Trivium – Dead Men’s TalesSunday, 19th April 2020
Crazy to think that it’s been 15 years since Trivium unveiled Ascendancy, their second full-length album (and first for major label Roadrunner Records) and it basically exploded on the metal world at the time. More impressive is how the band has been able to continue to build upon their fanbase, with 2017’s The Sin and the Sentence being another high water mark for the band. With some impressive momentum built from touring off of said album, we are now on the cusp of release for their follow-up, What the Dead Men Say. An album that embodies all of the positives of their last album and embellishes them even further. To tell us more about the album is guitarist Corey Beaulieu, who talks about everything from COVID-19 impacts, to how he feels What the Dead Men Say stands up with their catalog, as well as a look back to the times of Ascendancy.
Dead Rhetoric: I’ve seen that the Asia tour was cancelled, how else is the Coronavirus affecting Trivium?
Corey Beaulieu: The Asian tour was only 4 shows, so luckily it wasn’t a super long tour. It wasn’t too big of a deal. We had been keeping up with what was going on, and we saw in advance what was happening. So we kind of knew a while back that this was going to be an issue. So we pulled the plug way back. I was supposed to fly to Japan like 2 days ago, but we knew a few weeks ago – at that time that it was going to get worse. When we actually cancelled, it was starting to get fucked up. So we made the right call. With everything the way it is now, there’s no way we could have done it anyway with all of the restrictions.
So we are buckled down, and luckily there’s no touring coming up for a little bit. So it hasn’t been too big of a deal. When I am off tour, I stay at home and don’t go out much so I have been doing what I normally do. So for me personally, it hasn’t been too big of a deal. The only issue, and it seems like in Orlando, it has been pretty chill and there hasn’t been anything too crazy going on, but it’s a wait and see thing. California and other places are more buckled down, so it’ll be interesting to see how things progress here. Thankfully, a lot of people around here are taking measures before everything gets too far out of control. There’s been a lot of people who have been taking the advice of staying at home as much as possible and they are being mindful of protecting everyone else.
Dead Rhetoric: How does What the Dead Men Say stack up with your previous work?
Beaulieu: I think we were mindful, after The Sin and the Sentence, and having a few records before that where we kind of went off and experimented and did different directions – some stuff worked, and some stuff didn’t maybe hit home with fans. But with The Sin and the Sentence, we really found what works really well with what we do. It really hit home with combining the elements with what we do as a band to make a sound that fans really liked. It did really well for us. So we didn’t really want to tease the fans with delivering a record that they really love, and totally switch things up again. We just wanted to take what we build on [The Sin and the Sentence] and really build on it – not going in a different direction but not repeat it either.
We wanted to build off of it and add in some different elements without being too crazy. With the fan reaction to the first single, and people who have had a chance to listen to the record, I think we really made a record that stacks up with the back catalog. I think it’s going to be another record in the catalog that is really up there with the fan favorites. I know there is some killer material on there, that once fans can sit and digest, they will be new classics and fan favorites. It’s an exciting time. We had a lot of fun making the record, and we have a really good feeling that fans will embrace the material. We are also looking forward to eventually, when everything gets calmed down, to be playing it in person.
Dead Rhetoric: There’s been drummer issues in the past, how did it feel to go back into the studio with Alex Bent for a second album?
Beaulieu: Yeah, I think it just made the whole process so much easier. When we did The Sin and the Sentence, we really didn’t know Alex at the time. We had just met him – the first time we played with him was the time we were starting to write. So he was thrown right into the fire right away. We lucked out that we had a really good chemistry off the bat and made the record that we did. It was a total gamble but it worked out amazing. So now we have had a few years of touring and being around each other so that we as a group have become more acquainted and know each other. So with this record, it was so easy.
This is the fastest we have ever written and recorded a record. By the time we were done recording, it felt like we hadn’t done any work because it went by so fast and we used our time so efficiently. We would knock out songs so fast. It’s always been the three of us, with Matt [Heafy], Paolo [Gregoletto], and I would write riffs/songs and show each other ideas. We are always very quick to show someone a part and change things around. Sometimes, when you don’t have another member like a drummer – if they aren’t flexible or in the moment it can hold you up. The fact that Alex is just like us, and he is on the spot and offering suggestions, we are always moving forward. There’s no hang-ups. I think that injected a really good energy into our creative work flow. We were never stuck on something – we are always creating and bringing new things into the table. It makes the writing process really fun and exciting. It sucks when you get mentally bogged down or a rut, and we are never in a rut anymore. There’s always something fun or cool happening. It makes the whole process of songwriting really fun. I think it translates into the recordings.
Hopefully people get the vibe that we are really excited about what we are doing. It’s really great. Alex kills it. When we put something out now, the majority of comments are people really freaking out about what Alex does on the drums. He’s quickly made a fanbase for himself with his drumming skills alone. It’s pretty awesome to see how everyone has embraced him in the band. It’s a good feeling after having so many drum changes, that they can embrace the newest guy and make him feel at home. We love having him in the band – it took a while but we found our guy [laughs].
Dead Rhetoric: At this point, you are still scheduled to go out on tour. What are you looking forward to about the Megadeth/Lamb of God run?
Beaulieu: I am really looking forward to that too. Before it was announced, we knew months in advance because of the scheduling of the whole thing. We had a lot of excitement, as we heard about it before we were making the record. So we have known for a while, and it’s such a killer line-up. When the idea first got thrown out there, we felt fans would be really excited about this tour. We love the bands. Obviously, Megadeth is a huge influence on Trivium. We have always been fans and friends with Lamb of God, and we have history with In Flames, so it’s like a bunch of friends going out on tour. It was really hard not to talk about it.
