Bassist Paolo Gregoletto says Trivium won’t let lineup changes and tireless touring take away from their resolve to produce their best album yet
Few bands have had the kind of joyride that American heavy metal band Trivium have since their inception 10 years ago. Formed in 1999, the Orlando, Florida metallers were still in high school when the first iteration of the band took shape with vocalist Brad Lewter and drummer Travis Smith roping in a 13-year old Matt Heafy on guitars after being impressed by the chops he showed in a school talent show. Mashing up their influences that ran the gamut from thrash to metalcore and progressive metal, the band evolved a style that combined brutal, technical aggression with melodic influences. With the release of their debut album, Ember to Inferno, in 2004, the band ”“ the members were still in their late teens then ”“ were called on to support Machine Head on their US tour. At this point, Lewter had quit the band with Heafy taking over vocal duties, Paolo Gregoletto had replaced Brent Young on bass and Corey Beaulieu had signed up as the second lead guitarist, to result in a lineup that would endure for the next three albums.
Good things followed. Trivium piqued the interest of Roadrunner Records who signed the band up for their next record and what was to become the band’s calling card, the critically acclaimed Ascendancy (2005) that Kerrang! magazine named its Album of the Year. Fame came calling too, with the band landing mainstage slots at the UK’s Download Festival 2005, all the while their reputation growing to keep pace with their song names. More tours fell into place with some of the biggest bands on the metal circuit ”“ Killswitch Engage, Machine Head, Iced Earth, Fear Factory, Arch Enemy, Amon Amarth, Children of Bodom ”“ as did a spot at Ozzfest the same year. 2006 saw the release of The Crusade, the band’s most controversial album to date, as they overhauled their sound with an emphasis on singing while Heafy’s screamed vocals took the backseat. Heafy was also accused of mimicking James Hetfield’s vocal style, who the frontman had confessed to being a huge fan of. 2009’s Shogun, though, silenced critics with both its size and scope. Referencing everything from Greek mythology to Japanese history, the band returned to the harsh vocals of Ascendancy with a yet unseen ferocity in their music. But even as the band completed their longest tour yet in support of the album, the troubled relationship that they shared with drummer Smith finally gave way and he left the band, to be replaced by their drum tech Nick Augusto, who has now been announced the permanent replacement for Smith. Currently, the band have wound up their touring cycle for Shogun and are in the process of writing for their next album, expected later this year.
Paolo Gregoletto tells Rolling Stone about the band’s plans for the next album, their contribution to the God of War III soundtrack and their reactions to the Metallica comparisons.
You’ve mentioned that you’ve already begun work on your next album, the follow-up to 2008’s Shogun. When do you begin recording and when is the tentative release date for it?
We have been writing the album for the last year or so, [but] we still have quite a way to go before we actually start recording. The plan is to finish all the touring in March and then begin demo-ing and rehearsing the new material. It will be out in early 2011, most likely.
Trivium’s changing sound, from Ascendancy to Crusade to Shogun, is one of the most discussed aspects of the band. What direction will this new album take musically?
Each time we went in to make those albums, we were in a different mindset. We wanted to really change up our sound after Ascendancy, dropping the screaming and any breakdown-sounding parts. In hindsight, I wish we hadn’t made too much of the drastic changes, but that was sort of what led us into the direction of Shogun. It was somewhat of a return to form in many aspects. Our new song for God of War III, ”˜Shattering the Skies Above’ is the most energetic song we have had since Ascendancy. That is somewhat of an example of where we will be heading to next.
Tell us more about ”˜Shattering the Skies Above.’ Did the fact that you are self-confessed videogame geeks have something to do with writing the song for the game?
Matt is the true gamer of the band, I gave up a long time ago. We were so excited when we heard we had a chance to make a new song for a game, we had never made an exclusive track before ”˜Shattering.’ The game didn’t totally inspire the music or lyrics since they existed before we found out about this, but I do feel the game and song are complementary to each other.
You took a very mythological, historical approach with Shogun. What kind of themes are you exploring on your upcoming album?
I think the themes and lyrics will be more relatable this time around, not about myths and Japanese themes. From some lyrics I have seen that Matt started, it’s more personal and we can all relate to them as a band. Again, ”˜Shattering the Skies Above’ is a good indication of where it’s all heading for the next album.
How do you decide what you want to write about on each album?
It’s been different each time. We are a much different band now. Matt, Corey and I will write the music either separate or together. With this new song, we worked on it on tour and started rehearsing it at sound check. We are a very collaborative band, we enjoy working together and the best results usually come from us bringing in ideas and piecing it together in our warehouse.
On Shogun, Matt Heafy said that you’ve put all these little hints and trivia into all the songs. What was the idea behind that?
As far as I know there isn’t any trivia or hints in the songs. Maybe there are references to other past songs, now that I think about it.
Did Shogun also finally rid you of the relentless Metallica comparisons?
I guess so, [though] we have never cared about that too much. If you get consumed by those types of things you will go crazy. I think ”˜Shattering the Skies Above’ sounds nothing like Metallica.
2009 was a pretty packed year for you, from touring with Slipknot to playing the Mayhem and Download festivals. What for you was the highlight of last year?
When we started playing with Nick in October, that is probably the happiest I have been since joining Trivium and releasing Ascendancy. All those other tours where great for us, but nothing can compare to the feeling of being happy about playing music and feeling like your in a whole new band all over again. We have been very blessed with all these great tours!
What can we expect from Trivium this year?
We will be in the warehouse and studio working our asses off to make the best album that we can make. I don’t think we will start touring again till at least early 2011.
You’ve also played Asia extensively. Have you ever considered making India part of your tour roster?
We will totally come to India when the timing is right. I would come there right now if we could! After seeing that new Iron Maiden DVD [Flight 666], if that doesn’t make a band want to come there now, I don’t know what will. We will do our best to make India a stop on the next album’s tour cycle.