the group's promo photos - are they a big influence too? Corey replies with instant enthusiasm - "Yeah, I went to a one-off show they played in the States a while ago, that was cool!"

    While a cursory listen to Ascendancy reveals that there's evidently a lot of old-school thrash influences in Trivium's sound, the record still feels very contemporary, rather than sounding like a nostalgia trip.Was this a deliberate songwriting decision? "Well, we all had a background of listening to old-school bands, so that old-school influence definitely comes through in our sound." Corey agrees. "With our age though, we were also surrounded by a lot of the new music as well, so it was kind of easy to mix that old-school feel with a more modern vibe. It all came out really naturally, and we were able to just sort of run with it, and try to find a perfect balance between the two." That balance can be seen in the blend between dual-guitar harmonies that rock like it's the NWOBHM all over again, and the crushing beatdown sections scattered liberally through Ascendancy's tracks. With the latter component of the band's sound in mind, I enquire as to whether there are any more modern bands that Corey and the guys are into at the moment.


    "Ummm.. let's see - I really like bands like Lamb Of God, Killswitch Engage... I like Children Of Bodom too, and Arch Enemy, In Flames... I really like a lot of Swedish metal - there are so many good bands, it's hard to keep up sometimes!" Very true - and with bands like those mentioned seemingly crawling out of the woodwork every few seconds, it's refreshing to hear a record like Ascendancy that can stand against the rest. A good reflection of an album's impact on the metal-listening community over here in Blighty is usually to see whether the band responsible will be at the summer's Download festival at Castle Donington - home of the classic Monsters Of Rock festivals.

    "Yeah, we're gonna be there." 'Nuff said, really. It seems that Corey is looking forward to more than just playing on the same stage that has held so many great bands, though. "I don't know for sure what day we're playing - I hope it's Friday so I get to see Megadeth! They're my favourite band, so hopefully we won't have to play a show that night!" There you go UK peeps - if you're heading to the Download festival to catch Megadeth's last UK show, watch out for members of Trivium in the crowd! "The Download thing is the last show of this tour," Corey continues, "but then we're sticking around for another day or two to play the Metal Hammer awards." So, can we assume that Trivium are nominated for a few awards at this event then? "I know we're up for one, I think we were nominated for 'Best New Act' - but there are other categories that a panel vote on, so we'll find out when we get there." Judging by how many people on the official Download forum were shouting for Trivium to be added to the bill, and also by the number of Trivium shirts walking out of the venue after the RoadRage tour's first night later in the evening, I'd say Trivium are a fairly safe bet to sweep some gongs at the Metal Hammer awards. But how do you go about writing the kind of material that allows for these kind of accolades?

    "Well, for Ember To Inferno, we never really toured - we just played, like, shows here and there in our home state. But the first song we wrote for Ascendancy, we actually wrote before Ember To Inferno came out. I joined the band about a couple of weeks after they recorded that album, so we just practised together, sat around and started writing songs. So it wasn't anything to do with the demos or anything, it was just that we wanted to write better songs." Seems like it was pretty easy for them, then! "We really wanted to have more thrash, more faster parts, so we just took everything from the last record and tried to improve upon it to make a better, stronger album! So we just kept writing and writing and writing! We didn't really think about stuff that the crowd might like, so much as we wrote material that we liked playing. I think because of that, the whole songwriting process became a sort of monster, the songs almost created themselves, and we just went along with the flow! It was actually a pretty easy album to write, the process was really smooth." So, there was no agonising in the studio over riffs - no Metallica-esque punch-ups or power struggles? "We had everything pretty much flat-out done, so we just went to the studio and recorded it."


    Ah, the studio - as with any modern-day, high tech environment, the recording studio is absolutely chock-full of things that can go wrong. Missing masters, equipment hassles, technical blunders of every variety - surely something must have happened to impede Trivium's recording of Ascendancy? Well, as it turns out, Trivium's main enemy was Mother Nature. "Well, the only thing that really held us up was that we were recording at a studio in Florida, and there were hurricanes going on! So the power kept getting shut down..." Also, perhaps the most vital instruments in Trivium's musical assault decided to rebel against them too - "We had guitars that wouldn't stay in tune for some reason, too - there were about three days where we just couldn't get anything tracked because every guitar we picked up went out of tune!

    Still, these issues were overcome with aplomb, and Ascendancy is cooling in the racks. What's next for Trivium? Has work begun on their next record already? "Well, we've got some riffs, but we've spent so much time on tour recently that we haven't really had any time to sit down and arrange anything. So right now, there are just little ideas here and there." That doesn't mean that we've got a long time to wait for new Trivium material, however. "We're working on a song for the Roadrunner All-Stars CD, where we have to write a song for a certain singer, so that's kinda what we're doing at the moment."

    When reading through some of Trivium's past interviews as research for this piece, I found out that in the past, the hardcore kids back in Orlando weren't as taken with Trivium as everyone else seems to be now... "Well, at first they weren't, but I think now a lot of that's calmed down." 'That' in this case being a spate of shit-talking and scenester hate directed towards Trivium's message board. "Some other places we've played, some of the hardcore kids have been giving us some 'tough love', you know? But they're getting into us now. We actually haven't played our home town for a while - so that's probably the place we've played least out of anywhere! On tour, we hit some places like six or seven times, but we're not due to go back there until about September, so it will have been about a year between shows!" So, there's probably a big fanbase waiting for a Trivium homecoming show then? "Yeah, but we never get booked there! And the tours we've been on never seem to go through there either - we want to play there, but we never get to go!"

    So, it looks as though Orlando are gonna have to wait a while longer for their boys to come back home - the rest of the world has heard of Trivium, and now they all want a piece too. For a band so young to be on the path to widespread global success is something that is probably hard for even them to believe - but perhaps it gives a bit of hope to the wannabe metal maniac in all of us.

    All images courtesy of Official Trivium website other than front page imagie, copyright opyright of Jenni Davies 2005.

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