Trivium’s Matt Heafy: “M Shadows saved my voice”

(Image credit: Press)

2020 was set to be a banner year for Trivium. After releasing one of the albums of their career in What The Dead Men Say, they were preparing to tour the world and continue the significant upswing in momentum they’d activated on 2017’s The Sin And The Sentence. COVID-19 may have had other plans, but it hasn’t stopped frontman Matt Heafy from keeping busy, not least of all being metal’s single biggest Twitch superstar. We collated some of his most golden nuggets of wisdom, covering everything from being a walking dartboard for metal haters, to how a certain Avenged Sevenfold singer helped give him a new lease of life to, yes, that Tiger King cover.

I never planned to be a singer

“I didn’t want to be a singer, but Travis [Smith, former drummer] said, ‘No, you’re going to be the singer.’ I was 13, he was 17 and bigger than me so I listened to him! I wanted to be a singer like Bruce Dickinson or Dio or Freddie Mercury, but my voice didn’t work that way – the only thing that worked was screaming.”

Livestreaming is vital during lockdown

“I’ve been streaming intensively for years – five days a week off-tour and seven days a week on tour – but [the coronavirus pandemic] has reaffirmed something even more to me, that people need something to watch and do and hopefully help them disconnect. I like that it’s essentially a way to keep people off the streets, keep entertaining them. We need social connectivity; I don’t want people to feel socially isolated, and I’m delighted to provide people with a place that is their pub, their coffee place, their library, their music venue. It’s all these things in one. It’s making people’s day just a little bit better.” 

Trivium are natural rebels

“One of the concepts we got right early on is that like we like to rebel against things that we do, or that other people do. We like to look at what every band is doing - ‘How can we do the exact opposite?’ 

M Shadows helped save my voice

“I blew my voice out, and Matt from Avenged Sevenfold texted me and said, ‘I heard you blew your voice out; let me know if I can help. That blew me away. I asked him what he did when he hurt his voice. He put me in contact with this singing teacher, Ron Anderson. Ron’s taught Axl Rose, Chris Cornell, Janet Jackson…not only has he taught me a correct screaming technique, but he taught me a correct singing technique, because what I’d been doing for 15 years was incorrect, and I was on the brink of destroying my voice.”

(Image credit: Press)

People never know what to expect from us

“I think every album is a shock, and I love that. The beauty with our band is we never know where were going to go next. Ascendancy was very successful, and immediately after we showed we weren’t afraid to do something completely different, which was still within the spectrum of what we know Trivium to be.”

Support new music always

“We only want to tour with bands that we’re excited with and we’re people that wear the shirts of the bands we love. We love to promote bands who are doing something cool and interesting and it makes us so happy that we are able to do that. On a North American tour, we brought out While She Sleeps because they’re still a newer band for people in America. We bring out these younger bands and we’re shaping and talking about what’s happening now in metal and metalcore. That’s so important.” 

People turned on us quickly

“The first time we appeared on a magazine cover, we became known for the quote, ‘We’re going to be the next Metallica.’ To begin with, people loved that quote. Magazines loved the idea that here are some confident guys who are going to cause a stir. But immediately after that, it seemed like all the bands in the world, our peers, fans, even magazines, hated the fact we did that. And we just had to say, ‘Oh, we were cocky and young and we’re just happy playing music, it’s all good.’ Now I feel, why would anyone… why should anyone… and why did we feel we needed to apologise for our goals?”

If Trivium stopped, I'd have back up plans

“If it all fell apart now, and I could still play guitar, I’d teach guitar and music. And once I’ve got my black belt in jujitsu, I’d teach that. I’ve already taught people at my level now. It takes eight-10 years to get a black belt. So maybe something with jujitsu, maybe something with food.”

People forget how young we all are

“It’s funny. I heard a story about a radio station in Colorado who didn’t want to play one of our songs because they thought we were all in our 50s – they thought we were too fucking old! But we’re just as young as a lot of the younger big bands around, and I’m really glad we got that head start when we got it. We can ride that line between being experienced gentlemen of metal and still being young dudes.”

Tiger King healed us all

“I think the whole world gravitated towards Tiger King because it’s ridiculous. It puts our lives into perspective. I know a lot of other parts of the world are gonna see that and go, ‘Holy cow, this is an isolated incident, this doesn’t happen much…’ That show is very Florida, very Oklahoma, very Texas and, at times, very America. I think there’s a psychology of people who watch horror films that have high anxiety and depression and it actually helps them. Maybe it’s counteracting those intense things, or it’s seeing something that’s going through that trauma that’s not you… so whatever Tiger King is for the world, it made people feel a little bit better. I knew it was time to cover that song [Matt covered Tiger King star Joe Exotic’s infamous hit, I Saw A Tiger.]”

Melodic death metal is so under-rated

“I feel like In Flames, Amon Amarth, Arch Enemy, Dark Tranquillity and Soilwork should all be packing 5-10,000 people a night in Europe. All of them, they’re all just too damn good. I feel a band like Soilwork has massively influenced bands like Shadows Fall and Killswitch Engage. I also meet a lot of people who are getting into In Flames now, which is awesome because I tell them, ‘If it wasn’t for Jester Race through Reroute To Remain, Trivium would not exist.’ Like, Trivium would not be a band without those records. Jester Race, Whoracle, Colony, Clayman, Reroute To Remain. I encourage everyone to get those records immediately, because those things are some of the most formative records for so many bands.”

Bands now tell me that Trivium influenced them

“That’s so huge for me. We’re finally getting to a point now where we’re beginning to meet fans of our band who are in bands themselves, and that’s the most I could ever wish for, that someone was inspired enough to do it themselves. As a person who makes music, it’s all you could ever hope for.”

We have always been a ‘wordy’ band

“We had an A&R guy on Ascendancy that was so pissed – he said the use of a word like ‘deconstructing’ in Drowned And Torn Asunder was stupid. He was like, ‘You shouldn’t be saying ‘deconstructing, that’s a stupid word to use!’ We’ve been using weird, large words… I mean, I know I’ve used ‘inception’ in two titles now! I’ve always liked large words. In the final Harry Potter quote, Dumbledore said, ‘Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.’”

Block out the noise

“The one thing I’ve learned is that we’ve just got to make sure we’re making what we want to make, and then if we’re going to listen to any kind of commentary about it, just listen to positive stuff. My grandpa used to say, ‘A third of the world’s gonna love you, a third of the world’s gonna hate you and the other third won’t give a shit.’ I think it’s about those thirds. There’s extreme love, extreme hate and then I guess you don’t see the ambivalence because those people aren’t commenting. We need to focus on that and let the other stuff go.”

Metal can still move forwards

“Metal’s always there. Whether it first spawned from, arguably it’s Zeppelin, Sabbath or Priest, it’s been there. Sometimes it gets really big and sometimes it gets small. I think that metal fans and metal bands need to support each other and band together and help bring each other further and bring each other upwards, versus bring each other down. I think we need more of that!” 

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He is also probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.