“You can't escape me,” says Matt Heafy, frontman and guitarist of Trivium and Ibaraki, Twitch streamer, influencer, creative, entrepreneur. “I'm on every freaking record that comes out. It's not that I'm trying to go for maximum saturation, it’s just… I like a lot of things. And I want to do a lot of things.”
Matt Heafy is insanely busy. Standing in the den he uses to broadcast on his insanely popular Twitch channel, Heafy is a force of nature: he talks fast, he's funny, and is unpretentious and annoyingly good at everything.
Truth is, Matt Heafy is making us all look a bit shit. Your boss is looking at Matt Heafy, wondering why you aren’t that productive, and thinking of asking Matt to do your job too. And Matt is considering it. He can probably fit it in. Bloody Matt Heafy.
Did something happen to him to make him this motivated? “I've definitely always been pretty driven," he says, “but I wasn't aware of it because I joined Trivium at 12, 13 years old. First band, first job. It's what I've been doing for 22 years.”
But there were some moments that changed his attitude. At the 2005 Download Festival, Trivium were unprepared (“My voice sounded bad. We weren't warmed up. Everything was out of tune”) and although muscle memory and years of practice got them through it, afterwards he decided that they couldn’t keep working like that. “We needed to be a lot more focused and driven. That was definitely one of the big moments.”
He got a vocal coach, took up Brazilian jiu-jitsu, had kids and knuckled down. Today, he’s an ambassador/spokesperson for multiple companies, working with startups like Dorian, “an incredible new company for women and more marginalised creators”, becoming music director for Good Dog studios, for whom he’s making an entire video game soundtrack. He has 400,000 followers on Instagram and 242,000 followers on Twitch where he broadcasts 10 times a week when he's not on tour.
And he has a new range of Epiphone guitars: the Matt Heafy Les Paul Custom Origins Collection, an eight-strong guitar line that marks the third official collaboration between Epiphone's luthiers and the Trivium guitarist. It’s not his only signature guitar product either: he has his own line of Fishman pickups, signature guitar picks, a signature guitar strap, fret wrap, you name it.
He chuckles: “I'm like Kiss,” he says. “I gotta lot of stuff.”
Let’s have a closer look at it all then…
Matt Heafy Les Paul Custom Origins Collection
"I was very lucky in that my dad got me a Gibson Les Paul Custom. I remember being a kid going to a music store, saying, ‘Oh, that's my favorite guitar player's guitar – only 800 bucks. I want that guitar’. But then – a little bit over, on a higher shelf – seeing a $5,000 version. And realising: “That's the one he plays and that's the one I'm gonna have to play’. I didn't like that concept. No one is above anyone else in life, no matter what they do. So the guitar that I play is the same guitar that people can buy in the stores. Obviously, I do some customization of my live ones: they have the Evertune [a bridge system that keeps your guitar in tune] so I can bend the string and still be in tune for my singing.
"So I sent off my original Les Paul Custom to Epiphone and said, ‘model after this’. They sent me a prototype and for about six to 12 months I took notes, took them on the road, and actually recorded: tracks two and three of the Ibaraki record were recorded using those original prototype guitars, maybe a couple more.
"When it was time to make the next edition, I wanted to work with a good friend of mine named Jody Sinclair. He’s been a supporter of Trivium since I was about 18. He's like: ‘We should go back to the original-original, like what people first ever saw you with – a black Les Paul Custom in the Pull Harder [On the Strings of Your Martyr] (opens in new tab) video and a white Les Paul. It was actually a Supreme but I want to make it like the Custom from the Gunshot [A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation (opens in new tab)] video.
"I always thought the Les Paul Custom was pretty perfect, but I wanted to make some subtle differences. Obviously, my Fishman Fluence Modern Custom MKH, which is the active and the passive voice of the Fluence Modern but has the single coil tap sound. It’s amazing to hear a Les Paul Custom sound like a Strat. It's a very unique, strange thing.
"We changed the neck heel: we had the flattened access heel on the first one, which is really cool. It looks like it's more playable, but I prefer the one that we went to which is the modern contour heel. It’s a mix of the access idea and the classic Les Paul Custom heel.
"It’s a much lighter guitar, much thinner neck. I just wanted to do that this time. It wasn't because of the outpouring of cries of ‘This guitar is too heavy!’ It’s a Les Paul Custom, that’s the point. But this time around, I don't know. I’m getting older. Jiu-Jitsu is killing my body. I wanted to go for a more ergonomic guitar body. Locking Grover tuners. We went for the diamond-shaped strap pegs, so that way people can play right away.