Also, I’m really excited, and I’m sure the other guys feel the same way, because we just haven’t been out on tour in a long time. We did a tour for a month in the fall of 2018 with Avatar, and then Matt’s kids came and we didn’t tour for like 8 months. Then we did some shows in Europe in summer 2019, and then we did like four shows in Australia in December 2019. Then we have done nothing since. So in the last two years, we have barely played shows. We’ve been home a lot so I’m really looking forward to getting out there and playing shows again. With what is happening right now, and everything being cancelled it’s like damn! I’ve been home for a year in my house and when I want to get out, everyone is inside. I have been like self-quarantined for a year on my own. I guess I have to wait it out a bit longer. It is what it is, I can’t fuss about it too much.
I’m just happy that we are putting out new music and people are excited about hearing it. I can wait it out for some shows. I’m hoping that whatever happens in the next few months, that the summer tour – it starts at the end of June. Fingers crossed that it can go on as scheduled, as long as the safety of everyone is there. I want to get out and I’m excited to play the new stuff on stage and get back to what we have been doing for the last 15 years. It’s been touring and playing – we will see what happens.
Dead Rhetoric: Just recently was the 15th anniversary of Ascendancy, what do you remember about the times around that album?
Beaulieu: With Ascendancy, there was a youthful innocence to it because we had no prior [experience]. We had Ember to Inferno came out, it was on a really small label so it didn’t have much of an impact. But it did get us signed to Roadrunner. When we made Ascendancy, when I had joined the band – I hadn’t really played shows or written songs as a band. So we were just playing together. Matt was still in high school at the time, so it would be after school and we would get together in a warehouse and just write songs together. That’s how we wrote the majority of Ascendancy. It was in a shitty, hot as fuck Florida warehouse – playing because we just didn’t have anything else to do. We just played and wrote all these songs. We just doing it for the pure fun of playing and being creative.
To see it to turn into this record that Roadrunner put out and becoming a global hit – it’s hard to process it. You go from nothing to having everyone think you are a big deal. It’s hard to prepare for that. You just have to experience it. It was a whirlwind of a few years – making a record and then people know who you are, and going crazy over it. It is pretty wild to think about what happened so quickly back then. Now we can look back and be very thankful when we look on the times. That was such a crucial part of our career. That record launched us so that 15 years later we are still making music and people still care a lot.
Our new music is bringing us to new places – we still have a career on the up, and it all started from that record. We look back on that record – we were young, and it was a big part of our lives. We still hold [Ascendancy] with high regard in our catalog. Maybe some people like a different record more, or a different favorite, but that record has a special meaning for us in terms of what it has done for us as a band.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel that you’ve changed from the earlier days of the band?
Beaulieu: I think the approach, as far as the way we write music, it’s still about the same way. The approach with Ascendancy, it felt like we were just getting together to write music for fun and write music that we wanted to play. It made an impact – now that we have fans, and no one hears the music before we put it out, we just have to write on instinct. So it’s kind of the same way – we get into a rehearsal spot and write things that we are excited about. I think that translates to the fans liking it. If we have to write a certain song, because it’s going to appeal or please a certain part of the fanbase, it doesn’t really work for us.
The band has to be excited and have that youthful innocence of ‘if I’m not playing for anybody, am I going to have fun playing this music – and have fun writing and putting it together?’ If I can do that, I think the fans will like it too. That’s how it all started in the first place, so we try to keep that garage band, early days mentality when it comes to writing music. Just feeling the music and having fun playing it. I think that has worked for us. Other than that, as a band, we still talk. Every day we talk about new stuff – we have the same fire. We always call it ‘the eye of the tiger.’ There’s always a motivation for achieving something. There’s no complacency – that we have done good and can chill and relax. When it comes to goals with the band, we still have that same spirit and fire we had back then.
With the last record taking a drastic up-spin and stepping up touring-wise, it has put more fuel on the fire. Like I said earlier, we are really chomping at the bit to get out there and play shows. We want to hammer home our new record so people know what Trivium is all about. We want to display the full force of Trivium on the world. The fact that we don’t know if we will be able to go out soon makes it suck even more. We have been really looking forward to getting out there and kicking people’s asses.
Dead Rhetoric: Everything is up in the air right now, but the album is coming out and the Megadeth tour is still on as of now. Anything else in the works?
Beaulieu: We still have some pre-release stuff. We have some more music video stuff in the works that we are working on. So for everyone in lockdown, there should be some new Trivium stuff to watch soon. Currently, we have some stuff in other parts of the world being booked, specifically for next year. Hopefully everything still happens on time, but after being a bit dormant for a while – once everything gets back to normal, there will be a lot of touring activity. Trivium will be pretty active – whenever we can start this year, and then next year will be basically all touring. We will be out there and hopefully able to make up anything that ends up getting postponed. We are looking forward to meeting everyone again and playing some shows.
We have some ideas about doing things in the lockdown. Matt has been doing his Twitch thing quite a bit. We have some ideas, if we are able to get together – if the other guys who live out of state can get here, we have some thoughts about doing some Twitch band performances and Q&A around the record release. So hopefully we are able to get together and do that. It’s just hard to really tell what we can schedule at the moment with the uncertainty of what we can put together. But we are doing as much as we can, to be as entertaining as we can with the current limitations. If anything, you can go and hang out with Matt and he’ll fill in and entertain you as much as he can.