Not many bands would feel comfortable rotating time slots with two other groups during a Summer-long festival, especially if those two other bands are Machine Head and In Flames. Yet Trivium have risen to the challenge all Summer long on the Mayhem Festival, sometimes performing on the main stage and other times outside on one of the side stages. Now that In Flames have dropped off the tour due to a family illness, though, Trivium will be performing on the main stage more during the remainder of the tour. And this opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time for the Florida metalcore group, as they are about to unleash their fifth studio album In Waves tomorrow, August 9.
During the Mayhem Festival’s stop in Camden, NJ last weekend, we got the chance to sit down with guitarist Corey Beaulieu. Despite all the commotion surrounding us in the press tent, Beaulieu took the time to discuss new drummer Nick Augusto’s role in Trivium’s “rebirth,” his preference for performing on the main stage in front of a new audience, as well as about his excitement for their upcoming tour with Dream Theater.
Trivium’s fifth album In Waves is also the band’s first with drummer Nick Augusto. You’ve said previously how you and the band felt chemistry instantly with Nick. Could you explain a little further how that shaped the new album?
Well, we got to tour with him before he was in the band when he was teching for us. He really fit in personality-wise, he got along with everybody. He was always a cool dude and we had fun hanging out with him. At the time I knew he played drums, but the whole time he was around us I never saw him play or knew if he was any good, except Paolo [Gregoletto, bassist] knew. So when he started to jam with us, it was like “this guy can fucking rip!”
And with his skill, there was no limitation on what we could do. It was pretty much like “Oh we want to fucking throw in blast beats and go crazy on this part,” we could do that. He’s a very technical, skilled drummer that the sky was the limit, and he could do whatever we wanted. So with this record, we had a lot more time where we just jammed. Kind of like just writing our first record, when we had nothing else going on, we just got together and jammed, worked on the songs and had a good time. So it really brought a relaxed, very fun atmosphere around the record. We spent a lot of time and a lot of hard work, but at the end of the day it seemed like a very easy record to make. Well, compared to some of the headaches with making some of the past records, it was a pretty smooth process fucking all the way to the end.
From what you’re telling me, it sounds like it was as if the band was starting fresh or as if you were a new band. Would you agree?
Yeah, pretty much. At a certain point, there were a lot of things going on that weren’t working out. So we cleaned house, people that worked for us that weren’t benefitting the band. We got rid of a lot of shit and we just dwindled it down and took control back from people that were not representing the band that well, and getting a new drummer and stuff. We kind of revamped everything. The record’s got a new sonic signature to it. We revamped all our artwork, our logo, and kind of just changed everything that people view the band as. We wanted to take a different direction than we were taking before. A rebranding, a rebirth, the 2.0 version, come back out of the gate with a new record that you can definitely tell is a new starting point. This is the next chapter.
When did you guys realize that this change, or “house cleaning,” needed to happen? Some bands go years and years without changing the formula. What was the signal for you guys to go “okay, we need to change things up”?
Just looking at metal in general. We look at our album covers, and they were cool at the time, they still are what they are, but to me that looks like kids stuff. It looks cartoony and fucking typical metal artwork. We wanted something that was serious and fucking, I hate to say it, but more mature. We didn’t just want typical metal art. We didn’t want to be the typical band that plays in a room, fucking head banging, and going “blah, blah, blah.” You can watch 10 seconds of it and pretty much get the jist of what the video is going to be. We just didn’t want to do the fucking cliché, generic, fucking run of the mill, fucking heavy metal, video, artwork, this and that. We had a lot of different influences that we had that we wanted to incorporate into our music to give it more of a visual side of things. So instead of having the soundtrack for a movie, you have the whole thing. You have the visual side that ties in with the record and really helps create a bigger picture vibe with the record than just throwing out a CD.
I heard in past interviews that the band has left the music to be very open-ended so that the listener can determine their own meanings. However, I noticed in the video for “In Waves” that there’s a “to be continued” piece at the end. Does that imply a continuous theme with the music and or videos?
Well that video is just one piece of the big picture. Hopefully the label will run with us, but every video we do is either going to be a prequel or a continuation/sequel. Depending on how many videos we make, it’ll all tie together. It will be like one continuous movie piece. It was kind of up in the air if that “to be continued” thing was going to be put in there because we thought “what if you don’t make a video that has anything to do with this?” Everyone is going to be like “where’s the continued part?!” We’re working on a video after this tour. I think Matt [Heafy, vocals/guitarist] is working on a treatment for part of the story or what we’re going to do in it. So there will be something in the next few months.
What video is that for?
“Built To Fall.” It’s going to mainstream radio this week. We got to make a video for it. [laughs] So we’ll be doing that when we get home.
Can you reveal what the story is about, or is it still very open-ended?