"I'm blown away that Epiphone wanted to do eight skews. We have black, white, six and seven, all righties and all lefties. It's a big, big vote of confidence from them. I’m very, very honoured."
Buy: Epiphone Matt Heafy LP Custom Origins, from £849/$1,099 at Thomann (opens in new tab) and Guitar Center (opens in new tab)
- Check out our pick of the best guitars for metal
Astro A40 Headphones
"Astro A40s. Astro is the biggest and best headphone company in the world of gaming. But what's really interesting is that within the last year or so I was like, ‘Let's see what it's like to perform with these’. I feel like I actually sing and scream better in these than with in-ears. It wouldn’t look right at a Trivium show, but I absolutely love doing that. I've actually been doing all the mixing and mastering, recording and everything off A40s. So they're insane for gaming and they're actually incredible for guitar playing as well."
Buy: Astro A40 headphones (opens in new tab), £/$149.99
Shure SM7B microphone
I use Shure SM7B for recordings. I do so much recording, when I do any voiceover stuff or any soundtracking sort of needs to be this. When I’m on tour I use the Elgato Wave:3 (opens in new tab) mic. It's got a headphone jack, headphone power all built into it. I run that right on my laptop for my tour streams. It’s awesome. I haven't tried recording with it yet but I would like to.
Buy: Shure SM7B (opens in new tab), £389/$399
Home streaming rig
"It's a lot. I'm using an Asus ROG GL 12CX (opens in new tab), which is actually an older PC tower. I'm waiting on one of the new highest-end ROG towers and Gamers Nexus (opens in new tab) – who's one of the greatest custom PC builders in the world – he's building us one for our hangar.
"I got three monitors here. Purely for the audio setup, I've got two Macs that are running all the guitar gear. That runs into MXR six band EQ (opens in new tab), the KHDK Electronic In Waves Matt Heafy-Corey Beaulieu limited edition clean boost or overdrive.
"AN MS2 EVH 5150 III goes into the Two Notes Torpedo Captor X (opens in new tab) cab simulator. I've got a custom IR [impulse response] from Nolly, who was in Periphery. That goes into an Apogee Element 46 (opens in new tab) for the left and right of the guitars, which goes into a MacBook Pro.
"But to answer your question: what does someone need to get started streaming? I would say just start: start with your phone, start with a webcam, start with your built-in webcam and microphone on a laptop is totally fine. The big thing that's really interesting for streaming is, PC is king. The only thing I'm using those two Macs for is audio. That's it. And I'm sure I can teach myself how to figure out how to make it happen on PC.
"PC is where gaming is at. Never before had I walked into the PC world before ROG signed me. I just thought Mac handles everything. But Mac is terrible for gaming, terrible for streaming. Some people can pull it up but I feel like it always falls apart."
Mobile Streaming Rig
Mobile Streaming Rig
"On tour, I travel with two Gun Run IRL backpacks (opens in new tab). Gun Run is one of the original employees of Twitch who came up with a way for people to livestream whatever they're doing. So it's a very specific backpack that has an HD camera, a unit called a LiveU where you broadcast to a server. It has a battery, four different hotspots for four different cell phone plants and four different networks. A bunch of cables.
"That's how I stream our shows. At the side of stage, our soundguy has a dedicated Twitch mix that we run out from our soundboard into the camera so that way everyone can have board audio. While they're watching our shows for free. We stream every show, every soundcheck and every every warm-up for free. There's no paywall, people just watch anytime they want. So I've got two of those that I travel with, an Asus Zephyrus Duo 16 (opens in new tab), which is their newest laptop. I have two screens built on it: that's where I game from, that's where I use the Elgato mic. The Elgato has these mini key lights, so I even have a key light lighting up while I'm doing those home streams. And I've got a Face Cam: the Elgato FaceCam (opens in new tab) looks as good as a DSLR and it's a quarter of the price. I have two of those. And one in the tour rig. It's absurd. It's absurd. It makes my head hurt just saying it to you. I can only imagine what it’s like listening to it."
ASUS ROG gaming phone
"I'm using the new iPhone. But I also have the ROG phone which is really sick. But that's for gaming. ASUS ROG is specifically a gaming phone. It's a real phone but it's so high-end it's probably better than some consoles. It's nuts."
