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Interview conducted August 19 2015
Interview published September 22 2015

"Our goal still is to be the kind of metal band that changes history."

Tobbe: So let's start with an easy one. Why did you decide to call the album Silence In The Snow?

Matt: I got the title from an old Japanese piece called Yukino Danmari. It's this painting, these 2 tattooed warriors fighting in the snow and it's from a Japanese play that's called Suikoden. It's very old, and Yukino Danmari means silence in the snow.

Tobbe: And the title of the intro? [Snøfall]

Matt: Ihsahn from Emperor came up with that title. We asked him to create an intro for us. I sent him the main title. I sent him Silence In The Snow. All the artwork, the full record, everything, and said "Whatever you imaging this to be, I want you to come up with an intro, and if you don't mind, naming it too.". So he came with a name, and he came with a piece. (Corey:) He came with it really fast too. When you [Matt] asked him, he like spent a couple of days like listening to the song and pretty much what is on the record is pretty much almost like 95 percent of the first thing he came up it. The only kind of revision of it was just adding like a little thing at the very end of it, but it was like the whole piece was "Woh!" and we found the right guy, 'cause he knocked that out like quick. (Matt:) And he nailed it right away.

Tobbe: When you're starting the songwriting process, do you look back at your previous work a little bit then?

Corey: When we were kind of going to this record, we knew what we wanted to do. Accomplish for the kind of record it was gonna be. And then you kind of learn like from the way we did the last record. You know, the songwriting part of it, we wanted to be able to go into a room and jam together, 'cause that was kind of a way we do things. And a lot of great things, that are on the record, they're like very spontaneous and just collaborative as a band. We didn't do that on the last record and looking back, after the record was done, that's something that I think is a real integral part of our creative process, of us working together.

Listening back to this record, I can hear all the certain things that were like "Man, this would've never have happened or come together this way if we didn't all like, you know, bounce ideas and jam off each other.". So this one has more of like a full band vibe and sounds like songs that are like meant to be played in a live environment. It was just kind of a keep building off, off all the records we do and just try to perfect the vision of what we're starting off to do. Every aspect of the process, we were able to achieve what we were setting out to do in its, you know, very infancy. Before anything really kind of came together.

Tobbe: Is it important for you guys to develop yourselves with every record?

Matt: It's hugely important. It's very important too, that with each record we make the kind of music we wanna hear as metal fans. I love, with our music, with every record that we release, no one knows what is gonna happen. Like we can change at any moment. Change within the spectrum of what Trivium is and the only people that know those confines are the three of us. [Including bass player Paolo Gregoletto.]

Tobbe: The album contains no growls and it has been an important thing on most of your previous records, so why no growls?

Corey: Even from Ascendancy, like that record being, you know, kind of that scream/sing combination and there's a song in there, Dying In Your Arms, that was pretty much all song except for like a couple of words. And then The Crusade, it kind of went the opposite way, where there's very little screams. Some records have more than others and it just all depends on what the song calls for. You know, we're not just gonna scream on something just for the sake of having it. It's gotta have a purpose. You know, the last record had, kind of like The Crusade, predominantly song. And this record, it just kind of felt we were heading in the kind of songs you wanted to write in the melodic aspect of it.

This far into our career, it's like "What is something that we haven't done, or what's the new frontier and challenge of what we can do to set ourselves apart from the rest of the pack and be identifiable with ourselves?". And the singing part was something that we wanted to really kind of expand upon and really be able to challenge ourselves to write great, catchy, heavy metal songs that don't require any singing to have the aggression that people associate with metal. You can still be heavy without screaming and we just are all big fans of hooks and melodies. And just the chorus being a hook, why not the verse, the pre-chorus, the bridge? Every part of the song we wanted to be stuck in somebody's head, so that was kind of like the new challenge and, you know, we wouldn't have been able to make this kind of record years ago, 'cause we needed the experience and the development of all the other records to get to this point. This is a kind of record that all the years of practicing our craft has led us to.

Tobbe: So what's the biggest challenge with making songs that supposedly the fans will love?

