His "pulverizing" Epiphone Les Paul and the Mrityu Black Metal Project.

Matt Heafy: Epiphone Interview

Trivium's Matt Heafy has been part of the House of Stathopoulo family since 2013 when he unveiled his first two signature Epiphones, the Ltd. Ed. Matt Heafy Les Paul Custom and the Ltd. Ed. Matt Heafy Les Paul Custom-7 seven-string, both of which sold out shortly after they were released. Trivium's latest album 'Silence In The Snow' was released last year to ecstatic reviews and their ongoing tour will take the band into the summer with festival appearances at Download in Paris, Graspop Metal Meeting in Dessel, Belgium, and the Nummirock Metal Festival in Finland. It's not easy to catch up to Mr. Heafy, but when we do, we're reminded that we couldn't ask for a more enthusiastic and dedicated Epiphone signature artist. Matt talks about 'Silence In the Snow,' recording the album with his Signature Epiphone Les Pauls, and the Mrityu Black Metal Project.

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It's great to speak with you again, Matt. You're on tour to support the new album Silence In the Snow. Tell me about the stage set up, how the show is evolving, and what the shows have been like.

Although the cover of Silence In The Snow is essentially minimalistic, the themes of the title and overall vibe of the album are what we aimed at to bring to life in the live-setup. Once we had "Ibaraki" (our mascot) created in the drawn version, we had the mask made, the cover was made, then we created the Skull-Castle backdrop. Once we had that, we made the staging look like a giant Skull-Castle in an arctic realm - very metal.

The shows have been incredible; all around the world, Trivium fans new and old are incredibly impassioned with the new music. Life is going great.

How did your Epiphone Signature Les Pauls work out for you in the studio?

When Epiphone and I initially got together, I made it very clear that my goal with an Epiphone signature was to make it so good that the same one I would use live could be the same one from a box from the factory. When this was nailed, I tested my signature models out on multiple world tours. Having withstood every tour perfectly, I knew the next test was the studio. My 7-string models were used on all the 7-string material on Silence. The 6-string material was tracked on my Gibson that was the blueprint for the Epiphone model. My plans for record 8 are to record the entire album strictly on my signature guitars.

Are there any outstanding tracks or solos from the new album that featured the Epiphone 7-string.

We typically never set out to limit ourselves to any one particular guitar on an album, but when it was time to record the rhythm guitars for Silence In The Snow, we tested all of my Gibson 7-strings first. They sounded great, but when the round came around to testing out the Epiphone Ltd. Ed. Matt Heafy Les Paul Custom-7 for the 7 string material, it without question won the contest for us. My MKH for the drop G# 7 string tuning stuff sounded absolutely pulverizing. Just check out "Dead and Gone" to hear the sheer nasty heaviness displayed from that instrument.

Matt Heafy: Epiphone InterviewA lot of artists who are on the recurring cycle of writing, recording & touring, talk about how difficult it can be to make that process seem new and fresh. What did you want to accomplish with Silence In the Snow? In other words, was the album something that you had been planning or was it inspired?

With Trivium, we always aim to make something different from the previous album. Early on in our careers, we proved that at any time we could take a drastic departure from something that may have sounded or seemed familiar of the past. I think the best bands throughout time are the ones who push themselves beyond their comfort levels to never release the same exact thing every time.

With Silence, we wanted ourselves to be fully immersed in the classic roots of Metal. We wanted to dig into what classic bands inspired our favorite bands; when we looked at Metallica, In Flames, Megadeth, and all our heroes, we said to ourselves: "what were they listening to?" The answer always seemed to stem back to some combination of: Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Dio, Rainbow. We already were fans of these bands, but we immersed ourselves even further into these legends to find inspiration for the seventh album.

It seems like the Trivium audience extends to all ages and backgrounds. It almost seems like so-called "heavy metal" or heavy rock --though maybe not mainstream has a different audience than even ten years ago. What are you noticing about your fans while you've been on tour for this album?

Even if I try to dissect it from this current North American run we're on, our crowds have been almost 50/50 first-timers and veteran-Trivium concert goers. A Trivium fan is a hard thing to pinpoint since our band has always been so vocal about being "for everyone." Our band is metal, yes, but it draws from so many sub-genres of metal and so many genres outside of metal. Our fans have ranged from 5-6 years olds to rockers in their mid-70s. This tour alone has shown that drastic range with fans from everything and in-between; elite metal heads, classic Metal fans, country fans, pop music fans, everyone. All are welcome at a Trivium show, and all seem to find their way there.

Matt Heafy: Epiphone InterviewWhat was your writing process for like for the new album? Do you tend to let songs simmer in your own studio for awhile before you start working with the band or do you try to get them involved at an early stage?