Buy: Asus Rog gaming phone (opens in new tab), £/$899
TV and movies
"Here’s some advice: never look at your phone within an hour of waking up or an hour before going to bed. There's something about it that sets the tone. I make sure it's always just out of reach where I'm laying down. I don't want to reach for it. It’s just a little bit too far.
"We've watched tons of series over the last three years. We just finished the latest seasons of Hacks which is amazing. Barry which is amazing. The Boys which is one of my favourite shows. Peaky Blinders, Stranger Things. Basically whatever is top rated and people are recommending.
"We all love the Pixar stuff, the Disney stuff. I want to make my own review tiering system for kids movies because I feel like Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB are way too hard on them. They're analysing it like they would with proper cinema. Soul is super deep. The How to Train Your Dragon films we love.
"I even love the music. The Turning Red soundtrack is amazing. Talk about like Asian representation – there's a lot of things of Mei-mei’s childhood that reminds me of my childhood.
Try Disney+ (opens in new tab), £/$7.99 per month
"I use Spotify. My guys are all on Apple Music and they say it sounds better. It does. It's just the way I've got my rig set up. For some reason, I couldn't get Apple Music to work properly. So we just stick to Spotify. And my wife listens to a lot of podcasts that are specifically Spotify. She likes Dax Shepherd’s podcast [Armchair Experts] lots, so we just have a family plan on there.
"I always try and pair what I'm doing with the proper music. So if I’m doing yoga, it's classical music. If I'm going to jiu jitsu it's something heavy like Fit For An Autopsy or Malevolence. If we're cooking, I try and match the culinary region of what we're making. So for Mexican, we’d listen to proper Mexican traditional music or Rodrigo y Gabriela, who are basically a metal band playing guitar.
Try Spotify free for 7 days (opens in new tab), then from £/$9.99 per month
- Time to switch? These are the best music streaming services
In the Court of The Dragon by Trivium
"If I had to recommend one album from my career it’d be [Trivium’s] In the Court of the Dragon. That one sums up records one-through-nine, has a bit of everything in there and hopefully would be the gateway to the rest. well song with the with the start with
If I talked to someone and they're really into super-heavy music I would start them with the track In The Court Of The Dragon or A Crisis of Revelation. If they're not into heavy music, maybe something like The Shadow of the Abattoir or No Way Back Just Through.
Buy: In The Court Of The Dragon on Amazon (opens in new tab)
Preacher by Garth Ennis
"I wish I read more. My ADD and ADHD is probably why I do so many things. With reading, I'll read a page and be like: ’What did I just read?’ But there are several books that I've read throughout my life that really stuck with me.
"Geek Love (opens in new tab) [by Katherine Dunn] was a really great book about this family of circus freaks. There's actually a chapter in that book called Becoming The Dragon and I wrote a song with that name [on The Crusade (opens in new tab) album].
"I had a long phase where I was super into graphic novels. The Preacher series was one of my favourites of all time. I was bummed out about the show, Preacher. It was too early to become a show. The Boys is everything Preacher should have been. Garth Ennis is one of my favourite writers."
Buy: Preacher Book One on Amazon (opens in new tab)
Waterloo sparkling water
"What do we always have on our rider? Sparkling water. We crush so much sparkling water, it's crazy. Paolo and I will kill an entire like 12-24 pack in a day. I don't know if it's good for you or not. I did ask my dentist. He's like, ‘Yeah, as long as you're not sitting there with the bubbles in your mouth, your teeth aren’t gonna be corroded away’.
"We have started tiering brands – none of these brands are paying me to say this so one of them should – right now I think Waterloo is the best. Polar is Paolo’s favourite. Ashley's is the Target brand ones, Good and Gather. It used to be La Croix but I’d put it at the bottom now."
Buy: Waterloo sparkling water on Amazon (opens in new tab)
"Which app do I most use? Definitely Twitch. When I'm off tour, I stream five days a week, two times a day: 9am and 3pm. Ten times a week. When I'm on tour, it's seven days a week, one to three streams a day unless I'm flying and can't physically stream. But if it's a show day, I'm streaming my warm-up, our soundcheck, the show itself, the aftershow, the band Jam. Which is probably three, four hours total.
"And on days off, I basically stream the whole day of us playing games. So it'd be two streams for probably four to eight hours a piece of Paolo and I playing video games. So it's a lot. And I love it. I love the connection. I love the connectivity. It keeps me honest with my practice – like as soon as we're done here I'm back to requests and singing, practising Trivium songs and staying in shape."
Download: Twitch for iOS, Android or desktop (opens in new tab)