Matt: The big thing, and it may sound selfish, but I promise that it's for the integrity of the music, is that when we go into a record, we don't think of "Are people gonna like this? Are people not gonna like this? Should we make something that the Ascendancy fans are gonna like, or the Crusade fans are gonna like?". We just make exactly what we wanna hear as music fans, which is what we did in the first place, and it's how we initially hooked the fans that support our band to this day. So I think when we're making the kind of music that we wanna hear, as fans of the genre, we're making the most honest music we could possibly make and I think that's what keeps our integrity that lets the fans come to us.

(Corey:) It's like, when we're writing songs, you know, everything kind of starts off individually between the three of us, with Paolo. Everyone's at home, writing ideas and riffs, and I'm not gonna show it to any of the other guys if I don't feel that this is worthy of, you know, something that we're gonna like. If I don't like it enough to wanna show anybody, then it's not worth using. So if I can write a song or an idea and might crank it on the speakers and just walk around my house and be like "Fuck yeah! I fucking love this.", then it's like "All right! Then I'm on to something.". If I feel like this is a fucking cool thing, 'cause I'm going off of what I like about metal and music, and if I'm really feeling it like "Man. This is gonna fucking rock!", then I show it to the other guys and usually, 95 percent of the time if you're really feeling something that strongly of a piece of music, the rest of the guys are onboard.

Sometimes it doesn't work, but we all kind of like the same kind of stuff, so something Paolo writes, we will be like "Holy hell yeah! That's fucking rad!". With anything you're creating with music, the fans won't hear it if it's not something you feel strongly about, so you're your own filter with what people hear. People aren't gonna hear anything unless we are like a 100 percent believing this being good music.

Tobbe: This is probably your most even record. Most songs are kind of equally good and it doesn't have so many ups and downs.

Matt: Yeah, especially The Crusade, I think has probably the farthest diversity of music, where there's songs like Anthem and The Rising in one end and songs like Ignition and To The Rats in the other. That was a conscious decision. We wanna try to see as much as we possibly can do. Shogun also has that kind of diversity. In Waves has, I think, pretty extreme diversity as well, from Of All These Yesterdays to Chaos Reigns. Vengeance Falls is streamlined a little more and I feel like Silence In The Snow is every song fits with every song, which is nice. (Corey:) That whole concept was that we kind of analyzed, like our favorite records that had really impacted us personally, or just like metal records that have had a lasting impression that people say are classic, benchmark records. A lot of those records, they could fit like maybe 7-9 songs on the record and every song had its purpose and every song was like a piece of the greatness of the whole record. The Number Of The Beast isn't like 9 songs of Run To The Hills. It's like you have every kind of song in there that makes up the whole piece and that's kind of like how we approached it.

Once we had a certain type of song, it was like "What does the record need to be whole?". You know, having Until The World Goes Cold and instead of writing another song in that vein, it's like "We already have that kind of song and what's the other kind of song?". And we kind of had that work at the very end with Pull Me From The Void. That was the last song we wrote, like right at the end of pre-production. We didn't have that up-tempo, faster kind of song and it just kind of came out and that was like the final piece to the record. When you listen to it from start to finish, it's like each song has its place on the record, in its own spotlight.

Tobbe: So you're working with a new drummer again and what's the biggest difference between working with Mat [Madiro] and Nick [Augusto] or your first one [Travis Smith)?

Matt: All 3 have been different. With Mat; we're his first band he's ever played with. This was the first thing he's ever recorded on. He had the least amount of time to really step into our band. With Nick; we were in between 2 tours and I believe we had like 2 weeks or so, where we had to bring Nick in and had to switch Travis out. So Nick had to learn everything pretty quickly and come in, within the 2 weeks, and fill in for Travis, then later on become our drummer. With Mat; he had 24 hours, without us, to learn the entire set, in the middle of an actual tour. So he learned it, got it from there. We saw how that cycle went, we did the record with him, see how he did. With the record, we had everything previously pretty much written. We wrote Silence Of The Snow in 2007 and we brought it back in 2013 when we started to write the rest of the music. So with Mat, we told him "Here's what's going on and this is what we need you to play.". And things have been going well, so we'll see how it goes, 'cause I mean the three of us in this band have been in for an incredibly long amount of time. The newest member, in the three of us, is Paolo and he's been in for 10-11 years now. So it takes an incredible amount of work and dedication and effort to work up to where the three of us are at. So it's up to Mat to do that.

