After stumbling across the band Trivium while searching for information about the bands opening for The Dillinger Escape Plan at my local club, I was blown away by the complexity and the old school thrash influence on the MP3 "Pull Harder On The Strings Of Your Martyr," available on RoadrunnerRecords.com or at the band's site Trivium.org. Upon hearing the first 30 seconds of that song, I knew this was a band that I would love and a band that was going to make waves with their Roadrunner debut. In light of these facts, I sat down with drummer Travis Smith and bassist Paolo Gregoletto after their performance to shoot the shit about the start of their band, their young take on an old style of metal, and everything in between.
Interview with Travis Smith and Paolo Gregoletto on 2/8/05.
METAL UPDATE: How did the band originally get together?
Travis Smith: Originally, we got together in my house, in my living room trying to put together a band for a high school battle of the bands that we wanted to do for years and years. So we found some kids who wanted to play, then we went through a couple of lineup changes, looking for a second guitar player - so we could have that real metal look, you know? [said with tongue firmly implanted in cheek] Plus, we were going to be doing Metallica covers, playing "For Whom The Bell Tolls," and Matt's name came across. Our old singer knew Matt [Heafy - guitars and vocals] and he came over and we jammed on "For Whom The Bell Tolls," and it sounded great so I knew this was the guy that we were going to have. And that's really how it all started, right there. Then we booted the singer out and thought, "We have to find a vocalist." But then I looked at Matt and said, "You're doing it."
MU: What ever happened with the original vocalist?
TS: It was creative differences. We wanted to be more of a heavy thrash band and he wanted to go a different way. So we just parted ways.
MU: So, Paulo, how did you get involved with the band?
Paulo Gregoletto: I was with my old band for five or six years and I was recording up in Orlando with Jason Suecof. I was doing the CD and I saw they needed a bass player, with only three guys in the band. I knew these guys because we had played a few shows [together] in the past, in Daytona or in Tampa and I had my mom contact Matt's dad and I said "Hey, do you want me to come up and help out on tour maybe?" And the tour was kinda like my tryout. In the end they asked me if I wanted to stay.
MU: Now, am I correct in saying that most of you guys are pretty young?
PG: Me and Matt are 19.
TS: Corey [Beaulieu - guitarist] is 21 and I am 22.
MU: Yeah, alright. Damn, that is pretty young. Your style shows a lot of experience and diversity. How do you guys go about writing your songs? Do you just let it flow, or do you purposely work in a lot of influences?
TS: No, it really just flows. Matt will come up with a riff and we will go in the rehearsal room and work with it, and it just flows. The songs come right out. We really don't force anything. Plus it's a lot cooler that way, because it's not like you're trying to do some science project. You're just kinda jamming.
MU: I'm going to throw in some fun stuff that's a little off course here and there, so...
TS: I'm not gay.
MU: Well, that wasn't what I was going to ask, but that's good to know. It's nice that you cleared that up. But the question is, if you guys were Mr. Potato Head, where would you hide your extra parts?
TS: Like the extra eyes and stuff.
MU: Yeah, the eyes, the hat, all that stuff.
TS: I'd put them in the little can.
MU: You mean the little ass compartment?
TS: Yeah, exactly.
MU: So, you'd pack it in your ass.
TS/PG: Yeah, yeah.
MU: Okay, but let's reiterate for the reading public...
TS: I'm not gay.
MU: Right. Well, let me ask you, when did you guys first start playing your instruments?
TS: I first started playing pots and pans when I was about 5. Yeah, that's how it started. On Saturday nights, my dad would be doing housework or yard work and he would have the Eagles jamming or Tom Petty just cranking through the house. And I would go in the kitchen and make this massive pots and pans drum set. And I would have rubber bands and I would take the lids and hang the lids from the rubber bands so I had like cymbals hanging.
MU: Seriously? That's pretty complex considering you were, what'd you say, 5?