Thankfully with Trivium, we don't stick to rigid formulas on creative process. We see there being no right or wrong on how we should or shouldn't be creating music; at times, entire songs will be created by one member, sometimes it's a combination of the three writers--Paolo (Gregoletto), Corey (Beaulieu), and myself--or any of the combinations of duos for writing. Some pieces have been around for a while. "Silence In The Snow" was actually written back in 2007 and not used until 2015... some pieces created a day before the beginning the recording process for an album ("Watch The World Burn" on In Waves), and some have had parts crafted in the studio whilst tracking the pieces themselves. We have gone very intensive on self-demoing, and very loose and rough-draft-styled for pieces. Both have their time and place and advantage/disadvantage.

As the tour has progressed, what songs from Silence In the Snow have changed in ways that have surprised you? For instance, some songs that work in the context of an album might be tricky to replicate on stage either because of a production style or because of their mood. How has the songs form Silence In the Snow developed on the road?

"Dead And Gone" used to scare the hell out of me because of how high vocally that song sits. I used to think the A# was the absolute top of my range, and that song sits there for pretty much every major part. Thankfully, due to extensive training, it is easy now - but that certainly was a track that would get in my head and freak me out quite a bit before doing it so much live.

The music from Silence does so well live, it's as if the material was built to be played in any size club or festival. We've played it in 350 capacity clubs and at 50,000 person festivals. In the two extremes and everything in between, it works perfectly.

In one of our previous interviews, we talked about how choosing between a 6-string and a 7-string in the studio tended to be more of a "gut" feeling for you?

For writing and overall creative processes, we like to be spontaneous and not overly-complicated with things - at any time during making a piece, we can swap tunings, vibes, lyrics, etc. Once it's time to be on the road however, we make sure we are extremely well-rehearsed and as tight as a unit as possible. We do have a catalogue of songs ready, so if we feel like swapping things up, we can. We pride ourselves on being a great live band, we don't rely on backing tracks or backing musicians, everything you see and hear is done by the four people on stage.

I've read a few notices about your plans to work with Ihsahn on the Mrityu Black Metal Project. What can you tell us about that? Are you already working on material?

Black Metal has been a long-time love for me. I've incorporated a very few subtle elements here and there from the genre into Trivium with success, but it would never make sense to have it full-blown in Trivium. Ihsahn has become a close friend of mine, and is someone I look to as a mentor. We both have plans to do this album together, but it absolutely is a matter of time. Both of our schedules are pretty intense at the moment, but it will happen one day. I don't look at it as something "away" from Trivium, as Trivium will always be the main focus. Mrityu will be a project for me.

Going back to when we first met, you had just come off of your first acoustic shows. Are you ready for an Epiphone signature acoustic guitar yet?

I love the stripped down nature of one singer, one guitar. It's about as intimate as it gets; a real look into a performers soul. I hope to do more of this, but just like Mrityu, it is a matter of time. I am absolutely ready for a signature Epiphone acoustic! I have the ideas ready to go!

Matt Heafy Les Paul Custom Image Gallery:

Matt Heafy: Epiphone Interview

Matt Heafy: Epiphone Interview

Matt Heafy: Epiphone Interview

Matt Heafy: Epiphone Interview

Matt Heafy: Epiphone Interview

Matt Heafy: Epiphone Interview

Matt Heafy Les Paul Custom Specifications:

Body Material: Mahogany
Top Material: Plain Maple Veneer
Neck Material: Mahogany
Neck Shape: 1960's SlimTaper™, D-Profile
Neck Joint: Glued-In, Deep-Set Neck Joint with "Axcess" Heel
Scale Length: 24.75"
Fingerboard Material: Ebony with Pearloid Block Inlays
Neck Pickup: EMG-85 (EMG-707 on 7-String)
Bridge Pickup: EMG-81 (EMG-81-7 on 7-String)
Controls: Epiphone All-Metal 3-Way Pickup Selector Switch, Neck Pickup Volume, Bridge Pickup Volume, Neck Pickup Tome w/KillPot™, Bridge Pickup Tone, (Active) 9V Battery Compartment in Back
Binding: Body Top: 7-Ply (White/Black), Headstock: 5-Ply (White/Black), Fingerboard: 1-Ply (White)
Fingerboard Radius: 12"
Frets: 22, Medium-Jumbo
Bridge: 6-String: LockTone™ Tune-o-matic/Stopbar, 7-String: Tune-o-matic/Stopbar
Nut Width: 6-String: 1-11/16", 7-String: 1-7/8"
Machine Heads: Deluxe Diecast with Metal Tulip Buttons, 14:1 Ratio
Output Jack: Epiphone Heavy-Duty with Metal Jack Plate
Warranty: Epiphone Limited Lifetime