Tobbe: But he must have had a couple of ideas or suggestions?

Corey: Well, it's kind of like the difference between, 'cause when we first did In Waves, which was the first record with Nick, after Travis, we had a lot of time off tour where he like had, I guess, more of an advantage than Mat, but we had months and months of rehearsal time, because we were waiting for Colin Richardson to finish up a project. We wrote like a shitload of music that never even… (Matt:) Like 20 songs, right? (Corey:) I found like a whole hard drive, like "Holy crap. I've forgot this song even existed.". We just had so much time in writing and jamming, that he had the advantage of like being able to really, I guess, digest the new material before recording more. And then Mat; you know, we didn't really know, 'cause he was filling in on tour and we really hadn't thought of what was gonna be the long-term solution.

We just kept writing as we normally do, you know, obviously with technology, we had like drum programs that you kind of can use to at least showcase like what the vibe of the song is gonna be and drums are a big part of what makes, you know, a song kind of groove. So we spent a lot of time just kind of like mentally kind of just writing as if we didn't even had a drummer at that point, so to move the music along and to get it further and further closer to what it was gonna be for the record, we spend a lot of time going over a lot more details of programming drums, to make it more kind of realistic to what an actual player would do. So when we finally decided for Mat to play on the record, he came in only a couple of weeks before we started jamming the stuff. Luckily we had taken the preparation time, really kind of hone in on a lot more of the parts, of what kind of drums we wanted in the basic idea for the song. And he kind of learned it that way and then once we jammed, we added some drums layer, of what a drummer would do.

I'm not a drummer, so it's like only a limited amount, so. He added some things there and also he was there for like when we rewrote parts and he was able to add in some stuff to new parts that are kind of made up on the spot. It kind of fell into place, that we were prepared on our end, to show him what we're thinking for drums and then he can come in and add his, you know, kind of touch to being a drummer and everything like that. So it's kind of like a combo of just covering all our basis in a way.

Tobbe: But still, basically you told him what to do and he did what you wanted?

Corey: Not quite as much, but…

Tobbe: Well, it's nothing wrong with that. He was the new guy in the band.

Matt: With the first album, yeah. (Corey:) But it's also great, 'cause, especially Paolo, he's a bass player and does a lot of rhythm stuff, and he's amazing with programming, or drum ideas, in general, like just coming up with really cool things that an actual drummer would come up with, like just creatively and just the way the drums are structured. He's got a really great ear for drumming parts, so his demos sound like an actual drummer would actually play that. And a lot of the stuff that he would program actually become so iconic within the song on the demo that we had to have that part on the song. So that kind of stuff carried over, just because it was just such a uniquely, I guess, cool part that added to it.

Tobbe: So how much is programmed on the actual record?

Matt: On the record? None. (Corey:) Programmed drums are just for like personal demos.

Tobbe: Well, you never know and a lot of bands use it.

Matt: Oh yeah, tons. Our demos are, but we paid a lot of money for that drum studio, so they're not programmed.

Tobbe: I think that your last album was a little bit influenced occasionally by your then producer, David Draiman, but with this album, what was Elvis' [Michael Baskette] biggest input?

Matt: With Elvis, he's a producer, engineer, mixer. He's also a guitar player, a songwriter, a singer, so he was able to lend his outside ear. I think it's very important that band always have an outside ear, whose capable of working with songs, whether they're a singer or guitar player, but capable of making a song better. So with us, it was a lot of preparation within the record already, so we came to him prepared, with a vision, and Elvis was already familiar with what our previous back catalogue was and what we are as a band and where we wanted to go as a band. 'Cause with this record, we're really tapping into the heroes of our hero bands, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, Rainbow, Dio, and he's very familiar with that area of metal, as well as being familiar with us, so it seemed like a really good match. And the fact that he lived 15 minutes away from all of us is nice and easy.

Tobbe: Do you think you get the proper respect in the metal community for your efforts?