TS: Yeah. That's how it started. And shortly after that he got me a little beginner kit and I just went from there. So, I guess you could say, technically, I started that young, but I didn't really get serious until, I would say, age 12.
PG: I started at 13.
MU: What bands did you guys play in before?
TS: I've played in bands here and there, nothing too serious. Just local bands.
PG: I had a band called Metal Militia for like five-and-a-half years.
MU: Spelled like the Brian Deegan biker crew [Metal Mulisha]?
PG: Spelled like the Metallica song.
MU: I'm thinking more modern. I should have known better with your influences. What are some of the other tours you guys have done recently? I know you were out with Machine Head, right?
TS: Yeah, that was the Road Rage tour. That was with Machine Head and Chimera. We did that, we've gone out with Fear Factory, Il Nino, Iced Earth, and then God Forbid.
MU: How were they?
PG: They're one of the tightest bands.
TS: They're the ones who popped our touring cherry. They were the first band we actually toured with and it was definitely rock n' roll. It was one of those tours where we partied ... hard. We were just on tour with All That Remains before this and Doc and Dallas [Coyle] came out and they were telling us some story that they're trying to calm down on the partying. So I was like, come on, you were the guys who taught us. You can't be telling me this crap. So I guess they're trying to take it easy now, but I think that's just them talking.
MU: Let me ask you another non-serious question. If you had the opportunity, would you sleep with, a) Angela from Arch Enemy, b) Christina from Lacuna Coil, or c) Karyn Crisis?
PG: Umm, I'm going to go with the chick from Lacuna Coil. She's hot.
MU: You like Italians?
TS: He is Italian.
PG: Yeah, she's got an awesome voice and she's really hot too.
TS: I'd go with Angela. Yeah, she's really, really hot.
MU: Is that your sole basis of judgment - hotness?
TS: Uh, she's really hot, yeah.
MU: Now, you and I, Paolo, were talking about this a little bit earlier, but do you feel you've been getting favorable reactions from the crowds you've played for?
TS: Yeah, usually it's pretty good. Sometimes...
PG: There'll be a heckler or two here and there but...
TS: It's rare though.
PG: But when there is though, that shit doesn't faze me. I laugh at those kids.
TS: Yeah, we don't give a shit. Matt is a real tough front man.
PG: He comes off really forward. I think the whole band comes off really forward.
TS: When we do get one of those, he'll just, [Travis flips his middle finger] "fuck you," right up.
PG: He'll do that, but the thing is that when you don't show them that you care, and just laugh in their face, it's like a "fuck you" back. We don't give a shit what you think.
MU: I certainly did pick that up from you guys, actually. And it's not until you said it that I really thought about it. A lot of young bands will wander around the stage and do their shit, but you guys seem really confident up there.
PG: Yeah, it's not arrogance, but it's definitely confidence. We're all confident with our instruments.
TS: We're all focused.
PG: The one thing that I like, where we're kind of like a throwback, is how Matt talks to the crowd. He's not like, "Oh hey, we're going to do this" [Paolo says in a shaky, nervous tone]. That just bores the hell out of me.
TS: He talks to them like they're our friends, like they're our family.
PG: I mean, it's entertainment. I don't want to come and see someone talking to me all normal. I want to hear somebody yelling and screaming and shit. When we stop, we don't want it to stop, because there needs to be something in between. There can't be just silence while we get ready for the next song.
MU: Now, kind of addressing something similar, you guys don't have the long hair, don't have the leather pants - I don't know if you're planning on it - but you guys don't necessarily play the metal appearance up, or the hardcore appearance. Do you guys ever get any kind of shit for your appearance in this, supposed, independent, do-it-yourself scene?
PG: The only guys who ever gave us any shit were those straight edge, hardcore purist kids, but I think everyone here thinks that's a joke. I mean, what they say doesn't mean shit. We dress the way we feel comfortable. When we did our video, we dressed nice and shit. We're just trying to do our own thing. Speaking of the hair, I mean, Corey already has his out and shit, but the three of us are growing it out.
