Trivium Bassist Paolo Gregoletto: “There’s A Lot Of Things Up In The Air In The Music Industry, And It’s Changing For Better Or Worse”

Posted by on March 6, 2012

Trivium have been going nonstop since the release of their latest album In Waves last Summer. In addition to playing Mayhem Fest, opening for Dream Theater, and performing around the world, the Florida metal quartet just recently finished a co-headlining tour with In Flames. And this week, Trivium touring the country once again with unusual headliner; Asking Alexandria.

But rewind back a few weeks, when Trivium rolled into Worcester, MA with In Flames, Veil Of Maya and Kyng. Just a few hours before hitting the Palladium’s stage, we spoke with bassist Paolo Gregoletto aboard Trivium’s tour bus. During our chat, Gregoletto talked about attracting a new audience through unusual tours and radio appearances, the strengths and weaknesses of 360 deals, and the reaction caused by frontman Matt Heafy’s “royalty check” tweet. But first, we had to get Greoletto’s thoughts on the now infamous bomb threat in Alburquerque, New Mexico.

 

I wanted to start off by talking about what happened in Albuquerque, NM during the band’s tour with In Flames, Veil Of Maya, and Kyng.

Oh, the bomb thing?

 

Yeah, what was your reaction when that happened?

I mean, obviously once we knew there was no bomb, it was pretty funny. I don’t know, it was just really random, like a bomb threat at a heavy metal show! It wasn’t like a Justin Bieber show, I’m sure they get that shit every day. After we knew it was ok, it was kind of funny. But at the same time, our music isn’t about that stuff. And that’s one misconception most people have about heavy music, is that it’s about violence and hating other people. And yes there are some bands I’m sure that are about those things, but I’d say overall the community of metal isn’t about that. It’s about being a community, being into the music. A lot of the time, the lyrics that are about violence are to bring people’s attention to it, that there is bad in the world. One thing I’ve always loved about heavy music is that it wasn’t pop or anything else that kind of shied away from the reality that the world isn’t a good place. I’ve always just loved the realness of it.

And unfortunately when there’s a headline “Bomb Threat At A Heavy Metal Show,” you’ve got douchebags like that [Rick] Santorum dude that are going to think “Oh, this is because they’re Satanists and their fans want to kill themselves.” And it’s not the case at all. Those people don’t understand us because they never tried to listen or read the lyrics. I’ve read the lyrics to they’ve listened to, and it sucks. [laughs] I don’t feel bad saying anything about it, but I just think it sucks that that happened, and I’m sure that some people, if they put it in the newspaper the next day, are going to have this warped vision of what heavy metal music is now. And it’s not that at all, especially not In Flames, us, Veil Of Maya and Kyng. We’re just all fun loving dudes. We drink, we have fun, and we’re not about that.

 

Did they ever find out what actually happened?

I never heard what the whole thing was, but they got a call. So I’m not sure if it was someone at the show or someone that didn’t like the bands. It’s hard to say. Someone was probably drunk and dialed it. I’m sure that it was most likely random, not targeted towards any of the bands, but you never know. It was really a random thing, and unfortunately In Flames didn’t get to play their last song [“Take This Life”], which is probably a song that everyone wanted to hear.

 

At the same time, it could have been a lot worse.

Yeah, and fortunately it wasn’t and now we can look back and laugh a little at it. You think about stuff like “Wow, what if it did happen?”

 

It’s a downer for such a great tour, too.

Yeah. Luckily nothing else has happened and cross our fingers nothing will. To be honest, we’ve played New Mexico a bunch and there’s always been something crazy that’s happened. We’ve had a stabbing outside of our show before. It’s…different [laughs]. Incredible shows, but there’s always been some sketchy stuff. Like, a venue we’ve played before [in New Mexico] was shut down right after because of a stabbing and people getting hurt. Not necessarily related to the show, but then people don’t read the details of that stuff and just see “Oh, heavy show, must be bad.” Same thing with rap music, they get a bad [rep], justifiably so with some stuff and some of the messages, but it’s like saying “Oh it’s a rap show, there’s going to be bad stuff.” You can’t judge it all like that.

 

Trivium have been doing a lot of acoustic performances for radio stations as of late. And not too long ago, the band revealed plans to record acoustic renditions of songs off of In Waves. What’s the status of that?

