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| 8 April 2016 | Reply

By Shane Pinnegar

Trivium - Paulo Gregoletto 01
Florida headbangers Trivium bring their Silence In The Snow album to Australia this month for a quick lap of the country. SHANE PINNEGAR spoke to bass player Paulo Gregoletto.

Sunday, 10th April – Metropolis, Fremantle 18+
Monday, 11th April – HQ, Adelaide 18+
Wednesday, 13th April – 170 Russell, Melbourne 18+
Friday, 15th April – Max Watts, Brisbane 18+
Saturday, 16th April – Roundhouse, Sydney Lic AA

Calling from Fresno, California, Gregoletto says the band are “stoked” to get to Australia, and preparations have already been under way.

“We try to plan out a good set-list [for any tour we head out on]. We’ll usually get more songs that we’re actually going to play for the tour down, and then we’ll kind of weed out what we don’t want to play for the tour during rehearsals or, during the tour, we might switch a song or two around. That’s usually where it starts for us. It’s just seeing what songs we want to get together and what we want the vibe to be for the tour.”

Released at the start of October, 2015, Silence In The Snow has been heralded as a modern metal masterpiece by many people. That must feel like some serious validation to the band after 18 years on the scene.

“Yeah, it’s awesome that it’s been so well-received,” Gregoletto enthuses. “You go into making a record, you want to make it the best you can. You want to try to make every record really stand out, but with this one, we were really adamant that we stuck to our guns with how we wanted the album to sound, how we wanted it to come together, and each song we put on the record. So far, it’s been doing great. Here in The States, we’ve had some of our best radio success that we’ve ever had, and that’s kind of a new thing for us, because we’re seven albums in and it’s not any easy thing to break at radio in America. It’s a real complicated process, but we just stuck with it, and our song, Until The World Goes Cold is just about to be a top-ten single [since talking, the single climbed to #10 in America]. It’s crazy to be this far into the career and still have to be breaking down barriers and doing new things.”

Trivium 01

Unlike Australia, Gregoletto says it is possible to get metal on the radio in America – but it’s not easy.

“It’s hard. It’s kind of a weird mix, because it’s tough to get new stuff onto the radio, but at the same time, we’re kind of in a weird position where we’re not really a new band, we’ve been around for a while, but to radio, we’re still a new band, which is kind of a weird thing. It’s been a couple albums of making the connections and showing people what we’re about and what Trivium is, because we’re kind of a hybrid, I’ve always felt. We definitely get into moments that are more extreme, but we also have a lot of melody and songwriting in our music. So I think once people wrap their heads around what kind of band Trivium is, we’ve been able to have some success with radio.”

Most bands stand or fall on their touring income nowadays, but record sales still matter to Trivium, and they haven’t had to get day jobs yet.

“Yeah, we’ve been lucky,” Gregoletto says, relieved. “Since day one, we’ve really tried to make sure that we built this from the ground up and it wasn’t just an overnight, flash-in-the-pan kind of success. We’ve tried to build something that lasted. I think the main thing for us that’s helped a lot metal bands sustain is that the fan-base is so strong. CD sales were going to be declining no matter what. When we got into this CDs were going out the door slowly. Now, with streaming and stuff, it’s sort of slowly righting itself, balancing itself out, but touring and merch and stuff like that is what sustains bands, and I think the metal and rock audiences are, by far, the most loyal. If you put out something that people like, if you put out a great song or a great album and it connects with the fans, it’s still as it’s always been. You can find success. We’ve been lucky. This is going to be our, maybe, eighth or ninth trip down to Australia. It’s been amazing that we’ve had a fan-base that can get us back down there every time, and we’re really lucky for that.”

The cover art for Silence In The Snow is so striking we had to ask for the story behind it.

“We decided on it maybe about a year and half ago,” explains Gregoletto. “We were on tour, and I think I was talking to [singer] Matt [Heafy] about it, and we were saying that we’d always had the Trivium logo, but we wanted to make something that sort of personified the band. We were thinking about it, and one of the ideas we had was that we’ve used a lot of Japanese imagery in some of our past artwork and even with our album Shogun, so we decided, ‘why don’t we hit up a tattoo artist, Khalil, whose specialty is Japanese art.’ He designed his own skull for us. We had a shirt made and kind of did a test-run of that.

