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Interview

Trivium Bassist Praises Spotify, Talks About "In Waves," and Discusses "Big 8" Show in Video Interview

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Band Photo: Trivium (?)

Trivium's popularity has gone from “Ember to Inferno” in five records on a quest for “Ascendancy,” all the while fighting “The Crusade” like “Shogun” warriors, to be able to have more and more fans flock “In Waves” to their shows. Though they are eternally cursed with detractors due to the unlucky fact that they hail from Florida (no Florida band gets a real break!), Trivium has made a big statement over the years by bringing a power-packed show to each venue they play. Lead guitarist/vocalist Matt Heafy is an especially charismatic force to see, as well as an expressive performer. The very last leg of their headlining shows in the US in early 2012 was in Nashville, TN at the Exit/In on May 25th, for which there was a show report written.

Before the show got rolling and was broadcast to viewers all across the world through Livestream.com, Trivium bassist Paolo Gregoletto caught up with MetalUnderground’s Frank Serafine for a video interview on the tour bus.

Though the bandmates were visibly weary on the bus from being on the road for so long, they didn’t show an ounce of hesitation or fatigue during the show later that night. Gregoletto was very approachable and eager to talk about his two intense BC Rich basses beforehand, as well as his experience in a high school jazz band back in the day before we got rolling – Right away, I knew that he was going to be enlightening.

Frank Serafine (Progressivity_In_All): You guys have toured quite a bit so far, in North America, this year. You have dates still upcoming well into September. How has the tour been, so far?

Paolo Gregoletto: It’s been good. It’s been very diverse, for us, so far. We started out the year touring with In Flames, who are old buddies of ours by now. We’ve done a lot of touring with them. That was cool. It was a very comfortable tour. It was great shows – packed every night. We had a great time. Then we did Australia, which is always awesome. Soundwave, which is that big 100-band bill, which is unreal. Then we did Asking Alexandria, and this is sort of like our radio festival run. We did a couple of off-dates with Five Finger Death Punch. We’re doing a bunch of headliners, like tonight at Exit/In.

It’s been good. It’s just been a lot of touring. By the end of the tour, like by the time you’re at the tail end of the tour, everyone, you can tell, is just beat. But we’re all having a good time, so that’s all that matters. The spirits are still high.

Frank: What cities are the crazier crowds typically in?

Paolo: When it’s a headlining show, we can pretty much turn any city into a crazy city. Sometimes, New Mexico can have some crazy shows.

Frank: Do you think it’s the heat?

Paolo: The heat! And all our Native American fans down in New Mexico and all the cities we’ve played there – they go fuckin’ ape-shit. It’s pretty badass. Texas is always a great time. Yeah, everywhere we go we have a good time. Not every city is going to be circle pits and walls of death and jumping off the PA speakers, but it just depends. If people are, like, singing the words, having a good time, and leaving the show feeling like it was worth spending their money, then we had a good time. I don’t need to see the violence to feel like it’s a good show. It’s cool – the crowd surfing, and the singing, that’s kind of like my favorite thing to watch from the stage.

Frank: So you guys recently did the Revolver Golden Gods awards in April.

Paolo: Yeah.

Frank: You guys got to play “Creeping Death” with Corey Taylor and Rob Flynn. What kind of other metal dreams do you have that you haven’t accomplished yet?

Paolo: I’d love to play “Creeping Death” with Metallica! If they would ever allow that! Other than that, we got to go up on stage and sing “Die, Die, My Darling” backup vocals with Metallica years ago. Actually, once, Iron Maiden was playing. It was at Madison Square Garden, and we played the show the day before in New Jersey, but we went to the Madison Square Garden show the next day, and I don’t remember what song it was, but we got up and did some backup vocals on that, too, part of a big group. I’ve gotten to do backup vocals with two of my favorite bands.

That’s as cool as it gets. Like I said, if I can get up and play with a band that I was way into like Metallica or play a Slayer song – which, I know it will never happen, but, that would be the top thing for me. Maybe even a sound check. Or just jam with them in their jam room, I’ll be cool with that.

Frank: What’s a dream show lineup that you haven’t seen yet over the years that you still want to see?