TS: We're going to have mops man. And leather pants - those are in the video. We're all sporting the leather pants.
MU: Is that going on Headbangers Ball?
TS: Yeah, probably about a week before the album release. The album lands March 15.
MU: What do you guys do when you go home? Do you guys have part-time jobs or anything like that?
TS: We're full-time band members.
MU: Now is that something that you guys were doing when you were on LifeForce [Records]?
TS: No, no, no. This is recent. When we were on LifeForce, Matt was still in school and Corey was in school, about to graduate, and I was working.
MU: What were you doing?
TS: Construction. I trimmed carpet. And you were in school too, right [looking to Paolo]. But he was doing his thing with Metal Militia.
MU: What are the strangest jobs you guys have ever had?
PG: The shittiest job was when I was working at a hamburger place. It was like fast food, but not really. You had to clean a lot of shit, and I hate cleaning stuff.
TS: I think the sweetest job I ever had was as a wood floor installer. That was brutal, man. You do eight or 10 hours of that shit and you're done for. And we'd work five or six days a week. It was just brutal. Especially because you have to be on your knees all day. I think the best job I ever had was being a secretary for a lawyer. That job was fucking great. I was dating her daughter and we actually worked together, so there would be many days when my boss would be like "Oh, take my daughter shopping" and I would get paid for that. Or "Take my daughter to the beach, you guys go have fun," you know? Not really having to work, but she'd still pay us. That was fucking awesome. I had that all the way through high school.
MU: Was that second best to being in a band?
TS: Yeah, that was pretty cool, being able to go home and fuck your girlfriend and get paid for it.
MU: Paolo, did you do any cool shit like that?
TS: I lucked out on that one there.
MU: Immediate goals - what do you guys see yourselves doing for the next five to six months? Touring your asses off?
TS: Yeah, we're going to be touring a lot. We've already got about six months of touring planned.
PG: Even though it's not confirmed yet, we already have an idea of what we're going to be doing next year. It's just a matter of ...
TS: Wrapping it all up and getting it all confirmed.
MU: Is it one of you guys who is more the spokesperson for the band and helps arrange some of that shit?
PG: That's out of our hands, touring.
TS: Well, I mean, we're the kind of band that really likes to tour. We really like to play live. So we don't really turn anything down, even if it's a little weird, because you can pick up new fans anywhere.
MU: Well, I can probably get at least five or 10 people in my basement if you guys want to come by tomorrow.
TS: You'll have to call Face The Music for that one. Call Josh.
PG: A lot of people e-mail us and are like "Hey man, you want a band to go out on tour with?" or "Here's a place you should play" and I'll be like, "Go to Face The Music." I don't want to handle that shit at all.
MU: And that's better off anyway, because you'll end up owing so many people favors and shit.
PG: Yeah, that would be crazy and we'd probably be playing some really weird places.
MU: I already talked to you about the CD, about it coming out on March 15, which I might add, is the day before my birthday.
TS: Really? You're the second guy who's told me that; on this tour too.
MU: You guys mentioned that you have two dates left on this tour?
TS: One date.
MU: Alright, but what's coming up after it?
MU: Really, well that's pretty sweet. Are you guys all fans of Danzig?
PG: I'm a fan of The Misfits.
TS: I'm a fan of "MOTHER!" [shouted in his best Glenn Danzig impression]. When that song first came out, I think I was like 11. And me and my best buddy were watching MTV and there it came and our jaws just dropped. We were like, "This is the coolest shit ever!" It was so crazy and then his voice was so not the norm.
MU: Well, let me leave off, finally, by asking you, what do you think of the new album?
TS: I think it's fucking brutal.
PG: We're getting really good responses from magazines. People really seem to like it.
TS: If you're into thrash, you're into solos, and you're into heavy drumming, then this is your album.
review of Trivium's self-titled demo
review of Trivium - 'Ember to Inferno'
Interview and Photos: Brian Ferry [ firstname.lastname@example.org ]
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