Matt: I think so. (Corey:) There's always bands that you just hear other bands talk about all the time. It's funny, because we always just like "Man, we never get any kind of shutouts from any other bands.", but then like, just on this past tour, like meeting certain bands and meeting a lot of people that are like "I love your band! You're so great!" and we're just like "What?". (Matt:) Yeah, we played Motocultor in France. Actually we just came off a festival run, but they're really extreme metal festivals, which is something we love obviously. I mean, I'm always wearing black metal shirts. We were playing with Krisiun, Sepultura and Septicflesh and co-headlining with Opeth in this festival. I finally got to meet Krisiun. I went up to them and I was like "Hey. I just wanna say I'm a big fan." and maybe they didn't recognize me 'cause I used to have long hair, but like "We really like you guys.".

It was amazing to hear that Krisiun, one of our favorite bands in the world, respects us. We're buddies with the Alcest guys and it's really cool hanging out with the Sepultura guys. And it seems like the bands that we love respect us, 'cause they can see that we're influenced by them. You know, Iron Maiden brought us out on a 6-7 week tour, the Metallica guys have been vocal about our band and Halford put us number 1 on his playlist, for Strife. It's cool that our heroes are recognizing and giving us a nod. I mean, Nikki Sixx tweeted about Silence In The Snow. Even to guys like Benji Madden from Good Charlotte tweeted about Silence In The Snow, which is frickin' awesome. He doesn't have to do that. (Corey:) I think that some of those, like the older guard of metal, can listen to our stuff and they can hear that they were an influence on us. They can hear like something what they grew up on or what they did, in our music, and can kind of respect that.

You can hear the influence that we grew up on, but it's also, we have put our own spin on it, that it's not like we sound like a cover band, but it's like they can respect and appreciate it. Even Metallica, at one point, just sounded like Diamond Head and then they eventually took the sound and, you know, changed the world with it. Everyone starts from somewhere and then it's all about how you can creatively put your own stamp on it, because music obviously been around for a long time. You have to kind of take something that's already been done and try to like do something else with it. At least a little bit to make it something a little bit differently, instead of a complete copy cat.

Tobbe: If it is actually possible to come out unique in today's metal, what do you do to try to reach that point?

Matt: You just have to make the kind of music that you wanna make, as a fan of metal. The kind of music that you feel is lacking, or the kind of music that you wanna hear. If you imagine yourself as a kid, getting into metal, "What do you wanna hear?". And that's what we try to do every time. What we're making is always what we wanna hear and what we wanna do. (Corey:) I think this record, especially with what's going on in metal, kind of stands apart from a lot of stuff. On a musical standpoint we do something different. Like a song like Dead And Gone doesn't sound like really anything else I can think of. Musically and vocally combined, it's pretty unique to itself. I think, with everything that goes on in metal, it's like we made a record that we kind of found like our own niche. And then combining that with our old material, all mixed together live. It's like people see us live and they get to hear such a diverse slab of music that I think kind of keeps people's attention, because we have a very diverse catalogue that can speak to a lot of different music fans, so it's not just 15 songs in a concert of the same thing.

Tobbe: So how much pressure do you put on each other during the whole process, from songwriting to a finished product?

Matt: I think luckily a lot, but not in an overbearing kind of way. We're all incredibly hard on the standards of songs that come into our band. Even if one of the three of us comes up with a song, that they're absolutely in love with, if the other guys aren't into it, we're gonna hash it out or figure out how to make it better or be honest and say "This isn't gonna work.". There was a time, when I wrote Silence In The Snow back in 2007, the rest of the band was like "We're not into this. We don't want this on the record." and it wasn't because they didn't like the song, I think. I don't exactly know what the entire reason with the time was, but looking back at it now, it's most likely because we weren't ready for a song like that. We weren't ready for a song that was that stripped back. In that, specifically about the melody and about the simplicity, we weren't ready yet, and that's very important, that the three of us are very hard on each other, in a positive way. You know, in a way that I think is essential and it's great that we have the relationship where we can be honest with each other. Our band is not singer and a band. Our band is the three of us. The four of us now, but the band is essentially at the core, the three of us, and we run this thing equally.

Tobbe: That song is obviously old, like you said, 8 years. But what inspires you today, lyric-wise?