“Then we decided we were going to use it for the album cover, but instead of just having a drawing, we had actual masks made of it. We had four different colours made, and we gave them to a friend who was going to do all the artwork and do the videos, and he did a bunch of test shots. He did white-on-black, black-on-white, all this different stuff, even textured covers, like a snow thing that he used. The white-on-white just ended up being the most simple but effective cover. When we had that first show up in the inbox, everyone was like, ‘yeah, that’s going to be album cover.’”

Trivium - Silence In The Snow

At first glance it’s hard to tell if the image is a painting, or digital, or a photo…

“Yeah, it was a photo,” Gregoletto says, satisfied at the impact the artwork has made. “That was something important to us about the design. We had the drawing of it, which is awesome and that we’ve used, but we were just saying that there’s something really cool about photography for album art. Some of my favourite album covers were pictures, going back to the ’70s. Now that people are starting to get into the idea of having vinyl again, whether it’s for collecting or for listening, the album art is becoming an important thing once again. When you have it blown up on the vinyl size, it looks amazing.

“It’s great. An aside from all that, with vinyl, I’ve noticed that I’ll discover stuff on Spotify, and then everywhere we travel, we’re always popping into record stores, and I’m looking for the albums I found on Spotify. That’s my new thing. I’m using the best of both worlds.”

Gregoletto agrees that Trivium’s evolution through seven albums has been a solid natural progression.

“Yeah, I think since we did The Crusade, we set the course that we weren’t going to be a band that just stuck to one particular thing and just tried to copy what we had been doing. Now, I think it’s more natural than ever. We start writing, we start talking about what we want to achieve with the record, and then we start to edit that vision and figure out what it’s going to be. We let each album be a moment in time for us, and that seems to be the thing that works best, when you’re not trying to copy something or to look back and be like, ‘well, this worked really well then, so let’s see if we can mimic that success.’ We just keep pushing forward, and every time we do it, we seem to stumble upon something new, something exciting, and that’s what’s been our winning formula: we don’t settle for one particular thing.”

Early Trivium sounded strongly of their Metallica and Iron Maiden influences, but they have clearly developed their own signature sound over the years.

“Yeah. I think that’s what it’s like in the beginning: you’re transitioning from imitating the things that you grew up with and your influences, and then slowly but surely, I think it starts to mould into a new sound,” Gregoletto muses. “You start mixing all these things that weren’t ever mixed together before and you start to create your own sound and vibe. I think that’s where we’re at now. That’s the exciting thing, because every time you go in to record a record, you don’t know what you’re going to get. It’s always exciting to record.

“That’s definitely the goal,” he says of creating an individually recognised sound as a band, “and it’s definitely probably the hardest thing to achieve. You think about all the great bands that have come before you and the barriers that bands have broken through, and you think, ‘what else can be done?’ But that’s the magic of it: if you get different individuals together, unique people, you never know what’s going to come about. That’s the most fun for us, to find out what each record’s going to be.”

Trivium 02

Whilst touring 2013’s Vengeance Falls, singer Matt Heafy blew his voice out a bit, needing some therapy to get it back in shape. If anything, his vocals are stronger on the new record.

“It was kind of a blessing in disguise,” Gregoletto says, surprisingly. “Thankfully, it wasn’t a serious thing, it was really just fatigue. It was right after this big festival called Rock on the Range, and we had to cancel a week of shows to make sure that Matt would be all right. Fortunately, he was, [and] Matt from Avenged Sevenfold has put him in touch with his vocal coach. That kind of just sent him down a road of discovering new ways to sing, to scream.