Paolo: When they announced that Big 4 tour, I was like “That’s a sick lineup.” That’s amazing. I kind of think it would’ve been cool if they could have extended that to eight bands, because I feel like a lot of the other bands from the thrash area, who were the first bands, kind of get the shaft when it comes to recognition. Overkill, Exodus, for sure, Testament… But the hardest thing is: what would be the last band?

All of us are like “Huh?” The thrash movement kind of started in the states, so we’re trying to keep it in that, but it’s tough because there are so many good bands from that era, but that last spot… It’s hard to pick what it would be. If they had a 2nd stage for the Big 4 tour, that would be a sick tour to see.

Frank: Moving on to questions about “In Waves”… The “In Waves” lyrics, Matt [Heafy]’s told us before, have been kind of open to interpretation – not really set on one thing. Do you think listeners can connect more to something they can apply their own meaning to or something that’s pretty broad that everyone can relate to?

Paolo: I guess the thing you’ve got to be careful with, with lyrics, is being so open-ended and so broad… If you dumb them down too much, then they kind of mean nothing, I guess. (laughs) With Matt’s lyrics, these lyrics were a lot deeper this time than even with “Shogun” or “The Crusade.” I think he was a lot more personal, again, whereas the last two albums, I don’t think he had been as personal. By keeping it open to interpretation for people, it can be applied to their own life and what it means. It’s coming from personal experiences, so I feel like people can relate to those a lot better than, say, some of the stuff from the last album.

That was like, yeah you could still relate it to yourself, but it was more specific, I think, especially with Shogun being more of the Japanese theme or mythological-type metaphors, it could be a little harder to relate to.

Frank: Going on a couple lyrics from “In Waves,” you have a couple of segments on the album where the lyrics talk about things like, “watch the world on fire” and “if we fall down, we’ll get swallowed up.” If “In Waves” was actually about the zombie apocalypse, what’s the last song you would want everyone to hear?

Paolo: I wouldn’t want to pick something that was a downer, I guess, but the song “In Waves.” It feels like it’d be a great way to end it. Nothing left after that! (laughs)

Frank: For recording, what was the most challenging song to really nail on that record?

Paolo: From my point of view or overall?

Frank: For the band.

Paolo: I think, honestly, “Of All These Yesterdays” was sort of a tough one, because it was kind of a different song for us. I mean, we had definitely had clean parts on previous albums, but I don’t know. We weren’t totally sure what the vibe was, but we had the demo and we knew that, alright, this was a cool song, but we weren’t 100% sure on how it was going to end up. A lot of vocal re-writes and cadences had to be completely changed. I had to re-write a lot of lyrics. It was tough, because, the way he sang on that song, especially with the verses… I feel it’s a lot harder to sing like that than it is for him to scream.

When you scream, it’s that one angry emotion. “Of All These Yesterdays,” the dynamics of the vocals change a lot, so you’ve got to put a lot of effort into that. That was probably the toughest thing. When it comes to playing extreme stuff or heavy, screaming stuff, that comes pretty easy to us.

Frank: Are you more of a music theory player or do you play more by ear?

Paolo: I learned music theory when I started, and probably should have kept up more with it, but I just never felt drawn to having to tie that in to writing music or the music we play. I feel like playing by ear and feel, for me personally, is better. There’s no right or wrong way. I mean, technically, yeah, knowing music theory definitely helps a lot. I think Corey [Beaulieu] probably knows the most theory out of everyone in the band. It definitely shows in his solos and the melodies he makes.

It would come more in hand if I was doing more of the melody stuff in the band. We usually leave all of that to Corey because he’s just way better at than any of us. When it comes to riffs, I don’t feel like music theory will benefit you more or hurt you that much, it just depends. Every person’s style is so different.

Frank: Warner Brothers, your record label above RoadRunner, just laid off a bunch of RoadRunner employees. Obviously, that’s a touchy subject. You’re with a label that’s consolidating during a time where increasingly more power is being given to individuals and independents. As a band, have you felt the shift in the industry?

Paolo: Since we started, there’s been this shift sort of slowly happening. When we got signed in ’04-’05, that was kind of the tail end of the Napster/no one’s buying CD’s thing, and slowly, but surely, you could tell that was happening. Back when we used to tour, you would see a real big bump in CD sales from the touring, and now it’s not like that anymore. When you go on tour, you won’t necessarily see that bump. Sometimes you will. It just depends. Not to the same extent it used to be. Unfortunately, that’s just the reality of where the industry’s going.