We did the one of “Built To Fall.” We did that as sort of another track to release with a single. We did a bundle, we did a shirt that went along with the song and video. There was a couple of different versions of the song. And so we just did the acoustic [rendition] to put it on there. I don’t think we’ll do anymore acoustic versions in a studio like that, but now that we sort of entered this “radio world,” the big thing is acoustic performances at the stations. They videotape them, and some of the stations have really killer set ups. So they’re all recorded. Maybe they’ll be bootlegs.

We’re going to try to expand our set from the current three songs we do. We just haven’t had the time to sit down and go “Alright, let’s do this song, let’s rearrange this, and let’s maybe play another cover.” It’s been fun, it’s been really different. And I think a lot of people that hear us on the radio, or some of the winners that come in that come in and don’t know us but want to watch a performance, they leave with a different impression of what they probably thought our band was. We just have fun with it, and we’re usually just joking around and bullshitting while we’re doing the interviews. It’s usually only 15 minutes, but I like doing it. I didn’t think I’d like it as much. Before, I was like “Oh man, this is gonna suck!” And then it ended up being fun.

 

I love that you also include the Iron Maiden cover during the radio performances.

Yeah, that was a random thing. The reason we’re doing it was because one of the performances was like “We need you to do three or four songs, and one of them has to be a cover.” It was the day before, and we were like “Are you fucking kidding us? We don’t know any covers!” I mean, acoustically especially. Then I was thinking “Alright, we’ve done ‘Master Of Puppets,’ that’s way too long and not going to sound good acoustic.” And “Slave New World” was definitely not going to go over well.

 

That would have been fun!

It would have been fun, and it can always be a possibility, but then we’re like “Alright, ‘Iron Maiden’ is a really concise, to the point song. Good melody, might just need to change up a few parts.” And that’s how it really came about. It’s just really random, but I always love when we announce we’re about to do it because it’s like “Man, this is the last thing any of these stations or people thought they were going to be hearing today.” An Iron Maiden song done acoustically by some new band they’ve never heard of. Sometimes doing that kind of stuff is fun. It gets people’s attention.

 

A while back, even before releasing In Waves, you and Matt [Heafy, singer/guitarist] hinted that the band was working on a “secret project.”

I’m trying to think [laughs].

 

Yeah, it’s been a while. Did that have to do with the acoustic recordings, something regarding In Waves, or something else completely?

I think that might have been the acoustic thing with “Built To Fall.” Off the top of my head, that might have been it. I can’t think of anything else we would’ve done. We always have some mysterious thing in the works.

 

Then what’s the next mysterious thing Trivium is working on?

Well, most of it is just touring plans. I mean, we really know what we’re doing until the end of the year. Some of it’s confirmed, some of it’s tentative but looks like it’s going to be confirmed. But it’s pretty much solid for the next how many months it is until we finish this record off. And then the goal is to start the next album around early 2013.

 

So it’s true that Trivium will start work on a new album as soon as 2013?

Yeah, that’s the plan. I mean, if Slipknot was like “Hey, you want to do another U.S. tour again?” or something crazy like that, we might consider touring into 2013. But we’re really hitting the road hard and you can’t outstay your welcome [laughs]. A lot of our fans go out and see every tour we do, and it gets to be a point where it’s too much.

 

I mean, you’ve also had some really big tours in 2011.

Yeah, our average set time for the last couple of tours [minus the headlining UK tour] have been like 40-55 minutes. And we’re getting to that point now where our fan base is like “That’s not cutting it!” and it’s just impossible to play all the songs that everyone [that already knows us] wants to hear but also the songs that we need to play for a new audience to get them acquainted with what we do.

 

I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but it’s also somewhat surprising to see you playing with a band like Asking Alexandria.