“The screaming thing was actually the hardest, I think, for Matt. His singing was definitely more on-point with the technique. It just, I think, helped strengthen him and push him into new areas that he didn’t know he could sing before, but with the screaming, it actually took quite a while, because it’s kind of a weird thing. You’re not screaming loud; it’s a very quiet thing, and so he had to kind of turn sixteen years of habit he had picked up over the years and relearn it. Now, on tour, he’s screaming the parts again, so it’s been a lot for him. He’s put in the time, and I think, for the record, it’s made his voice stronger. It was an unfortunate thing that happened for us to have to cancel shows, but the outcome of it was Matt being his absolutely best on this record.”

Having strengthened his vocals and with more cleaner singing on the new album, Gregoletto says Heafy still didn’t want to have to approach the older material differently.

“Yeah. Our goal was not to have to change any of the old stuff. One thing that I’m very careful with is that we’ve made all these songs and done different things, but we can’t just change every time you come back around. You can’t just drop screaming if there was screaming on a song. That was one thing. We were like, ‘if we’re going to do these songs, they’re going to be done right, and we want them to be perfect, like the album and like the way people want to hear them.’ The best thing for us is that we can pull off any era of this band and make it sound how it sounded on that record. It makes the new stuff stand out, it makes the old stuff stand out, and when people come see us, they know they’re going to get the songs the way they’re meant to be heard.”

With four drummers having sat on the stool for Trivium in the past seven years, I have to ask what’s going on there – it’s almost at Spinal Tap proportions.

“Yeah,” Gregoletto laughs. “We just found a pretty bad-ass drummer. I’ll tell you the story of how we found him: we kind of knew in the summer that we were going to need to make a change, which wasn’t something we were hoping to do, but it just became obvious we were going to need someone with more experience and more time under their belt doing things, so we had to look around. Our thing was, we weren’t going to be able to do an open casting-call for just anyone; we wanted to go for people we knew and trusted, to kind of get a referral thing going. We were asking around to producers and different people.

“I think, eventually, I said to Matt, ‘hey, who’s the best band we know, technically?’ He was like, ‘Dream Theater.’ I’m like, ‘why don’t we hit up [guitarist] John Petrucci? Maybe he’d know someone.’ Matt hit him up, John emailed their drummer [Mike Mangini] and maybe within an hour or so, he got an email back, like, ‘hey, I got your guy.’ He gave us the email and contact for Paul [Wandtke], who’s playing with us now. We just started talking, and he sent us videos, and we were just like, ‘wow, this dude’s great.’ He’s super on top of it, super motivated. He’s been doing tons of different work, whether it was with bands or just Rock of Ages, the theatre production.

“We were like, ‘all right. This is definitely what we’re looking for,’ because the route we went the last two times and what we learned was just that people you know and hope you’re going to get the results from you want later on, that they’re going to get up to speed, it just wasn’t going to happen. We had to look around, but we took our time. That was the reason we took our time this time – [because] we don’t want to be making [any more] changes. We don’t like doing that, it’s not fun. I don’t think any band enjoys that process. I don’t know how dudes like Dave Mustaine [Megadeth] can go through full band line-ups, because it’s stressful to have to do a change like that. This time, we went out, we made sure we found the dude that was going to hang with us and be able to be there.

Trivium - Paulo Gregoletto 02

“This tour has been incredible,” he continues, “I really think anyone coming out the shows in Australia is going to Trivium at our absolute tightest and best. These shows we’ve been doing, we’re coming off stage and it’s like, ‘man, I can’t believe how good it was sounding tonight. It’s just so tight. Everything’s precise.’ We’re just having a fun time. Aside from just sounding good on stage, the fact that we’re having a good time together and we’re not stressing about stuff like that anymore has just made the shows even better.”

Aside from the shows, Gregoletto is just looking forward to hanging out in Australia.

“The big thing for us, there’s a lot of great food, a lot of great stuff to do down there, just to get out and hang out. It’s just such a great vibe. We’ve always loved how laid-back everything is down there, and we have great friends down there, so we’re looking forward to catching up with a lot of people we know. We’re going to make the most of it – definitely not sitting in the hotel all day. We’re going to be out and about doing stuff before the shows and after the shows. I’m stoked for it.”

Category: Interviews

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