But now, you have streaming, and you have all these other services that are starting out. I think, once that stuff all gets sorted out to where it’s really benefitting artists and there’s a real revenue stream coming from that, I think it will definitely probably help balance things out. Unfortunately, that’s the reality of when people get acquired or there’s a merger – there’s always going to be layoffs. We kind of knew that was coming when we heard RoadRunner got totally bought out by Warner, and I figured there’s definitely going to be some people that will lose their jobs. Right away, people definitely did.

I didn’t think it would be to this extent and that fast. A lot of really integral people to Trivium all over the world lost their jobs. That’s what we were really kind of upset about. It’s very cold and we understand why it was done, but it doesn’t make it something that we have to like. People lost their jobs and it sucks. When we go back to these places, it might not be the same people or any of the people that worked with us. It was crazy. I mean, when I heard the UK office was getting shut, I mean, that was where we blew up right away. That’s our first magazine covers and all that and the people that worked hard to get us to this point, where we’re way up on these big festival bills… it just kind of is a bummer.

We always felt like it’s a team, and we’ve always been close to the people we’ve worked with. We’ve never had “the label’s out to get us” or… We’ve never had that vibe with RoadRunner. It’s been very family-oriented. Professional, but family-oriented, and we always loved to keep in touch with the people. Regardless of them [not] being with RoadRunner anymore, we’re going to still keep in touch with all of those people.

Frank: On to a couple of easier questions! What’s your favorite food on tour? Judging by Matt, you guys are food nuts.

Paolo: We definitely enjoy ourselves some good food. I would say, overall, I definitely try to just eat healthy. That’s the biggest key. Definitely, we’ll indulge some nights, but… Staying healthy is a big thing for me, so avoiding anything bad for you and “try not to drink too much” is a big thing. But, like today, there’s a lot of good food in Nashville, so… We’ve already went to this burger place, which is good.

I try to do the semi-healthy thing, like get the tuna salad, but we got fried pickles.

Frank: You’re in the south. You might as well get fried pickles!

Paolo: Yeah! And that’s actually been one thing on this tour that’s been awesome – we’ve had a lot of good barbecue. Every state in the south is so different. Even out to the Midwest, St. Louis… that was, legit, the best barbecue I’ve ever had. It was unreal. (laughs)

Frank: So what kind of music, other than metal, do you listen to right now?

Paolo: Now, with Spotify, there is no limits to what you can listen to. I’ll jump around from anything from oldies, like Motown stuff, classic rock, just anything guitar-driven, I’ll definitely check out, if it’s something I don’t know. You can explore the family tree of a band, like you can take a band like Iron Maiden and kind of figure out the influences that kind of came before them. U.F.O. and stuff like that. You can check out those bands’ back catalogs and it’s just all right there for you to try out.

I think it’s amazing. I think streaming is the way to go. It just has to get balanced out, but I back Spotify. I think it’s awesome.

Frank: On the flip side of the coin, what metal bands have you been listening to right now?

Paolo: I jam that stuff all the time. It’s kind of the example of how you can go backwards and discover that. That’s the one thing I feel that a lot of the youngest generation now getting into music hasn’t really discovered yet. You find a band that you’re really into – discover what made that band. What are those influences? Say, when someone gets into Trivium, that’s cool that you dig us, but there are so many influences to where we come from, and I hope that they would explore that. I feel like a lot of our fans definitely do.

They share a lot of the similar tastes in bands that we have. That’s the biggest thing I recommend for people – discover where some of your favorite bands come from. You’ll find some really awesome stuff, and it might help you to kind of establish your own style, musically, if you play music.

Frank: Any things you’d like to say to the readers on MetalUnderground?

Paolo: If you haven’t heard of us or seen us live… The next tour in the states is Trespass America, with Five Finger Death Punch, Killswitch Engage, God Forbid, Emmure, Pop Evil, and Battlecross. So, if any dates are coming by you, definitely come on out if you can.

Progressivity_In_All's avatar

Frank Serafine is an avid writer, music producer, and musician, with five albums to his name. While completely enamored with metal, he appreciates a wide range of music. He also works full-time at the American-based performing rights organization, SESAC.

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1. OverkillExposure writes:

Very nice interview :)

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