Yeah, that was a really random tour offer. When we got it, we were like “Alright… that’s different.” It wasn’t something we were actually planning on doing, but we looked at it objectively and were like “Alright, we just did the Dream Theater tour,” and that was a really outside the box tour. I’m sure a lot of people were saying the same thing, like “Oh, Trivium touring with Dream Theater? That’s kinda weird!” But we did it, it was a totally different experience. When you’re outside the box, and not playing the normal tour, like I’d consider this [tour with In Flames, Veil Of Maya and Kyng] to be a comfortable tour. 99.9% of the people [we’re playing for] know who we are, into what we do. Us and In Flames fit very well together. The Dream Theater tour, to me it’s as far left as you can go, and as far right as you can go with Asking Alexandria, which is a heavy band but not in “this” heavy world. Like that’s the Warped Tour heavy metal, and not saying that in a derogatory way at all. Literally there is another heavy scene that exists and parallels in some ways and in some ways so different.

Our whole thing was when we got the offer, what were we going to be doing in that time anyway? Originally, I think we were possibly going down to South America with some other bands, and that would have been amazing. But the focus of this album has been the U.S. and hitting it as hard as possible and from every angle. We were just like “You know what, we should do this. It’s going to be way different.” A lot of people that are into our band might not like that we’re doing it, but to stay relevant and to keep new people coming into our music, we have to do tours like this. I am definitely looking forward to it because if it really is as many new kids as I’m hoping it is and kids that are that young, there very impressionable. If they’ve never heard us, we could be their gateway into this side of the heavy world. And that’s just the way I look at it. Either way, we’re playing the same music that we would be playing on these kind of tours.

I knew a lot of kids would be at first shocked by it, but at the same time I know a lot of kids will come out and see and support us. It’s going to be a good time either way, and we have more touring that’s outside the box that we haven’t done. Like these radio festivals, we’ve never done this stuff! And that’s another heavy world that’s separate from Warped Tour and Mayhem heavy metal. We’re doing Rocklahoma, Rock On The Range, we’re doing a bunch of shows with Five Finger Death Punch on off dates. I think we got a good ten or twelve festivals that we’ve never done. It’s a new world for us, like the acoustic thing. We’ve never experienced that, and I’m sure these festivals are going to be cool. They’ll be more like what the European Festivals are than Mayhem is because they’re stand alone festivals, bands travel in. So in a way, it’s kind of a mirror of what we’re doing the next month when we’re going to Europe.

 

When I spoke to Corey [Beaulieu, guitarist] this past Summer at Mayhem Fest, he mentioned how the band wanted to create a “bigger picture” for the music, especially with the videos. Do you think that Trivium accomplished that goal?

Yeah, we definitely with the videos done something way different than anything we’ve ever done and anything we’ve seen any other bands do, at least at our level with being in the video but not performing. We might do another video; potentially the single would be “Black.” I feel like we’ve definitely accomplished a lot of the goals we’ve set out for. In places like Germany, the Wacken [Open Air Festival] performance really changed our perception over there to people. We became the “next level” band overnight. We did the tour with In Flames, and those guys are massive in Scandinavia and German, but when we played especially the German shows, it just felt like “Whoa, all of these people fucking know who we are now!” I mean, we were doing good in Europe, but it just felt different. The one show in a city outside of Cologne, it was like 4,000 people, totally sold out, and it was just mental. People knew the stuff, the new songs were going down killer, just as good if not better than the older stuff. Yeah, that was definitely a goal that we checked off of the list.

But we’ve still got a good six to seven months of touring left, and there’s still stuff for us to achieve on this album. I guess we won’t be satisfied until we’re done touring and we look back and are like “Alright, this is what we achieved and did. How are we going to kill it on the next record and top what we did?”

 

I wanted to just take a moment to talk about all the buzz that occurred when Matt posted a picture of his royalty check via Twitter. What was your reaction to the “reactions” online?

Well, to explain what it actually was, there’s this company that pretty much, like say that our song is on a TV show. There’s a royalty for it, say it’s five cents. It all goes to this company, then it’s collected into that, all these checks and stuff. And then it’s distributed to all the people that get the royalty, like the record label, the person that writes it, maybe mechanical royalties.

 

But for some reason it went straight to Matt, right?

Yeah, one went straight to Matt, and I’ve been getting those checks individually. It’s a mistake; they’re supposed to go to one thing so you get one check, not five cents. You’re supposed to get whatever it is, whether it’s $500 or if you’re fucking Nickleback $5 million. So yeah, it’s weird. I don’t know why. My guess is because Roadrunner was totally acquired by Warner [Music Group]. I could be totally wrong, but maybe something in the paperwork or something got fucked up, and now this company is sending us these things. So I don’t know why we keep getting it, but I’d like to not get them because they’re not made out to my name. They’re made out to the publishing name.