It’s open-ended because every time we have the opportunity to do something like a new video, we’re like ‘Where are we going to go with it?’ A lot of the stuff that Matt has is very on the spot, off the cuff, like “what if we add this in?” Very spur of the moment, very on the spot. There’s nothing pre-written for anything. It’s just kind of whatever we feel at the time, we want to go with it. I don’t even know where the story continues on now. So I’ll have to wait and see myself. [laughs]
For a majority of this year’s Mayhem Fest [editor’s note, In Flames dropped off the tour just hours before this interview occurred], Trivium have been rotating spots on the bill with Machine Head and In Flames. Do you prefer performing on the main stage or on one of the side stages?
We did the first 7-8 shows on the Jager stage, and we’ve been on the main stage for the last couple of shows. I like playing the main stage. Side stages are cool, but as far as what the purpose of this tour is, it’s kind of a big PR convention. It’s all these different bands coming together and all of these different groups of fans that might not have normally heard of you, and you want to show everyone what you’re all about. At the main stage there are more people there than at the side stages because they’ve got to work and they don’t know any of those bands. They come to see Godsmack and Disturbed, those are the only bands they know. It’s great for us being a younger band and seeing a lot of people that you can tell when we start playing, they’re like “who the hell is this?” They don’t know anything about us, but you win them over a couple songs into the set.
So we like the main stage. It’s got bigger stage space. We can bring production and we can put on more of a show, which is more of what we want to do instead of punk rocking it on the Jager stage, where you have nothing and the PA system doesn’t sound good at all. So we can really showcase ourselves in a manner that we feel really good about. We have an amazing sound guy, and we bought all of this new gear to make sure our live sound is fucking as top notch as it can be, but when you’re on a PA system that can’t fucking do shit. No matter what you do, it always sounds like garbage, but when we’re on the main stage we sound immaculate, it’s awesome. We’re really enjoying it up here.
Now that In Flames is gone, us and Machine Head are taking the rest of their dates and splitting them up. So it’s really cool because after we get back from Europe for a couple of shows, we were going to be back on the Jager stage. And I was like “Man, it’s going to suck going from the main stage back to that trailer!” But now when we come back, we’re on the main stage for the rest of the time. So it’s a win for us because we always wanted to be on the main stage for the whole tour, but they worked out a pretty cool system for every band to have their shot and have opportunities to play in front of a lot of people.
It also says a lot about Trivium to be doing that switcheroo with bands like In Flames and Machine Head, bands that you’ve previously noted as huge influences.
Yeah, it’s really cool. Those bands have been around for way longer than us, and put out amazing records and have a history. We’re all friends and stuff, we’ve toured a lot before, we get to hang out and see each other all the time. It’s been really cool to have that opportunity at Mayhem. We really wanted to be on the main stage, and just to have a portion of it was really cool, but to have a couple of added bonus shows, it’s been a really good summer. We’ve been trying to take advantage of the opportunity. We’re the first band on the main stage, and a lot of those people there haven’t seen anyone, any bands all day. They’re coming in fresh. the first band they see is us, and we’re really trying to come out of the gates and burn an impression in people’s heads.
Being on the main stage and knowing there’s all these new ears really lights a fire under your ass to go out there and tear it up even harder, and it’s only a 35 minute set. So you just gas yourself out and leave it all out on the stage, and it’s been working out really good. The last two shows have been two of the biggest crowds that we’ve played in front of on the tour and the reaction was instant. I was like “Wow, I thought we’d have to work a little longer before we started getting people really into it.” But it’s been really good.
Speaking of getting heard by new ears, you’re going to be touring with Dream Theater in the Fall. That‘s a big change from opening for bands like Megadeth or Disturbed. Do you guys have anything different planned for this new type of audience?
Paolo is going to come out on stage and play a flute solo. [laughs]
Awesome! [laughs] About time!
I think if it was a couple of years ago, it would have been an odd pairing, but since Dream Theater has been on Roadrunner for a while, it seems they have more of a metal following. There are a lot of fans we have in common, like guitar player people. You don’t have to be a Berklee graduate to fucking enjoy Dream Theater. There’s a lot of just casual fans that listen to them, and there are more that are into guitar in general. For young fans, there are guitar players that might have gotten into metal from us or Bullet for My Valentine and then fucking learned about all these other guys and are like “Oh, John Petrucci from Dream Theater is cool!”
I think now it’s not quite as crazy of a thought to go out with them. They asked us to go out with them 4 years ago, and back then it might have been weird. Dream Theater went out on that Gigantour with fucking Megadeth [back in 2005]. So I think it’s not that crazy of a thought. It’s cool because we’re all fans of Dream Theater and it’s just another opportunity with a new record coming out to play. With a new record out, why play for just your fans? They already know about it. Go out there and try and fucking play in front of people that might have been a little hesitant about who you are. It’s just going to be a cool tour. It will be interesting to see how it plans out, but just from the fan responses its like “Hh we love you guys and Dream Theater!”So I think it will go good.