Interview: Matt Heafy of Trivium Talks ‘In Waves’ And His Love Of Horror

Tomorrow brings the release of In Waves, the fifth studio album from Trivium. Though I wasn’t able to meet up with the guys at the Rockstar Mayhem Festival, I did get the chance to talk with Matt via phone a week ago to discuss the new album, how some of the biggest directors of today influence him, touring plans and Matt’s love of horror. Check out the exclusive interview after the jump!

Make sure to pre-order In Waves on iTunes!

Jonny B.: Hey Matt, how are you doing?
Matt Heafy: Doing good man, how are you?
JB: Not too shabby! Let’s kick things off talking about ‘In Waves’. How would you describe the album to someone who has never listened to Trivium?
MH: With ‘In Waves’, it’s probably the first time that Trivium has been completely definable in every single aspect where it’s not just an auditory experience any more but we’re taking the visuals in ways that the music videos match the music, match the lyrics, match the packaging, match the way the band looks, and everything is one cohesive package. So ‘In Waves’ is entirely Trivium. It doesn’t sound like any other band or any other kind of music, it just sounds like what we do?
JB: Speaking of the visuals, the video for ‘In Waves’ has a very bleak, but beautiful feel to it and definitely a touch of horror with the pale, bloody figure lurking behind the trees. What is it about that darker feel that appeals to you?
MH: It’s interesting that you thought of it like that because with this record, the big thing is no right or wrong answer specifically. We want to put the imagination in the hands and minds of the listener. There is no right or wrong way for it to be interpreted. So, your way, your interpretation is just as right as the rest. I do appreciate your interpretation. We’ve heard a lot of them and they’ve all been different. 
JB: Have you got any crazy stories from the recording process?
MH: Well, we started the drums in this horse barn studio owned by Eyal Levi from Daath and they sounded great. Then we moved to Audio Hammer, which is the studio owned by Jason Suecof, the guy that did the first two Trivium records. It went pretty disastrously due to the fact that the gear wasn’t working properly and other things. That made us have to leave that studio and go to Paint It Black studios. From then on, everything went great.
The vocal process had me doing about four to six to eight hours per day. We were working on the song ‘Of All These Yesterdays’ and I probably did the first verse 35 times, left for the day, came back in and they played it back for us and it sounded majorly auto-tuned. I said, “I’m not down with that” and they said, “Honestly, this is as good as we can get it to sound.” So, there was a small vocal breakdown meltdown and we deleted everything vocally we’d done up to that point and said let’s do this in two months after the promo trip. We were told by the label that we couldn’t do that, that we had to do it immediately. So I spoke with Robb Flynn from Machine Head on the phone for about an hour and he gave me all sorts of tips and tricks and advice on what he does to get prepared for studio vocal work. I took all of that to heart, went into the studio and did some of the best vocals of my life. And they were so good that towards the end, we redid three to five of the songs.
JB: In the fall, you’ll be touring with Dream Theater. That isn’t a combination that many people saw coming. What are your thoughts on that tour?
MH: For us we’re always the kind of band that likes doing something unexpected. We’re not just a metal band. We don’t just listen to metal music. Everything about our new record is completely different from anything we’ve ever seen. The fact that our live DVD has no crowd, our music videos have no performance, our documentary has no color. When it comes to touring with Dream Theater, we’ve toured with everyone from Coldplay to Alicia Keys to Zao to Dimmu Borgir, so it’s like we go all around the board.
Also, everyday, every show we’ve played since I was about 16 years old, I’ve used the John Petrucci Rock Disciplines warm-ups on VHS and I’ve got it memorized. I warm up for every single show to his exercises. 
With us, we always like to do tours that broaden our horizon. 
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JB: So, I have to ask, what do you have against Michigan? You’re not going to be at the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival this Saturday [Clarkston, MI] and apparently you’re not going to play the Michigan show with Dream Theater. What’s up with that?
MH: [laughs] No, we have nothing against Michigan. As a matter of fact, we’ve played Michigan more than most bands. We’ve played Harpos alone maybe ten times in our career. 
The reason we’re missing three Rockstar dates is because we’re flying to Europe to open up for Judas Priest at an 80,000 person festival, so we obviously have to do that. We’re the direct support to the band at Wacken Open Air. The next night we fly to England to open up for Iron Maiden at Wembley. These were two things that we had confirmed before Mayhem. 
As for the Dream Theater tour, we’re missing a couple of shows because we’re flying to Japan for a festival. So they’re really big opportunities that we were pre-committed to before we were on these tours.
No, we absolutely love Michigan and we do really, really well there. We’ve played everywhere you can play there including an AMF bowling alley in Grand Rapids, so we definitely love it there. We’re sorry for the fans but we’ll definitely be back.
JB: Are you into horror? If so, what are some of your favorite horror movies?
MH: Yes, I love horror. When it comes down to pure horror, like gore horror, Dead Alive is definitely at my top. I love the Dawn of the Dead remake. When it comes to different styles, movies that have horror elements but go off in different directions, I love the Vengeance trilogy by Chan-Wook Park. Those movies are incredible but Oldboy is one of my favorite movies of all time. 
And when we go into more of the arty directions that may have a few moments of horror, Antichrist changed my life in how I view film and art in film. As a matter of fact, that movie was a huge inspiration on me for ‘In Waves’. The biggest inspiration for me was movie directors, specifically Lars Von Trier, Paul Thomas Anderson, David Lynch, and Christopher Nolan. Those were the biggest influences on me on this record. 
JB: Matt, thanks so much!
MH: Thank you! It was a lot of fun talking horror movies and to my Michigan people, we love and we WILL see you soon!