Matt: Lyric-wise it's always gotta be something that's near and dear to me. Something that's intensely emotional for me, whether good or bad. With this record, I think one of my favorite songs, lyrically, is a song called Pull Me From The Void. That song is about, I remember when I was starting to coming up with the ideas for lyrics, we're on a 70 date North American tour where there were some shows we'd be playing 1000 person clubs and 150 would be there, and people just kind of like dead and staring. You know, a couple of awesome Trivium fans of course, but a couple of people just kind of not feeling it, not into it. I was remembering back to when I was 11-12 and setting these goals for being an arena headlining metal band that changes the world and it was like "This isn't what we're meant for.". So Pull Me From The Void is about getting out of that world. Getting out of the subterranean and not being ashamed to admit our goals and not be ashamed to chase after those goals.

There was a time, when we were 18-19 and we were hailed as "These are those kids that said they're gonna be the next Metallica." and we were kind of shunned for that and then later on we started apologizing for that, but now I'm taking back that apology. No one should be ashamed with their goals. Our goal still is to be the kind of metal band that changes history. We have that goal in mind and we're always gonna work towards that. If it doesn't happen, at least we gave everything we could to get to that. Because I can't say that for other bands. I don't know what other band's goals are and I feel bands should have a goal. If it's a goal of a band that just play for how many people showing up and they don't mind if it's 5, 50, 200 people, that's cool. But that's not what we want. We wanna headline arenas and have production, and pyro, and crazy shit. (Corey:) Also I think it's like, kind of look at other bands and just even like from experience of talking to other bands, they don't really have like this ambition as a songwriter of trying to create something next level. They're just like "We wanna write and put out a record, so we can go back out on tour.". It's like you don't really have any bigger goals. Whenever we try to write songs, it's like "I wanna write one of those songs that, if I was a 14 year old kid and I heard that song, it'd fucking change my life.". The first time I heard Hallowed Be Thy Name and fucking playing along to the CD player every day before I went to school for like a year, and it's like "That's the kind of music I wanna write!".

Instead of just some whatever song that's gonna be popular for like a summer in the metal community and then when the next thing comes along, they're on to that, and you're just kind of like always gonna be at that middle-level and kind of like "Oh, they're pretty cool, but nothing special.". I wanna write a song that's gonna be, 20 years from now, considered a classic fucking metal song. I think some people just make music just to like enjoy the lifestyle or just like the popularity of being in a band, but not having any ambition as an artist to do something that's gonna matter in other people's lives.

Tobbe: So is it possible to predict a future, for a metal band, considering the musical climate is ever changeable?

Matt: It's so hard to predict. All you can do is… (Corey:) …songwriting. You can be the most technically gifted guitar player that can play anything, but if you can't write a song that's gonna connect with the average Joe who'd buy the record, you can pretty much say you don't have a future. Obviously you can see, with any kind of music, it's not always about talent, it's just about having songs. And even if you don't like it, you know, even those pop stars have songs that people go gaga over, even if they're cookie cutter or whatever. But metal bands, you gotta have fucking tunes.

Tobbe: You're still young, so for how long periods of time do you actually make plans for, or goals for?

Matt: I mean, we still have that ultimate goal, of the same one that when we were kids and we're gonna keep working towards that. And we know the work that it takes to get there and we've been slowly putting that in over the years and we have all the time in the world. (Corey:) We're always a couple of years ahead of where we're at. Just even with our management. You know, they're always looking long-term goals, like "Well, by this time, 2017, we can be doing this…". There's always like a strategy to build it and luckily it's like; our job is to just write great music that's gonna give them the ammo to be able to get us the opportunities. We have stuff coming up right in our immediate future, but there's always ideas and a thought plan of "By this time, in 2 years, this is where we want everything to go.".

Tobbe: So what is your opinion on illegal downloading and Spotify and such things?

Matt: Illegal downloading needs to go away, but Spotify I love.

Tobbe: You use it yourself?

Matt: Yeah, I use it. It's just, they need to straighten out the streaming royalties, 'cause there's too many people getting cuts of that pie.

Tobbe: When I look at them, I look at them equally, because there is no money in the artist's wallet, if you're not a huge band.

Matt: Exactly. That's what they need to straighten out. I think it is the future, but it just needs to be fixed.

See also: review of the album Silence In The Snow

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