 

So you can’t even cash them in?

Yeah, and I’m not cashing in five cent checks. I want them to be one check with my name on it so I can actually put it into a bank. But other than that, when the reaction went out it was pretty funny. And I guess Matt did it as a joke, but nothing on the internet will ever be taken as a joke unless you’re on a video and maybe someone can hear the sarcasm. It shows that people are very passionate about our opinions on things like that. There’s a lot of things up in the air in the music industry, and it’s changing for better or worse. I mean, that painted one picture, but right now we’re sitting on a million dollar bus and obviously we’re not going to say that we’re starving musicians. We’re doing alright, we pay our bills and don’t have to work outside of this, and luckily now we can tour pretty comfortably. So things aren’t all that bad in the music industry and we’ve been lucky.

At the same time, there’s a lot of questions left to be answered, and for new bands it’s crazy right now. The only suggestion I can give a new band is sign the right deals, get an attorney, and don’t sign something away unless you know what you’re giving away because every penny really counts now. The pie has gotten smaller and everyone takes a slice still. So don’t get into something until you’re dead sure it’s the right thing. You can sign a record contract and it means jack shit because maybe people don’t buy your record and then you’re stuck with a shit deal and you made nothing off of it.

And another thing too is that there’s not one band that has an exact same situation as another, and not every single thing works for another band. Like say a 360 deal, because a 360 deal for an established band is going to look a lot different than a 360 deal for a brand new band, and the terms are going to be way shittier than for the new band because they’re not bringing anything to the table. It’s just at that moment, they’re a band that I would hope are getting signed because they have a really cool thing about them that makes them unique, and there’s a lot of potential for them, but that deal could be really for them. Then for everyone else that’s already established, you have more negotiating leverage. It’s so night and day for a band that’s already established and a brand new band with even something like that.

 

Since Trivium is pretty well-established, would the band ever consider doing a 360 deal?

That’s what our deal is.

 

Oh, I didn’t realize that.

That’s starting from this [In Waves] record because all Warner bands I think if they don’t now will have 360 deals, but that’s another area of contention with people. And all I can say from all situation is that it’s only been beneficial because I feel that it makes the label have more incentive to do more with us, and at the same time it makes us work harder because we’re getting more opportunities with touring and everything else that comes with it. For us, I have nothing bad to say about it at this point, and I know a lot of other bands that have had a lot of success. I want to say that it’s Paramore, they have a 360 deal and it’s fucking done amazing for them.

 

Even Korn had a 360 deal for a while, and it really help them rebuild their brand after a small slump.

Yeah, again though it all comes down to the leverage that the established bands have. Now say a new band walks into a 360 deal. I can’t say it’s going to benefit them better than or worse than us. There’s so many factors. Like if the band does amazing and is off to a great start, it might work out and they’re doing good by some stroke of luck. Maybe the label is going to be like “Alright, now that we’re getting all of these revenue streams from this band that’s doing really well, let’s dump some more cash into them and blow them up bigger.” But what if it’s not a band that does well? What if it’s a band that needs a few albums to develop their sound? I don’t know if 360 deals mean anything for the long term of a band. But that’s where indie labels like Sumerian Records, Metal Blade, and for us, I mean it’s not indie as in a startup label, but Roadrunner technically was an indie label. And they developed us; we’ve had four albums with them, and a lot of it had to do with Ascendency doing really well. That kept us going, and subsequently every album did good enough for us to stay on the label and keep growing. And that to me is what the benefit of an indie label is over getting signed to Sony, Universal, or Warner, at least as a metal band.

I feel like you need time to develop as a writer and stuff. I don’t know if you’re going to be the best you’re going to be at 18. Maybe you’ll have a great album, but I don’t know. It feels like it’ll develop. I mean, I look at a band like Machine Head and they made some badass albums, but they’ve really come into a new creative peak now and I think it’s cause of all the shit that they’ve been through, all the albums they’ve done and the touring. And that’s what I feel like with creating stuff, you get better over time from your experiences. Hopefully, that’s what Trivium is ultimately going towards, like our best stuff is ahead of us.

[picture via KaleyNelson.com]

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